My quadriceps protest the position I put them in. I am seated on the floor, legs crossed yogi style, attempting to sit up straight. I imagine a string that's attached at one end to the temple ceiling and the other end to the top of my head. I pretend it is straightening my spine, but I still feel as if I am going to fall over backwards. Breathe slowly, I tell myself. Relax the knees. Don't think about the tight muscles. Clear my mind. Listen to the wind through the temple doors, Think of the calm of the surrounding hills. After about ten minutes, I open my eyes. This isn't working.
The colorful panels that tell of Buddha's life cover the walls and ceiling. It's a tall building. I bend back as far as I can so I can see everything above me. The temple is so new that there are a few details left to finish it. Two empty niches in the back might be for lighting or speakers. i'm not sure. A pile of marble tiles wait to be installed on the terrace.
The Buddha is made of many polished stones pieced together. It's unusual because all other Buddha's I've seen have been solid—gold or jade or concrete. These stones are from Cambodia, all cut and polished by Cambodian women. The wall behind the Buddha is painted with a gigantic bodhi tree whose crown reaches the ceiling. The leaves continue on the ceiling, over the Buddha.
The temple is elevated. It's doors open to show many other buildings at the complex—some house the monks, some are used for study. There is a another temple for a reclining Buddha, another for a set of figures I'm unfamiliar with. There is a reservoir. In the center is a huge figure of a woman standing on a crocodile. The grounds are impeccably manicured with flowering trees and bushes. The two flag poles near the entrance are each easily 100 feet tall. It is an impressive complex.
As large as this Buddhist center is, I see no one except the monk in the temple. He is pleased that we all sat and meditated (or attempted to). He now gives me pointers in breathing and sitting so that I can continue the practice of meditation on my own.