Ananda Purnima (The Most Blissful Full Moon Day of the Year)

It was on the 7th of May (Ananda Purnima) that we celebrated the birth of our guru and mentor. At 5 o’clock in the morning we started singing Baba Nam Kevalam, simultaneously in 3 different areas: on the water tank, among the ground floor columns of the pagoda, and on the wooden upper floor. We could still enjoy the blissful moon light…

At first there were only few of us, then more children came in…

When the first sun rays caressed our faces, all of the children were there, fresh and clean with gleaming pressed clothes on. The children were the life of the kiirtan, and the younger were even more intense than the older ones!

We celebrated out of gratitude and love for our Guru and hero, the special person that has brought Baan Unrak project alive. The person that has inspired thousands of people to do something noble in their life.

He is the master of mystics and spiritual seekers alike, and a loving father to the children of Baan Unrak.  It was not easy to recognize him when he was alive, as he was hidden among the ordinary people of the world, with the very simple manners of a perfect gentle man. Now that he left his mortal form, he is in the heart of the people that came in contact with his beautiful Neo-Humanist philosophy.

That is why it is natural for us to celebrate his birthday.

We do it with kiirtan: the singing of the universal mantra, Baba Nam Kevalam (= Love Is Everything) aloud while ideating on Universal Love. It gives a feeling of bliss and prepares the mind for meditation.

The children did the decorations the night before. The outcome was enchanting. Everything was beautiful. It was a perfect setting for our celebration.

Our special baker took time to go to the closed bakery to make a beautiful birthday cake to complete our celebration. We celebrated meditating, singing, and with sweets and smiles.

BAAN UNRAK AWARDS

In this special occasion, we also took the opportunity to reward the children that had performed outstanding actions of kindness and love to all.

Here you can see how we celebrated before:

A Great Day To Remember (2019)

A Special Place for a Special Occasion (2018)

Every year has a different flavor, a unique atmosphere… but the essence of it doesn’t change: our feeling of gratefulness towards Him.

This year, the birthday celebration of our spiritual master marked a turning point for us. It is the beginning of a new phase in Baan Unrak.

We will tell you more about the new changes in the next blog articles…

Coming Soon!

Dancers, Ready for Tandava!

We have been looking for so long for something that could help our children to overcome the scars of their troubled past, to remove fear and become brave.

Now, we found a treasure… from a very ancient time.

Shiva, the great yogi, introduced Tandava 7000 years ago. He taught this powerful dance to his disciples, for them to achieve physical and mental purity.

Back then…

Those were times of intense physical struggle for human beings. Nowadays, our struggle is different, but still the essence of struggle is the same. Our teenagers can tell you how difficult it is the process of growing up…

In those times, the actual family structure didn’t exist, and the task of raising children was completely depending on women. Shiva ideated this dance for men, to make them take responsibility, to feel a sense of duty to protect and take care for the weaker. To create in them a desire of welfare for all.

Tandava dance activates the glands in the body in such a way that you acquire a fighting spirit in life. Our children certainly need it to overcome the disadvantage of their upbringing, and to find their place in society. The hormones secreted through Tandava generate greater manliness and courage, fearlessness.

You might have seen statues of Shiva Nataraja (Shiva as the Cosmic dancer, the “Lord of Dance”). He is in this mudra:

Tandava dance is the foundation of the later classical dance of India. It is dominated by rhythm and jumping…

When you jump, you are weightless. Gravity pulls you back, but for a moment… you are flying. In that moment, some glands are activated in the brain. Those glands allow good memory and deeper thinking.

Human beings meet with crude desires, crude temptations… but that crude energy should not be suppressed, but transformed and elevated to higher emotions… and utilized for further development. Tandava dance is a great tool to transmute that energy, to achieve physical and mental purity.

Now, two of our best performers will demonstrate it for you:

…Dancers, ready for Tandava…

ONE, TWO, THREE

JUMP!

With the first jump, you jump as high as possible, and while in the air, you hit your buttocks with your heels.

Then you come all the way down, and with the second jump, you hit your chest with your knees.

Then start jumping, kicking the right foot up and to the left, while bouncing on your left foot. Land on both feet.

Then jump again, kicking the left foot up and to the right, while bouncing on your right foot. For a moment you are not touching the ground, then you come back and jump again.

Jump for one minute, two, three… as much as you can. As much as your strength allows.

Keep the arms as straight as possible. They symbolize the strength of your soul.

HAAAALT! Final jump!

With the last jump, again you hit the buttocks with your heels. Then prepare for landing…

THE IDEATION

In the left hand, there is a symbol of negativity: an object representing staticity, passivity…

In the right hand, there is a symbol of positivity: something representing the force of life, the strength to overcome difficulties, like the fire.

There is a fight between them. The forces of negativity are always around us, always trying to consume us, but we are struggling and, at the end of Tandava, the force of life has overpowered the force of staticity.

We perform Tandava collectively, after meditation in the night, all standing around the water tank, vibrating the whole place with this energetic dance.

When we dance Tandava all together, something happens to our chest area… The heart chakra opens up! We feel invincible, we can do anything. And there is…

…so much love for everybody!

Our Neohumanist Lifestyle (Part 2)

In the mornings, the children received in-depth classes on yoga philosophy. In the afternoons, they enjoyed doing kiirtan and meditation immersed in our beautiful natural surroundings. They were then free to play in the wild!

Classes on Yoga

The children learned the foundational principles of yoga: YAMA & NIYAMA. These principles are not the goal, but the basis for a proper life. They are guidelines for human development.

Discover these principles… exemplified by our children!

YAMA

To control our actions related to the external world…

1 . AHIM’SA’
Non-harm in thought, word and action. To the best of our capacity, we should never inflict pain or hurt on another living being. Cultivate the thought of welfare and love for all.

2 . SATYA
Benevolent truthfulness. Words should be helpful to others; they should be true; and they should be sweet-sounding.

3 . ASTEYA
Non-stealing. Not to take possession of things which belong to others, to refrain from both mental and physical stealing.

4. BRAHMACARYA
Universal thinking. To remind ourselves that we, and everything around us, are different expressions of One, Infinite, Loving Consciousness.

5 . APARIGRAHA
Simple living. Not to accumulate excessive or unnecessary material goods for a dignified life.

NIYAMA

To control our personal habits…

1 . SHAOCA
Purity of mind and cleanliness of body. To keep the body clean, not only externally but also internally, depends on what we eat.

2 . SANTOS’A
Mental ease and contentment. To be easily satisfied, and to infuse others with our cheerfulness and enthusiasm.

3 . TAPAH
Social service. Working for the welfare of others. Helping others without expecting anything in return.

4. SVA’DHYA’YA
Inspirational reading. To be receptive to deep ideas and higher thinking. This inspires us on the path of self-realization.

5 . IISHVARA PRAN’IDHA’NA
To meditate on the Cosmic Consciousness. This brings to the realization that you are one with That.

Kiirtan & Meditation

To assimilate these deep and powerful concepts, we walked down to our marvelous lake. The wonder of the Universe was all around us…

Kong was singing to the Universe from a bamboo raft, while the rest of us was on the edge of the cliff.

Then, we sat in meditation.

Kong was still there, meditating and floating in the middle of the lake…

Our Neohumanist Lifestyle is based on a proper balance between our external and internal life. For harmonious living, we have to develop both.

Our external life is how we deal with the physical world. It is how we relate to others and how we perform our duties and take responsibilities in society. It means to serve all.

Our internal life is our spiritual world. It is how we relate to our deepest self.

We shouldn’t neglect any of these two aspects of life. Hence, our motto:

Self-Realization and Service to All.

Our Neohumanist Lifestyle (Part 1)

The days at Baan Unrak start early, taking care of our bodies and minds with a winning morning routine made up of exercise, meditation and asanas (yoga poses). After a nutritious breakfast, each of us gets busy doing our assigned tasks.

WORKING TOGETHER

The boys take care of the garden guided by Pi Tarit, who grew up here at the Home and is now in charge of the teenagers. He is very knowledgeable about agriculture. Under his guidance, our organic garden is getting better and better day after day, bringing vegetables to the kitchen while also educating the children, and giving them purpose, and pride, in their work.

In the Garden

Watering the plants is a daily task, performed in the mornings and afternoons collectively. First, the children fill the watering cans from the water tanks, also recycling grey water from our “half baths” and dish washing.

Sometimes, Ishvari and Pa Muno come to cheer the young men at work!

For the boys, the compost pit becomes a long jump challenge! And for those failing the jump across, it’s a free fall into food scraps…!

In the garden, there is always a reward for the hard workers. Today, it was delicious jackfruit freshly cut from a tree.

Giving Love and Care

Ishvari is a special child, and she needs special care. Together with Pa Muno, her inseparable care giver, she goes to Bangkok once a year to do physiotherapy, learning exercises that she can do every day at the Home. Nandy, 10 years old, is her little helper.

Ishvari is also using a brand-new little car, appositely made for her: conceived by Didi, realized by our master worker Pi Heng. On 4 wheels, moving around is easy, active… and fun! …With another little helper: Kenioto, 2,5 years old.

Cleaning Home

Keeping our spaces clean and tidy is so much fun when we are all involved. Every child, big and small, plays his and her part. It’s a real team work!

Making Cheese!

Following Didi’s teaching, the children learned to make goat cheese… with the milk of our beloved goats of Baan Unrak farm!

We enjoy the delicious goat cheese with the little and tasty tomatoes from our garden. For the first time in Baan Unrak we are able to grow them, thanks to the new greenhouse.

TIME TO REST

After lunch, when the sun is high in the sky, outside it feels like an oven. The temperature goes beyond 40°C (with a real feel that has reached 47 °C = 116 °F). Now, it’s time to stay indoors.

The children love to watch movies. It could be in the dining hall…

…or on the fresh concrete floor of the meditation room.

Meanwhile, in his rest time, our teenager-in-charge Pi Tarit enjoys playing guitar in the company of his children.

For our babies, it’s time for a midday sleep. Here, the sweet dreams of Kenioto

…he is the child of a single mother which cooks, so… he naps in the kitchen!

As soon as he wakes up, he is ready to help!

Each of us can contribute to the common welfare, according to their capacity. And so, even the little ones are happy to do their part!

Another day, another nap… with mom!

Zzzzzzz…

LET’S PLAY!

In the afternoon, there is more time for playing. Anantapat loves to play with toy cars…

Tanwar is Superman, darting out of his room!

Chidatma is Harry Potter, and with his magical broomstick he flies around Baan Unrak hill at maximum speed!

…he also loves climbing trees, especially to get those big jackfruit that hang up there! He climbs with a knife in his teeth like a pirate!

Em loves drawing, and he just made a portrait of his beloved sponsor Pavitra, our longtime volunteer. Em took inspiration from a photo of him that he keeps with affection. A beautiful way to express gratefulness…

Meanwhile, at the Boys’ House they play with marbles, with a couple of spectators watching the game perched on a tree!

Jake and Boat have fun on the swing, shouting and singing while pushed by our volunteer Laura.

Big children love to take care and play with the little ones… like Janpen with baby Hom.

When the sun goes down, traditionally, the children play at chasing each other!

Meanwhile, Zia Caterina spreads her love around. Here, with Monsai.

In this time of quarantine, we are surrounded by positive messages, reminding us that…

We Get What We Give!

every thing will be alright, and LOVE WILL WIN!

EveryThing is For The BEST!

PART 2 of “Our Neohumanist Lifestyle” is coming soon…

STAY TUNED!

Boys Time On The Island

Before sunrise, we walk down Baan Unrak hill and jump on the boat. We go to the island across the lake. It is a desert, wild piece of land, where we can start our days in the best way.

As soon as we land, we…

Run Like The Wind!

Muscular Awakening…

Then we make a circle, and one by one we step into the middle choosing and leading a different exercise. From jumping jacks to push-ups, we do a full body warm-up.

In this great natural space, limitless in the early morning haze, we are free to wander…

The Bath Mantra

It is the moment to pay respect to our ancestors, and to the sages of all ages who have walked on this earth. It is also the moment to feel the divine in everything around us and within ourselves. This is the beautiful, profound meaning of the bath mantra, which we chant and perform with precise gestures facing the rising sun, letting its healthful rays nourish and fortify our bodies, through the incredibly beneficial morning light.

To properly perform it though, we need to get our skin wet, dripping water, so we first run into the lake and splash each other!

Meditation Time

Baba Nam Kevalam – Love is Everything, is the universal mantra. Everything is an expression of infinite, loving consciousness.

So let us close our eyes, and listen to the sound… of silence.

Shell-Baseball

Now at the peak of the dry season, the water level of the lake has greatly dropped, leaving lots of shells ashore… The boys looked like samurai masters, while hitting and smashing in mid air the empty shells found on the meadow, using bamboo and wooden sticks as baseball bats, or katana swords!

Let’s Go Swimming!

Collecting Wood…

We search for dry sticks to start the fire, which is not an easy task on the windy shore of the lake.

Around The Fire

Some mornings, it can be quite cool out there. The burning flames warm our bodies and souls.

Another day, another fire…

Ash Faces!

Returning

Sometimes, our goats come to visit us with their floating house!

…but when the boat comes, it is always time for us to return on our beloved hill. Now, it is the goats time to enjoy the island!

Some prefer to swim back, coming out of the water extremely energized!

Our last effort is to climb up the hill, following the steep dirt trail that leads to our Children’s Home at the top.

These early mornings, together in the nature, are very special experiences for our boys. The feeling of brotherhood during these adventures creates a deep bond among them. A bond that will remain and shape their future.

The Girls Camping Trip

It was just after dinner, shortly before sunset when we set off over the lake with our blankets, biscuits, boom-box and straw mats.

We are marking the school holidays by going on a camping trip. The location is still close to Baan Unrak, just 5 minutes by boat, across the lake to a spot of land that is normally under water, but given the dry season that is upon us this year, we can use this land as our own private island.

Our first action is to jump straight into the water, to cool down our bodies and even wash our hair. We brought swim rings so we leisurely bob around on the water together, taking it in turns to sit in the rings, allowing our legs, head and arms to dangle, before someone overthrows the ring and claims it! Our laughter, whistles, cheerful voices and music can be heard by the nearby villagers and Didi, who is just finishing meditation with the boys at the top of the hill.

Now, for the 15 of us is time to set up camp.

Some girls take the opportunity to practice their photographic skills, using our volunteer Laura’s phone. The output is remarkable!

Other girls sit around chatting and nibbling biscuits. Others are singing songs together, laughing when they forget the words and teasing each others dance moves. It is nearly a full moon evening.

Aye Moe has the bright idea of using a tin to light the fire in, so we can control the spread. As the sun sets, it is such a treat to have a fire.

It is a sleepover like no other. We sing Baba Nam Kevalam, appreciative that we can spend this precious time outdoors in the nature, while many of our friends around the world are inside their homes.

As the times goes on, we drift off to sleep, guided towards our dreams by the sound of crickets and cicadas, the water lapping gently, the vague noise from the villagers in the distance and our own whispers. It is a strange sensation, falling asleep outside, it’s colder than in our rooms, but we don’t mind, it is a welcome reprieve from the heat of the day!

It’s 6am and we slowly begin to stir. We form a circle, still sleepy-eyed and begin to softly sing Baba Nam Kevalam.

We feel the first rays of the day gently caress our faces as we meditate.

A quick snack of biscuits, and some of us are off into the water for a quick swim while others braid their hair. We are glad to have the fire now, as the fresh morning air is cooler when we get out of the water!

Then, we depart back to Baan Unrak for our breakfast, some of us sitting on the boat, others dragged along on our beloved goats’ floating house.

Rod Nam Dum Hua, a Water-pouring Ceremony

Across Thailand the celebrations for Songkran, the Thai New Year, have been cancelled. Like with Chinese New Year in China, families in Thailand are showing solidarity for one another by staying at home and celebrating modestly with friends and family.

At Baan Unrak, it’s 11am when Didi is called to the dining hall, and is invited to sit with Zia Caterina and Melek.

The children are all there, sitting cross-legged on the floor, wearing the most colorful clothes they have, as per tradition during Songkran.

It is time for us to pay respect to our elders. This ritual is known as “Rod Nam Dum Hua”, the pouring of scented water onto the palms and feet of our parents and other respected elders. In return, we receive their blessing for happiness in our lives.

The moment is charged with emotion as each child comes to kneel, first in front of Zia, whose tears fall freely as the children thank her, for her love, her time with us, and her colorful presence.

The children then express their gratefulness to Didi. Her hands cup each child’s head gently as they kneel in front of her.

Finally, they shuffle along to Melek, our gentle, soft-spoken nursery teacher, loved and respected by us all. Melek wishes the same for us all, health, strength and happiness in our lives.

We pay respect starting from the smaller child to the bigger, until the adults.

After the ritual, the children run to celebrate Songkran, Thailand’s Water Festival. They fill every water bucket and container they can find, and start splashing water at each other. It’s not long before they are all soaking wet and dancing, joyfully ringing in a Thai New Year!

That morning, Didi had given us a message of Hope and Light:

“All sadness and problems will go away. You will have a very, very good life, with love and care from everybody.
This generation is very lucky. You will be so strong.
You will be the leaders.
You will know how to keep life good. This is the beginning of a new era, a new way of life. You will be powerful, full of knowledge.
Never give up.
Keep serving all until the last breath of your life.”