Scenes of Wat Sankatan

Thai Vegetarian Cooking by Vatcharin Bhumichitr is part travelogue part cookbook. There is a photo with the following caption:

In a forest temple, a young monk meditates beside the body of a deceased colleague.

Without the caption, one would not know the nature of the meditation. There is further description of the practice in the following pages from a distinct perspective:

The Abbot led me down a distant path where there was a slightly larger stilt-house containing white boxes that I knew at once to be coffins. Here, in the presence of their deceased colleagues, the monks come to undertake the ultimate stage of their monastic study, Asupakamatan, the meditation on the decomposition of the human body. First the five external elements, skin, nails, teeth, the hair of the head and the hair of the body are studied, and then come the usually hidden inner elements, now exposed in the coffins. Did I, the Abbot enquired, wish to see inside one of the boxes? No, I did not, and thankfully we progressed to a series of long low barns where in damp darkness the monks cultivate mushrooms.

And the tour concludes with the marker of memory:

Now when I eat mushroom yam [a piquant Thai salad], my thoughts turn back to Wat Sankatan, though I try to concentrate on the avenues of trees and the pleasant sight of flowering mushrooms in the shady huts, rather than the distant stilt-house and its open white boxes with their proof of the natural cycle in which we are all inescapably linked.

And so for day 490