A chat between two friendsDecember 27, 2016
Days ago I had the opportunity to sit and have a chat with Tom O’Flaherty our Bocas Monk and as always the meeting with this great men, full of energy and positivity me suggest me to share with him some thoughts.
Unfortunately, every day, when you open the media, the world “out there” seems to go towards a direction opposite of what we would like or what we teach to our kids. Bocas instead, even with its everyday problems, sometimes it does not seem to be touched by these great events but rather with small things can ‘make big gestures (see last Unidos event for Bocas that has earned more than 2000 Usd and the event of Emergency First Response Course collected in 9064 view in Bocasdeltoro.com Facebook s page.
It is clear that, Bocas del Toro is not the perfect island, however, has his night sides and for sure is not “bad” but full of funny time, but I see that more and more is becoming a place of meditation, yoga retreat, or location where people ‘choice it to live in a better world. You personally, as a Buddhist Monk, and as a man who participated to very particular and intensive events like “The Burning Man”, you made your own path in Bocas and a year and a half ago you left the island for personal reasons, after making an excellent collaborative work at the Bocas Asilo with Jean Sohmer.
What made you want to go and what you think of my crazy theory ?? And ‘something happened to get you back ??
You’re a man with your spirituality ‘has seen and experienced so much you think Bocas has something special?
“Sure is this Island can be called Paradise, many use as an advertising slogan, ‘Another Day in Paradise’ beautiful islands, sociable people, unmistakable colors what should we do to keep this paradise …. please better stop talking and listen to you. When I left BDT in May of 2015 I did not intend to come back as I had my family and practice determining the future. It was a difficult decision to leave the Asilo Family and the simple life here on the islands but looking back on it now it was the best decision I could have made for my family and my practice was strengthened by the circumstances and my teacher’s guidance. I was able to be with my oldest daughter, son in law and two granddaughters during the last year of his life. Being away was a matter of geography but I have an arial of the island on my computer and have remained connected through social media.You just don’t get the energy from pictures and the web that you get being here. I realized that the energy, the spirit of the islands can only truly be felt with your feet on the ground or in the water here. I was at a point where I was given transmission from my teacher and cast out of the Anadaire Celtic Buddhist Center to live as a homeless monk and my daughter’s family was surrounded by friends and family I had what we call an auspicious moment and the timing was right. Also it would be an opportunity for Jean Sohmer (who has devoted her life for the last two years to Asilo and The Friends of Asilo 501(c)3 charitable organization) to get off the island for a couple of months to recharge and be with her family. So there I was coming back to Bocas to be back with the Asilo Family, to put my feet back on the land and water. The Buddha taught that the only consistent thing in life is change. That everything changes and nothing is permanent so I expected change when I came back. Yes, there are different restaurants and new places to stay and the cast of characters is tweaked by people leaving and new people coming in but there is that energy and it seems to be realized by more people who come here. I watched through social media the yoga retreats, meditation, martial arts and native practices bringing people to Bocas. It’s early yet as I have only been here twenty four days so my feeling is not based on a lot of research it’s based on the feeling I get here on the islands.
For me it’s a very spiritual place and has had an impact on my practice and life. I came back on the day of the fundraiser by Unidos por Bocas and it was such a “yes this is what it’s about here” moment. So many people came together and generated not just an amount of money but a community event that brought a whole lot of people together with different backgrounds but a common spirit. Although I had a banana leaf as a plate with five choices of great food, I fed off the energy in the park. It was such a nice event that the rain didn’t bother anyone. I may have rambled on here but there is a definite feel of how this energy, the vibe, is just going to get stronger and noticed and will bring a nice balance of people in.”
We need to tell our readers that this is not ‘a formal interview, sitting around a table with pen and paper, in Bocas with a fresh juice or a cold beer, is an interview that lasted days, with reflections and events occurred on both sides. I say this because as I read the first part of his answers, I was sitting in the car waiting, and under a torrential rain I saw a man dressed in the “skirt” (as my 8 year old son commented to me one day and spent quite a time to let him understand what a Monk is) to ride fast, join his friends for meditation, holding an umbrella in his hand and as if nothing touched him.
In your previous interview with our correspondent Tamara Sikes, you have a beautiful released “Warning” of Bocas “Come to Bocas, you will be happy that you did…. Be kind to Bocas while you are here. Respect, recycle, re-use…. Take with a grain of salt anything you read on a Facebook group that begins with Bocas…Eat in the restaurants, go to the islands, visit the beaches, and see the Botanical Gardens and the Smithsonian and now we can add also the Bottle Village. Really get to know this paradise for a year to see if it is for you… Support the groups that give to the community and protect the environment.”
Re reading this, your phrases and after talking about what Bocas is becoming, Ven Lama Naomh Tomas is there anything you want to add or change or more suggestion?
Bocas is the almost perfect combination of day and night things to do. Most of the day time is playa centered with people not coming to the streets until night time when food and entertainment is most prominent. There really is not a lot of day time non beach activity to keep people near the center of town and supporting the local businesses. I think broadening the yoga, spiritual, organic culture would be a positive addition to what Bocas has to offer.
I come back for the people and the energy and the soft weather compared to harsh winter in the Northeast US. I think of Bocas as a home for me and have been welcomed and so well accepted by people here.
Would like to remind to our readers that the last 7th of December the town of Bocas come all together with Tom and the Friends of Asilo charitable organization, again to collect and help Bocas del Toro ‘s “Asilo” (Bocas Almshouse) a pleasant meeting based on live music and presentation of Italian food, combined for just one purpose: to help others Bocatoreños, less fortunate than ourselves. was a smashing success with $4000 from the dinner and $2500 from Ted Hannig who said if we sold out his foundation, The Danforth Foundation would give $2500 which they have already been deposited. The Johnson Singer Foundation has matched any monies we raise until next month up to $20K. Carla Rankin and Kristan Fjeld Drake main Director of this event doing all the food, and her Random Art kids serving the meals. This incredible event that raised money to help to maintain the healthcare for the residents and some much needed infrastructure things that can’t wait for the government to do it that are safety and quality of life projects.
We want to accompany the next year with the sentences left by Ven. Lama Naomh Tomás Bocasdeltoro.com wishes you a happy new year, we would like to see you here all in Bocas town, and take back home some of this special energy
As Ven Lama Naomh Tomas like to say….. Bless
If you would like to do a donation for Asilo, please do it through: GoFundMe