Late last week, writer Aaron Savage and I embarked on a journey towards Maxdale where we heard rumor of a haunted bridge. After finding said bridge and doing some exploration (the post is on its way!), we drove towards Ding Dong, Texas but before we got to the town, we spotted something that looked very out of place on the side of Highway 195.

A Buddhist Monastery.

When I think Texas, I don't think Buddhism. So we went in to fish for more information. Who lived here? Was it self-sustaining? What purpose does this establishment serve? We got all the answers and more from a monk named Tom who welcomed us with open arms. All he asked was that we didn't take pictures of him as he was in work robes after tending to the fields all day.

Wat Pah Samarkki of Killeen is a Theravada Buddhist Monastery, specifically originating from the Thai culture. Tom explained that many people come to their place of worship not for religion, but for meditation and stress management. Their highest rate of returning prayer-goers - Fort Hood soldiers who have been in combat or have had friends in combat.

Most soldiers have a hard time calming down. They're still warriors. Nature and meditation helps to calm people down.

While we listened to Tom talk about his beliefs, we realized how valuable these lessons are whether you're Buddhist or not. Letting go of anger is an act that comes easy to no one, but benefits everyone.

The answer is in you, but it's a matter of time. I can give direction but it comes down to you. First you have to have compassion. Love. You have to love yourself first or you will not be able to love others.

This just skims the surface of what the Monastery and its inhabitants can teach you. Life is all about distractions. Maybe it's time we confront our issues and then let them go.

Anger, substance abuse, depression, anxiety - it all stems from what's inside us.

You have to learn to accept what ever happens. If you hear something like, 'you're ugly'. You heard it. Now you have to let it go. Concentrate, relax the whole body and be aware of your breathing. Remember, you're still alive.

Discipline is also key to finding that inner peace. On average, there are about five monks residing at Wat Pah Samarkki, but it is a revolving door for monks all across Texas. Sometimes this establishment will carry monks from Dallas and Austin, and sometimes it will be just Tom.

Tom tended to the property all by himself for a whole month earlier this year.

The Monastery just celebrated its 22nd anniversary in Central Texas. You can find out more about Wat Pah Samarkki of Killeen on their Facebook page.

  • BONUS

    Exclusive Look Inside Wat Pah Samarkki of Killeen