Saturday, August 27, 2011

life in a Buddhist monastery - part 2

The temple ceremony in West Thailand was for a very senior and well-known monk, Luang Por Chamnian. It was a lot of time and effort to get there and back from the forest monastery, but at the end it was worth it. There were about 200 monks from all over Thailand and at least twice of that his followers. Among that crowd, I was the only foreigner. I observed that Thai people are quite curious why a foreigner would bother to come all the way for a ceremony, especially considering that I don't understand a single word of it. At the same time, they highly respect and appreciate the interest of a foreigner towards their customs, country and especially beliefs.

Luang Por Chamnian
At noon, I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes alone with Luang Por Chamnian, during which he blessed me and offered protective amulets. That blessing was the first time that I felt the strong presence and the radiating energy of a monk. He is nowhere near a usual monk by Buddhism standards anyway. He lives with 30-kilos of weight dangling around his chest and belly. This weight consists of small gifts, amulets, key chains so when he is walking around, he looks very colorful. I was told that it used to be 60 kilos, but he reduced it by half at the age of 65. He constantly keeps them on, and especially when he's sleeping those 30 kilos put a lot of pressure to his lungs and pointed edges of metal objects hurt his skin. All the pain aside, monks are not supposed to own anything, so I was puzzled. I later found out that it is his way of walking the talk. He teaches that when one practices pure Buddhism the space and the clarity of his/her mind will persist regardless of how much physical discomfort s/he may be experiencing. At his current age of 75, with 30 kilos around his belly Luang Por Chamnian is a strong man who radiates his positive energy and lives an exemplary life to those who support him.

During my 5 minutes with him, I was told I could ask anything. Yet I had no idea what one can ask to a monk. Do I ask about my future, do I ask for protection or just throw out some technical questions about Buddhism? Seeing me sitting there tongue-tied, he smiled and just blessed me in his own way. It did have an impact – I am definitely feeling more grounded and my meditations got much deeper since then. I am constantly wearing the amulet he gave me and feel its protective powers.

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