The Life of a Monk, as seen through my imagination.
The life of a Monk is not necessarily the easiest. While the cessation of suffering is their ultimate goal in this life and the next, they certainly don’t make it obvious. That is not to say that they are intentionally subjecting themselves to unnecessary, or necessary depending on who you ask, suffering, but rather their lifestyle choice doesn’t seem exactly conducive to happiness, at least from the perspective of a Pac Rim student such as myself. Needless to say, I have not lived the life of a monk, nor have I taken the opportunity to shadow one as they go about their daily lives. However, through living in a monastery for two weeks I feel strongly that I can accurately imagine, and imagine is the important word here, what the monks go through on a regular basis. Let us begin.
First, the monks rise from their slumber at around 4, I think. Be it am or pm, it doesn’t matter to the monks, who, after all, stress the non-duality of all things. If all things are truly one in the same, then how can there be a difference between one and the other? We Westerners on the other hand do recognize the difference between AM and PM, and I can assure you, it is the AM.
Taking only seconds, as that is all they can spare, to get dressed and primped, the monks move silently, seamlessly, and swiftly across the parade grounds. An observer would glimpse only crimson rivers streaming from the abodes to the temple situated in the middle of the complex. Like a bolt of lightning, the monks of are there, brilliant and breathtaking, only to blink seemingly out of existence only a second later. The speed alone of their movement makes them glow with a divine radiance.
After that, they spend a few hours in quiet meditation, thinking about whatever floats their boat and eating porridge that is absolutely delicious. Now, from this point forward the monks effectively disappear from the real world and enter the world of spirituality and religion. I mean not that they immerse themselves in their studies of Buddhist thought and philosophy, but instead that, as far as I am concerned, they literally leave this world and go to a different Buddha field. They either use a portal of some kind or a meditation technique unknown to me, or maybe they even teleport, I have no idea. All I know is that until lunchtime, they are completely gone from sight, probably in another dimension.
Then they make us lunch. Not all of them, but a select few who are on kitchen duty or whatever. This is not a part of my imagination. This is a fact.
Then they disappear again in much the same way that they disappeared the first time. They don’t hop in a car and take off or walk into the sunset; they just disappear. Maybe they’re invisible to non-Buddhists and of all the people on Pac Rim, only Nima can see them going about their business. This is a distinct possibility.
They return from their Buddha field or become visible again around dinner when they make us our meal and seem to remain that way for the rest of the evening. They even play cards with us, which according to their religion, is just another form of suffering. We try not to take offense to this.
The rest of the monks probably play Monopoly in Tibetan, if that exists. It tests their patience like no other game and should be a staple in all Buddhist monasteries. Then they go to bed listening to Mongolian throat singers + His Holiness the Dalai Lama mash-ups.
At least that’s what I imagine.