Confessions of a Monk
I had the privilege of getting to know a monk on a personal level while in Thailand last year. Left dazed and confused from my conversation with him, I went into a frantic search for answers. That is how I learned the meaning of life.
My friend and I were headed to Chiang Mai's Doi Inthanon National Park, the site of the largest mountain in Thailand. From seeing Buddha's footprints to visiting one of his remains on our way there from Bangkok, this trip became the most spiritual of all trips I have ever taken. Everything we were surrounded by emanated spirituality and this was the one time in my life where I felt the most at peace. It got me to thinking about anything and everything to do about life.
The Monk Appears
Then God blessed us with the appearance of a hitchhiking monk on the side of the street. He was trying to get to a temple not far from where we were headed but he needed to make an appearance at another temple, which we later learned to be Thailand's oldest buddhist temple.
He was one of the many Karen tribespeople from Northern Thailand so he spoke no English and his Thai was broken.
It was not long before we got into the juicy parts about his life. He explained that he was a travelling monk who had not seen his family for years; often spending 3-4 nights sleeping in the jungle and then then heading to a new location. We asked him what he thinks about when he is alone and he explained that his purpose is to reach nirvana.
I felt appalled that someone would be so willing to give up a normal existence for their religious beliefs. Given the danger involved in what he does, the thirst/hunger he feels daily, and the lack of family interaction; I had nothing but the utter most respect for him.
After a lunch break and being told our fortunes, we asked him if he wanted to get married and have kids. He was very vague and said that he had thought about it in the past. But we were vigilant in wanting a direct reply so we asked "what about now?". This made him partially uncomfortable but he responded in a very forthright manner.
He said that he still thinks about having kids and that sometimes he imagines himself married and living a normal life. So we asked him why he does not give up monkhood and just get married. Then the confession begins.
He was nudged into monkhood out of necessity. He was a tribesperson with little money, no education, very few prospects, and family that he rarely saw. The monks were willing to help him by giving him an education, shelter, food, and the semblance of a "family" that most people long for. He said that his intentions were to be a monk just to get by for a couple of years, get himself settled. He never had any intentions of doing it full time.
He mentioned that monkhood life was simple: requiring little thought and having no pressure and stress. And it was something he could handle. He said that a normal life would be too much of a challenge for him. So he became pigenholed; his temporary safety net of monkhood turned permanent and there was no going back.
My friend offered him a job and housing. We were willing to work with him if he wanted to get out. He was excited about the chance and wanted to get out. He asked about the job position we offered and we were very ademant on telling him that we would train him in as comfortable and slow-paced fashion needed. He said that he wanted to join but was not sure about how to go about it. When we dropped him off, we gave him money for transportation to our bangkok office, our phone numbers, and a firm 2 week deadline for him to make a decision. He agreed to get back to us.
He never did.
I guess he was so used to the simple life and at his age (40) unwilling or unmotivated to try and change things in his life.
The Meaning of Life
But it made me realize that above oneself, there's a higher good to achieve in this world. No, its not money. Not a good job, house, or other "posessions". It is our ability to love another human being and extend the cycle of life with children.
Seeing the prospect of having that almost convert a monk, opened my eyes to how important it is to find someone you love. It is the highest order. Now I am convinced I will never be complete until I fall in love, get married, and later hear the word "Daddy".
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