I would like to write a post consumate in insight and inspiration, the sort of thing that encourages me to move forward with determination and compassion and does the same for the members of my audience. It’s easy to understand how this is not a simple task. What the practice of writing entails is an amount of honesty and retrospection. To practice writing in this context is to apply these qualities to the novel experience of being enveloped in another country.
Yesterday two friends and I interviewed two monks at a temple in old town Chiang Mai. Over the course of our conversation I was struck by two things: 1) the efficiency of making mistakes in language with confidence and 2) the diversity of motivations and outlooks with regard to the pursuit of monasticism. One monk, a man in his sixties whom I will address as Hubert, was in the second month of his three month long temporary ordination. He had taken up the orange robe and the practices of chanting and meditation in order to generate merit for his recently deceased parents. This widespread practice of generating merit for one’s dead relatives is thought to contribute to their attainment of a happier rebirth. It was fortunate for us to meet this man, he was jovial and more than willing to share the details of his life. Hubert’s smile was utterly contagious.
The second monk, having been ordained for 10 years, was the sixty year monk’s senior, I shall address him as Marcus. At around the age of fourteen he’d immigrated from a neighboring country in order to ordain. He wished to gain an education, study Buddhism, and practice meditation. One day, Marcus intends to return home in order to give the gift of the Dharma. Being the same age, I was uplifted by his story. It’s a beautiful thing to put forth the time and effort for the sake of inner creation, cultivating wisdom with a generous heart.
I’m thankful to have met those men and intend to return in due time. The opportunity to practice Thai with them was indispensable. Conversating with a disregard for the insecurity of flubs made for a great ease in learning. Of course I made a multitude of mistakes, but boy was it fun.