Wednesday, 6 May 2015

“I spent ten years as a Buddhist Monk but today I am a normal man”. Meet Choi, a brave young man with a strong desire.

I feel a strong responsibility writing this post. I am scared to a certain extent that I will not make justice to Choi’s words or even worse, that my words may lack important affirmations and thoughts expressed by him through our conversation.

I am certain, though, that I do also have the responsibility to share this very important awakening moment with you, I aim to transmit you a tiny portion of thousand feelings that passed through my body and soul while talking to this very wise young man.

It was one of those happy carefree days in Chiang Mai for me. A lazy morning spent too engaged in my smart phone.

Luckily for me, a third time in Chiang Mai didn't stop me of marveling at the sights of many of its eighty temples within the Old Town and  with the excitement of what it had yet to come, I braved the heat and left for another round of temples and spirituality. As always, I walked with no direction, the way I believe Chiang Mai must be seen.

Without fail, the city has always provided me with several daily surprises in every corner, what’s not to love about a place that makes you be in awe more times per day that you can count?

I came across this temple and nothing other than curiosity made me go inside with the hope to find a specific design to marvel or at very least, some generous shadows to hide from the burning sun.

I liked what a saw right away and I decided to look closer into it. To my delight as I stepped inside without trying to be intrusive given that the monks live in the compounds of the temples, I saw a bridge with beautiful colorful decorations and a river.

It was the first time I saw a temple with such unique features and I decided to walk through it and enjoy the peace and quiet that the place offered.

I noticed that on the other side of the bridge were located the monks houses; I could see them doing the daily tasks of maintenance and their orange clothes drying in the sun.

I thought to myself that it was a beautiful place for a monk to live.

I was deep in thought about nothing important when this guy approached me and said hello to me. I looked at him and I saw he possessed a genuine smile; his hair was very short and was dressed in a normal attire, all blue.

I notice he came from inside the temple. 

 For five seconds I was suspicious. I hate myself for that but travelling alone has made me developed an initial lack of trust on everyone that approaches me, I like to believe that keeping a distance sometimes makes me be safer, however I am learning to slowly let it go and I let it go with him very quickly because there was something about the way he approached me that I liked.

I said hello and asked him how he was, I was unsure why he approached me but I have learnt in my travels that sometimes the nicest conversations start with a complete lack of an idea of why you are talking to a certain person.

Many times, that complete stranger ends up enriching your life forever and you realized that is good to let go of prejudices and  let life surprise you by letting be approached and to approach.

Meaningful people sometimes come like that.

I started firing him with questions, I don’t why I didn't wait but I felt that he was looking for a conversation with a Westerner person, something that is not entirely surprising as some locals may look for opportunities to improve their English.

I think the moment was timed perfectly to find each other; I believe Choi was possibly looking desperately for someone to share this excitement confession and I was grateful to have a conversation with a local that would provide me with a real insight on a spiritual existence.

Something made me ask him if he was a monk. I felt stupid that I did given that he was dressed in normal clothes but there was something about him that made me feel calm.

He said that yes, he was. He was a monk for ten years until the day before.

This is not something that you are preparing to hear in any casual conversation.
He could see the surprise in my face and I suppose he was quite delighted by my reaction, one that he would have to endure for quite a long time from people until the novelty runs off.

Whats makes a man who has spent the last ten years happily as a novice monk to suddenly want to be normal again?

 Choi was very simple and wise man and so were his words; he just wanted to live a normal life, work and start a family.

A beautiful desire and who can blame him?

I couldn’t even think clear; there were so many questions I wanted to ask him! I could not even to start understanding the simplicity of his desire to join our world.

I don’t know the history behind each monk, why their desire to live a life of sacrifice is big enough to retire themselves from the world as we know it.

Choi helped me to understand that there are no right or wrong decisions and that anything done from the heart is done well.

Choi comes from a village in North Thailand. He remembers from a younger age seeing in his village a monk. He tells me that he also remembers that this man seemed to possess great inner pace and seemed always to have an aura of satisfaction about him. He said he liked that; he wanted to feel like that, too.
He said that many of his friends preferred to play or fight but he wanted to have what that monk had.

Choi joined a temple as a novice monk aged eleven and never looked back. He tells me that he has been very happy for ten years, that he is sad to go. The monks that had become his family are also sad to see him go but they understand his desire.

He is not scared to go out there and tells me that he will be fine, it will take some adaption but he will be fine. I listen to this young man and his cheerful confidence and I decided there and then that if anything comes good from the last ten years, it has to be his wisdom.

We talked about the people, I want to be the voice of reason because, even though I don’t know him, I badly don’t want anyone to hurt him and I tell him that not everyone is good out there, I feel I have to protect him before he gets hurt.

I asked him to please be careful, not to trust, and to go with his guts. He calms me down and tells me that his years meditating will help him to deal with a bad situation entirely different as any of us would.

 I look into his eyes and I know this young man will be fine and will learn new lessons when the moment comes. In the meantime, he smiles at his new life knowing already that it will be very complicated before it gets easier.

I asked him several questions about his life as a monk and he patiently helps me to understand their day to day; their sacrifices, the satisfactions, and the richness that lies on their simplicity.

He tells me about a new generation of monks; those who we see using smart phones and Internet, purchasing stuff. I now understand that a monk cannot be disconnected from the world and it makes sense. He tells me that as monk he watched football matches on TV and enjoys my reactions.

 I think he mostly enjoys quite the fact that we know nothing about them and yet we judge them.

We talk about us; Westerners. I tell him about Europe, about why we come here, why we take so many pictures of them.

I found myself badly wanting to be understood by him on why we act a certain way and I feel I must apologies for the whole Western world for the intrusive pictures we may have taken of him and thousands of others.

I love every minute of our conversation and I have a strong feeling of being blessed that I have met him. He shows me that maturity can come in any age, shape or sex.

An eleven year old boy knew exactly what he wanted while I’m standing in front of him still trying to figure out the direction of my life.

He is aware that life is complicated but also knows that is not so much what you deal with but the way you deal with it and I just wish I could have his knowledge and wisdom to deal with my own life.

He moves forward but keeps looking back not to lose sight of who he is been and where is he going.

I thank him for a profound insight in his life as a monk and for sharing his life expectations with me.

I look back at him one more time and he is standing in the bridge smiling brightly and waving me goodbye.

He has decided to stay in the temple one more week to give himself time to adapt before leaving this life as he has known it for the last ten years.

I know Choi will do well in life.

1 comment:

  1. Wow montse, definately, atonished about this post. Again, i cannot decide which one is the best.
    What i know is that this one is breathtaking, i amspeechless.
    you are so lucky to have had this conversation.
    I am still speachless.
    Heart touching