Our adventure of the day was visiting a famous monastery that houses over 1,000 monks. You don’t realize how many 1,000 is until you watch them line up for lunch. They just kept coming and coming, quietly lining up in two lines side by side. Unlike any lines I was ever in, these were two very orderly. Nobody cut. Nobody spoke out of turn. There was no talking at all. The only thing I heard was the faint grumbling of their stomachs.
This would have been interesting enough except we got a behind the scenes look at their lives. It turns out that signing up for monkhood is not a lifetime commitment. A monk can be in the monastery for a week, month or years. They can leave the monastery when they wish and then return in the future. Our guide was a four-time dropout. Impressive.
As you can see a monk is dressed in a red toga-like outfit. You would think it would take just a few seconds to get dressed and go. But, no. Not even close. We were fortunate to have a junior monk demonstrate getting dressed. What an ordeal. There were more steps than on assembly instructions for a child’s playhouse. After a few moments he declared himself dressed. I think a bathroom roble would be more efficient and look almost as good.
After reviewing the kitchen (more like a warehouse) we came across a senior monk who demonstrated ringing the three bells, one for meal time, prayer time, and school time. He didn’t actually ring any of the bells but did show us how he would ring them. He spoke no English so we did not understand anything he said. Actually he said nothing. These monks did not talk.
And remember, its all about the light, even the eternal Buddhist light of the monks!