|An offering to Buddha at my local nail salon...pretty sure Buddha likes lattes, as do I.|
|From National Geographic|
Since I had no authority to broach the subject of monks, I do what any one should do: go read something. In my World Religions book, the index lists monks, in page sequence: Buddhist, Christian, Jain, Japanese, and Tibetan. I will add Shaolin, as well.
Many years ago there was a story in the Seattle Times about a mother whose son was deemed the reincarnation of a Buddhist monk. Long story short, she ended up sending her son to the monastery half a world away, and I believe he was only nine years old or so. Oh wait, no, he was four. That test of Abrahamistic-level of faith is beyond me. Though the filmmakers deny it, some would assume the (awful) movie, Little Buddha, is based on this. Please don't watch the movie. Ever. The real story is fascinating enough without bad acting.
When one thinks of monks, few keys words spring to mind: discipline, austerity, ritual, and meditation. Whereas a shaman may seek visions using drugs (peyote) sometimes pain, monks seek spiritual enlightenment with repetitive thinking and actions or deeds, mantras, mediation, or denying little or no possessions or comforts. According to history, many a young man would become a monk simply to have a roof over his head and food, but the cost is personal freedom, family, and material possessions. Buddhist monks are not allowed to have jobs to earn money, but may receive donations for their sustenance: I find this concept fascinating. Family and friends routinely support the monk in training perhaps as their own means of spiritual enrichment. The daily life of a monk is ritual, practice, and stillness. This is true for monks of all faiths. One gives up many things when one chooses this path. But like all religions, too, politics and the strife of humans causes pain and conflict. It is tragic.
|Tibetan Prayer Kites|
For their sacrifices, monks lives may also be envied. We may view their simple works as a much needed release from the technological and world noise, mental and physical pollution we stain our world with. But even monks need a new roof over their heads, so if you want to help out, please!
- Buddhist Monks: Basics of Buddhism (PBS production)
- Christian Monks: Please don't laugh-- oftentimes some of the best resources have "for kids" in the search words. Seriously. History for Kids is one of the best sites around.
- Jain Monks: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/jainism/worship/ministry.shtml
- Japanese Monks: article about the Sōhei, or warrior monks.
- Tibetan: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/subdivisions/tibetan_1.shtml
|Kung Fu Master|
This time of year of feasting, family, and festivities brings about our own doubts about the nature of spirituality. It is tough to deny ourselves those material goods, the new thing, the latest. The Dalai Lama would have us practice contentment:
These are both irreverant and serious looks at being a monk:
Kung-Fu Hustle (one of my guilty-pleasure movies)
Enter the Dragon
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (all stories are love stories)
Pain-free Shaolin Monk video