Monday, June 9, 2014

Chit-Chat with a Monk

How does one become like you?, I asked a monk. 

Simple, do not have any desires, she answered back.

How do you do that?!, I exclaimed (what I really meant was, Is that even possible?)

My disbelief did not ruffle her calm countenance at all.  In a soft and gentle voice, she replied.  I ask myself, what is important in this life?  For me, this is the time to give back all the attainments that I receive from God so I serve.

What attainments?, I queried.

Happiness, contentment, security. 

How about financial security?, I followed up.

Yes, I think of that too, sometimes.  You know the organization does not take care of my personal needs (or even medical bills).  But, I do not worry because whenever I need something, it comes without me asking.

She is a big lady, still quite young- probably in her early forties.  She is wearing faded jeans and over-sized shirt at the time of the (informal) interview.  She does not look like a nwassi (center resident) of a spiritual community but her face betrays her.  She has a huge smile plastered on her face, an aura of both wisdom and humility and a distinct twinkle in her eyes.    

Wherever you are, whatever you do, what's important is you're happy.  That goes for everyone- regardless of gender, age, position, or race., she continued.

The only thing I give here is my skill in baking and cooking- that's all.  I'm very happy to do that.

I commented, I tried to cook in the center once. (as you might have known, I am a monk wannabe)  It's not easy because I have to pay close attention to my thoughts.  I know that whatever I'm thinking and feeling will go into the food and will affect those who will eat it. What you do is not at all simple.

If I think, I'm responsible every time I go inside the kitchen that will create tension.  I choose to think that I'm simply the sous chef and God is the master chef.  (Hence, she's not the one in-charge. He is.)

Also, when you say this has to be done in a certain way, there's some force in it.  You mold yourself according to a certain standard.  It's better to be natural about it.  

I didn't know that I am some kind of a constipated jerk until I heard that.  I want to be like this. I want to do that.  Yes, material possessions do not tag me but to-do lists and plans still pull me.

Sensing that I'm berating myself, she advised.  Don't be too hard on yourself.  Just continue to be who you are wherever you are.  She reiterated, Be natural.

We both travel the same path to self-enlightenment.  She's definitely eons ahead of me.  

I continued our Q & A. What about the future?

What about the future?, she answered back.  

I've heard that monks are distant from the world. Today, I just experienced it. 

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