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Monk Chat

by becca on December 10, 2009

Nate and Nan at Monk Chat, Chiang Mai

There are loads of Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai, and at least one of them has a program called “Monk Chat” where during certain hours you can go hang out with monks and ask them questions about Buddhism while they practice their English.

We sat down with a monk named Nan at a small, round table with basic cement benches. Over the two hours we were there, I squirmed constantly while Nan sat with his legs crossed calmly, his bright orange robe draped over one shoulder.

Nate and I had loads of questions about monk-life and we learned a great deal about Nan and other monks during our conversation. Nan’s most prized possession is a pencil that he uses for his studies – his parents gave it to him two years ago. His parents also provided him with mobile phone, though he insists that he is only borrowing it from them because with possessions comes attachment.

As a perfect illustration of a Buddhist teaching he discussed with us, I watched as an ant fell from a tree and landed on his arm. He felt the ant and looked at it, but left it there as not to hurt it. As he explained, even though the ant is very small, it is a living thing that must be respected just as a larger living thing such as a tiger.

We talked as the sun descended and though I’d like to think we helped Nan with his English, he spoke very well and I’m sure we gained far more from this experience than he did. With many of our questions about Buddhism and monk-life answered, we left together and our studious monk hurried off for evening prayer at his home temple.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachael 01.12.10 at 1:30 pm

Hi there, great blog guys, thanks! I’ve just come back from a (much shorter) trip to Thailand and reading about your time there and in Laos makes me want to jump straight back on the plane!

Would love to engage in some ‘Monk Chat’ in the future too but I just wondered how the monks were with having women around? I was never sure where to look when we saw monks in Bangkok in case I offended them!

nate 01.13.10 at 6:14 am

Rachael – The monks don’t mind conversing with women but they cannot have physical contact with them. You might be surprised just how contemporary they are actually! Thanks for following – looks like you had a great trip.

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