Nepalese Fighting Monks

Friday 16th November 2007
Just so you all know, my lovely friend Vic has informed me that Ilford is in North London, very probably in Essex, we’re not sure about their football team but apparently they’ve got an ok cricket team, so that’s part of the mystery solved.
I went to Chovar the other day to visit my friend Mari, a Danish girl who’s been volunteering at a Buddhist monastery there.
It’s not far from the city, and is up a steep hill. The monastery is perched on a little outcrop that gives you almost a 360 degree view of the valley and hills.
It is gorgeous, and really peaceful and calm. I took lots of lovely pictures of the surroundings and gardens, the city views and me spinning the prayer wheels etc.
Loads of prayer flags!

Loads of prayer flags!

As you come out of the garden you can go through the gate to the side of the monastery, where there’s a large patch of grass and nothing but a gentle drop off the edge of the hill. It’s really serene, and there’s a single tree, and no noise except the flapping of all the prayer flags in the wind. The colours of all the flags are beautiful, and as we came out onto this patch of land, there was a single monk, sitting cross-legged and completely still in the sun, with his head bent. He looked to peaceful and really fitted the landscape wonderfully in his deep red and orange robes. I really wanted to take a picture of him, but my camera was right at the bottom of my bag and I didn’t want to disturb him by rummaging around for it.
It was all so picturesque, until we got a bit closer, and the illusion was totally destroyed, as it turned out he had his head bent over his mobile phone and was not in fact praying or meditating, but was absorbed texting people!
Mari also informed me that there had been some trouble with the Lama who runs the monastery, who apparently had had a fight with one of the monks. I asked what they were arguing about, and she said “Oh they weren’t arguing. They had an actual fight, you know, beat each other up. Afterwards they both carried knives around with them for ages.”
I found it so bizarre to think of monks going at each other like that, but then I think our “western” view of what Buddhist monks are has been largely uninformed and shaped by movies!
We tend to think that Buddhist monks are all peaceful, calm people into reincarnation and karma and wouldn’t hurt a fly etc.
However, as we’ve all seen in Burma, monks are actually just men, and they can still be just as aggressive as anyone else.
Furthermore, at this monastery a lot of them are only kids – the youngest is 5, and aside from Mari and another volunteer teaching them English, they pretty much get left alone. I was really surprised, as you’d think the whole idea of having young monks there is to teach them the ways of Buddhism, but they don’t get taught anything at all about their religion – they just have to go to prayers and pick it up along the way I guess.
All a bit strange, but then no wonder they fight (often physically) so much! They’re just a bunch of largely unsupervised boys, quite neglected, who’ve been dumped there by their parents!
The fact that they wear the red and orange robes ought to make a difference, but it doesn’t seem to.
So there you are, Nepalese Fighting Monks (not unlike the Japanese Fighting Fish).
Another random little episode in the Life of Maya.
kisses and hugs
Maya of the Monsatery

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