I have stayed in the city for too long… and now it is time to move on. A forest monk belongs in the forest. Not that I had become over accustomed or too bored with the place, neither am I running away from its arrays of conflicting congestion. Noooo… not at all. Rather the opposite actually… I am moving because I am asking myself to.
For the past two months, I placed my mind on a very special kind of test… “The Veering Off Course Test”… it is when a monk chooses to live the life of a very ordinary person. Letting his mind go back to its grasping nature… the nature of being deaf, dumb and blind. No restraints, no rules, no meditation, doing whatever it wants to do until it goes astray and loses all awareness. And then see what happens next. I must say I have gained some weight from full blown eating. Quite a dangerous test if you asked me… but it was something I wanted to give myself as I was 8 weeks approaching my 33rd birthday.
While living in a city temple, committing myself to whatever work flowed my way, which a lot of them did. Big one here, little one there… A 50-page homework for a friend monk for example is considered to be big one for me, recovering a dead 80Gb hard-drive is like a medium sized exercise, although taking several hours to complete and perhaps something like designing the temple’s advertising banner would be a task I can regard as quick and easy on my personal chart. Anyhow, I found myself spending almost 18 hours a day in front of computer screens, cooking my retinas. I now require prescription gamma-ray protection glasses when using computers. Although many of my lazy monk friends have had to repeat another year at Monk-University for failing their exams, because their teachers thought their English was nothing like their home works, it was pretty funny… I mean “I enjoyed working on your English exercises, but Dudes… did you expect to pass when somebody else does your homework for you? I mean what the heck! Hahahahahahahaha”. One of their teachers approached me and asked me to speak English with him on regular basis. More late nights and plenty of system tests including Lynux Ubuntu and Windows Vista 32 & 64-bit beefed up my IT knowledge, helping me to deal with upcoming changes and traps.
So my mind worked around the clock with almost no rest… my only relaxing time was on Sundays with Toffee, a kind Japanese guy who shares with me lunch and shopping. Toffee noticed I started to swear uncontrollably at one stage, hahaha. After one month, it began to question itself… “Am I being conned? Am I losing all the skills? I can still be aware when I want to be… see? Blah blah blah…” it wasn’t right awareness and I knew it, but I noted that at least it was questioning itself. About two weeks later, dramatic changes happened. As soon as I had a quiet moment, it would start to self-meditate… locking on to the blissful sensation in the belly, but as soon as I peeped it immediately left the spot. I couldn’t order it to go back, it was once again showing me the nature of Universe.
I started to meditate more and more, swinging back to control… asking it to stay in the bliss, commanding it and later… forcing it. But not for long though, because “control” naturally led to suffering. It mentioned “right mindfulness Mickey… starting with the eye movements please” back-tracking to its previous training and I did… I let it catch up to itself like old times. It wasn’t fast enough to catch up with thoughts or memories just yet. But deep down it acknowledged the restoration works to be progressing, gradually returning to its previous habits and skills.
Mom called me on my BD and I told her what I did, she was so happy which made “it” very happy. I was crying on the phone like a little boy. I rated this experience as one of the best birthday presents I have ever had.
Thank you all for always being there, for your understanding and support.
Phra Mick Ratanapanyo Bhikkhu.