I am doing some research on novice Buddhist monks at the moment which is really interesting. I love this facet of writing but the only trouble is that the research very quickly and easily takes you off in many different directions and you have to be very disciplined to stay with the original topic! Especially once you get on the internet!
I have read 6 or so books; Little Angels by Phra Peter Pannapadipo, Stepping Into Freedom by Thich Nhat Hanh, Portraits of Tibetan Buddhist Masters by Rebecca McClen Novick, The Novice by Thich Nhat Hanh, My Master’s Robe by Tich Nhat Hahn and The Novice by Stephen Schettini. Each has given me a different point of view of Buddhism but all have been fascinating reading.
I love the Gathas from Thich Nhat Hahn’s book Stepping Into Freedom. These are short verses to recite daily to help the novice or monk return to mindfulness. Some of my favourites are:
Waking up this morning, I smile.
Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment
and to look at beings with eyes of compassion.
In this food,
I see clearly
the entire universe
supporting my existence
Smiling At Your Anger
Breathing in, I know that anger makes me not
Breathing out I smile.
I stay with my breathing
so I won’t lose myself.
The lives of the young novices are all different as they come from many and varied backgrounds. Some continue on and become monks but many only spend a few years as a novice and then return to their former lives.
I received this postcard recently from Sally Heinrich while she was travelling in Laos. Every morning Buddhist monks and novices go out into the community to beg for alms. Each monk or novice has his own bowl which, when filled, is taken back to the monastery. I love the colour of the robes. They are all slightly different in different monasteries. Some are a marigold yellow while others are a rich deep burgundy.