Here monk, there monk… everywhere monk monk

I’m totally obsessed, not sure if I should talk to someone.  I have gone so far as stalking one for about 30 minutes through the streets of Bangkok.

My problem: I am obsessed with Buddhist monks.  I am not sure why.  I love to stare at them, photograph them and just listen to them chant.  There is something peaceful and serene about them.  I feel at peace when I am around them.

Throughout my travels, I have always been pleased with my visits to Buddhist temples.  Everyone is always quiet at churches and cathedrals, the synagogue in Budapest is always closed for some reason, Hindu temples can be quite strict and often do not let my non-Indian friends in, but Buddhist temples have always welcomed people (even monkeys), laughter, questions… all with no rules or restrictions.  Best of all, the monks let you take pictures of everything even themselves.

Back to my obsession… I really like the monks in Asia mainly because of their beautiful bright orange attire.  The color is absolutely stunning.  I once followed a very old monk through the streets of Bangkok for about 30 minutes.  He kept stopping to talk to people and I honestly think he noticed me trying to take pictures of him, but he just kept walking.  After 30 minutes, he led me to a Buddhist temple where I heard the most beautiful chants.  That tricky little old monk =).  I sat there for about half an hour just listening.

My goal some day is to get a good picture of monks using technology… like cell phones.  I know it sounds so weird, but they lead such simple lives that I can’t help but find it cute when I see them using phones, DSLRs and such.

While the girls and I were in Cambodia, we woke very early in the morning to catch the most talked about sunrise at Angkor Wat.  I can definitely say that it was a beautiful surprise even though I only enjoyed it for all but 5 minutes.

Just a few minutes before the sunrise, I saw two long rows of bright orange fabric descending from Angkor Wat.  My friends who were fully aware of my obsession throughout the trip called out my name and pointed towards the temple.  There were hundreds of monks slowly walking to the front of Angkor Wat and taking a seat on the grass.  Of course, I ran over there and didn’t even care about the sunset.

The monks ranged from maybe ages 7 to probably 80.  They were sitting from youngest to oldest.  They were smiley, joyful and very happy to let you take their pictures.  The smaller ones were laughing and fidgety while the older ones where a little more serious but still with a smile.

And then they started.  In deep concentration, all the monks began to meditate together in front of Angkor Wat as the sun was rising.  There was a “senior monk” that would go around adjusting the postures of the meditating monks to make them more comfortable. The younger monks kept going in and out of mediation and found it a little hard to focus, but no one said anything to them.  I guess this comes with practice and listening to our body. I don’t think I have ever seen something so beautiful and so peaceful.  I just wanted to sit there right next to them and never leave.

We stress about so many things in our lives and have a hard time finding peace.  We spend money on shrinks, self-help books, alcohol, shopping, vacations, etc. when sometimes we just need something so simple to ground us to this earth again.

The monks were at peace, and so was I.

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