Saturday, October 07, 2006

Majjhima Bhikkhu

As of today, I'm a middling monk, no longer a newbie (navaka), but not yet an elder (thera). What does it mean to be a middling monk? A monk who has ordained for five 'rains' (years by the Buddhist calendar) need not dwell under dependence (nissaya) of another monk. He may go where he choses, for the purpose of developing his practice to the point where he can pass the teaching on to another, as a preceptor or teacher, once he become an elder monk (thera), after his tenth rains. For me it means the temptation of the forest and the open road...

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.

Thoreau, Walden Pond