Valley Monks



Ocassionally visiting a monastery in a rather perfect valley, as a highschool graduate struggling to function in society yet bound for spiritual things, I decided to message the monastery and inquire if it is possible for me to become a monk. They quickly said it's fine and invited me to servive and tea on a sunny Sunday. 


Soon enough I was riding my bike far into the spiralling streets of the lush valley.


Guests were gathering in a library. There was a boy my age wearing white robes and talking with someone. I wove through the profusion of people to settle in a chair near the young monk. I greeted him with a smile and it was confidently reciprocated. He then shifted his wits more toward me and said hello.


"Hello," I said. "I'm here to meet Swami D-- to share tea and talk."


"Okay. We'll be sure that that happens, perhaps after the noon lecture for lunch."


His name was Amal "or Chad" he said. We then leisurely talked about ourselves till we migrated into the broad lecture hall and seated in the pews. Swami B-- was speaking that day, who was a monk in a northern location of the monastic order.


While the speech was occurring, I grew increasingly excited about this entire thing. I always wanted to become a monk; now a beautiful monastery of easy philosophy just presented itself into my spectrum. Swami B-- was talking about Vedanta philosophy, which is what the monastery preaches in earnest.


"Vedanta is an ancient eastern philosophy that practices a harmony of all religions. We are non-discriminatory towards our infinite perspectives in this world, and accept the universal self as it is in every aspect of creation.


"We worship Sri Ramakrishna as a Paramahamsa, which means incarnation of God. He and his disciples were the founders of this order. Disciples eventually came to America on a mission to spread their gospel. 


"They built this particularly serene monastery for themselves and us future devotees; and we're here gathered in a community of truth seekers."


The Swamis, officially devoted monks, wore soft saffron robes; there were few sitting near the stage; but the great room was otherwise packed with guests and fellow friends. The monks faces were bright with bliss and indeed serene.


Swami B-- chanted to end his time in the pulpit, then walked down the steps to commingle with the visitors. This was the only chance for the monks to sufficiently socialize in a week worth of isolation and solitude. But the brothers always had eachother.


As the flock of visitors emptied the hall and drove away in cars, I patiently awaited a calm moment to approach the holy men. I decided to find Amal, wondering how we were to proceed with our plans. He brought me through swinging doors into the kitchen, where they were beginning to join together for lunchtime.


Swami D-- is the abbot who invited me. He grinned using intuition to discern my present purpose there in the kitchen, and introduced himself officially and with Argentinian accent.


"Welcome! We're very excited you're here!" he said.


We talked, me thinking my destiny might flutter in living moments. Soon I was invited to do a following visit, when we would actually be meditating together and they'd take me through the practices of a day. He encouraged me to introduce myself to the other guys, then gave me a tour of their sanctuary.


Since the quiet people were in the vicinity, I greeted each of em.


Swami Y-- was 96 years old. He had ears so bad you had to yell a little and he'd cup an ear with his hand so he could hear. But he seemed otherwise pretty healthy. I mean, for him to have such longevity already signifies good health.


Swami P-- was super silent, sweet and awkward with a shy smile. He was the only vegetarian dwelling there, except for myself now.


The prodigy Amal had only been there for a couple years. Perhaps his mind is very similar to my own, because we had an immediate connection. His mom was a haircutter and she gave the guys free haircuts during the time she visited her dear Chad. 


There was another resident in the monastery, but he wasn't a monk. Still he was accepted to live in a room on the property with his cat. He was a very odd person with a fat belly and scratchy voice. 


The dogs too, Sadhu and Maya, strolled and enjoyed the gorgeous gardens.


Now acquainted with all the men in robes, Swami D-- took me on the tour.


Exitting the kitchen, I followed him back through the lecture hall. The library and belltower were directly across from eachother. Then we continued on the pebble pathway and there was a courtyard and a fountain sculpture that flowed into a pond of coy fish. The living quarters, much like jail cells, stretched in a narrow building toward a few steps leaing to the dome of worship. And the whole property seemed a spectacular garden with bright flowers and beautiful old trees. The monastery was brick. There was also a gift shop near the dirt parking lot, a few other living quarters, chickens, and a trail that went through the valley forest. 


Eventually our time came to an end. He reminded me to come again next week to proceed with our purposes.


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patriciajj's picture

I too want to know what will

I too want to know what will happen next! I followed your intriguing tour with rapt attention, becoming more fascinated as you spoke of an inclusive world view, something that completely resonates with my Universalist beliefs, and then . . . wait! Then what? 


I'll certainly be checking back to catch the rest. Great story. 

Pungus's picture

Writing prose for me is a

Writing prose for me is a slow process, because I take breaks between nearly every paragraph, and oftentimes ignore stories for awhile; but guess I can say that I'm in the process of scripting an autobiography. And Temple Zafu is another fragment of it so far. Thank you for your very satisfying compliments. It's nice to have an appreciative audience

Januarian's picture

I dearly hope that this will

I dearly hope that this will continue, and continue in detail.  Unlike most prose that I read, this one has certainly brought me to that feeling of wanting to know what will happen next; and, in prose, when I read it, this effect is rare.  And that tells me that your memoir is well worth extending into a next chapter or in whatever form you care to present it.  And, please let me know when the next part is posted.


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Pungus's picture

thank you sincerely

thank you sincerely for your time

Januarian's picture

You, sir, need not thank me

You, sir, need not thank me for anything.  I thank you for posting this essay (please forgive me if I am not using the correct term), which has a style as beautiful as the best of your poems.


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