Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Can Monks Drink?

Last night a meeting by chance with an old friend of mine who had come from a remote school paid me a visit. He put up with me as he had no one in this vicinity. Playing a sound host to my friend, we went to a familiar restaurant for dinner with some beers to call our day off. Things to be eaten for dinner had to be prescribed an hour or so. For the waiting game, I took out a bottle and whispered ‘cheers’ to myself as my other friend stopped drinking a long time  ago. 

Then my other urban colleagues joined after a while and we began to talk of the days’ events. In the cabin of the familiar restaurant, several red robed people were conversing and by the time I and my friend got there, they were done with eating and drinking.

Wait a minute! Did I just mention drinking? Yes, you read it right. They were drinking and some of the monks were already giving us a conjunctivitis look. To add fuel to the fire, the one who was completely drunk, was holding two middle aged women. God! By the way they converse in the local dialect, I could sense out the intention of the monk. If you know what I mean! Now their eyes matched their robes. This is what compelled me to pen down my thoughts on what I just saw recently. 

Are monks and the ‘clergy’ allowed to drink? If defended from a human perspective yes they can because they have desires and urges too. They breathe like any of us and feel like we do. But the bottom line is, they embraced the monastic life to kill their desires and urges, they embraced the monk-hood to strive for spiritual fulfillment, they made this choice to lead all beings towards enlightenment, and they became monks to lead a simple compassionate life. That’s the very reason why we have so much consideration and respect for the people in ‘red’. At least, I revere them with much awe. And so to speak, almost everyone in our country has high regard for them. 

We are all equally responsible for our own country and tourists flock to our land not to see the magnificence of our villas, hotels, spas and roads. They come here to witness our Vajrayana customs and belief. They come to see our folk festivals, the Tsechus and other religious undertakings. We are all responsible for creating a lasting impression in the minds of outsiders. On the other, monks are more responsible than us! 

As a patient listener of folk tales, it has been reported that the art of oral story telling is dying but it is documented somehow and the future generation can at least read it. What about the agents who form the cream of our Vajrayana belief? These agents are nowadays seen more in bars and public places with bottles before them. What can be worrisome than the sight of monks drinking?
Thought for the day: Can monks drink?

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