Have You Eaten Yet?

In 1993, I visited China with five lucky School of Technology students at my University. Before going, I asked around for some cool things to say and “Chī le ma?” or “Have you eaten yet?” was the phrase I learned besides asking for the toilet. It does not mean what it literally says. Instead, it means a little bit like “How are you?”, but more casual like, “How’s it going?” It sounds funny in English and that is why I say it in English to my Chinese monastic friend when I see him. Recently, one of my friends who is […]

7 Lockdown Suggestions From A Monk

These days, the lockdowns are in full swing. The question is, “What do you do with your time?” Perhaps you are out of work, or retired like my parents. What do you do? As a monk, lockdowns or “stay at home” orders are not much of a big deal unless a medical problem arises. Since April, we have been on a more serious lockdown to the point where it has affected the food variety to mostly long shelf-life food items. The monastery built a fence and gate to keep people out at the entrance, yet, 6 months later, I have […]

Turning 50

Today I turned fifty years of age. A few months ago, I was really happy about it but then as health problems piled up a few weeks ago (which ended up being a 2.5 week allergic reaction), I was unpleasantly reminded that our bodies were only given 40-year warranties and I was ten years overdue. As I told my parents this newly discovered truth that a birthday just means I’m getting older with more problems and eventually death, my father said, “Bhante, we have been 30 years ahead of you with this same stuff.” Old Buddhist wisdom. Old age, sickness, […]

Monk Life and Natural Dyeing

Here are pictures about the natural dyeing process. The monks boil the ironwood tree bark chips for a long time (days). When a drop of dye is dropped in a glass of water, a ball will form and sink to the bottom. At that point, the dye master will empty that batch of dye into containers and then reboil the same chips with fresh water to make more dye. You can do this two or three times before the chips are used up. The dye is added by sprinkling just a little bit onto the robe and then rolling it […]