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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

No Longer A Monk (written on September 18, 2011)

Today I am battling the question of right and wrong, and the impact we have on other people's future. What I am feeling is based on second hand knowledge, my own interactions, and what does forgiveness and punishment mean.

A couple of weeks before I came to the monastery, I was told that a gang of teenage monks held a young monk over the side of the side of a three story building. This was not the typical games boy play. This young monk was terrified as he dangled in their hands only by his maroon robe. Thankfully a teacher saw this and he was quickly brought back to safety and released.

Later the teacher asked the boys who treated the young monk to step forward and take their punishment. One by one they stepped forward with most of them showing instant regret, but one monk, the leader of the pack did not step forward. When he was called out, he should no shame and kept saying he was not sorry because it was only a joke. The gang of monks were all to apologize to the young monk personally, give a public apology at the school, and write a letter to their parents about what they did. Some did it willing, but the gang leader had to be pushed. When asked why his letter was blank to his parents, he said his mom was dead and his dad was jail. Finally he apologized to everyone and wrote a letter to his uncle, however none contained any sincerity.

When I met the gang leader, I had no clue of the ugliness he could do. To me he was a quiet student, with a shy smile, who kept to himself. As I got to know him I could see his need for love but that he had no clue on how to receive it. When I heard the story of what he had done, I couldn't believe my ears. I couldn't see any of the monks being this mean, not because they were monks but because of their demeanor in general.
I heard second hand that the gang leader would be expelled (kicked out of the monastery), but did not know when. Then one day while eating lunch I saw him dressed in jeans and a T-shirt walking to a car with his small group of friends. In my head I knew this must be goodbye but my heart did not want it to be so. I knew he needed to leave, it would be better for the monks here but I didn't like the how. I was sad not be informed of the when because I would have written him a letter with my contact info, wished him luck, and give him a hug that I know his body would turn from but that his heart needed. It felt like this young monk was swept under the table in secret without ever feeling welcome again, instead of a chance to be welcomed to visit the monastery when he need the comfort or help for his new struggles. However maybe before with out my knowledge the other monks had already said their goodbyes, it happens a lot in these foreign lands where one does not understand the customs or the languages that one assumes something and it is wrong. Now matter what my heart cried when the car drove off, and the monks waved. I knew then I would never see this person again, and my only hope is that he does not feel abandoned, knows he will be in my thoughts, and that the monks wished his actions did make it so that he had to be asked to leave.

Later that week one of my students and friend, that speaks decent English, told me that the student who left had written me a letter but he forgot it at his home that he visits every Saturday night and Sunday. Every night I wonder what the letter says, but more than that I hope it has his contact information so I can tell him how sad I am that I missed his departure and I will always be someone that cares.

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