For quite sometime I've been disillusioned in my faith, primarily due to the antics of the Buddhist Priests of today - The ones who march screaming in protest, the ones who are chauffeur driven in fancy European cars, the ones who somehow seemed to have millions to invest in financial companies that offer fantastic returns, the ones who preach fire and brimstone, nationalism and intolerance,these monks have shaken my faith to the extent I no longer worship the robe as we are taught to, rather holding back till I know the monk and what he stands for.
It was therefore a pleasant experience to meet a monk who seems to walk along the path as it was laid out by the Buddha.
He is about to take Vas, isolating himself from the general community to spend the next three months in meditation. He sleeps on a mat, touches no money, is a vegetarian, and each day, walks the roads on "Pinderpathaya" - walking in search of alms for his meal.
His demeanor is serene and calm, soft spoken, contemplative. Listening to him, conversing with him an experience, and insight into a life that is pure in its purpose. At the end of this year he will move to a forest, to live in a wattle and daub hut he is building little by little, to spend the next five years in retreat.
All this strikes me as being the exception rather than the norm - I'm sure there must be more monks out there who live their life in a similar manner, sadly we meet so few of them. But there are a few more things that make this monk an exception and one to restore one's faith.
This monk was not always a monk. In another life he owned a very successful business, in the USA. Today this Caucasian man who speaks a few words of Sinhalese, ordained as a Buddhist Monk, walks barefoot, possessing nothing more than his robes, umbrella and begging bowl, conducts himself in a manner in which I suspect the majority of monks born in Sri Lanka no longer do so.
I kneel to worship him, humbled and a little sad, that in this Buddhist country, the exemplary example of what a monk should be is a man from another land, another culture who has embraced the teachings of the Buddha in such a pure way