by Ajahn Amaro, Ajahn Pasanno 2000 English

“What Does a Buddhist Monastic Know about Real Life, Anyway?”

by Ajahn Amaro

We are often asked, “What does a Buddhist monastic know about real life?” This is a very good question because many people may think that we don’t have to deal with real life in the monastery: “Things are easy for you, but outside the monastery wall we have to deal with real life; we have a much more difficult job.” Their impression is that once you have given yourself to the holy life, then you float around on little purple clouds, existing in exquisite mutual harmony at all times, exuding undifferentiated love and compassion for each other, and, finally, at the end of a life of ever-increasing blissfulness and profound insights into the nature of ultimate reality, deliquescing softly into nirvana leaving behind a soft chime of ringing bells and a rainbow. Not so. I’ll get on to that in a minute. I’m joking a bit, but this is the kind of image that people may have of monasteries. It’s another world, something that other people do.