EmbrACE Magazine

Living in a Buddhist Monastery

26/02/2020

 

For this article, I decided to interview one of my closest friends, Julius Kerner, about his experience in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Nepal. Since we did not have the chance to meet up because of the big distance between us, we talked about it through WhatsApp.

Julius was really excited to tell me about his experience, and the enthusiasm about his life there was undeniable recognizable.

When asking Julius about his choice of not going straight to university after graduation, he answered: “I decided to do this instead of university after I graduated secondary school to experience life outside of the luxuries and excess of the western life that I was born into”. Therefore, he spent four months living with Buddhist monks, teaching them English, and learning the ways of Buddhism. 

Julius continued describing his experience to me, telling me how he taught a big group of very young monk kids, referring to them as monkies. “They would fight and shout and do anything except what I wanted them to at the beginning of my stay,”. Furthermore, he explained how the trust and love he built with them over time made them be an absolute joy to be around. According to Julius, the very young kids end up in the monastery either because their families cannot sustain them on their own or because they are orphans. Some of the older children are there by choice to practice Buddhism. However, most of them leave as they grow older to seek a life outside of strict religion.

During the time of his stay, Julius used his time in the monastery to detox, replenish, and organize his state of mind. He did this through a disciplined schedule he was determined to stick to with regular mediations and clean, basic foods. Fascinated by this and the ginormous landscape of the Himalaya, he gratefully mentioned: “these things opened doors I otherwise wouldn’t have found.”

I continued to ask what he missed the most during his stay, and his answer was surprising: „The only thing I properly missed was my family on Christmas and my friends on New Year’s Eve.“ Since the monastery had access to the internet, it was easy to stay in contact with family and friends. Besides, Julius focused on his adventure, resulting in not having a lot of time to miss something else than family and friends. 

Eventually, Julius learned a lot from his stay and the monks.  Tibetan Buddhism taught him, to realize that keeping or fulfilling a desire is nothing but self-inflicting suffering based on external conditions. Meaning, working against yourself is a poor, destructive use of energy and time that could be invested into improving awareness, sensibility, and peace. Additionally, he told me how these were “patterns of behavior [his] previous environment was extensively saturated with, and [he] believe[s] they are the reason for the upsurge in stress and sadness related conditions. “

My last question was focused on what he learned during the trip. “I learned that time is too precious to be wasted on doing things that don't truly contribute to where you want to be, and that the only truly hard part about getting where you want to be is finding out where that is. Everything else is already there,” he said. 

Finally, I want to thank Julius for this really interesting, eye-opening interview. I hope you enjoyed reading about his unique life in Nepal and might be inspired to do something similar in the future!