Mar 6, 2016
Cyber Monk Joke
I guess it would be accurate to say that Cyber Monk was a joke when I first coined the term inside my head. My Vietnamese traveling buddy even laughed at the idea (and so did others, but I do get the joke). But it was given substance when I left my last permanent address 4 years ago to live a nomadic life as a renunciate, armed only with my laptop and my web-skills to ensure my survival on the open road. With no money, no property and no address, I had been traveling around the Philippines and Southeast Asia, essentially, as a monk surviving on this laptop.
Wanna be a Monk?
With my 10-day Vipassana meditation courses and my current monastic life at Thai Plum Village in Pak Chong (Thailand), my friends ask if I want to be a monk. Somehow, staying real and sincere about my answer, I am compelled in all seriousness to say that I am already a monk...but I make my own monk rules.
A Conventional Monk Thing
Initially, it's abstract. Here's how I see it. I do have spiritual pursuits and I am in search of something bigger than myself. I resonate with a monk's aversion to material wealth or ownership, I embrace the notion of detachment and I live a life of nomadic mobility. That's the similarity.
One Size Fits All?
Here's where I differ. If I subscribe to any kind of monastic order, I will invariably find a few of its laws, rites or rituals to be inapplicable or even unacceptable. Every person is unique. Unique in his/her genetic predisposition, unique in his intellectual capacity to synthesize information into a workable life equation, unique life experience, unique body anatomy, etc. Unigue everything! So how could one monastic order fit all sizes?
Not my Truth
Additionally, even the greatest monastic order was founded by a human being - it is not divine architecture. It was envisioned, developed and propagated by people who are great visionaries, living saintly lives whose way of life served as inspiration for many people. Indeed there are many beneficial lessons that can be learned from these disciplines. I emulate what resonates - after all, why reinvent the wheel? Mindfulness as practised at the Plum Village is profoundly powerful and I will take that with me. The notion that my self-realization resides in me (and not anywhere else) is transformational and that is one of the great legacies of Vipassana to me. But just the same, the founders are of flesh and blood just like you and me. Whatever the doctrine, manifesto or dogma of that order principally is a by-product of the founder's unique truth that was selflessly shared for the benefit of many. But at the end of the day, I still have to find my truth.
I also have my own unique truth - everyone does. With that truth and my realization of right and wrong as a validating benchmark, I forge my own rules to my private and personal monastic order. I create my own template compliant to my uniqueness. I have no name for my monastic order and it's not even necessary - it's not for public consumption. I allow myself certain liberties most monks are restricted to, and I impose certain restrictions some monks are at liberty to exercise. As I evolve, so will my rules.
In yoga, my teacher once said that as you deepen your practice, you will do less and less of other people's yoga and develop more and more, a yoga practice that is uniquely yours in full compliance to your individuality. That has been my tenet for nearly everything else - my own relationship template (platonic, romantic or family), my own monastic order and pretty much my own way of living life giving due consideration to constraints imposed by society, religion and government (e.g. - I still have to get a driver's license to drive a car). I draw the line up to what point I will allow them to make decisions for me (e.g. - I will not be a soldier and be shipped across the globe to kill someone who hasn't wronged me, my family or my country). To the extent I allow them, at least I am mindful of what liberty I am relinquishing.
Some people need institutions to make decisions for them - they need it and they look for it. And other people simply want to take ownership of their destiny by exercising that control themselves.
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Reader Comments:Mawil Hermogenes
(6 March 2016) Your own rules like?
(Mar 6, 2016) ...like I do not and will not subcribe to celibacy. It makes no sense for me to put a dam on the natural processes that took millions of years to evolve. Take a look at the Catholic priests. They take a vow of celibacy and rape kids behind closed doors. I'm just staying real, dealing with things I can work with...like the natural desire to share human warmth. I do not find anything wrong with that.
(6 March 2016) That you do, Git, that you do...
Next stop: First Day of Teaching English at Thai Plum Village
Cyber Monk Blogs
Thai Plum Village International Practice Centrewith direction coming from Bangkok
GPS waypoint: 14°33'25.4"N 101°31'45.0"E
174,176 Ban Sra Nam Sai, Moo 7, Tambon Pongtalong, Pak Chong District, NakornRatchasima, Thailand
Thai Plum Village International Practice CentreLocation: 174,176 Ban Sra Nam Sai, Moo 7, Tambon Pongtalong, Pak Chong District, NakornRatchasima, Thailand
Blogs on Thai Plum Village
- Goodbye Thai Plum Village Mar 20, 2016
- Yoga at Thai Plum Village Mar 19, 2016
- Pond Picnic with the Monastics Mar 14, 2016
- Sentence Expansion Mar 12, 2016
- Alms Round of the Thai Plum Village Monastics Mar 10, 2016
- First Day of Teaching English at Thai Plum Village Mar 8, 2016
- Cyber Monk Redefined Mar 6, 2016
- Thai Plum Village, Day 6: Plum Village and Vipassana Mar 2, 2016
- Thai Plum Village, Day 5: Visa Snag Mar 1, 2016
- Plum Village, Day 4: Picnic with the Monastics on Lazy Monday Feb 29, 2016
- Plum Village, Day 2-3: Getting Settled Feb 27-28, 2016
- Plum Village, Day 1: Arrival Feb 26, 2016
How to Get to Plum Village from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi AirportYou are encouraged to arrive at the Center Friday afternoon between 2-4 pm
- Mo Chit North Eastern Bus Terminal - Plum Village by VAN
the trip all the way to Plum Village, Pak Chong costs Baht 500 and takes 3.5 to 4 hours. Take the 11am or 12 noon van to ensure you arrive at the center before 4pm.
How to Get to Pak Chong (Proper) from Bangkok by trainignore this if you plan to go to Plum Village. Take the direction above instead
- If you are arriving Bangkok and would like to proceed directly to Pak Chong without spending a night in Bangkok, best to take a plane that will land in Don Mueang Airport in time for the #71 Train (Bangkok to Si Sa Ket) to stop at the MRT Train Station, Bang Sue, which is only a short walk from the airport. Train schedule at Bang Sue Station: Fri 10:27am, arriving Pak Chong 1:30pm. Express aircon car (Baht 289), non aircon (Baht 198). Duration is 3 hours, stopping right in the heart of Pak Chong. From Pak Chong.
You can also take the train from the main terminal near the center of Bangkok at the MRT Station, Hua Lampong Railway Station. Departure, Friday 10:00am.
Plum Village Cost Index(US$1 = Thailand Baht 35.77 = Php 47.52 as of Feb 28, 2016)
- Baht 500 van from Victory Monument to Plum Village
- Baht 289 Express train from Bang Sue MRT Station (Bangkok) to Pak Chong Train Station, aircon (non aircon, Baht 189)
- Baht 500 taxi from Pak Chong to Plum Village (call this taxi number, Mr. Khun Paisan: 085 772.4519 for the trip to Plum Village)
Things to bring if staying overnight
- mosquito repellent
- not a requirement, but it helps if you bring clothing in the dark brown color in order to blend-in
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