Myanmar is considered to be the most Buddhist country in the world. Buddhism is practiced by 89% of the population, of which 500,000 are monks.
It started to storm heavily while I was sitting and chatting with a group of monks at the Golden Bupaya Pagoda on the Irrawaddy river. The winds were crazy, kicking up sand everywhere and sending small tree branches flying. It didn't seem to bother the monks. They sat there smiling, laughing, and trying to keep their robes from flying away.They were enjoying themselves and I couldn't help but laugh. I guess monks don't believe in underwear.
We walked down to the river to clean our ears and face after being thrashed from the storm. I noticed one of the monks had a cellphone in his hand it caught me by surprise. In the western world we image monks to be disconnected from technology, but that's not the case. Monks have the option to use technology outside of the monasteries. They've even mastered the art of taking selfies!
A different side
He smokes, swears and makes fun of people as they pass, but with good intentions and a heart of gold. This monk was hilarious. I ended up spending two days with this crazy dude. Even though there was a language barrier, we understood each other. We cruised around on a rented scooter and checked out a few temples. He showed me some traditional Burmese foods and we shared a gallon of tea. Observing his actions was fascinating to me. He always put others before himself and he genuinely cared about people.
The idea is not to seek happiness, but to genuinely be a good person.
Burmese parents believe it's their duty to send their children off to monasteries at the age of 7 and later at 20. The children are given the option to continue their practice as a monk or to continue their lives in the working world. Becoming a monk is an arduous task as one must meditate 7 days a week. Once they're fully ordained, monks must keep the full 227 precepts of monastic rules. It's a full time job.