BATU, Indonesia. Photo by Jes Aznar

Friday, December 10, 2010

Learning from the monks of Laos

They wake up even before the sun rises, while backpackers in dingy hotel rooms are still in deep slumber after a night of eating and drinking. They pray and meditate.With heads bowed, they line up and receive alms from locals and foreigners -- sticky rice, banana, flowers -- anything that could help them survive.

They sleep in cramped quarters with just enough space for beds, clean sheets and some candles for prayers. They live simply, void of any excesses. Just the basics. Nothing else. Solitary, simple and silent. Nothing indulgently luxurious.

They are guided by the eight precepts:

"1) to abstain from taking life.2) to abstain from taking what is not given.3) to abstain from unchastity.4) to abstain from false speech.5) to abstain from intoxicants causing heedlessness.6)to abstain from untimely eating.7) to abstain from dancing, singing, music and unseemly shows, from wearing garlands, smartening with scents, and beautifying with perfumes.8) to abstain from the use of high and large luxurious couches."