25 Feb
Posted in: Travel
By    Comments Off on What Does a Monastery Look Like?

What Does a Monastery Look Like?

Here are some photos I took at the Shwe Oo Min monastery. It didn’t look like I thought a monastery would look. I imagined a big fancy temple with hushed corridors leading to modest-but-comfortable single rooms for us to stay in. Instead it was more like a small town with a main street of fancy “houses” and long covered walkways leading to various other, fairly non-monastic-looking buildings including several dorms, a big warehouse-y mediation hall, an open-air kitchen and dining hall.

Here’s the front gate.








Here’s one of the houses, called a “kuti,” where the administrative Sayadaw (head monk) lives.







Here’s the kuti where U Tejaniya, the meditation Sayadaw, lives.








Here is a part of the covered walkways.








Here’s one of the dorms where some of the monks live.








Here’s another one of the dorms.










Here’s the dorm where I lived.










Here’s my room.

All the rooms are doubles. The furnishings are very basic: a bed (which is just a board on legs with a rattan mat and a three-quarter-inch foam pad), a mosquito net, a small metal folding table (which is to be shared) set between the two beds, and a wire strung between two nails in the wall behind each bed (from which one hangs one’s towel, or whatever). No drawers or shelves or anything like that. Not even any hooks. There’s a window and a curtain draped over a rod, but the curtain doesn’t cover the window. There is an overhead light –florescent–and an old-fashioned oscillating fan attached to the ceiling. No electrical outlets. No place, except the floor, to put your luggage. The toilets, sinks and showers are down the hall. There’s nothing else. That’s it.





Here’s the front room in U Tejaniya’s kuti, where you go to ask permission to leave the monastery, if you need to, and where you can log onto the internet between 8:00 and 9:00 am –if the server is working that day. This is also where we met with him once a week, in a group, to report on our practice and ask questions.






Here we are all on the internet. One day it like this when U Tejaniya came in and sat down at his desk in the front of the room. A few people looked up, but then went right back to their iPhones. He didn’t say anything for awhile. It was absolutely silent in the room, except for the furious clicking of keyboards. Finally he said: Hmmm. Very concentrated. But not very mindful. Then he just laughed and laughed.




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