I received some questions from a prospective volunteer regarding day-to-day life at the monastery. For those of you curious;
Q- How do you communicate with the monks when you first got there?
The only communication between you and the monks is as their teacher. Most only speak Tibetan or Nepali ( and limited English) unless you can speak either, you won’t have much opportunities for meaningful conversations. If you are here for a short time (2 weeks) there isn’t and opportunity to establish a rapport, most monks are quite shy so it could be lonely.
Q - Do you prepare your own food or also eat the same food as the monks? Are they vegetarians only? We do not prepare our own food, there is a volunteer staff that prepares food for us. They are Tibetan Buddhists and do not believe in killing animals but will eat only Buffalo (no fish, no chicken, no pork etc). One can maintain a vegetarian diet - usually the cook will give you a vegetarian diet unless you state that you are ok eating “buff”.
Q - Do you keep 8 precepts when staying there? Regarding precepts; this isn’t intensive meditation or a retreat period, given this however; we do follow the following:
1. to refrain from destroying living creatures.
2. to refrain from taking that which is not given.
3. to refrain from sexual activity
4. to refrain from incorrect speech ( the younger children are not so disciplined and will repeat an occasional bad word from watching too many movies but have no idea about the meaning )
5. to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.
7. This is a bit more common sense - use appropriate judgement - refrain from dancing, singing, music, going to see entertainments, wearing garlands, using perfumes, and beautifying the body with cosmetics.
8. to refrain from lying on a high luxurious sleeping place - this isn’t even a possibility, we sleep on a cushion approximately 2 inches thick - no mattresses
More to come…