kids engaging in serious sitting meditation are not little
monks and nuns, but boys and girls at a Guangzhou junior
high. While during this summer vocation, a large number
of Chinese students flock to coaching schools learning
English and other exam-driven subjects,
dividing their time between memorising, reciting and thinking,
these kids dare to retreat into a monastic summer camp,
spending their time on reflecting,
chanting and, trying hard to avoid thinking.
conventional daily routine of Chinese monasteries, every
day the boys and girls get up before dawn at four clock
to begin their early non-thinking session, which is succeeded
by vegetarian breakfast that includes frying noodle dishes,
vegetable buns, bean rice soup, and pickled radish, and
dried greens and marinated tofu.
In the morning the students learn from the monks how to
deal with others in a proper manner, in the afternoon,
the masters - who call the kids their fellow cultivators
(tongxiu 同修) - chat with their tongxius about I
Ching and Karma.
Such a circle of vege-eating, naught-thinking continues
until nine clock in the evening when Chinese monasteries
typically conclude their daily activities.
The opponents of the monastic summer camp criticise it
as religious brainwashing exercise done to vulnerable children.
But the supporters say the camp only teaches about wisdom
but not faith, as all they strive to achieve is to help
the youngsters observing the natural law of cause
and consequences, thus being mindful of their thoughts,
words and actions, since what we do to others will ultimately
bounce back to us. After all, some even argue, it is questionable
whether the teachings of Buddha can ever be considered
as religious, for it is never about how to submit oneself
to unknown external forces, but all about how to get liberated
from within through knowing oneself, and ultimately become
the master of one’s own destiny.
While true disposition of the monastic summer camp may
still be debatable, one thing is clear, that after a period
of non-thinking, these self-driven only-child kids become
much more thoughtful
Today is the last day they live among the monks in the
monastery, according to the report by a local media Nanfangdushibao,
and it remains to be seen just how long this positive effect
of thoughtful and naught thinking can last.
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