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Message from A Monk in A Deep Mountain (1)

4 December 2007
 

One of the hottest posts at one of China's most popular online forums this year is, surprisingly, not about sex, not about money, not about fame, but a humble life in a deep Chinese mountain with little money and no sex. The post series that detail the daily lives of a small monastery began since April and is still running right now. It rises huge public interest, especially among the young Netizens, but also has attracted a great deal of controversies.

While his fans keep spreading his message across the Chinese cyber space, his antagonists tirelessly assail his original story house at tianya forum (www.tianya.cn): Some question his true identity, others - mainly Christian evangelical extremists with the base in the United States - confront (as these people often do when they found anyone who dares to promote Chinese tradition and culture) his attempt to advocate Buddhism openly in none-Buddhist oriented Chinese online space.

Below is the translation of his first post appeared at 9:32pm on April 27, 2007:

How are you, everybody. My name is No Anger (Jiechen 戒嗔). Don't call me master, please. I'm not, and I'm still quite young.

When I was twelve, I got my head shaved and was ordained as a novice monk. It’s not a simple matter. You’ll need to find a full-fledged monk to be your master, to start with. My master is Wisdom Follower (智缘), and he explained to all the monks in the monastery that he was going to take me as his disciple, all agreed, so I’m where I’m now. Had a single monk objected the idea, the ordination would not go ahead - and that’s how it works.

There are three levels of ordination. The entrance level is to take a Novice Vow (沙弥戒) to observe 10 precepts. That procedure is one person at a time, and you’ll have to be at least seven-year old. I was twelve by then, so there wasn't a problem with this.

Once a Novice reaches 20-years of age, if you get consent from the senior monks in your monastery, the abbot will call 10 full-fledged monks to witness you taking a Bhikkhu Vow (比丘戒) with 250 precepts. This ordination ritual allows up to three individuals in one go. After another five years, you’re then allowed to leave your master and cultivate on your own. I received the Bhikkhu Ordination the year before, so far not yet five years, so I’m still a daily follower of my master Wisdom Follower.

Not every novice has an opportunity to be considered for the higher ordination when he turns 20. Among the boys entering the monastery at the same time with me, No Ego (戒傲) and I are the only two who have taken the second level vow, others have to wait until the next year.   

Five years after the Bihkkhu ordination, you may have a chance to receive the top level one by taking the Bodhisattva Vow (菩萨戒).

All this may sound a bit like a position titles and ranks, in fact, they are much more complicated than you might think, so I’m not going to elaborate further - I don’t want to confuse you. But one aspect is the same: different ranks do associate with different status and living arrangements - this is the same everywhere.

Sorry, my master is calling me now, I’ve got to go, but will be back to tell more about our monastery, so please stay tuned. I don’t know if you guys like these stories, if do, leave your comments. I share a PC with other junior monks, only the elders have their own computers.

(Original online post in Chinese: www.tianya.cn)

Pre: Yellow Crane Terrace
Next: My Life in a Monastery

 
 
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