If I may be so bold as to say so, my teacher at the monastery in Chiang Mai is the quintessential Buddhist monk.

He wears his golden robes folded, tucked, and proper, and has his head shaved every few days.

He giggles rather than laughs, and passes out treats on a small paper fan across his carved wooden desk. Boxes of chocolate milk, maroon Chinese prayer beads, a bottle of fresh squeezed orange juice, meditation instructions written on slips of paper.

I went in every afternoon for the day’s interview, to speak to him about questions and concerns regarding my meditation practice.

Ah, Sah-dahhh… he would begin, smiling at me in a way that made me wiggle like a happy puppy.

Sometimes he would cut right to the chase.

And how is your practice too-DAE?! he would say, enunciating the last syllable with a shout, his eyes growing round behind his glasses.

Other times, he would dawdle a bit before we commenced, re-rolling the sash on his robes, shuffling through papers, taking a phone call.

My favorite monkly distraction to witness was his fastidious ear-cleaning. I would kneel before him, palms pressed together piously, ready to pour out my heart. But my words were not to be spoken so soon.

Ajahn would sit cross-legged behind his low desk, fiddling with a box of Q-Tips. He would extract one and insert it into his right ear.

Wiggle, wiggle.

Dig, dig.

Then he would remove it from his ear and turn it over several times, examining the liberated wax. Satisfied, he would flip the Q-Tip over and plunge the other side into his left ear.

Wiggle, wiggle.

Dig, dig.

The expression on his face as he cleaned his ears was focused, his lips poking out slightly. His eyes narrowed as he felt for and located bits of wax and carefully removed them, clinging bits of yellow hugging the soft white cotton.

Finally, when he was satisfied that his ear canals were smooth and clean, he would drop the Q-Tip into the small bin on the floor and clear his throat. Tuck his sash into his robes. Yawn. Scratch his bald head.

Ah, yes, Sah-dahhh… he would finally begin, smiling.

And how is your practice too-DAE?!


One Response to Ajahn

  1. Tara says:

    I really enjoy this story. I can visualize him and it makes me chuckle. I also can see you in that seat wiggling around with your bright smile.

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