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What does a monk do during a typical day?

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I go to the community's first meeting of the day at five o'clock in the morning. I usually get up between four and four-thirty. We start the meeting by lighting candles and incense on the shrine, then bowing to the shrine three times. We then do about thirty minutes of chanting and then sit in meditation for about an hour. The chanting is in the Pali language which is a very ancient tongue not used these days for anything other than the Theravada Buddhist religion. Some of the chanting is devotional, reflecting on the beautiful qualities of the man that was the Buddha: kindness, compassion, wisdom, morality. Some of it is contemplative, reflecting on some of the things that the Buddha taught. The meditation is in silence. At the end of the meditation the senior monk rings a little bell and we bow to the shrine three times to finish the meeting. It is now six thirty. After the meeting I do some tidying up in the publications office where I work during the day. At seven- fifteen I go to the main hall and have a cup of porridge and drink some tea. Everyone is here and members of the community can make announcements about jobs that need doing and help that is required, as well as any other community business. Sometimes, after we have finished our drink, the Abbot gives a talk about the Buddhist teachings. From about eight-thirty until ten-thirty I have free. I do lots of different things, like type this letter, or maybe do some laundry, or go for a walk, or sit and chat with a friend or just sit. At ten thirty the main bell is rung and we all gather for the meal. We just have one main meal and it should be finished before mid-day. I put on my robe, take my alms bowl and go to the hall. There are two rows of mats on the floor. I bow to the shrine and sit. All the food is offered to the monks and I can put what I need in my bowl. We then do some chanting which is the traditional way of saying thank you to the people who gave us the food. I wait until the senior monks have started eating and then I quietly eat my food. After the meal I wash my bowl and take it back to my room. It is now about twelve o'clock. Now, I may have a rest for a while. At about one-thirty I usually do some publication work. Print this letter, type out some information leaflets, scan and edit some pictures. I spend quite a bit of time on the computer. I take a break every now and then and just go for a bit of a walk and look at the trees and the sky and listen to the wind and the birdsong. At five-fifteen I try and leave the work for the day and go and have a cuppa with my fellow monastics - these are my friends. Sometimes it's difficult to stop work. Do you get absorbed in doing things that you enjoy? I work at what I like, so I enjoy my work, so my work is not work but play. At seven-fifteen the big bell is rung and I put on my robes and go to the main hall for the last meeting of the day. We do some chanting for about half and hour and then meditate for about an hour. Sometimes, after we have finished this, the Abbot gives a talk about the Buddhist teachings. It is now about nine o'clock. I go back to my room, maybe read, write a letter, sit and look out of the window, sit and look in the window (of my mind) or just go to sleep. Today is the full-moon day and we begin a retreat period. I shaved my head yesterday (I do this every two weeks) and this afternoon all the monks will gather and there will be a recitation of our rules - all 227 of them, in Pali. It takes about 45 minutes of fast chanting and is done from memory. It takes a long time to learn and remember all that chanting.

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1 Ahmed M = "The highest wisdom is seeing that in reality all phenomena are incomplete, impermanent, and not self."
2 Ahmed M = "Understanding reality means totally freeing yourself and leads to great security and happiness which is called Nirvana. "
3 Ahmed M = "True wisdom is to directly see and understand for ourselves."