Transform Your Thinking; Transform Your Life
The Wandering Monk
For over 2,500 years the Thudong or Wandering way of life has been lived by Buddhist monks in many different lands. There isn’t much of a record of their lives, since those that undertake this way of life are not usually writers or artists, instead choosing the seclusion that comes with the practice of a wandering thudong monk.
The Buddha himself choose this way of life and spent his 40 years teaching, wandering from place to place. Only when the monsoon rains of the Indian sub continent started, would he take shelter for the three months they lasted, this is now known as the rains retreat and practiced by all Theravada Buddhist monks still to this day.
Traditionally this way of life is practiced only after a period of training has been undertaken, usually a period between 5-7 years studying the Buddhist texts, learning the monastic code and a firm foundation in meditation training. Only after a proficiency has been established is the monk allowed to wander unsupervised.
For millennia this tradition has been practiced by Buddhist monks from many different lands. Today the practice of the thudong monk is observed but in most cases our monks will seek now the monastery environment for sleeping at night.
It is becoming rarer to find the thudong monk practicing the traditional way, during the communist turmoil of the 1960’s and 1970’s thudong monks were forced to come out of their secluded retreats and return to cities or they were seen as communist supporters. The thudong monks attempted to teach others from town and city Monastery’s about the binding link between humans and their natural world, it seemed to fall on death ears and they were unable to stop the tremendous forces of modernisation. The destruction of around 80 percent of Thailand’s forests have left very little in way of seclusion for the monk. People in contemporary town and city societies seemed basically insensitive to the larger meaning and value of themselves and their environment.
It is possible to see the thudong monk wandering and from personal experience have met many true ascetic monks, mostly in Myanmar but also within Lao, Cambodia and Thailand, in some very rare cases it is even possible to see the practice of thudong monks in Europe.
A Thudong monk only carries with him what he needs, his set of 3 robes, his alms bowl, a small sewing kit, toiletries, a krot or mosquito net, a water filter, and medicine. The monk will search out places of solitude and seclusion, wether forest or mountain cave, the search is for the practice of and development of meditation.
Reflecting on the three facts of existence through an established and strong Samadhi Meditation our thudong monk practices diligently with a determined, one pointed attention until realisation of those three facts of existence become firmly established. Impermanence, suffering and Non self.
For the thudong monks, the remote wilderness was a sanctuary in which they could train their minds. When they chose, they could withdraw deep into the forests where no one would be able to find them. The forest was home to wandering monks, it was their school, their training ground and their sanctuary. Life in the forests was a safe place provided the monks were mindful.
I am a practicing Thudong Monk, and have wandered across Thailand, Sri Lanka, and through the Shan State within Myanmar, after I was offered a plane ticket back to my home country of England, have now wandered across Europe including Holland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, France and Spain finally finding my way, and where I’m presently at, the South Coast of Portugal.
This way of life, wandering across Europe, is a different experience than that of Asia but the generosity of Europeans is exactly the same as the Thais or Burmese, where the Thais and Burmese understand the needs of a monk the Europeans are lacking, however their kindness, generosity and general enthusiasm always makes up for this and each and every day I am humbled by everyone’s kindness.
Over the course of my wanderings I have found a companion in a street dog I’ve now officially adopted and affectionately call Marley Moo, he came and cuddled into me while I was meditating one day, and has never left. How magically wonderful life is.
Our thudong life is a 21st century experience, and the solitude of remote forests, that would have been common place in Europe, are now hard too come by, a reminder that everything is impermanence in action. The very monk name given to me on ordination means, Dharma hermit free from dust, but the seclusion to be able to be a hermit is limiting, although by 21st century lifestyles, I am just that.
I was a practicing Monk for a long time and still dedicate my entire life to discovering the realities within my own mind. This journey towards enlightenment has become my life, although I now stay in one place and residing in Wiltshire, England and still with Marley Moo. There is no better quest than the one I am on, and it would be wonderful if you could join us.
Kind and Warmest Regards
Dhamma Tapasa* (Andrew Hallas)
*Dhamma Tāpasā is a fully trained former Buddhist Monk and the spiritual name given to Andrew Hallas. The creator of the highly acclaimed “The Four Trees” a story of learning how we can all live a more fulfilled and content lifestyle. Now a Life Changing and inspirational Positive Mind Transformative Guide, Mindfulness Trainer, Published Author and the creator of The Revive & Thrive – A Positive Mind Training
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