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meditation Misadventures of a Monk

Coronavirus from a Monks perspective

Covid19 and the view of a concerned monk

It’s been quite a while since I posted an update as to myself, Dhamma Tāpasā and my faithful companion Marley Moo, we were about to embark once again on our walking or wanderings then the coronavirus struck everyone, first Asia then Europe and then followed by the rest of the world, everywhere went into lockdown.

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Marley Moo

Marley and myself have been in Portugal for the last few years, a wonderful country full of inquisitive hospitable and extremely tolerant people who have slowly stolen my heart. This post is not going to try and be all political or which countries have done better than others. All I know is this has been an extraordinary world event that has caused massive amounts of suffering. Nowhere and no one on our awesome planet has been left untouched by this one event.

This is more of what we marley Moo and myself Dhamma Tāpāsa have been doing during this time. How a monk, living a simple and austere life has managed to survive.

As someone who relies on the kindness of strangers for food and our basic needs, corona and the lockdown effect has been an interesting journey. At first I tried treating the lockdown as an extended retreat and continued meditating as if I was on a rains period. We were extremely lucky to be living on 88 hectares of land during the winter months and continued to stay during corona, allowing me and Marley to also spend long days walking. We have of course had our ups and downs just like everyone, but understanding the reality of seeing the impermanence in everything we knew this too shall pass.

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Monsanto

As lockdown eased slightly we started to wander a little further each day, always returning to our chosen base. We have struggled money wise and have lost our internet connection for, sometimes, long periods at a time. It has been difficult to fund this website or keep it regularly updated as library’s shut to the public. Even now trying to organise enough time on the internet to revamp the website after a disastrous change of service caused page crashes and broken links, but we are managing slowly, just like the rest of humanity, to get back to normality.

We have been extremely lucky here in Portugal and have seen relatively low numbers of people infected. Even with these low numbers there are hundreds and thousands of people who are suffering greatly. My heart goes out to everyone, around the world as we all try and get to grips with this changing world.

As someone who practices meditation everyday, I would highly recommend at least giving this new age, hippy dippy, concept a go. Not only will your anxiety and stress reduce, it will help us all become calmer and more tolerant of people and our surroundings. Just the simple task of sitting comfortably and closing our eyes for ten minutes will have a tremendous effect on our well being. Meditation for Beginners is a great place to start if your contemplating dipping you toe into this wonderful exercise of mindfulness.

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We would still like to continue our walking and maybe one day soon the conditions will be just right again for us to do just that. As for the moment myself and Marley Moo have wandered and travelled away from our sanctuary of 88 hectares in Portugal’s Algarve and have moved a little further to central Portugal and close to the Estrella mountains. We have a couple of friends here and will use this area as a base for the foreseeable future.

We really can see first hand how dangerous this virus really is, not just as a disease that can kill and cause millions of us to die, but the act of social distancing on our mental health, frightened to see older parents in case we pass on a disease. People scared to go to hospital for normal regular stuff, the loss of work and income for millions of families around the world and small business, the push for a cashless society so small independent people can be controlled and monitored more easily. Corporations begging for bailouts to save even more loss of jobs. Unprecedented times indeed.

There are millions and millions more people who our suffering greatly in this time than the actual disease will kill. We are asked to care for a system so that it can care for us, and by doing so must self isolate, social distance and loose household income. It has created a divide between old and young, different nations, different politics and even caused differences of opinion amongst friends and family. This one event we all share in common has and is causing more suffering to millions than anything in my living history.

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This is a very very scary time and I urge each and everyone to take time to breath, meditate and relax. Take a look at your life values and reassess your ideas, dreams and look at what is truly important for you.

Kind regards

Dhamma Tāpasā

To help support Dhamma Tāpasā and Marley Moo with this website and the creation of unique Motivational Moral Stories perhaps you could help by donating the price of a coffee or cost of a newspaper using this PayPal Link below.

www.paypal.me/dhammatapasa

Please note that Dhamma Tāpasā is a real life Monk and the spiritual name of Andrew Hallas, I have been continuously using my spiritual name Dhamma Tāpasā, the name given to me upon full ordination as a Buddhist monk in Northern Thailand, however it wasn’t until I needed a bank account did I realise I had to use my birth name as well..

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meditation Misadventures of a Monk Motivational Mini Stories

Walking for Peace and Non violence in every aspect of our lives.

Myself, Dhamma Tāpasā, and my mischievous adopted dog, Marley Moo, have spent the winter months on a large farm near Sagres in Portugal. We have been content to pass the worst of the weather out of the way before we move onwards again, and now that spring is right around the corner we are almost ready to embark on our continuous journey once more.

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Dhamma Tāpasā quote

Myself, a trained Buddhist Monk, and Marley Moo (an honouree Monk) continuously travel as peace pilgrims devoted to promoting the art of diplomacy, peace and non violence throughout every aspect of our lives. Together we teach, speak and write Moral stories on mindfulness, meditation and the prisons we create within our own minds. We teach meditation and mindfulness as a way of understanding and changing our thought patterns to create inner peace and non violence within our own lives. Everything we speak, write or teach is given completely Free of charge and made available to all who seek.

We have spent the last few years living the ever popular Vanlife movement, this was a necessary move after continuous encounters with wild boar (wild pigs) in the forests and woodlands of Northern Europe while walking, Our time living the vanlife has been ideal for cultivating the seclusion and tranquility needed to deepen my meditation practice but it is almost at an end, and after spending the present winter months contently passing the bad weather away in one fixed location, the wandering lifestyle and the continued generosity we encounter along the way is once again calling.

We are starting to gather the required items together to begin again our slow paced continuous walk. We are looking to acquire a bike trailer/stroller to place our limited possessions, a decent pop up tent, as our last one has broken, a small solar panel to keep recharged our internet connection a reflective jacket for Marley and a head torch, which we believe come to total of around 250Euro. Once our required items have been collected together we shall begin our walk.

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Dhamma Tāpasā & Marley Moo

As a Monk and Peace Pilgrim i live with no monetary income and instead rely totally on the wonderful generosity, kindness and support from complete strangers along our way. This doesn’t mean we beg, or hassle people, far from it, to ask anyone for anything causes an imposition for people, especially someone who is kind natured and finds it hard to say no. Therefore we only except what is freely given. The staggering amount of good will, compassion and kindness we find on our journey never ceases to amaze me, this is the beauty and compassion of humanity in action. Some days we receive money or food (monetary donations always go towards Marley Moo’s food, I choose this life he just chose me) other days we simple fast. Some days we receive shelter to sleep, other days we will pull out the tent. Some days we teach meditation other days we will meditate on our own. Each and every day will always be filled with surprises and delights from letting go, making every encounter, a bird, the landscape, fellow walkers, a truly special and unique moment.

As we begin to start walking, myself and Marley have a loose plan and direction, at first we will be spending time walking Portugal’s inner Algarve from Sagres to Alcoutim, following the Via Algarviana long distance footpath for around 300km. After this we will start to walk back along to the coastal areas of the Algarve to meet up with my parents, and my brother & his wife from Malaysia for a family reunion and a week too ten days relaxation. Then we shall work our way slowly north zig zagging through Portugal towards Galicia and Spain.

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Marley Moo

If you would like to meet with Marley or myself, maybe for a few hours walking or a chance to meditate With us, then the above itinerary gives a rough idea which direction we shall be walking. As soon as we start walking we shall be posting far more frequently on our Instagram account and this will also guide you to our location. We hope to be walking before March 10th. It would be a pleasure to meet with any of you.

Kind regards

Dhamma Tāpasā

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Misadventures of a Monk

Childhood Traumas and Growing Up

Misadventures of a Monk

The Beginning

It has taken some carful consideration to finally write this small glimpse into my life growing up in the 70’s and 80’s of rural England. I suffered terribly as a child, and carried childhood issues with me for a long time. The consideration taken has been for my parents, I don’t want to paint them in a bad light, they were also growing up themselves when they had me, and made mistakes like we all do. It took many years for myself to finally deal with my childhood issues and put them truly to bed. I love my parents dearly, but it took a long journey of discovery to get there, let me share it with you.

Childhood Pranks

As a child I was, how shall I say, a little mischievous, I would be getting into trouble at school and home on a pretty regular basis, I was a energetic lad, the eldest of two younger brothers, and together we used to go exploring and adventuring around our little village in the English countryside. The games and fun, being able to run free across fields, through streams and woodlands, I feel privileged and very lucky to of grown up in the time and era I did.

My mischievous or cheeky nature would inevitably get me into trouble, I was once dared to climb a bookcase in the library, during a story time lesson, of course I got caught. My brothers and I used to love sticking rotten apples onto the ends of bamboo canes and throwing them at each other, braking greenhouse windows in the process, I would continuously climb out of my bedroom window 2 stories high, to escape being locked in, even when I was a baby and in a cot, apparently, I tried to escape so many times my mother and father decided, after I got my head trapped in the bars, to strap me down into the cot to sleep.

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At seven years old I tripped up on a small front step of a shop and crashed head first through the glass window, skidding to a stop inside the shop to the shock and horror of customers, it caused a great split through the left side of my mouth. It took 16 stitches to fix, 8 on the inside of my mouth and 8 on the outside. I can still remember the incident so clearly. If that wasn’t bad enough, the very next weekend I knocked out the stitches by banging my face on the stair railings, playing tag against my brothers. Another trip to hospital and a further 8 stitches inside and 8 outside.

Myself and a friend got ourselves badly drunk on Martini and lemonade before we were 12, it started so innocently, then quickly turned into a living nightmare, my friend cracked his jaw when he fell, blood everywhere. Being so young we didn’t know what to do, so we had no choice but to go back to parents. I also had a go at smoking before I turned 12, and all because I thought my illusive dad looked cool, soon got found out by mum doing the laundry.

Amongst some other worldly occupations, I wanted to be a stuntman when I grew up and would be flinging myself out of trees tops, or jumping off garage roofs on a pretty regular basis. A dangerous hobby indeed, and amazingly I never broke a bone in my body.

Upbringing

I had a conventional upbringing with both my parents being there, although I would still grow up with parental resentment issues, like I think all of us so to some extent. I tried running away from home at least 10 times before I reached 13. Parents were different back then and their solution seemed to be that I would return when I got hungry. My father has worked hard all his life, especially when we were small, he was usually out to work before us and return late after us. At weekends he used to enjoy playing sport, and there were many occasions when me and my two brothers would spend hours in the back of a car in a pub car park, just killing time. Kids were not allowed in bars in those days so amazingly a lot of kids would spend there weekend evenings like this. I know, right.

Punishment

We also had corporal punishment at school, it was fazed out as I progressed towards senior school, but as a result of being mischievous I had the cane or wooden spoon across my hand on numerous occasions from both headmaster and parents. I almost had my mouth washed out with soap and so glad it didn’t happen to me, I did witness it happen to a friend by a Mrs McGregor at our infants school, the one where your aged 5-8. A horrific ordeal, my friend also told me he tasted soap for days. The canning’s we soar and would leave a mark, the worst of it was trying to hide the marks from your parents or you’d get another thrashing.

From my mischievous behaviour and general cheekiness, I was or seemed to be in and out of trouble a lot at school and with my folks, my apparent role from young was to make sure my brothers didn’t get into any trouble. If they did it seemed to be my fault. I found childhood a little unfair, hard, mean and hypocritical, I felt slightly unloved and unloveable, leaving me with very little direction, ambition and confusion about life. These childhood traumas would follow and haunt me for the next 25 years, no matter how far I traveled.

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Growing up

After leaving school I was told quite frankly “right son now you earn a living to stay under this roof” so I did what I had to do and got a job. An office job of shear boredom, met a girl and then was two timed behind my back with the guy I shared a desk with. I didn’t hang around and instead decided travelling was for me, I packed a small bag and headed off on my motorcycle. Didn’t get far, managed to get to my grandma’s about 100 miles away. She calmed and soothed my broken heart and sent me home. I returned home determined to travel the world.

Again my dad put me straight “you need money to do that son, get a job” he’s right!

So I did, this time working mowing a golf course not yet opened to the public. It was a YMCA association and a place called Fairthorne Manor. It’s main purpose was to look after city kids on holidays from London or Manchester who in there normal lives we unable to see or experience nature and the countryside. The golf course was there to make money for the project.

It was hear, at Fairthorne Manor, that my life changed forever and my life adventure begins. It was here at Fairthorne Manor that I would get to meet Princess Anne of the British Royal Family, being the Patreon saint and figure head of the YMCA. This cemented my career so to speak working outdoors in the countryside. Well with Princess Anne on your CV it sort of opens up doors. I’ve since worked for the Barings family, Cavendish family, Sainsbury family, Heineken family and a couple of other great historical family names I’ve had to sign confidentiality agreements with. And getting to work on some of the most beautiful English country estates that you only get to see in period dramas or the movies.

But it was also at Fairthorne Manor that I really got that itch to go travel, I had discovered weed and other recreational drugs while working alongside Australian’s and Kiwi’s, they not only got me stoned, they also gave me a new emphasis and determination to see the world.

I remember someone had a book of jobs from around the world, in it I found and applied for two, one in Nigeria building a school and one in Costa Rica looking after a cloud forest. I got the cloud forest gig, I just needed to get there……….

Kind regards

Dhamma Tapasa

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Misadventures of a Monk

A little Introduction

Dhamma Tapasa

I am a real life Monk, affiliated to No Tribe, Religion or Society. My spiritual name is Dhamma Tapasa Viraja (Dhamma Hermit Free From Dust) given to me when I was an ordained Buddhist monk in North Thailand. My birth name is Andrew Hallas but I’m affectionately know by friends as the Monk.

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Dhamma Tapasa

I am affiliated to No Monastery, No Religion, Tribe or Society, I do however wholeheartedly believe in the Buddhist teachings of Meditation, Mindfulness , Loving Kindness and Compassion as fundamental in the search for enlightenment.

My whole life has been in this pursuit and understanding of our human experience, I have now spent Thousands of Hours in Meditation and Mindfulness training from within monastery’s and meditation Centers across Europe and Asia, many intensive 3 month Vipassana rains Retreats and during my life as a Buddhist monk in Thailand. These Thousands of hours training in Meditation and Mindfulness have helped me gain great insight into my own mind and all our human consciousness, this has bought me a truly deep sense of peace and lasting tranquility for the first time in my life.

My abbot had predicted it would be in my 6th year wandering the countryside as a Thudong Monk that everything i learnt would come to fruition, Thích Nhat Hanh personally told me to stay true to my path for it leads to realisation, and this year, my 6th year wandering Europe in search, everything of life’s mysteries have revealed themselves, it is as if I just rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, for the first time in my life I have a relationship with my father and all childhood traumas cease to be of an issue, I simple let go. A truly freeing experience.

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Dhamma Tapasa

I am continuously traveling or wandering the world and I spend and dedicate every ounce of effort into the pursuit of enlightenment, using the Buddha’s teachings of Meditation, Mindfulness, loving kindness & compassion as my guide.

After returning to England from my monastery in Thailand I would spend many months as a monk with a rucksack walking through England, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, France and into Germany. I suffered along my journey mostly from the general harsh conditions of sleeping outside under a small tarpaulin and finding somewhere safe to sleep every night, and as so I now choose the ever growing and popular Vanlife movement to fulfil my 3 basic human needs of shelter, food and medicine. My Shelter is my Van a rusty LDV Convoy I named Bee and To obtain my another two requisites I now work for my food and medicine, unlike my monk days, wether that’s gardening, selling ice creams, making jewellery or farm harvests, I do what’s needed.

During the last couple of years my wanderings have bought me a companion in a little mischievous dog I affectionately call Marley Moo. I’ve officially adopted Marley so he can have a passport and travel with me. This simple act of kindness, as well as quite a few other misdemeanours, driving as a monk and living in a van to name two, got me into a lot of trouble with the Buddhist Thai Sangha and after an intense few years of real deep soul searching and inner questioning about Buddhism, other religions, the Thai sangha, and my place as a monk in it all, I finally came to a realisation. I am a monk living the Vanlife. It was a incredibly hard and lonely time for me. It has taken me almost 3 years to finally figure out who I am, my place in the world and what I am really searching for, I finally realised my USP so to speak. I am now comfortable with myself and realise I am a completely unique real life Monk living the 21st century Vanlife movement all in the search for enlightenment, even if this has come at the cost of loosing the support of the Thai Sangha and all monetary funds.

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Marley Moo, Dhamma Tapasa faithful companion

Just like any monk of any religion I live by a code of conduct or moral principles called precepts. Each precept is simple in its clarity and we can all easily follow some if not most of them to improve our own lives. I’ve lived with most of these morals for the whole of my life, even as a child. My code of conduct, moral principles I live by:

  • No killing

  • No stealing

  • No lying

  • No sexual misconduct

  • No Alcohol or Drugs

  • To eat only one meal a day

  • To practice non violence in every situation in life

  • To try to never ask for anything

  • To take only what is freely given

  • To give everything I can

I have found that working in robes, gardening or farm harvest, just isn’t practical for me anymore, and as so can be found out of robes as much as I am in robes, I choose only to wear my robes in private, while meditating or when I’m teaching mindfulness and Meditation techniques, although sometimes just sometimes I’m seen out and about in robes

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Dhamma Tapasa & Marley Moo

If you would like to support myself and Marley Moo with a small donation of any kind then we have a PayPal code and in return we have a small gift waiting for you.

www.paypal.me/dhammatapasa

You will not only be supporting a real life Monk but also the upkeep and running costs of this website and both myself and Marley Moo thank you.

www.paypal.me/dhammatapasa

of course if you don’t really want to just give us money then please head over to our wonderful handmade Gift Shop Click Hear and support us that way.

kind regards

Dhamma Tapasa