Teachings on Mindfulness & Meditation through Inspirational Short Stories & Motivational Quotes from a real travelling Vanlife Monk affiliated to No Tribe, Religion or Society always searching for Spiritual Enlightenment
This is written in response to a question I was recently asked on how to deal with the wrongs of the past. I do hope this may help in some small way to elevating anyone who may be suffering from past events no matter how big or small.
As someone who had a traumatic childhood and teen years I can empathise with anyone struggling. My childhood may or may not of been as traumatic as yours but as humans we all experience the same anger, hatred, and fear. your anger would be no different than mine or others, it is the conditions that cause that anger to manifest are different from person to person.
During Vipassana rains retreats as a novice monk my Abbott would tell me to explore my anger and hatred I was carrying from the past. Not from a logical stand point, as to why I was feeling this was, but instead how it was effecting my body, how I actually felt inside. When I started to feel that tension in my muscles and throughout my whole body, when I really explored how it made me feel inside and the suffering it was causing was rather like rubbing the dust from my eyes. This swiftly made me realise how deep these negative and destructive emotions run throughout our entire bodies and they started to lessen there evil grip upon me.
This simple task really helped me identify these negative and destructive forces as they would arise, I slowly began feeling less inclined to hold onto or attach to these feelings because I could really see, and feel how tense and twisted my body became, and I could now start and begin to ‘let go’ and not attach myself to these destructive and negative thoughts.
Of course this is just one small part, but a crucial one to start moving forward. Once I experience the reality for myself how these negative and destructive forces caused me to feel it was time to practice loving kindness meditationto allow those wounds of time to heal.
I started small and found things around me that I really could feel love for. The local Thai people who would feed me everyday, the little stray dog that would follow me on alms round and made me smile every time he came. These little things I practiced loving kindness towards, until I could generate a deep feeling of gratitude towards life. Only then with this feeling of loving kindness would I turn my attention to my oppressors from the past. At the precise moment you think of an enemy, check how you feel, do a body scan and look within. It was very hard at first but with persistence and continuous watching all those feeling within myself as I thought of the person who had wronged me, I could see how twisted and taught my body would became.
The more I practiced both of these exercises the less I wanted to feel this way, I owned up to my responsibility that I was hurting myself every time these negative and destructive thoughts would arise. As if holding a scolding hot stone, I dropped it. Let go off all those feelings that were now causing just me harm.
This does take time continuously practicing meditation, and I know from the deepest part of my heart you all have this Buddha nature.
Dealing with our past, the oppressors and manipulators we have encountered but also for all the wrongs that we will of also done, is one of the bravest and most heroic things we can do as humans, and as so you have my uttermost admiration and praise. You are a noble Dhamma warrior and I wish you all the peace and harmony our lives deserve.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
There are three facts in life, Impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha) and Non self (anatta) Today we will contemplate Impermanence
Our existence and reality thereof can be only understood if these three facts of existence are truly comprehend not just from a logical stand point, but must be personally experienced, this is why we meditate, to see or witness this as a personal experience.
While meditating we contemplate these three truths of existence, from every action or conscious thought we contemplate these three truths. With great diligence, being careful and mindful we will start to experience this very truth for ourselves. With the realisation of these three truth, comes enlightenment, and only by diligent observation of these three truths within our own lives, realisation is possible.
Within every breath there is Impermanence, suffering and non self. anicca, dukkha and anatta. Within everyone of us, these three facts of existence reside.
The Buddha spoke these words on impermanence.
“The perceiving of impermanence, bhikkhus, developed and frequently practiced, removes all sensual passion, removes all passion for material existence, removes all passion for becoming, removes all ignorance, removes and abolishes all conceit of “I am.”
It is easy for us to see impermanence in action and within every aspect of our lives. We can see impermanence in objects both material and mental as well as inanimate or animate, organic or inorganic. From great mountains and oceans, to thoughts and feelings all is impermanence.
Impermanence within ourselves
Impermanence is in ones self, our posture is always moving forever changing position from sitting, standing, walking or lying down or aches and pain sets in. Our state of health is always impermanent never stationary, we are subject to seasonal colds and flu, runny noses sore throats, cuts and bruises as well as infection, disease and hunger.
The growth and therefore decay of our bodies is impermanence, our hair constantly needs cutting or styling, our nails are the same. Our bodies need to be kept clean from sweat, dirt, grease and grime that are a constant reminder of impermanence. And of course the nutrients we consume for our bodies are constantly in a state of change. Each breath we take turns from oxygen to carbon dioxide, the food we eat to sustain ourselves, goes in one end and out the other within 24hrs.
Impermanence all around us
There is impermanence all around us, with flowers that bloom, wilt and die, fruits that ripen and decay, trees are constantly changing shedding bark and each season a colourful display as dead or dying leaves. The hills and mountains are either growing or shrinking, rivers flow, always moving separate particles of water to make the stream or river. They may dry up or flood, become narrower or wider, deeper or shallower, their direction ever changing and impermanence.
Even the objects us humans make such as houses, bridges, communication networks, roads, governments, or revolutions are all in a state of continually changing. Houses fall into disrepair and crumble, roads were once simple animal tracks that have increased in size and now covered in tarmac to accommodate an ever moving transport industry. Governments come and go just as dictatorships. Our technology seems sometimes to be moving at such a pace that it can seem like the moment you have mastered one thing it changes into something new.
Our own mind
And even our own consciousness is forever changing, if you are reading this as someone middle aged or from an older generation then you can look back at times through your life and feel it was a completely different person back then. Our thoughts change like the seasons, following styles, fashions and trends, we can experience anger, delight, hatred, love, frustration and contentment sometimes within only a few short moments. Anyone who has sat an exam can tell you the emotions that run through your mind, all seemly changing from one to the next then back again. Thoughts of happiness one moment can be replaced by negative in the next. What we perceive to be good one day may not be the next, what we see as wonderful can turn boring, what we hear as stunning can turn repetitive. Each and every moment our minds our changing, never the same as the last moment, always moving.
Logic vs Experience
This is all logical and we can easily see the impermanence within everything around us when we spend a little time analysing, so why then, with this logical understanding does enlightenment not occur?
Everyone of us knows that our body is subject to die, however most of us run around believing that the health and vigour we experience as youths will stay with us forever, punishing our bodies with drugs and alcohol, or doing adrenaline sports that push our bodies to their limits. We see people smoking cigarettes, knowing the harm they are doing to themselves and others but continuously smoke. We can see the pain of loosing someone close to us, even though logically we knew they were subject to death. So Logic or knowledge isn’t enough on its own to set us free.
We need to truly and deeply experience these truths for ourselves and within our own lives. With meditation we practice diligently and mindful we watch our breath, as a bodybuilder strengthening their muscles so we train our mind muscle, slowly we develop a strong one pointed concentration which we can now use to penetrate these deepest truths by witnessing this very impermanence in action.
When we experience impermanence within our own bodies we start to see the second truth or fact of life, dhukka or suffering. Because everything is impermanence, always changing we see that our clinging and attachment to ideas, thoughts, objects either inanimate or animate, will always end in suffering, the very idea of trying to hold onto to something that is always moving forever changing, is as ridiculous as trying to jump from the bus stop into a seat of a moving bus, blindfolded.
Once we have experienced impermanence first hand within our own bodies, what is there in the body to call Me, Mine or I? Because it is always changing forever moving. As we experience first hand impermanence within our own mind or consciousness, what is there in the mind or consciousness that is Me, Mine or I? Because it is always changing forever moving what can we grasp as being the Me Mine or I? This is realisation of the third fact of life, Non Self, egoless, No Me, Mine or I
Realisation of this third fact of existence (anatta) that there is No Me, Mine or I, liberates us from suffering, a calm and peace fill every moment as we no longer find attachment to something that is forever changing, we no longer cling or crave, we have let go, abandoned that which caused us to suffer.
Our job as meditators is to see first hand, to experience with real clarity that which is impermanent, forever moving, always changing directly within our own bodies and our consciousness. With great determination and practice of Samadhi Meditation our minds become firm in one pointed concentration and the exploration within our own minds and bodies can begin.
Gradually over time our concentration on our breath becomes very solid, our minds our happy to watch, breathing in, breathing out. Once we have established ourselves thus, it is time for Vipassana Meditation and the art of investigation of mind phenomenon, each and every stage of meditation practice will take us a step along our journey, ever closer to freeing ourselves from suffering and liberating our minds.
Wishing you every success in your meditation journey, and if you need further Help it would be my honour to aid you in any way I can, use the Contact Us page to get in touch.
Dhamma Tapasa is Thudong Monk, currently wandering in Europe, If you would like to support him and Marley Moo on their quest for enlightenment please click the KO-FI image below. Or alternativelyclick the PayPal link below that.
Before we can learn Vipassana Meditation we first need to understand that of Material and Mental phenomena as the two sole elements existing in a living being, and to experience them as their true nature.
Material can’t know or understand the object
Mental understands or knows the object
To further explain
When we see an object, let’s say a tree, our usual understanding is that the eye sees the tree, but in actual fact both the tree and the eye are the Material form and can never know or understand itself. The mind or consciousness is the knower of the object and therefore is the mental form. So when we See there is actually two material and one mental phenomenon existing.
As material and mental phenomenon occur through our six sense doors it is our jobs as monks or meditators to clearly distinguish or identify that which is mental and that which is material.
On hearing there is a sound (material)
The ear that hears the sound (material)
And the consciousness that knows the sound (mental)
The meditator should note hearing, hearing, hearing
The first should be realised as sound hearing (material) (the noise)
The second should be realised as hearing sound (material) (the ear)
The third should be noted as knowing the sound (mental) (the consciousness)
To practice Vipassana Meditation correctly the practitioner should be constantly watching, observing, that which enters through the six sense doors (hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, touch, and consciousness) and identify the characteristics of Mental and Material within them, realisation will come as each is impermanent, forever changing, and from this ever changing conditions, suffering is realised and the true identity of Non Self or the egoless.
Only by practicing Vipassana meditation in this way and with a strong level of Samadhi Meditation, the real facts of life (impermanence, suffering and Non self) become a realisation.
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 have slightly adapted the original thudong life to suit the needs of Marley moo, the European people and to also become more in line with the 21st century. I decided after incidents involving wild boar on far more than one occasion, that something more solid at night would be more suitable allowing me to relax, meditating better, and as so chose the ever growing and popular Vanlife as the perfect compromise. As a further adaption to the original thudong life Marley and myself run and write this website, we also have a bank account, as well as having PayPal which allows for monetary Donations to keep this website up and running. This caused opinions from plenty on the matter, and as such lost my connection with my monastery, and the Thai Sangha receiving no more monetary support from them. I am now affiliated to No religion, No Monastery, No Tribe or Society, I am a Vanlife Monk seeking enlightenment.
I have been a practicing Monk for a long time and dedicate this life to discovering the realities within my own mind, I’m not about to stop because of a little controversy. The journey towards enlightenment has become my life, there is no better quest than the one I am on, and it would be wonderful if you could join us.
Dhamma Tapasa is Thudong Monk, currently wandering through Europe, If you would like to support him and Marley Moo on their quest for enlightenment please click the KO-FI image below, or the PayPal link below that.