Laos

Laotian Buddhism in Facebook Era.

by Ciro of flickr.com/photos/tonybot on April 12, 2014

Laotian Buddhism in Facebook Era.

When I arrived in Luang Prabang I felt home. That small city has it's own way to embrace your soul like a devote friend would do phisically to you to make you feel good and safe. Cities like Saigon or Bankgog, well they challenge you but Luang Prabang is warmly and softly letting you in.

My curiosity about a deep compararison between Oriental and Westernize buddism gave me thinking all along my trip. So once I had the chance, I went to the public library to teach english to the novices (you are a novice monk if you're under 20yo - once you turn 20 you can decide if became a monk or "quitting"). 

When I entered the library, I noticed a lot of really young novices. One of all caught my attention. A little 12 years old. He was sitting in front of a Computer. He was on Facebook. Hesitant if taking a shot or not, I did it secretly. Then Jia Lee introduced himself.

Quite tall, hair and eyebrows shaved as the rule says, this skinny 18 years old boy dressed with an orange robe (that leaves one shoulder out) smiled at me like he always knew me. We started a little chat about myself then we started the lesson. He was reading Steve Jobs's biography. We went throught many question about western world, technology and english grammar as well. 
Then he let me express my interest about buddhism answering some of my questions.

When he pointed out that novices can't own anything because they shouldn't care about material things, can't play anything because would make them getting away from meditation (making it became a boring practice), can't talk to a stranger in the street and few other strict rules like these, I couldn't help myself to ask "So, how is possible that you guys are on Facebook?"

The innocence how Jia Lee answered me it's stitch in my head. "The abbotts" - he said - "are really old. They don't know how to use a computer. They don't know that is fun. So they didn't deny us to join FB."

 

The following days I shared many hours with Jia Lee. I helped him at the temple to build a dam. He invited me to visit his family thirty minutes walking far from his temple. He invited me to stay during the night with him and the others novices. I would never forget him, especially now because we are facebook friends!


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