First of all, a public service announcement: Our friend Adam is coordinating a project to get soap, disinfectant, and food to some of Bangkok’s poorest communities. Just 300 THB provides supplies for a family of 4. We donated 2,000THB – can you match or or beat us? Head here for more info.

As everyone is now dealing with isolation and minimalist living in a way they never had to before, Greg interviews our returning-est guest Phra Pandit on the day to day life of a monk. From Phra Pandit’s austere lodgings – a bare 3m by 4m room, including little more than a few appliances, books, and a sleeping mat – Phra Pandit reminisces about his early days after ordination, when his only link to the Western world was BBC World which he had to delicately find on a shortwave radio. 

Eventually he found his way into a Thai university for monks where he studied psychology (in Thai) as an undergraduate. That followed with a long stint as a Master’s student, largely to maintain an education visa. Phra Pandit reveals that although there’s a separate process for foreign monks, they largely have to deal with as much bureaucracy to get visas as other foreigners do. Just because you wear the robes does not mean you get special treatment from the government.

Greg and the Venerable Pandit also discuss a monk’s social life and even the rivalries and cliques that form in a temple, the eventual goal of a person who joins the monkhood, the rules (and un-rules) that monks are expected to follow – and what happens when a monk wants out. Phra Pandit finishes with some examples of those who left the monkhood, thinking they wanted a ‘normal’ life with a wife and family, only to hit ‘ctrl-z’ and become a monk again!

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