By Kasun Kamaladasa –
The bartender that wore orange robes
Few years ago I came across something that may seem relatively unique to us Sri Lankans, a bar owned and run by a monk. Deviant as I am, I was overjoyed by the fact this is going to make some people’s minds explode. So I rushed in to see what the whole hype is about, I mean typically bars are a place to hang-out and let loose. Why would people want to drink in front of a judgmental monk???
I was in for awkward self-revelation, it turned out that I was the judgmental one. These monks weren’t your stereotypical, shallow, uneducated and extreme TV personas that you see in the news every day. They were some amazing individuals, who had noticed that people were more interested in philosophical conversations once they had their bellies filled with a little rum. They wanted to use that to reach those who didn’t like the atmospheres of modern temples. They wanted people to enjoy the philosophy part of Buddhism minus the outdated and boring rituals. All around the bar monks were pouring drinks and sitting with people talking about the little things in life.
There was one question I wanted to ask them. “How do you deal with Buddhist fanatics who clearly would see this place shut down?” … To which the bartender replied “We get death threats every day, but we are true practitioners of Buddhism trying to spread its philosophy. I hope the fanatics who threaten us come and learn Buddhism from us one day”
A mother and her son
Me too movement, Mediocre sex education and Porn have many people deluded that we humans understand sexual relationships and boundaries. Ever since I started to explore my own sexuality I have come across some mind blogging stories and people that continuously changed my view. But two years ago one of my teachers shared a story that humbled my understanding of what is right and wrong when it comes to sexual relationships.
She told us that one of her clients came in one day and was sitting in the bench and looking at her not saying a single word. Then after 15 min. of silence finally said I think my mother is abusing my brother. Our teacher then asked her why she believes this to be true, after another few minutes of silence she finally finds the courage to tell the whole story.
It turned out to be that her brother was disabled and on a wheel chair, he was 15, just underage for giving consent to sex (according to the country he was residing in) and his disability made it impossible for him to masturbate or use a toy by himself. He didn’t have any partner of his age that would help him in his needs and it’s not like there is an available service that allows such people to enjoy earthly pleasures. So was the mother wrong for understanding her Child’s need? Or are we wrong for not giving a damn about the people we exclude when we write our universal laws of conduct?
The monk who tried to teach sex
Few weeks back our great Island was in the greatest turmoil that the country has ever seen. A monk had appeared on TV to appeal to the government to stop distribution of a provocative Sex-Ed book. What was so provocative in the book? It had mentioned appearance of secondary sexual characteristics as a dialog between kids. He was convinced that Sex-Ed should only be taught from mother to daughter.
For the first time in my life I actually felt sorry for a monk. He had attempted at his chance to be a national hero like many monks before him. He had some idea (however deluded it may seem) how sex should be taught and he raised his concern. Like the many monks before him who took center stage to save the nation from eternal damnation. He wanted people to panic. He wanted his version of Buddhist understanding to prevail over everyone else.
He thought his holy books and shared experience with his devotees was supreme to the educators, social workers, health experts and researchers in multiple countries. Half of the nation laughed at him for not being educated in Sex-Ed, something that was just introduced. Next day everything was back to normal, the sexually well versed people of our nation lost their minds seeing an inner thigh of a dancer and started to call her a whore.