A Dutch Monk in Myanmar: "My whole life is about devotion to the Buddha’s teachings"
Bhikkhu Agga is a Dutch monk living in Myanmar. While back home for a short time, he was interviewed about his life decision to take on robes, found here. Following is an excerpt of his interview:
"My whole life is about devotion to the Buddha’s teachings and to apply this, and this gives my practice much more strength. It’s like an engine in one of this small toy-cars (flywheel) which keeps rotating and supporting you the more you turn it…
I feel before, and maybe this is because of Gonkaji’s way of teaching, my meditation practice felt more like: ‘you sit your hour and then you do other things and then you sit your hour and the only thing that counts are your hours on the cushion’, it felt a bit like on/off Dhamma. But now it feels like there is not so much division in meditation or in Dhamma, that division is not there anymore, it’s much more like a whole thing and that I think, it’s very important to create momentum and give strenght and power to meditation. You see Dhamma manifesting in much more places and that’s very beautiful, you can see Dhamma almost everywhere.
Another reason is that as a monk you have a higher sila (morality). 5 precepts is very essential, 8 precepts is very strong, but I feel like when your whole life is based on the sila, this base becomes really strong, and then you can see clearer how karma works… When you make small mistakes in sila you realize: “this is really hurting me, this sila is for my own protection”, so for me, more rules are more protection in that sense, and I think it’s nice to have more protection.
Another reason is that when you are practicing for example vipassana from Goenka, you depend on an organization , and now as a monk I don’t depend on organization any more, I only depend on the goodness of others. In Myanmar there is a whole culture that supports monks, meditators, so I can go anywhere in Myanmar with a begging bowl and I get food and I get support and that gives me independence from organizations. That makes me very happy. Before I felt like I had to go to the meditation centers because that was the only place where I got the support and I had to addapt and sometimes even not be authentic to myself in order to follow the organization wishes in the form of rules or regulations, and I was adapting to that because I wanted to be able to stay inside the organization, because I wanted to keep sitting my long courses so I would behave as I was expected to behave just to stay inside the organization and that was not healthy for me.
I also did long time service (long volunteer period) and I realized after a while that sometimes I was not following my heart. I was more following the rules, but not following my heart. Sometimes I felt I could have looked more to the particular situation and not so much to the rules and then for myself decide what was the wisest thing to do. Then out of fear I dind’t follow my own intuition and after some time I realized it was not good. It’s much harder to surrender, to be open, to listen, to be in the present moment and trust in your wisdom at that point and be honest to yourself and decide what’s the best thing to do every moment."