Monk Chat in Chiang Mai
One of the things I wanted to do during our week in Chiang Mai was to take advantage of the "Monk Chat" program several of the temples in the town participate in. After googling where to find the temples in the old section of Chiang Mai that held the chats we made our way there without haste. We chose the Chedi temple simply because I'm a Star Wars fan and Chedi sounded too much like Jedi when I read it online. Always wanted to visit a Jedi temple and this was the closest thing. (Funny fact - In high school, during the Buddhism section of a World Religion class I took, we watched "Return of the Jedi" and compared the Jedi philosophy with that of Zen Buddhism. Crazy cool, I know). We sat and chatted with a 23 year old monk originally from Cambodia who started as a novice at 13. Ten years searching for enlightenment. Ten years trying to gain Nirvana. He was definitely dedicated. We chatted about his daily life and what the monk hood entailed. We found out they're not allowed to eat elephant or humans - we never knew that was a thing. They're also not allowed to touch women in general, not just in the biblical sense. We also learned some of the more intricate teachings of the Buddhist doctrine from the perspective of a monk. After about an hour of chatting we had to give other visitors and seekers their turn. If you happen to be in the old quarter of Chiang Mai and are visiting the temples, take an hour or so out of your day to participate in a Monk Chat. You'll definitely benefit from the interaction.