what is it like to train as a Buddhist monk?
In the summer of 2017, I spent one month in a monastery.
I was near Ningbo, a few hours by train from Shanghai, living as a monk-in-training in a Chan Buddhist monastery (Jin'e Temple).
I had lessons in Buddhist scripture and doctrine, calligraphy, tai chi, meditation, traditional Chinese medicine, classical Chinese music, and more. I rose at 5 in the morning and went to bed at 10pm. I did not open my phone, laptop or even a book all month. I spent one hour meditating each day. For my final days there, I spent 7 days observing total silence - no talking, eye contact, touch, reading, music - meditating from 8am to 8pm every day.
After my month in the monastery, I went on a pilgrimage up Mt. Putuo, one of the four holy mountains for Chinese Buddhists. I ascended the mountain not by hiking, but by taking three steps and then prostrating - on my knees with my forehead to the ground - repeatedly, all the way up.
I am currently a leader for the meditation community at Brown, regularly guiding meditation sits for students and faculty.