Saturday, 29 January 2011

Health & Safety And The Buddhist Monk

Whenever I drive past the Buddhist monastery in the frosty hills, I think of The Dalai Lama. Usually there are some monks strolling down the road wearing their traditional brown robes. They always seem apprehensive at the bus, bearing down on them, but when I slow down and wave, they always reciprocate. Possibly out of relief.

The Dalai Lama once said: "If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them." I do try and be courteous to the monks when I see them in the distance. Today, however I feel, one of them has taken the bull by the horns and tried something new for self-preservation.

There is a monk in her brown robes, but wearing a high visibility waistcoat over the top. Eminently sensible, as she is on a straight bit of road where all drivers tend to put their foot down and try to make up some time. I cannot tell you why I find it strange? Perhaps it is that all the Buddhists I have met have the most amazingly trusting and serene outlook on life. Wearing a fluorescent jacket seems a symbolic departure from these ways.

I'm sure it's not really. I don't blame the lack of trust of the traffic. Don't forget that sometimes, it's me flying around the corner. Though I try sometimes to copy the Buddhist outlook. I always remember a Buddhist monk who I met in China who was talking about cars, the roads, and driving in general:

"Don't worry," he said. "When you have a problem, just wish the other traveller well and say: 'May you be well. May you be happy."

It's hard to keep it up.


  1. Your Buddhist monk was very wise - blessing those who wrong you is very hard to do, but it certainly stops you getting worked-up about it, and restores your inner peace.
    Thank you, again, for your fascinating glimpses into the human lot, and your positive attitude to them all.
    "All human life is there" - altogether, on your bus!

  2. Thank you for your comment, Stuart.

    Your last comment is fantastic. One day I might seek your permission to use it, as a quote on the back of a book.

    My meeting with Buddhist monks in North West China was both a moving and painful experience. Moving because they were so positive and happy, leading a simple yet fulfilling life.

    Painful, because they had never seen a Westerner or Da Biedze (Big nose)with hairy arms. They would sneak up and pull clumps of hair from my arms. A pure form of waxing, I suppose...but..ooh!

    Back to the point. I love the fact that "all human life is there" - altogether on the bus. It would be a dull job otherwise.

  3. Thank you for your comments.
    Unfortunately, I can't claim the credit for "All human life is there" as it's a quotation from Henry James[1843-1916], and I think it was also used by the "News of the World" [ah, well!].

    You must let us know if you write your book. In the meanwhile, please keep up your fascinating blog.