By SAMANTHA FREDA
WilmingtonFAVS news intern
If you cross the bridge into Brunswick County and head toward Bolivia, you won’t have to go very far before coming across, of all things, a Buddhist monastery.
Wat Carolina Buddhist Monastery is serene and isolated, as you might expect, with one large building (the temple) and several smaller ones. All the buildings are modestly built and visibly aged, save for a new house donated to the monks. The entire area is set back into the woods on Midway Road, a suiting address considering the Buddhist concept of the ‘middle way’ being a path to enlightenment.
We were greeted by a monk in wire framed glasses and a reddish brown robe. With him, was a man who stays at the monastery during the winter, donating his time and efforts to help the three monks living there- one being the abbot, Phrakru Buddamonpricha.
He was inside the smaller building by the road, speaking with students visiting from Wilmington Academy of Arts and Sciences. The children sat on the floor in front of the abbot as he read to them from a small yellow book. His Thai accent was thick but his smile was universal, the creases on his face running deep as he let out bursts of laughter in between explanations.
The booklet was called “An Introduction to Buddhism” by Dr. Saddhatissa and was full of Buddhist concepts and principles including Karma, Rebirth, The Three Characteristics and Dependent Origination. When I arrived, the abbot was reading from the appendix which concludes with The Five Precepts. The abbot and the students were engaged in a call and response as they went through them: To undertake the rule of training, to refrain from harming any living being, from dishonesty and stealing, from misuse of the senses, from wrong speech, and from taking drugs or drinks to cloud the mind.
When I met with the abbot afterwards, I spoke with him through a translator. Though the abbot speaks English, it is limited.
He spoke of the joy it brings him to share the Buddha’s teachings in the yellow booklet with young people, who were each given a copy of it to keep. He showed me a diagram that illustrated “the wheel of life” and pointed out a box containing The Eightfold Path, consisting of precepts like right thought, action and speak, etc. Another helper there laid down a mat beside us and began bringing out food for the abbot’s one meal of the day. The abbot looked at me, still pointing at the diagram, and said in English, “You practice every day. Every day there is something to practice.”
I left him to his lunch, but he invited us back for The Water Festival on April 15, a new year celebration for many southeast Asian countries being held at Wat Carolina, where I look forward to meeting with the abbot again.