Welcome to the watercooler

As we’ve discussed, here’s a place for friendly informal chat. Hi! What’s up?

Here’s some things I saw recently that I like. Maybe you will too!

Today I begin my final year of secondary school. Post a 📸 w/friends & use #YesAllGirls to support refugees.—Malala pic.twitter.com/Y3PaAHW11K

— Malala Fund (@MalalaFund) September 7, 2016

Bhante, thanks for the first posting at the watercooler. I read with interest the James Altucher article. Kind of a Steve Jobs type…possibly brilliant, with some level of aversion to western materialism. Yet, he’s a hedge fund manager, and likely very wealthy.

However, I’ll take any day of the week our Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis of today, and past, that live this minimalist life without a 50 million dollar safety net below them. The article you posted made me curious as to what a 21st century lay form of renunciation might look, and whether some who have made great wealth through capitalism will pursue some form of minimalist life as way to find freedom from the suffering that having a lot of stuff brings. Watching a video of Ajahn Brahmali this morning discussing the importance of monasticism today, your post reminded me of the importance that monks and nuns will play in modern western life, both to illustrate the well-lead renunciant life but to provide a counterbalance to the self centered materialist focus of western life.

So, for my first visit to the Watercooler, I just want to say thank you to our good Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis, who talk the talk, and truly walk the walk.


Thanks for that. i found it interesting to see how he arrived at many of the same ideals that we follow, by just his own experience. To me, the curious things that it’s so obvious: why don’t more people do it?


Maybe the qualities that drive him to success as a venture capitalist and entrepreneur are qualities that invite inquiry, experimentation, thinking creatively, and a quest to “get it right.”

Your question lead me to something that I think about often. Many of us here at the Watercooler want to “get it right” in terms of how we think, live and approach our lives and those around us, but we’re such a distinct minority. We’re outsiders. A small blip on the radar, relative to how our siblings, parents, and others in our world live and see the world. Time Magazine names Ven. Matthieu Ricard “the world’s happiest man,” but his lifestyle of renunciation, compassion, and altruism is celebrated, and then resoundingly ignored. I guess the idea of having more stuff, more food, sex and money, like the Song of the Sirens, is just too alluring.


Being in a relationship, it is very difficult for me to renounce nearly as much as I would like to. I would be more than happy to exist solely on the four requisites, but the conditions have not yet been created to cause that effect. So, for now, I will bide my time secure in the knowledge that it’s beyond my control, and when the time is right, I may renounce all my wordly possessions and go forth into the bikkhu sangha!

With metta,



The best rule of thumb is contentment. Be content to content to be in a relationship, and be content as a monastic. If you long too much for renunciation while a layperson, the chances are that when you do renounce, it won’t meet your expectations, and you’ll find yourself longing for the home life. Oh, well, at least you might get some nice poetry out it!


Many thanks, Bhante! Essential advice, to be sure!


One of the best pieces of advice I got in the years pre monastery from a Bhikkhu was " become a monk when becoming a monk and not becoming a monk is the same in your mind". He followed that up with saying that if I had too much idealism and expectations for the monastic life, It would cause me much suffering, as Bhante Sujato stated above.

It sounds like some sort of Zen Koan, but I took it at face value and then understood a year or two later. While I had the desire and the intuition that the monastic life is for me, I’d also be ok as a lay person practicing if I could not be a monastic or if I tried and couldn’t cut it. In fact I’ve been at the monastery two years now, and sometimes I still look back at my 10 years of practicing as a lay person and feel my practice was “better” then lol, but I also understand that it seems all monastics go through rough times in the first few years.

Now I still feel I’d be ok practicing as a lay person if I had to, because I’m just starting out on my journey really, and who knows how I’ll feel about being a monk in 5 or 10 years. Regardless if I wear robes or not, i always have my practice, and there is a certain comfort in that.


Ven. Jayantha: I’ve had a chance to observe your progress from being an Anagarika, to today as a Samanera at Bhavana Society. You have a very special gift for communication, and you bring to your Dhamma talks a sense of joy and energy that is always welcome. I do feel that your wisdom, training and being present in robes gives you a platform and a presence that lay life cannot afford. I do believe that the monastic life is a platform upon which one can best navigate this Path; lay life presents too much static and distortion to allow for the clear cadence of the Dhamma to be heard, appreciated, and taught. And, for my two cents, there does need to be a resurgence in the west of monastic life, this “archetype” that Ajahn Passano described in “Fearless Mountain” that is so needed in the West these days. I think you’re on to something really good here, and I hope that the rest of us can be supportive to you in your journey, if or ever doubts or even boredom ( my sometimes Achilles heel living in a wat) cause you to question life in robes. You’ve inspired a lot of people…keep on keepin’ on. :slight_smile:


Thanks for a great thread.
As someone who has just begun the one suitcase life I found the article and the comments insightful.
Not having the significant cash behind me the author does I have had to rely very much on the generosity of others. I wonder if the interconnected was is lost when you have that kind of capital?


Thank you for the kind words my friend. These days I’m quite happy being where I am and doing what I’m doing. I rarely have time to be bored because we are a retreat center as well, so between retreats, visitors, and making sure the monastery doesn’t fall apart, we are quite busy. I wish I had more time and energy to spend on reading the suttas and learning pali.

I do the same mental exercise I have since the first desire to become a monastic arose nearly 7 years ago now. I compare in my mind what I would consider the most ideal lay life vs the possibility of living the monastic life and striving for awakening. All those years leading up to my leaving I either felt a strong pull towards the monastic end or at the very least I wanted to give it a try so I didn’t regret not trying later in life. These days I honestly can’t imagine wanting to do anything else, but life has taught me that whenever I thought I had it all figured out, life laughs and shakes its head and says " oh you do do you?" before something changes.

I’ve not experienced the level of joy in both my own practice, and helping others in their practice, doing anything else in life. I know how much this practice has changed my life, and to be part of others changing theirs is beyond words.

Although it’s not all sunshine and rainbows… these days I think I keep realizing more and more as I go along how much defilements and unskillful habits I need to work on. I feel like I’ve come so far, but sometimes I feel like I’m standing on a beach watching a Tsunami come in and doubts arise as to whether I can withstand the impact or break. That is where self compassion comes in, thankfully I’m well experienced in doing that!


Ooh fellow traveler :wave: :smile: although (oversized) backpack style!
I agree. People’s generosity has been what has astounded me the most. And no-one’s ever told me to get a job or go back to where I came from!
The thing I love about traveling is that money can’t solve all your problems. Money can’t cure your tummy bug. Money can’t buy you a lift when you’re stranded in the middle of the Thai countryside where no buses, taxis etc go. Money won’t help you accept the inevitable inconveniences, cultural eccentricities and communication difficulties involved with traveling. At least not fully! :laughing: But I agree that sometimes minimalists just ‘live in hotels’- that’s not doing it right!
If I stay in a cheap hostel or better someone’s house, and eat on the street I meet way more people and learn much more


I’m not really travelling. I’m currently staying at a Vihara 15 minutes from my former home. It’s a strange thing!
Once Vassa is over I will venture further afield, but I feel little desire to travel for travels-sake. For now Perth is as far as I will venture. Though I do have multiple passports. I’m a little too content with sitting still!
I will be testing the waters of monastic life. it’s something I’ve been considering for a while and now it’s time to dip my toes in.


Awesome! I have been staying at a few monasteries round the world too! Would love to hear your feedback and advice as you go along! :blush:



Dear All,

It is inspiring to see that most lay people (even in low numbers) adapt a more simpler way of living according to their capabilities :smile::sunglasses:. May all lay people who endeavor to go forth may be able to do so and may they achieve the fruits of the path :heart_eyes:.

As the venerable mendicants have mentioned, may all of us continue to be content and happy till we reach the end of the path.

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

Happy vassa!

in mettā.



It’s my first time posting here. Let me introduce myself in this “Welcome” topic.

My name is Korakot Chaovavanich, from Thailand. I’m 39 years old.

  • 1999, M.Phil in ‘Computer Speech and Language Processing’, Cambridge, UK
  • 2000, create ‘Larndham Online Tipitaka Search’ in Thai, now superseded by 84000.org
  • May 2006 - May 2016, ordained as a monk, living in Suan Santidham, Si Racha
  • Jul 2016 - Work as a data scientist at True Corp.

I have planned to work more on Natural Language Processing, applied to Pali Text, including Thai and English translations. Probably a tool to aid the study of Tipitaka or Dhamma in general. Please give me some advice.

1 Like

Hi Kora, great to see you here. You have a long history with work on the Pali texts, which is great to see. We are constantly working on things, trying to improve the site and get the Dhamma to more people.

If you want to check out our current progress, we have most of our discussions publicly here on /meta/dev. In addition, you might want to check out our Github.

We are very interested in developing NLP tools for Pali. What kind of things did you have in mind?

2 posts were split to a new topic: Possible NLP prijects or developements