The Monk Who Downloads Apps :)
Posted by Rohan Bhansali on Jul 9, 2019
While everyone would've heard them from the stage, I learned so much more in watching them in between all the action. They were already heroes in my mind, but I appreciate them in an even deeper way after seeing how consistently they show up for each moment. Every person, every interaction had the same extra-ordinary feel.
At Fran and Reza's beautiful Awakin Circle, I was put on the spot to share some insights, and I offered a few stories of what I learned by watching Rev. Heng Sure.
First and foremost, his humility. We were around many public personalities, some of whom have millions of followers, some of can do all kinds of "miracles", and all of whom are creating big impact in the world. During a morning session with youth, Rev. Heng Sure bowed three times to the entire youth assembly. Partly, he was demonstrating how to bow, but after a slow, deliberate, heartful bow, he shared, "I bow to all the future Buddhas and Mahaviras among you." So. Very. Powerful.
After his sessions, Rev. Heng Sure would chat with us about feedback, and think of ways to improve. He's already telling riveting stories, doing puppets, singing songs -- and he wants to keep learning how to deepen engagement. Wow.
During one of his interfaith sessions with 9 interfaith leaders, most everyone came, spoke and went. Sometimes with their entourage of followers. Rev. Heng Sure was the only one of two people who stayed the whole way and heard every speaker. In fact, with all his sessions, he reached the room first, to do his part of setting up with diligence. Not only that, he reached out to various other speakers he knew and attended side sessions to make people feel special.
He's also fun, with a childlike ease. In the vein of "Monk Who Sold His Ferrari", I think of him as the "Monk Who Downloads Apps." He has a much better title -- "Monks of the Silicon Forest." At lunch one-day, he had an app to figure out our Chinese horoscope animal. :) On Saturday night, we all experienced a 7.1 earthquake, and he had an app that could tell us about the frequency of the after shocks. During another break, he was showing us some of his mind-blowing animal photos from Australia, and talking about the nuances of cameras with one of my expert friends. I would've never thought that I would be getting technology recommendations from a monk, but I see that he is not missing any gateway to build bridges!
A woman from Sri Lanka (former Miss Sri Lanka we were told!) came to our Awakin Circle and shared that she grew up in a culture where you're forced to bow to monks -- that ritualism approach didn't make much sense to her, so she stopped. But before she left, she felt moved to bow to Rev. Heng Sure somehow. In passing, she spoke about her 6-month old daughter, and how she was really moved by the puppets and is going to get one for her. She was just saying it casually, but Rev. Heng Sure gifted her the puppet. Initially, she refused but then he gracefully accepted it as a blessing. Later that night, she wrote, "Mom and dad are definitely guilty of having more fun with it than the baby so far. We can’t wait for the day Kai grows up to learn how to meditate with the Chipmunk. Chipmunk will tell her all the stories of Rev Heng Sure."
To be honest, I didn't know much about Rev. Heng Sure prior to my trip. Nipun-bhai sent me his bowing pilgrimage journal as a suggestion for airplane reading. I read a bit of it, and on the first day I met him, I bowed to him. Well, I can say that my body bowed, but it wasn't really a bow. It was fairly mechanical, coming mostly from my head. But then, I felt like bowing the second day too. And every day, it felt more and more natural.
In our last encounter, I felt like my heart bowed too. But then he said, "How will I repay your debt of kindness?" I was taken aback. All I did was get him soy chai and bananas, and lifted his bags. What humility! In that moment, I didn't how to respond, but I thought about it again and what I would've liked to say is, "By giving me another chance to serve."
Grateful beyond words. Three steps and a bow.