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In the monastery, our alarm is the sound of a wooden mallet striking against a wooden board. To wake immediately at the sound of the board is a standard our teacher had left for all monastic practitioners. It is a sign of diligence and self-discipline. As practitioners who strive to continuously better ourselves, not only did our teacher ask this of us, he led by example; he has never been late even once.

After a long weary day, to be mindful of the world around you–even in your sleep–is an extremely difficult task. Such behaviour definitely highlights who this person is as a practitioner.

At the sound of the board, my roommate would not only sit up immediately, she’d also turn on the lights in one lightning stride so those on the top bunk wouldn’t have to wander down their beds in the dark. Another nun in the neighbouring room would rush to look at the thermometer at the end of the hallway just so everyone could better prepare themselves for the weather outside.

Regardless of time and space, we always look out for one another; one does not need to deliberately search, for the beauty of the monastery is everywhere.