By Sath Nadesan


In May 2022, I sold everything I owned and headed to a small Sri Lankan village to live within a community of Buddhist monks.

My life in Sydney had become mundane. I was comfortable, but I was too comfortable. I was cruising along – performing stand-up comedy, hanging out with my mates and working a job I didn't completely despise.

I'd been living the same routine for years and needed to do something different. Something that would challenge me, completely shake me out of my comfort zone.

I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't exactly the poster child for spirituality, discipline, and mental and physical strength, but I was determined to push myself to the extreme and try something new.


Settling into monastic life


Secluded by bushland teeming with wild animals, the village was beautiful. This was my chance to completely immerse myself in nature.

I did not have internet access or even a phone, which was terrifying for a millennial like me, but I was determined to try this new life.


It only took me a month of trying not to completely lose my mind until I began to adapt to the daily routine of monastic life.


I would wake to the ringing of bells at the crack of dawn and join the monks for morning meditation and chanting. Afterwards, I would help with the cooking and cleaning before heading to the village to help plant and harvest crops.


It was hard work, but it was also immensely satisfying. I learnt about sustainable farming practices while planting and harvesting fruit and vegetables. Everything we ate came from the village itself.

While I appreciated the peacefulness, it was also the first time in a long time I had been alone with my thoughts.

In the afternoons, I would spend a few hours teaching English to the young children in the village. I didn't know Sri Lankan, so they spent most of the class laughing at my accent every time I tried to teach them a new word. But we soon began to learn each other's language and formed a strong bond.

I also chatted with the monks about Buddhism and took part in rituals and sermons.

Despite the language barrier, we connected through laughter.

I even witnessed an ordination: five new monks were ordained in a ceremony where they were presented with robes. The whole thing lasted for eight hours.


Darkness and loneliness


Living in the village was not without its challenges.

Water and electricity were scarce, which meant sporadic cold showers and nights spent alone in my little hut in complete darkness. My only source of light came from the fireflies.

While I appreciated the peacefulness, it was also the first time in a long time I had been alone with my thoughts — there was no Instagram or YouTube to distract me.

I missed my friends and family, but having no phone made it impossible to stay in touch. I often wondered what was going on in the world. (Turns out the Queen had died!)

The monks taught me the importance of community and finding happiness within oneself. Here, everyone was treated with love and respect, regardless of their background or past.


As different as I was from everyone else, they made me feel like a part of their family the moment they met me.


Finding happiness


My seven months in the village was a challenging but transformative. I learned about community, self-discovery and the true meaning of happiness. Without the distractions of technology, I was able to connect with myself and my surroundings in a way I never thought possible.

Now that I'm back in Sydney, I see the world with fresh eyes.

I am grateful to be back home. And I'm excited to see where this new perspective takes me as I continue exploring the path towards a more fulfilling existence - this time with warm showers.


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*The writer is a comedian based in Sydney. The article was first published on ABC EVERYDAY.


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