Sofa Enlightenment

by Robert Broughton

Table of contents

#12 – Breaking Down

In order to earn some money to go back to Thailand and reconnect with his past good experience as a monk there, the narrator goes to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, where he teaches English classes. As soon as he has enough money saved, he travels to Bangkok. But the temple where he was ordained does not take in foreigners anymore as they were too troublesome. An American monk tells him that it is easier to get ordination in Sri Lanka.

By now a note of desperation is creeping into the narrator's spiritual quest. He goes to a poor and run-down monastery in the Sri Lankan countryside where he wants to practice in solitude and make a last big push to find inner peace. But it works out the other way round. He becomes more and more agitated, with sexual dreams and fantasies taking over his life. He believes that maybe his asceticism works as a form of suppression but decides to continue nonetheless. In 1987, the narrator is now 40 years old, he experiences a mental breakdown, running completely naked in the town square of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. He is placed in a private clinic in Colombo and after calming down is deported to Australia by the authorities.

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