At one point in my meditation practice, I see myself as being one with the universe like the baby in my mother's womb. This seemed very natural to me and reminded me of the star child segment of the movie 2001.
So I was shocked recently when I heard a Buddhist monk in a video talk about the horrible life of the fetus in the mother's womb, being accosted by so much filth, foulness. I forget his actual words, but it was a dark picture.
Where was this coming from? At a minimum, barring negative impacts from the mother's or parent's lives, the fetus develops, protected by his environment and nourished by his mother's blood. Growing in this protective environment is why the birth process is such a shock for the baby, suddenly being thrust out into the cold air, slapped on his behind, and placed in a basinet by himself after being fed by his mother.
This was a sick monk. Unfortunately over the years, I have encountered other sick monks or monks who did not give off the glow of serenity. Monks that never have a smile on their face. There is certainly lots in life to be serious about, but every monk should be so filled with love and compassion and serenity that his normal demeanor is like the Dalai Lama's or Thich Naht Hanh's – with a gentle smile on his face.
I have been fortunate that the teachers I've had, while being very serious about their work and their teaching responsibilities, have had a good sense of humor and the ability to laugh heartily. How terrible is life if one does not have the ability to have a sense of humor and laugh heartily.
A monk like the ones I've described should not be allowed out of the monastery to interact with lay people. They need to be retrained.
Choose the monk and temple you seek to receiving teaching from with care.