Norwich Buddhist set to become monk in Nepal

Buddhist monk Michael Leon makes an unusual sight in his robes and colourful garments as he walks along Blomefield Road in Mile Cross, Norwich.

Reaction to his dress has been mixed, with some youths asking him disparagingly why he was wearing the clothes and others bowing down to him in the street, he said,

The 37-year-old, who has just returned from the jungles of Nepal where he became a Buddhist monk, is currently paying a brief visit to see his mother before returning for an indefinite stay.

Several weeks ago he went to Nepal where he visited Dharma Sangha, who has not taken any food or drink or slept for 10 months.

His story was featured in a documentary on the Discovery Channel in 2005 and called 'The Boy with Divine Powers'.

He is coming to the end of a six-year meditation and Mr Leon has agreed to become his first monk and return to study with him.

He said: 'I have been a Buddhist for 12 years. I was working at a gym and was married when I first saw the documentary on Dharma Sangha.

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'It was a time when my marriage was starting to dissolve. My wife was doing well at work, but my happiness was not materialistic.

'My friends were all cheating on their wives, drinking and getting into fights, and none of them were happy.'

After getting a divorce, he resolved to go to Nepal to meet this boy. He added: 'I went to Vietnam to teach English and earn enough money to get to Nepal, and finally I got to meet him. I wasn't sure how I would greet him. I did full prostrations. This is the first time in my life that I had ever done that and I felt happy to do it. 'Although I had been following him, I still have a Buddhist background where you should study the person you are considering to be your teacher.

'Over the next few weeks my mind was trying to understand this. I was so comfortable with him and it was like I had reconnected with something. I had never felt anything like it. I asked him if he could bless my mother. I felt like this young boy had the ability to show us all how we can see our perfect nature.'

A few days later, he talked to one of the monks and told him that he did not want to leave.

'I had no doubts that I wanted to give my life for this cause and become a monk. All doubts were gone. He was someone I thought I could call my perfect teacher.

'I have come home to see my mother and my family, and then I'll go back indefinitely to study under him and be his monk. I will be living in a tent and will have a basic lifestyle and renounce material things. I will live on donations.'

He said his mother was very supportive of him but one of his brothers had dismissed his beliefs as 'hocus pocus', but had now come round to the idea and was even contemplating going to Nepal with him.

His former wife has also congratulated him on his decision and told him he was finally on his path in life.

Mr Leon, whose father was in the US military and met his mother while stationed in the UK, was born in Texas and has an American accent, but he has lived in England for about 10 years.

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