"I will have to eat what I am given, I cannot ask for anything at all, I will have to sleep on the floor, speak quietly, sleep little, eat little. Practice patience, self-control and self-awareness every single waking moment of the day. During the time I'm a monk the key is to be mindful of every thought and every action. Not to yearn for anything, not to acknowledge when I'm hungry, to suppress sexual desire and not even think of it. When I'm walking only focus on walking, when I'm meditating I'm only meditating."
Sounds like hell doesn't it? I seriously do not know if I could do it or if I'd even want to. I've even given it some thought that maybe it's just his perfect excuse to step away from the frivolity and inherent falseness of fashion, but fashion is my friends business and he's very good at it. The decision to become ordained is not some spur of the moment whim or a "I need a sabbatical' ego trip. This isn't an 'Eat, Love, Pray' research trip either, it's a personal decision that is also part of his culture, his upbringing and at the core of how he makes his life choices. From listening to Mark and understanding his reasons for wanting to walk away from a life that some may see as glamorous and others deem as meaningless, it makes sense for him to step back and just let life 'be', but he is very driven and his company is his (financial) lifeline.
The boss isn't just going on a holiday, he's going away to become a monk. He may not ever come back? Or maybe he'll come back forever changed?
"When I was working on my most recent range an American friend said he finds it bizarre how I can be a Buddhist and function in the fashion industry. I said to him that you can work in any industry, no matter how bitchy or catty and still be Buddhist. If you don't associate, rise to or put yourself in those negative situations, 9 times out of 10 you don't find yourself in them. Some of my friends are Atheist and say that they don't believe in Buddhism. My response to them is, even if it is all hocus pocus, and karma, reincarnation, and merit do not exist? At least I am learning a psychology of how to simplify my life and how to do every action out of kindness... Surely something good will come from that?"
I'm not a Buddhist but for me these are the simple principles I try and live my own life by, but I still do not know if I could sacrifice all of my little comforts, the things that make my day better, or the relationships that help me to be strong to truly find some peace or the ever elusive 'enlightenment' that most of us are searching for, but what is most inspiring about Marks journey is he isn't sure of what he will find either.
I've asked him what he will miss most and he told me it would be his partner. His business will be hard to let go of and hard not to focus on but he has faith it will still be there without him, and even though his business is all about appearance, he's certainly not going to miss his hair or his eyebrows or any of his expensive denim. He's not going to be aware of getting or missing 'that Friday feeling' either because he'll be sat crossed leg in 'saffron robes' and enjoying peaceful solitude.
I have no idea if saffron is in this season but I guess ultimately, in Mark Thomas Taylor's case, once you're 'in fashion' you're never really out of it, even when you're a monk.