All Stories, General Fiction

The Dead Monk’s iPad by Daniel Olivieri

“No,” I told him, “we cannot ask the monk for the password.”

“Why?” asked the Apple support guy.

“Because he’s dead.”

“Oh,” he said. “That’s a real shame. Are you sure he didn’t leave the password lying around in an old cigar box under his bed or something? That’s where I keep my passwords.”

“Lama Chodak did not have a cigar box,” I said. “And he didn’t have a bed either. He slept on a mat.”

“Hmmm…” the Apple support guy said, “Maybe he wrote the password on his hand in sharpie?”

“I’m confident that Lama Chodak did not write the password on his hand in sharpie. Even if he did, we no longer have his hand. The monks cut up his body and left it for vultures to eat.”

“Huh,” he said. “Why’d you do that?”

“It’s called a sky burial, it’s a way of showing a final act of generosity towards the world by returning one’s body to it. It celebrates the ability to let go of all things… But anyway, can you get us into his iPad? It’s the only way we can get onto Facebook around here.”

“You know,” he said, “As much as I believe your story about being at a Zen monastery in Nepal, I’m gonna say ‘No’ to this request. Looks like you’re gonna have to spend eight hundred dollars on a new one.”

“It’s not a Zen monastery, you idiot!” I shouted, “It’s Gelugpa. Zen Buddhism is from China, not Nepal!”

“Zen or Gelugpa, I’m still not opening the iPad.”

After Apple tech support hadn’t worked, the monks began preparing the ritual. It took two weeks to create the mandala necessary for the ceremony. Twelve monks crouching over the design for eight hours every day. They used chak-pur to drop grains of colored sand over the mandala’s outline. Once completed, the mandala was seven feet wide. It looked like an ethereal palace surrounded by a sprawling garden.

The ritual required six monks. They all sat around the mandala in the lotus position, reciting a mantra in synchronicity. The mantra called out for Lama Chodak to return in spirit to the monastery and grant them help.


Lama Chodak was experiencing unspeakable bliss. He was not simply in harmony with all things, he was all things. His mind consisted of just one thought and that thought was manjusri. The word “manjusri” translated roughly into the English words “gentle glory.” No translation could ever come close to doing it justice, however. The word is a channel for the cosmic reservoir of compassion hidden in each living thing.

And then Lama Chodak heard a knock on his consciousness. This was startling. He wasn’t aware that a consciousness was a thing that could be knocked on. He opened his mind to the sensation of knocking. Then he realized with great joy that this knocking came from his monastic brothers. They were asking for his help. “ It will be a great pleasure,” thought Lama Chodak. “to return in spirit to the monastery and offer every assistance that I can.”

And so Lama Chodak’s spirit appeared in the monastery to see his brothers chanting. He was immediately aware of what help they required. They needed the secret to enlightenment.

With all the terrors of the world—the oppression of the Tibetans by the Chinese, the war in Syria, the results of certain elections—now was the time for humans to finally learn the true secret to everlasting internal and external peace.

And so Lama Chodak concentrated all the force within his soul and applied it to the mandala. Lama Chodak began to write the secret to enlightenment in the sand of the mandala. It took him four hours. When he was done, Lama Chodak had written “Manjusri” in the middle of the mandala. This word contained within it all the answers to the human spirit and to the world.  Lama Chodak’s spirit returned to Nirvana, knowing that his act of compassion would soon bring enlightenment to the entire world.


The ceremony had worked! The monks celebrated by embracing each other and reciting prayers of gratitude. I had rarely seen the monks this enthusiastic before. They knew that after all their hours of meditation and chanting, they had achieved their goal. They had the iPad’s password.

As I was their guest, the monks gave me the honor of typing the password in. I carefully pressed the keys and hit enter. The input bar moved back and forth as if shaking its head ‘No’.

“Maybe the ‘M’ isn’t supposed to be capitalized,” I said. I tried with a lowercase ‘m’. That also didn’t work. “Maybe the letters are supposed to be capitalized,” I said. This didn’t work either. “Maybe Lama Chodak’s spirit misspelled it. That ‘j’ might really be an ‘i.’ Lama Chodak never had the best handwriting…”

After two hours of trying different passwords, the monks threw the iPad out and spent eight-hundred dollars on a new one.


Daniel Olivieri

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4 thoughts on “The Dead Monk’s iPad by Daniel Olivieri”

  1. Hi Daniel,
    I reckon that there are some types who shouldn’t go near technology.
    Monks, maybe, me definitely.
    This made me smile!
    All the very best my friend.


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