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Buddhist Ordination in Thailand: The Journey into Monkhood

Short-term ordination, or novice ordination, is believed to carry advantage not solely to the person himself but in addition to his household. This observe is taken into account a supply of nice advantage and is commonly seen as a manner for people to earn non secular and karmic credit score that may profit not solely themselves but in addition their dad and mom and ancestors.

This perception within the advantage related to ordination and the constructive affect it has on the household is an integral a part of the cultural and non secular significance of this observe in Thailand. It reinforces the shut connection between Buddhism, household, and the broader group in Thai society.

Households usually take nice pleasure in supporting their sons’ choice to change into novices or non permanent monks earlier than marriage, as it’s seen as an act of devotion to Buddhist teachings and displays positively on the household, fostering pleasure among the many area people.

The Symbolic Reducing of Hair

The ordination course of spans two days. On the preliminary day, the potential monk gathers together with his household to pay homage to their ancestors. As a gesture of respect, the boy/man washes the ft of his elders.

Following this, the younger man’s hair is ready for shaving. Family and friends in attendance every take turns slicing a portion of his hair. The ultimate step is carried out by the senior monk, who shaves the younger aspirant’s head clear.

The slicing of hair as a part of the ordination ceremony in Thailand is a solemn and important a part of the ordination course of, typically accompanied by chanting, blessings, and the donning of monastic robes.

It marks the formal graduation of a monk’s or novice’s non secular journey, as they put together to uphold the monastic precepts, reside a lifetime of meditation and research, and serve their group in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha.

The act of shaving the top serves as a visual and fixed reminder of their dedication to the Buddhist path and their pursuit of enlightenment.

All through the method, each strand of hair is fastidiously collected on a lotus leaf. The gathered hair is then saved at a relative’s residence for 3 days earlier than being launched into a close-by river.

After the top is cleanly shaven, the senior monk proceeds to take away the eyebrows. Subsequently, crushed herbs are gently utilized to the younger man’s physique, symbolizing purity and cleanliness. This act of hair slicing is completely symbolic, recalling the time of Buddha when lengthy hair signified royalty. Upon attaining enlightenment, the Buddha himself severed his hair as an emblem of renunciation from worldly possessions.

Here is a better take a look at the symbolism and means of hair slicing throughout ordination:

1. Renunciation of Self-importance and Attachment

The act of slicing one’s hair throughout ordination is a strong image of renunciation. Hair is commonly related to private self-importance and attachment to 1’s look. By shaving their heads, people coming into monastic life show their willingness to let go of those worldly issues and concentrate on non secular improvement.

2. Simplicity and Humility

Shaved heads are a trademark of Buddhist monastic custom, emphasizing simplicity and humility. This act represents a dedication to a lifetime of modesty and detachment from materials possessions, the place bodily look is now not a supply of pleasure or concern.

3. Uniformity

The uniformity in head shaving additional emphasizes the equality and unity amongst monks and novices. It erases distinctions of social standing, wealth, and look, emphasizing that every one those that enter the monastic order are equal of their pursuit of enlightenment.

4. Breaking from the Lay World

For individuals who endure ordination, the act of shaving their heads is a symbolic break from their earlier lay lives. It signifies the top of their earlier id and the start of their life as a monastic devoted to Buddhist observe and repair.

Full Ordination (Bhikkhu)

For individuals who select to proceed on the trail of monkhood, full ordination as a “Bhikkhu” is the following step. The choice to take increased ordination is a big one and includes in search of the approval and steering of a senior monk or abbot.

The Bhikkhu ordination ceremony is a deeply solemn and important occasion within the lifetime of a younger man. It includes the recitation of the Patimokkha, the monastic code of self-discipline. Throughout this ceremony, the candidate is totally initiated into the monastic group, receiving further robes and the alms bowl, which symbolizes their dependence on the lay group for sustenance.

The Lifetime of a Thai Buddhist Monk

Life as a Thai Buddhist monk is marked by a rigorous day by day routine. Monks rise earlier than daybreak and interact in meditation, prayer, and rituals. They depend on alms rounds for his or her day by day sustenance, receiving choices from the lay group.

The day by day alms spherical, generally known as “Pindapata” in Theravada Buddhism, is a venerable and important custom that happens every morning in lots of Buddhist communities, together with these in Thailand.

The alms spherical usually takes place early within the morning, shortly after dawn. Monks and novices stroll barefoot in single file alongside predetermined routes, often inside the neighborhood of their temple or monastery.

The day by day alms spherical is a sacred and cherished observe that encapsulates the core values of Theravada Buddhism, emphasizing simplicity, humility, generosity, and the interdependence between the monastic and lay communities. It stays an important a part of day by day life in lots of Thai temples and monasteries, providing each non secular nourishment and a way of communal concord.

Monks play a vital position of their communities, providing non secular steering, performing non secular ceremonies at weddings, home warmings, and funerals, and taking part in group occasions. They supply a supply of assist and knowledge to the Thai individuals.

Lately, nevertheless, Thailand has skilled a decline within the variety of younger males selecting ordination. Altering societal values and the attract of secular life have led to a lower within the variety of monks within the nation.

Regardless of these challenges, ordination continues to be a revered and cherished custom in Thailand. For a lot of, the trail to monkhood stays a profound and deeply non secular journey, a testomony to a dedication to Buddhism and a dedication to a lifetime of non secular progress and repair.

Controversy in The Monastic Neighborhood

Controversies surrounding monks participating in actions like playing, intercourse with prostitutes, and drug use have made headlines in Thailand over the previous decade. Six high-profile monks had been arrested in 2018 on corruption prices (1), as the federal government vowed to scrub up the Sangha. In 2022, one temple was left empty in spite of everything 4 monks examined constructive for medicine (2).

Whereas it’s typically assumed that the overwhelming majority of Thai monks are deeply dedicated to their non secular and moral duties, the variety of incidents in recent times has raised issues and prompted discussions about sustaining the purity and integrity of the monastic group.

Such controversies are considered as departures from the ideas and precepts of Buddhism, they usually can lead to disciplinary actions, together with defrocking, to revive the sanctity of the monastic order.

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