A while back I wrote a book “The Making of a Monk” which I wrote in iBooks format. I’m in the process of updating that book, and making it a print book I will market on Amazon. There is no shortage of subject matter for an updated book. In Thailand almost all men become Buddhist monks sometime during their life. In 2002 it was estimated that 94% of all Thais were Buddhists. Ordination in the Sangha is considered a rite of passage for young Thai men, as an essential part of maturity or becoming “ripe” (suk), but a man of any age can become a monk. Ordinations are not considered a lifetime commitment. Traditionally three months was the standard commitment, however, a man can be a monk for a day, or for many years, the length of time wearing the robes of a monk is up to the individual. Recently a friend told me of his brother in law that had gone through the process of becoming a monk some time back and in the traditional manner stayed a monk for a short time, however a few days ago he had again shaved his head and was going to become a monk again for a funeral. Apparently he was drinking and playing cards and had made a vow that if he won he would become a monk for an upcoming funeral. He did win, and true to his word shaved his head and will don the robes of a Thai monk for one day. This is unusual, but it shows that the culture of Thailand is very relaxed when it comes to the idea of ordination. It is as much a cultural thing as a religious endeavor.
The idea of karma is deeply rooted in the Thai culture. Gaining good karma is accomplished by by making merit. Making merit can be done in many ways and is done daily. This merit can improve ones life and financial standing, and it can lead to a better reincarnation in the next life. Becoming a monk is one of the most powerful ways to make merit. Although there have been some cries for change recently, the way it stands today, only a man can become a monk. So there is no way a woman can gain the huge amount of merit gained by becoming a monk. However, a mother gains much merit if her son becomes a monk. This is a strong factor in a man becoming a monk. It is the son’s way to say thank you to his mother for life, and all she has done for him.
Today I had the pleasure of documenting The Ordination of Chanchai (Ting) Jitnam in Rural Nakhon Nayok, Thailand. Ting is in his 20’s. The ordination was a small affair attended by family and close friends. Below is a slide show of Ting’s ordination.
[photoshelter-gallery g_id=”G0000Pyc_qClqgYs” g_name=”Chanchai-Ting-Jitnam-Becomes-a-Monk” f_show_caption=”t” img_title=”casc” pho_credit=”iptc” f_link=”t” f_enable_embed_btn=”t” f_send_to_friend_btn=”t” f_fullscreen=”t” f_smooth=”t” f_show_watermark=”t” f_htmllinks=”t” f_mtrx=”t” fsvis=”f” width=”560″ height=”420″ f_constrain=”t” bgcolor=”#FFFFFF” bgtrans=”t” btype=”old” bcolor=”#CCCCCC” crop=”f” twoup=”t” trans=”xfade” tbs=”4000″ f_ap=”t” linkdest=”c” f_topbar=”f” f_bbar=”f” f_bbarbig=”” f_show_slidenum=”f” f_up=”f” target=”_blank” ]