The Monk Life Project – embrace the path of Dhamma in Thailand
Monk Life Project’s new 30-Day Ordination programme with English-speaking teaching monks eases the process for foreigners to embrace the path of Dhamma as monks.
It is recorded that when King Ajatashatru of the Haryanka dynasty in Magadha, East India, asked the Buddha about the benefits of ordained life, Buddha said, “The life of the householder is a narrow path which attracts dust. The ordained life is a spacious path.”
The constraints and demands of life never leave time for reflection – for as long as we live our everyday lives, there’s never any time to work on ourselves. But the ordained path opens the mind to possibilities. And once on it, you have the space and time to work on yourself.
The benefits of working on yourself don’t come by divine grace but result from your effort, like the Buddhist proverb: “You shall reap whatever you sow.” But how do you get on this path of reflection?
Accessing the life of an ordained monk in Thailand has never been easy for a foreigner. The language barriers are hard to overcome, and the process is complicated. Moreover, even if the temple has an English-speaking monk, the instruction in that language is limited. And if you do manage to surmount these barriers, you are looking to devote an extended part of your foreseeable future to life as a monk.
The challenge is, how many of us can walk away from our lives, families, and responsibilities for an extended period?
30-Day Monk Life Ordination Programme
The Monk Life Project has the perfect solution. Its 30-Day Ordination Programme is designed for foreigners looking to walk the path of peace with instruction by an experienced cohort of English-speaking teaching monks at specially built locations.
In short, you sign up to ordain as a monk for 30 days to learn about Buddhism. The precepts are explained; you reflect and work on yourself and eventually return to your life completely in control of who you are with the Buddhist principles as your guide. Foreign participants in the short-term ordination programme have different goals. Some want to learn about Buddhism or Thai culture, while others wish to train in meditation. After the programme, participants can apply the practical teachings in their lives, help promote Buddhism, and devote themselves to the peaceful development of their society and country. Those that want to continue as ordained monks after the initial 30 days can continue so.
The programme is divided into two phases, with the first stage preparing participants for the second stage of becoming a monk. The first stage reflects an ancient Thai custom of parents sending their sons to a monastery to observe the eight precepts, do morning and evening chanting, and memorise ordination chants and blessing verses. Learning this is the basic requirement for the ordination ceremony.
In the second phase of the programme, the period after ordination, the new monks must abide by monastic precepts and practice them diligently. This brings immense merit to one’s parents, relatives, and friends.
Joining the programme
Joining the 30-Day Ordination Programme is as easy as filling up a form. Applicants must be male, in good mental and physical health – free from infectious diseases or any physical or mental disability. They must be able to cover all travel, registration, and other associated costs of the programme. They must be willing to follow all guidelines, adapt to a community environment and have the discipline of being a Buddhist monk.
The Monk Life Thailand 30-Day Ordination Programme takes you on a journey both inside and out at three locations, each chosen for a specific phase of your training as a monk. They range from a classic temple with its elegant architecture and graceful landscapes to a forest monastery filled with the serene sounds of nature. The final destination is Suksawarng, surrounded by lush grass fields and only the open skies above. This purpose-built meditation retreat is where you learn how to stabilise and deepen your meditation practice.
Wat Ban Khun is where your spiritual journey begins. In addition to learning the teachings of Buddha and the discipline of a monk’s life here, the training includes learning how to prepare the mind through meditation and mindfulness practices. Your time here is a period of adjustment – from civilian life to monkhood. Here, you ordain as a monk, as the project team takes care of all the modalities.
The next step takes the monks to iMonastery (International Forest Monastery, Thailand, Chiang Mai), a forest sanctuary designed for training international monks. Here newly ordained monks must abide by monastic precepts and practise them diligently. Besides this, other activities include meditation sessions, alms round for food and the Tudongkha (walking pilgrimage).
The last destination is Suksawang, surrounded by lush grass fields and vast open skies. Here, monks learn to maintain their practice after leaving monkhood and returning home. Or, if you like, you can sign up for another 30 days of monkhood.
In a nutshell, The Monk Life Project is designed to make knowledge of Buddhism accessible to all. In addition, the Ordination Programme gives you a comprehensive foundation for dealing with the outside world – it gets easier when you have achieved inner peace. Just read the testimonials from some of the people who have been ordained under the programme. Find out more about the program by clicking HERE.
Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.
Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.
Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.