This is another remarkable interview from “Khun Taka”, a Japanese young man who has a great faith in Buddhism and decided to enter the monkhood in Thailand. Normally in Thailand we will see Thai monks mostly. It is rare to find a foreigner as a monk in order to study Buddhist doctrine conscientiously.
It was such a terrific chance for us to do the intimate talk with one of the Buddhism devotees who are greatly in love with Thailand. Khun Taka entered the monkhood in Thailand last year and has recently left the Buddhist monkhood and already gone back to Japan.
Today let’s learn foreigner’s view point towards ordination in Thailand and to see how he thinks and feels about that time of being a monk. (Such interview has gained the permission to be broadcasted.)
This Japanese young man has come from Osaka, Japan. He chose to study Thai in Osaka University. That was the start to inspire him to come here, to Thailand.
Please introduce yourself
My name is Taka. My hometown was in Osaka near Kunsai airport. I studied Thai as my major subject in Osaka University.
Actually, I didn’t have much interest in studying Thai. I chose it because my score to enter university was not that good. I thought that studying Thai would have lower rate of comparison than any other languages. That was why I decided to apply. So, it was also the start for me to think of coming here. Before that, I had no idea about Thailand. I knew only “Tom Yum Kung”, Thai food name but I didn’t actually gave it a try.
The feeling before and after coming to Thailand
Before I visited Thailand, I saw Thailand as a developing country. It was because most Japanese who don’t really know how Thailand was would have that kind of bias attitude.
Once I came here, I was shocked. There were high buildings. I never could have imagined how Thailand looked like. I felt embarrassed with my innocence of knowing truly nothing. Besides, Thai people were so nice to me, they took a good care of me. Whenever I had problems, there would always be supports and helps from them without asking for. I was impressed. Anyway, at that time I bare talked Thai or understood Thai. “Sa Wad Dee Krub” (hello) and “Kob Khun Krub” (thank you) were the only words I could say. However, now I am good at Thai as I was an exchange student in Chiang Mai for 8 months three years ago.
Khun Taka’s view point towards entering monkhood
I have 3 basic rules to make a decisions.
Firstly, I wanted to show my gratitude towards those Thai people who used to help me. I have heard that one who is a part of ordination of someone they know will receive more good merit. It was such a great thought for me and inspired me to give something in return this way. I wanted my friends to receive good merit and happiness.
Secondly, I wanted to feel Thai Buddhism. Since I was here for the first time and I saw how much faith Thai people put into Buddhism, I felt grateful. It was nothing like Japanese’s. Besides, I was attracted by Thai Buddhism’s charm. That was why I wanted to learn and understand Thai culture.
Lastly, I wanted to give respect to Thai culture and tradition. Even though I am a foreigner, I am truly in love with Thailand; I have respects everything about Thailand despite all those flaws. I have been trying to focus only on good sides and understand everything about Thailand.
One thing that makes it different from Japan is that most Thai men at the age of 20 will enter the monkhood. In japan, we don’t do that. I love Thailand and respect Thai tradition so, I want to follow what people do here.
The differences between Thai and Japanese Buddhism.
In Japan, being a monk is considered a job. Unlike Thailand, monk is a respectful person. I think it is because there are different sects. Most monks can drink, get married, drive and spend money for their own good. They are not serious and don’t get much respects from people.
Some sects are still serious for example, monks who practice the dharma in the deep side of the mountain. In Japanese culture, Buddhism and Shinto are often mixed together. Some Japanese cannot differentiate which one to go for.
Buddhism in Thailand have been long preserved so, it contains clear religion’s substance. Thai monks have received respect from people and acted as religious representatives and inheritors.
The feeling towards various process of Thai ordination; the dharma practice before meeting the preceptor, hair shaving or memorizing Pali prayer
It was such a hard time before the ordination. I had to say the prayer fluently in Pali. It was difficult in pronunciation. I was reiterated by senior monks many times. I had to even scarify my time in bed trying to memorizing the prayer in the dark.
I ate only once a day causing me a serious hungriness. My stomach was crying all the time. It took sometimes to adjust. Master Monk always taught me that being a monk had to always be patient, diligent and sensible. I heard this teaching ever day as it is the root of Buddhism.
In ordination day all people, who were about to be ordained as a Buddhist priests, had a chance to say thanks to their parents. I was impressed and felt lucky to be ordinated. I didn’t say thanks to my parents but instead to a host with a regard of them in Japan.
The charm of ordination day to appreciate and show respect towards someone who always gives support. It was impressive.
Khun Taka as a monk in a forest monastery wearing dark brown robe
I was in Wat Pa Nong Phai, Sakon Nakhon. I met one Master Monk who was a student of Ajahn Maha Bua. He was nice and high-respected. The experience there was great. I didn’t run into ghosts but cobras, scorpions, moneys, buffalos or firefly etc. I had to face high level of disciplines. Living with other monks, you had to closely observe things around you. The Master Monk taught me that being a monk had to concern beauty and meticulousness; calming all body, speech and mind every second.
A new monk was usually teased by the elder ones of a ghost story. However, I didn’t face that because of my great Master Monk. He was respectful. Nevertheless, every one kept asking me about that.
It is the Thai belief that the new monk always meet some ghosts who want some portion of merit. However, I never saw them. It might be because of my short eyes sight. I only found geckos in my cell every night.
I just let it be and let it go. Monk had to let everything goes. Being bitten by ants or mosquitoes while sleeping was the hardest suffer to let go. I didn’t kill them, not a single one of them. It is prohibited. I had to stay conscious. Sometimes if I felt too itchy, I killed them by accident. I didn’t mean to. I tried really hard to chase them away but they never seem wanting to leave. The mosquitoes in the forest were way too scary.
The daily activities as a monk; early wake up, dress up, morning pray or out for food; having a hard time carrying bag and monk’s alms-bowl or giving bless.
It took me a while to get used to it. Once I got used to living a life, I felt like living in different world. People passing by stopped and gave me a Wai, respect. I was totally glad. I could feel the true faith.
It was not a comfy life being a monk. Nothing was fun. I had to be patient with many things. That was why I was given an honor, I think.
The change in life and the way of thinking and the adaption to life in Japan
From this experience, I feel that whatever I am doing, I need to give full focus and concentrate on it. It is not good to leave it hanging in the middle. Being a monk was the same thing. I didn’t leave thing hanging because I put my full effort in what I was doing.
Meditation made me feel calm seeing myself from the outside and decreasing mistakes. I think all these can be used in Thailand as well; paying attention, concentrating and being conscious. This things will bring success in life.
Thank you for every sincere answer
It is my pleasure. I am also happy to share my opinions and thoughts.
Phra (Monk) Kuniaki-Anayo
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