Wat Doi Saket project – Washing the robes to clean the mind by Phra maha Ake

This morning I taught Dhamma to novice monks and after lunch I prepared my robes to wash by machine.  I went to the building with washing machines; it is a public place for monks and novices living here at Wat Doi Saket. The washing machines are about 500 meters from my room.

When I was walking to get there, I thought of a question about clean and dirty. “Why must I as a human wash robes every week like this?”.  After I thought of the first question, I got more and more questions about this. When I got there, all of the washing machines where being used, so I decided to wash them by hand at my room.

I brought the robes back to my room and also brought those questions to contemplate.  I started to think about the teachings and the beliefs that I have studied to support my doubts.  First, I thought of the idea from Buddhism that we have two parts, body and mind, for each human being.

After I got to my room, I prepared the things for hand washing.  I continued my thoughts:

“Body and mind are both able to be cleaned and get dirty but in different ways.  The body gets clean by taking a shower or by washing and it gets dirty by sweat, dust, smoke or other things. How the body gets clean and how it gets dirty, is easy to see with your eyes.  The mind, on the other hand, is not like that because how the mind gets clean and dirty are not easy to see with human eyes but we can see them by using ‘wisdom’ eyes”.

When I was washing the robes in the bath room, questions, ideas, doubts, and answers came up on the thoughts as a cycle:

“Now I’m washing the robes which are used for the body.  Whatever they got dirty from, they have to be cleaned by water with a machine wash or hand washing.  How about the mind?  How does it get dirty and how can it be cleaned?”

I stopped washing and tried to remember about the teachings of Buddhism that I have studied. I remembered this:

“According to the teaching, the mind of human beings can be cleaned and can get dirty but it does not get dirty from the things like the body does.  The mind gets dirty from the things coming through seeing, hearing, smelling, eating, tasting, and touching.  How about my mind?  How can I clean my mind at the same I am cleaning my robes? The teachings tell that we must clean it with Dhamma, but how?”

The doubts came more and more. Then I figured out how to stop these thoughts. “Thinking-norh..Thinking-norh..Thinking-norh” and “Doubting-norh..Doubting-norh..” ; this is one way to meditate.  And then I finished washing.

After I brought the robes to hang out, I knew that all the times my thoughts came up meant I made my mind get dirty from the doubts, thoughts, and many questions created. However, everything can be both good and bad.  So if we know the way to get the good and the bad from each thing, we can get it.  It depends on what you want, how you get it, and where you get from.  Considering the doubts, thoughts, and questions happening to me today, they seemed good but it also meant I was making my mind dirty until I was able to settle my mind.  Usually, every day we get a lot of garbage that our mind has to process.

Today, my robes got dirty but I washed them with water and my hands.  My mind got dirty and I washed it with the Dhamma and knowledge; a way of meditation.

How about you? How does your mind get dirty? How do you clean it?

By Phra Maha Ake

Read more from Phra Ake

“Changed thinking killed the anger”

“Giving (Dhana)”

 

www.atmaseva.org

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Wat Doi Saket project – ‘The Cause of Love from a Buddhist Perspective’ by Phra Maha Rit

ATMA SEVA would like to introduce Phra Maha Narongrit (nick name Rit). He will be contributing to our blog on a constant basis.  He is from Ba Pae village and has been in the monastic community for eight years.  Phra Maha Rit has been helping with the ‘Wat Doi Saket project‘ and also has been part of our ‘monk chats‘.  He has lot’s of knowledge and wisdom about Buddhism and is excited to share with everyone.  Thank you very much Phra Maha Rit for all your hard work and efforts!

The Cause of Love from a Buddhist Perspective

Where does love come from?

Why could you be indifferent or remain calm when you are talking to a deadly attractive person? Why doesn’t his/her appearance romanticize you? Why does your heart say:  “This person is not Mr. / Ms. Right for me.” Why is it that all you want from him/her is just being friends, why not a romantic relationship?

On the contrary, why do you have a very strong feeling towards somebody, even though he/she is not that good looking? And it is quite often that you have romantic feelings for him/her at the very first sight. Sometimes, you could be indifferent to your mate at first, but when time passes your feeling for him /her changes positively.

Say, you are a dropped dead gorgeous person, but why does the boy or girl that you want to grow a tree of love with not seem to share your interest? Instead, he/she admires somebody else? WHY?

There are many people who want to know the answers of the mentioned questions. Here is what the Buddha said about it.

Pali:

“PUBBHE VA SANNIVASENA              PUCCUPPANNAHITENA VA

EVANTAM CAYATE PEMAM              UPALAM VA YADHOTHAGE.”

Meaning:

“LOVE IS ORIGINATED FROM TWO CAUSES. ONE IS RELATIONSHIP IN THE PAST, AND THE OTHER IS FRIENDLINESS IN THE PRESENT. JUST LIKE LOTUS COMES FROM WATER AND MIRE.”

Artist Thit Buaphan’s mural painting in Wat Phumin, Nan province. It is named ‘The Whispering’.

Regarding the first cause of love, Buddhists believe that they have past lives and hereafter lives (rebirth). If you had a relationship with somebody in the past, it is likely that you could have a relationship with him or her again in this life time, or in the next lives. It would be easy for you and your past mate to fall in love again in this lifetime if you get to see each other once more, since you two have lived together in the past. For the second cause of love; there is also a chance for you and the person you admire to fall in love even though you and him/her have not met each other before, either in this lifetime or in past lives; this can happen if the two of you have things in common, share the same interests, and, most important of all, have feelings toward each other.

Considering the Buddha’s teaching, this is the root of love. It provides the clearest answer for all love obstacles.

Why does the person you do not adore keep coming around? And why does the person whom you want by your side keep going away from you?

Look at the Buddha’s teaching, and you will know why.

Phra Maha Rit

www.atmaseva.org

Wat Doi Saket project – “Changed Thinking Killed the Anger” by Phra maha Ake

Every afternoon on Sunday and Monday, I have Pali class from 13.00 pm. to 16.00 p.m. at Wat Saundok which is located in Chiang Mai city. It’s far from my temple, about an hour. I have to take two buses from Doi Saket to Wat Suandok.

One day, after lunch at about 12.00pm I took the first bus from Wat Doi Saket to the second bus stop. When I got there, it was about 12.30pm. I asked a bus driver: “Do you go to Wat Suandok?” “Yes, I do.” he said. So, I got on the bus and sat down with two other passengers. The ride from there to Wat Suandok usually takes 30 minutes only.

The bus driver took all passengers who got on the bus before and after me to where they wanted to go. He finally took me, the last one, to Wat Suandok; by then it was already 14.00 p.m. but my class had started at 13.00 p.m.

While I was sitting in the car and 30 minutes had gone by, I begun to be annoyed and I became very angry. I think that I hated him (the driver). Complaints, curses and a lot of other bad words arose in my thoughts during that time. The longer he took the angrier I became. Suddenly, just about 6 minutes to Wat Suandok, my thinking changed. I thought: “Oh he is my teacher. He allowed me to know about the super high and powerful anger happening in my mind. If he had not done this, I couldn’t have known this anger so clearly.  I should say: thank you so much to you, teacher.” After that, the anger was killed by the changed thinking and I was able to smile at him when I got off the car.

This story taught me a lot about how to be happy in a bad situation. In our life, we cannot reject the truth neither select only the truth we need. Anger is one of the truths which we don’t need but naturally we cannot reject it because it has more power than us and it can also control our mind like fire, burning everything it wants.

The anger I felt came from selfishness. While I was sitting in the car, I just thought: “I have class at 13.00 p.m., he is wasting my time, I will be very late, surely.” I thought and thought only about me and my needs. I didn’t think about what he needed or why he was doing that. In fact I should have thought that perhaps he had a good reason to do that, such as needing money that evening for his family; but I couldn’t think like that because of the power of selfishness arising more and more.

The best way how to understand anger and how to control it is trying to contemplate each moment. Do know and do note every happening moment as well as you can. If you do like this again and again, you will gain wonderful knowledge which will come and help you like my changed thinking.


Phra Ake (:

Wat Doi Saket project – Ordaining novices

I live on the grounds of Wat Doi Saket temple. My room is inside a building originally used for an HIV education program. The bedroom is spacious, with a glass door and pink curtains. It has two windows and one of them with a nice view of the woods….or what I call woods anyway. At night I can hear a huge “gecko” right outside; one day I hope to be able to also see it.

I really like staying here and being able to participate in all different kinds of Buddhist activities. Last week I witnessed a very special one: young kids ordaining as Buddhist monks.

I was in my room chatting with friends in Mexico and heard lots of music and cheering right outside my room. I didn’t know what has happening so I grabbed my camera and headed out to investigate. I was immensely surprised to see a lot of kids dressed in white robes walking around the temple followed by cheerful adults and a band. “What is this?” …. I decided to follow them to find out. They all went to the “Akan See Su Pa Ak Son” (new building for ceremonies which is named after the donor). As I was taking video of all this,  I saw my good friend and Buddhist teacher Phra Maha Ake. He explained to me what was going on: ’Novice Ordination’: 60 young kids from a school in Chiang Mai called Montfort were ordaining as monks.

Montfort (‘fortress in the mountain’) is a Catholic school.  Montfort is managed and supported by the St. Gabriel Foundation in Thailand, which follows the moral principals and spirituality of St. Louis of Montfort. Montfort is the name of a district in France where Louis Marie was born;  he became a priest in 1700.  In 1932 Montfort College was founded in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The schools logo is ‘God alone’.  Kids from this school come from a high socioeconomic status. This is interesting because most of the young Buddhist novices enrolled in Buddhist high schools come from lower socioeconomic status in search of an opportunity for education. The school these kids go to is Catholic and yet they all ordain as monks to learn about their religion and gain merit.

The young boys ordained for 7 days and lived like monks. The week before the ceremony, monks from Doi Saket went to their school to teach them about ordaining.

They must purify themselves before ordaining so they came to the ceremony dressed in white robes which means purity. During the ceremony they acknowledge their parents, asking for their forgiveness for any wrong doing. The kids also recognize what their mothers have done for them from the moment of their conception until the day they are being ordained, and they do this by paying respect with three consecutive bows. They do not ‘out’ words expressing this. The head teacher leads them through it. When I saw them crying I originally thought they were saying good-bye to their parents and I was very sad. Later, I learned that they were crying due to the emotional aspect of the ceremony which also involves asking their parents permission to freely ordain and parents giving them their blessing, telling them not to worry about anything and granting their forgiveness.

Aside from this sad moment, I was impressed by the joyful atmosphere of the ceremony and all the feelings involved. They chanted together requesting the Monks’ Leader to be ordained as monks. You could see some serious faces, the older ones, and some mischievousness in the little ones.

The parents give their children the orange robes, a lotus flower, and an alms bowl. The lotus flower in Buddhism is associated with purity, faithfulness, and religious awakening. The flower is considered pure because it grows in muddy waters and remains impeccable through all the mud and dirt of its environment. It represents the journey through darkness into light and knowledge.

Once they have been accepted by the Abbot to ordain, they proceed to change into their new orange robes. Older novices, and monks help and teach the ‘novices-to-be’ how to wear the robes and how to put them on. One can see the emotion and happiness in the parents’ faces, taking video, photos, and smiling from ear to ear at the sight of their sons.

After putting on the orange robes they go back inside to proceed with the ceremony. They are now officially novices and they chant the 10 precepts that will be undertaken during their life as novices.

Every morning around 6:30 am all of them go down for alms. Their parents await by the stairway entrance to give them food. When novices and monks go for alms they do it barefoot. It was very cute to see the young ones having a hard time walking without shoes, tip-toeing. When the alms round is finished, they all chant a blessing to their parents and walk back up to the Wat for breakfast.

When I followed all of the ceremonies, activities, and events during those 7 days, I came to think of it as a Buddhist version of a western summer camp. Sure, they were all novices and wear the orange robe, people respect them for doing this, but they are all kids nevertheless, I saw them playing, laughing, and running around. It was an incredible experience. And in April, 120 young kids and men will be ordaining, some for a week some for the whole month.

Check out this video to see the ceremony (switch to 1080p for maximum viewing enjoyment!)

Marcia Somellera

marcia@atmaseva.org

www.atmaseva.org

Wat Doi Saket project – “Giving (Dhana)” by Phra maha Ake

The ‘Wat Doi Saket project’ is proud to announce that Phra maha Ake will be contributing to the ATMA SEVA blog on a regular basis.  Phra is the title given to monks and maha is the title given to monks that pass level three of Pali language.  (phra+maha+ name)  Phra maha Ake is 26 years old and lives in Wat Doi Saket temple.  He recently completed his Bachelor of Humanities in English.  He has been very active and involved with the ‘Wat Doi Saket project’ and has been a tremendous help with our ‘monk chat’ program.  Phra maha Ake is an outstanding person with lots of wisdom and knowledge about Buddhism.

I hope that everyone enjoys his writings and that it may bring new perspectives and insights.

From ATMA SEVA, the ‘Wat Doi Saket project’, and me (David) – THANK YOU VERY MUCH PHRA MAHA AKE FOR ALL YOUR HELP!

Giving (Dhana)

Thai people have just been enjoying holidays over the Christmas and New Year season. Many people gave gifts and many received gifts. In Buddhism we believe that it is better give than to receive.

About giving, Buddha said to monks many many years ago, there are three factors for a giver. Here is a translation from the early writings:

Three factors of a giver? First, before giving, the giver is a glad one. Second, while making the giving, the giver is an admired man. Third, after giving, the giver is a happy one.

But we should not be too narrow in our interpretation of what should be given. Giving doesn’t necessarily refer to material ‘things’ like food or new mobile phone or fresh flowers or warm clothing for mountain children in the cold season. Of course, there is nothing wrong about giving such gifts when there is a need.

What is important, though, is not to ignore the importance of other ways of giving.

Giving can also be a smile to someone who appears worried or sad; and offer to help an elderly man cross a busy street; giving our time to visit a sick friend who is in the hospital; giving an invitation to a lonely person to come to have tea and a biscuit; picking up a dog that has been struck by a car and bringing that dog to a clinic.

There are so many ways we can give – not only to our loved ones, or to those who are in need,, but to our friends and to our community – indeed, to our Mother Earth.

Something to remember: When we give we also receive. We receive almost immediately some good and positive feelings – and also a sense of having made a difference. As the Lord Buddha taught, ‘The giver is the glad one; the giver is the admired one; the giver is the happy one’. Gladness, admiration, and happiness are in themselves gifts.

Phra maha Ake

PS) Phra maha Ake is on Facebook and loves to make new friends.  Add him to chat and follow along!