Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Town Day Part 3- The Temple

This is the main temple in Nakhon Phanom. We milled about for quite some time until a couple went in to leave some offerings and to pray. Then we had some notion of how the process actually looked, after some elementary coaching in our classes. It was quite something to enter a wholly foreign religious space and try not to make a complete ass of oneself. The experience felt very serious and holy. Seeing monks about is affecting. Sometimes they are doing very ordinary things, such as the monks outside this temple who were sawing some boards to add to a table, and other times they are participating in something extraordinary, such as the other morning when I was out early and saw a pair going about collecting alms. A well to do couple stopped in their Honda and approached them and put offerings of food into their chalice. I was somewhat dismayed to discover that Thai Buddhism, though in some ways closer to the original teachings, is quite patriarchal. A woman cannot become "enlightened" until she becomes a man. There are many blatant discriminatory precepts in the daily practice as well, such as women not being allowed to touch monks etc. And there are accusations that many temples, or wats, exhibit corruption.

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