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Become a Novice Buddhist Monk

Listed under Spiritual Retreats in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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Most Thai men are ordained as 'nehns' (novice monks) at some point in their lives, usually as young teenagers, and some women (though not nearly as many) become novice Buddhist nuns. For both, this involves the process of 'buat nah fai', or 'ordination before fire', where the hair and eyebrows are shaved as a symbol of purity and a ceremony is conducted before friends and family.

The novices learn the ten basic precepts, which range from the logical concepts of not killing and stealing, through physical abstinence from drinking, sleeping in comfort, having sex and accepting large sums of money, to those with slightly more obscure significances, such as not eating after midday, and not wearing watches, shoes and hats. Days are spent meditating, giving alms and accepting gifts of food from the public, who do this to 'make merit'.

Young novices are not expected to renounce earthly pleasures for more than a few days, and many temples make television and other forms of entertainment available to them. However, after the age of twenty, the monastic life is taken far more seriously, with several hundred precepts to learn and an expectation that the newly ordained monk or nun should renounce friends and family and shun all ties to their former materialistic, worldly existences.

There are a number of temples and retreats that accept foreign novices, though a rigorous process has to be gone through before full ordination is possible, beginning with several long retreat periods, followed by residency, which can continue for up to two years before the subject either returns to their old life, or undergoes full ordination.

Sirimangalo International Forest Meditation Centre is just one that offers short meditation courses and longer retreats. English-speaking teachers are available to guide you through your spiritual journey, and the centre itself is set on a beautiful, quiet hillside amongst dense forests.

Read more here.

Written by  larapiegeler.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

I want to become a novice nun

Can you help me also ? If not can you tell me where I can go for this help?

I live in the Chicago, illinois area.

Thank you

1 Reply

That's great news. You need to contact your neighbourhood Roman Catholic priest, or the office of Cardinal George - call him on 312-534-8230. Good luck and God bless you!

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