Thai tradition

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Thai tradition

Postby steve19800 » Sat Apr 20, 2013 11:15 pm

Hello guys,

All of the temple I am visiting at the moment is in Thai tradition. I've been going to this temple for quite some time now. But one thing I don't understand is why they treat their own people differently to other people including myself. Thai is exclusive, the monk can speak english but the Dhamma talk has rarely been given during their routine meditation schedule. When there are more Thai people attend the session, they are giving the talk in their own language without translation. How can they treat other people so different, I would say less respectful, discriminating and unwelcoming. I am quite surprised though, I never think specifically to go to this tradition or that Theravada tradition but I am a Buddhist and I take refuge in the Triple Gem and we know that Buddha himself did not agree to the cast system at that time hence he never refused someone just because of their cast. I've never routinely been to other tradition so far, but I'd like to ask you guys if this practice is normal? Thanks.
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Re: Thai tradition

Postby BlackBird » Sat Apr 20, 2013 11:25 pm

Hi Steve. How many other Westerners are present there besides you? Maybe the monk does not feel confident giving a talk in English? It might also be that most of their dayakas (benefactors) prefer the talk in Thai which they can understand better?

I do not attend your monastery so I cannot say for sure what the cause is. But if you feel they are unwelcoming, perhaps you should find a more Western friendly monastery to visit. Or alternatively you could write the abbot a letter, explaining your difficulties. One thing about Thai culture is they tend to avoid confrontation, so you will probably get a much better outcome if you avoid confronting them directly about this, as they have a very delicate sense of shame/embarrassment regarding conflicts.

I'd say the letter option is a good idea, but in any case where do you live? Perhaps there are other centres near to you that you could visit.

metta
Jack
Last edited by BlackBird on Sun Apr 21, 2013 2:07 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Thai tradition

Postby Ben » Sat Apr 20, 2013 11:54 pm

Steve, you might want to raise the issue with either the abbott or the management committee of the monastery.
They could be quite oblivious to your needs.
kind regards,

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Re: Thai tradition

Postby Anagarika » Sun Apr 21, 2013 2:45 am

Steve, depending on which city you are near, there are some Wats with farang monks and visitors present, and the atmosphere might be more welcoming at a Wat that typically welcomes farang. I'd do a bit of a google search for wats that have English language programs and western Bhikkhus. They exist in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and my "home" wat in Fang, Chiang Mai (Wat Sri Boen Ruang) has an active farang and English language presence.
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Re: Thai tradition

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Apr 21, 2013 3:10 am

Here's what I would do: find the English speaking monks and find a way to spend a little time with them. I reflect more frequently upon a few things a monk said to me while doing chores... frankly, I don't even remember what the subject was for the formal dhamma talk. I think this is why some monasteries don't really have that many talks. If you can explain where you are in your practice to the English speaking monk, he may be able to give you some spot on advice.

If if you build a bit of a rapport, you may be able to bring up something like... "hey, do you know where I might be able to hear a dhamma talk in English?" If you bring it up as a personal desire, and not as a criticism of their monastery, it may be much easier to get what you are seeking. Worst case, I bet he knows of another monastery you could visit.
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Re: Thai tradition

Postby steve19800 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:28 pm

Thanks all for your reply.
I myself is not a westerner. The abbot himself actually what I am talking about. Most of the time during my routine visits there are always some westerners but only few who come regularly, maybe only 1 or 2 persons. Even in my present I often hear he called farang in front of the westerner who understand Thai language and able to speak Thai much better than me. Obviously that person is not delightful when called that 'nickname'.

The abbot during casual talk often implying (not explicitly) the temple is supporting the Thai community.
Too many to tell but this behaviour so to speak is not really the precept I need to keep, I just want to ask if any of you ever experienced this?
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Re: Thai tradition

Postby James the Giant » Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:57 am

steve19800 wrote:I just want to ask if any of you ever experienced this?

In my home town there are four temples or monasteries.
There is a Cambodian temple. The people who go there are Cambodian, and the monks are Cambodian. They speak only Cambodian there.
There is a Thai monastery. The people who go there are Thai, and the monks are Thai. They speak only Thai there.
There is a Sri Lankan monastery. The people who go there are Sri Lankan, and the monks are Sri Lankan. They mostly speak Sinhala there.
There is an Ajahn Chah Thai Forest Monastery. Farangs/westerners go there, all nationalities go there, and they have monks from all countries. And they speak English and Thai/Laotian/whatever.

It's not racism, it's just the target group that each monastery serves.
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Re: Thai tradition

Postby Dan74 » Wed Apr 24, 2013 1:09 am

James the Giant wrote:
steve19800 wrote:I just want to ask if any of you ever experienced this?

In my home town there are four temples or monasteries.
There is a Cambodian temple. The people who go there are Cambodian, and the monks are Cambodian. They speak only Cambodian there.
There is a Thai monastery. The people who go there are Thai, and the monks are Thai. They speak only Thai there.
There is a Sri Lankan monastery. The people who go there are Sri Lankan, and the monks are Sri Lankan. They mostly speak Sinhala there.
There is an Ajahn Chah Thai Forest Monastery. Farangs/westerners go there, all nationalities go there, and they have monks from all countries. And they speak English and Thai/Laotian/whatever.

It's not racism, it's just the target group that each monastery serves.


Yes.

The temple is not necessarily there for you.
_/|\_
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Re: Thai tradition

Postby BlackBird » Wed Apr 24, 2013 1:24 am

James the Giant wrote:
steve19800 wrote:I just want to ask if any of you ever experienced this?

In my home town there are four temples or monasteries.
There is a Cambodian temple. The people who go there are Cambodian, and the monks are Cambodian. They speak only Cambodian there.
There is a Thai monastery. The people who go there are Thai, and the monks are Thai. They speak only Thai there.
There is a Sri Lankan monastery. The people who go there are Sri Lankan, and the monks are Sri Lankan. They mostly speak Sinhala there.
There is an Ajahn Chah Thai Forest Monastery. Farangs/westerners go there, all nationalities go there, and they have monks from all countries. And they speak English and Thai/Laotian/whatever.

It's not racism, it's just the target group that each monastery serves.


Wellington?
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Thai tradition

Postby James the Giant » Wed Apr 24, 2013 1:42 am

BlackBird wrote:Wellington?

Yup!
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Thai tradition

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:59 am

The monastery I go to is mostly Thai speaking, and it is not easy for a westerner to really get comfortable with. However, the small number of westerners who make the effort to engage are welcomed with enthusiasm (by both monks and lay people).

When I was in Hong Kong a few years ago I attended a Cantonese group. As here, the chanting was in Pali, so that's no problem. Discussion was mostly in Cantonese, but people would help me out if it was important.

It can be tough, but it's worth the effort to connect with genuine monks and lay people.

:anjali:
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Re: Thai tradition

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Apr 24, 2013 4:10 am

I might add that in most cases I think that the lack of support for people who don't speak the default language isn't something deliberate. It's simply a matter of not having thought about it. Or, if it has been thought about, not having the resources or people available to do anything.

:anjali:
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Re: Thai tradition

Postby BlackBird » Wed Apr 24, 2013 5:32 am

mikenz66 wrote:I might add that in most cases I think that the lack of support for people who don't speak the default language isn't something deliberate. It's simply a matter of not having thought about it. Or, if it has been thought about, not having the resources or people available to do anything.

:anjali:
Mike


:goodpost:

I suspect that may be the case in the OP's situation too, although not being there we cannot say for sure.

The relationship between monks and lay people has always been one of symbiosis, the monks cater to the spiritual needs of the lay people and the lay people cater to the physical needs of the monks. If the community that serves the monastery is mainly Thai, then there's no doubt that the laity would prefer to hear talks in Thai, since they will understand their native language better than English.

It's an interesting mix at Bodhinyanarama though. Most of the people who attend the talk on Sunday nights are westerners, where as most of the dana (in terms of food) given is done by Thai, Sinhalese and Burmese people. Westerners tend to provide dana in the form of donations or gifts to the Sangha, where people who have been born Buddhists and have the cultural attachment seek out more traditional forms of dana, but may not show such an interest in hearing Dhamma talks or meditation.

Not that the above is very relevant to our discussion here, I'm just musing :)

metta
Jack
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Thai tradition

Postby steve19800 » Wed Apr 24, 2013 8:47 am

Maybe. Thanks for you all who already shared your thoughts. I'm not going into this further as I am not interested in talking about monks and nuns. But thanks once again for sharing your thoughts, I think some of them do make sense.
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