American temple boy

A young American temple boy has been attracting attention in the old Rattanakosin area.


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This is an excerpt from a longer story that appeared on yesterday's front page. It doesn't need changing since it is quite easy to understand already.

Charles Adams, a 24-year-old student at North Carolina State University, accompanies monks as they make their morning alms round at Phraeng Nara community in the old Rattanakosin area. PHOTOS BY APICHART JINAKUL

American temple boy

Residents of Phraeng Nara community in the old Rattanakosin area are used to seeing temple boys carrying food for monks during their morning alms round. But a couple of weeks ago, they were taken by surprise when a young American man started doing the job.

The Westerner helps carry the food given to the monks, walks calmly after them and performs a wai when the monks bless the alms offerers.

‘‘During the first few days, the residents looked very surprised to see me. They asked me lots of questions — what’s my name, what am

I doing here and where I come from,’’ said Charles Adams, a 24-year-old student at North Carolina State University.

His majors are culture, anthropology and religious studies, and he felt he needed real experience to better understand these subjects. So he applied and was chosen for the five-month student-exchange project under the Thai studies programme at Thammasat University’s Pridi Banomyong International College.

As the university is located near Wat Mahathat, Mr Adams decided to go to the temple compound one day, hoping to find someone who would be able to clear his doubts about Buddhist principles.

‘‘I spoke to a novice, but he didn’t understand what I said. So he took me to the living quarters of Phra Maha Charan Rajawong, a senior monk who was kind enough to answer my questions and accept me as his disciple,’’ Mr Adams said of his first day at the temple.

After that, the American started visiting the temple twice a week, arriving early in the morning to join the monks’ morning alms round, which starts at 6am.

His daily route covers about three kilometres, starting from Wat Mahathat and then moving to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Ministry of Defence, Klong Lot, Phraeng Nara community, City Hall, the Hindu shrine and returning to the temple.

Apart from being a temple boy, the American said he was practising basic meditation.

‘‘Meditation is good for you, whether you are Buddhist or not.

‘‘Although I am a Christian, I love to learn meditation, which is totally different from other religious practices. It focuses on self-learning practices, not a belief,’’ he said.

Adapted from a story in yesterday’s paper by Apinya Wipatayotin

You can read the full story here: http://bit.ly/cZwSU4

excerpt – a part of a longer speech, song, text, etc. บทคัดย่อ
resident – a person who lives in a particular area ผู้อาศัยในบริเวณ
alms – things  food, money etc offered to monks ของบริจาค
calm – peaceful and quiet; without anxiety อย่างใจเย็น, อย่างสงบ
anthropology – the study of human societies, customs, and beliefs มานุษยวิทยา
apply – to make an official request for a job or a place in a college or university, or for permission to do or have something สมัคร (งาน, เรียน)
compound – an area enclosed by a fence or wall in which people work or live บริเวณ
principle – a basic belief, theory, or rule that has a major influence on the way in which something is done; a moral rule or standard of good behavior กฎ, ข้อปฏิบัติ, หลักปฏิบัติ
novice – someone who has entered a religious community but is not yet a full member สามเณร
quarters – rooms or buildings for people to live in ที่พักอาศัย
senior – with a high rank or position อาวุโส
disciple – someone who admires a famous person such as a political or religious leader and is influenced by them ลูกศิษย์, สานุศิษย์
route – the roads used to go from one place to another เส้นทาง
shrine – a place for worship which is holy because of a connection with a holy person or object; a special place in which you remember and praise someone who has died, especially someone famous สถานที่บูชา หรือ หลุมศพ
meditation – quiet thought that helps you to relax or that is intended as a spiritual or religious exercise การทำสมาธิ
practice – a way of doing something การปฏิบัติ

About the author

columnist
Writer: Terry Fredrickson
Position: Education Marketing and Support Manager