Buddhist Monastic Life to the US Army
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My Spiritual life Journey
I was a Buddhist novice (Samanera) when I was 13 in 1985 and ordained as a Buddhist monk (Bhikkhu) in 1993 in Thailand for a total of 21 years (in Thailand and America). While I was in a Buddhist monastery, I had the opportunity to serve the community by providing spiritual needs for Buddhist people. This way of life is prevalent in Buddhist countries in Southeast Asian Countries, where young boys under 20 years of age renounce their families and join the monastic lifestyle. The candidates can become a novice or a monk for a few days, weeks, months, or years. Some monks spend their lifetimes in the temple for the rest of their lives. Being a Buddhist novice or a monk is not mandatory, but it is a personal choice. Also, it is not a career, but it is a spiritual commitment to follow the footprints of the Buddha at least one time in their lifetime.
Missionary to America
The Buddha said to his disciples to travel to villages, towns, and cities for the benefit and happiness of all people without discrimination regarding social status, race, and gender. In 1997, after I earned my BA degree from Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya, the Buddhist University in Bangkok, I came to America to complete my internship at Wat Buddhanusorn, the Thai Buddhist temple in Fremont, California. I had the opportunity to serve many Buddhist people from many different cultures. After ten years of serving in America, I thought it was not enough for me as a Buddhist missionary monk in America to serve Thai Buddhist people specifically. Therefore, I would like to share my experiences to benefit others who are not Buddhist.
Join the US Army Chaplain Corps
After I reached my 21 years in a Buddhist monastery, I thought about doing something different in this mission in different settings. In 2010, I found the Military chaplaincy program. I thought it is challenging to introduce the Buddha's teaching in the Military environment because I could share the Buddhist teachings with Buddhist and non-Buddhist Military personnel. Therefore, I decided to join the Army chaplaincy program in 2011. I served in the Army Reserve as a Second Lieutenant at the Military Police Brigade, Los Alamitos, California. I performed a Buddhist service by leading the Buddhist chanting, meditation, pastoral counseling, and discussion in Buddhism to Buddhist and non-Buddhist soldiers.
My goal is to share the varieties of spirituality with other Army chaplains from different religions. I always tell people that religion is a food of the mind. Also, I always say that you don't have to change your nationality to eat Thai food. You are who you are. At the end of the day, that Thai food fulfills your hunger. You still are who you are as a person, no matter what kind of foods you eat. I am not trying to convert you to be Thai or force you to eat Thai food. I want to share it.
I was in the Army Reserve for eight years. In September 2019, I joined Army Active Duty at Fort Stewart, GA, as my first duty station. I am one of a few Buddhist chaplains in the US Army. However, I am in the Army to devote my life to nurturing the living, caring for the wounded, honoring the fallen, and sharing the Buddhist values with men and women in the Army. With my 20 years of Buddhist experiences as a monk, education, and training, I believe that I can convey the Buddha's teaching to support those soldiers and their families. I like Army Active Duty because I am in the Army every day to exercise my role as a staff officer, chaplain, and soldier. I interact with Soldiers every day to practice my interpersonal skills in the Army environment and to promote the good morale of my Soldiers. Soldiers help me to adjust my life to the Army environment. I told my Commander, my officer friends, and my Soldiers to treat me as a Soldier and brother in the Army family. I am here to support Soldiers and their families as a chaplain.
I ordained as a Buddhist Novice (Samanera) 1985-1993
I ordained as a Buddhist Monk (Bhikkhu) in 1993-2006
The Prince of Thailand (Now the King of Thailand) appointed me a rank as accomplishment of the Pali Language study (6th level) 1993.
With my Family
My temple in the heart of Bangkok, Thailand
With my monastic friends