July 26, 2018

"They should spend time in a monastery. It's for their protection. It's like they died but now have been reborn."

Said Seewad Sompiangjai, identified as "grandfather of Night" in the BBC article "Thai cave boys ordained in Buddhist ceremony." Night is the name of one of the rescued boys.
The group will spend nine days living in a monastery, a tradition for males in Thailand who experience adversity....

This step is intended to be a "spiritual cleansing" for the group, and to fulfil a promise by the families to remember one of the divers who died in the rescue operation....

One of the boys, Adul Sam-on, will not be joining the rest of the "Wild Boars" football team as he is a Christian. Their coach Ekkapol "Ake" Chantawong, 25, will join them for the same period of time but as a fully fledged monk rather than a novice.

The coach had spent time in a monastery as a novice before this. Although he has attracted some criticism for taking the boys into the cave, he is also credited with helping them through the ordeal by reportedly teaching them meditation techniques to help them stay calm and use as little air as possible.
The NYT article on the ordination puts the focus not on the boys' spiritual journey but on the debt owed to Saman Gunan, the Thai SEAL who died:
Their ordination was full of reminders of the former Thai Navy SEAL member Saman Gunan, 38, a volunteer diver who died while placing oxygen tanks to be used in their rescue. A large portrait of Mr. Saman was displayed....

Phra Mahapaivan Worravanno, a Buddhist monk and writer from Wat Soi Thong in Bangkok, said.... “When it comes to these boys and their coach, they said they would ordain for Lieutenant Commander Saman Gunan, because the man is their benefactor; he sacrificed himself to help them,” Phra Mahapaivan said. “Ordaining for Lieutenant Commander Saman Gunan is the Wild Boars’ way to show their gratitude and thanks.”...

“For the Wild Boars, they will ordain to redeem vows that their parents made, and more important, they will ordain in order to consign merit to Lieutenant Commander Saman Gunan’s soul,” said Anyatida Musittavee, 32, an office worker in Bangkok. “I think this is a great thing.”
Any questions about religious freedom here or is knowing that the Christian boy was left out enough?

42 comments:

rhhardin said...

People love rituals.

rhhardin said...

The not kneeling ritual at the flag ritual is another controversy.

rhhardin said...

Bring back rite and wrong.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

Huh. I thought the coach was not with the boys when they went into the cave, but that some parents went to the coach for help late at night when their children didn't return home from playing with friends.

gilbar said...

was the Christian boy Left out? Or did he Opt out?

rhhardin said...

Some rituals are performative. E.g. oath on a bible to mark the start of criminality for lying, I do at a wedding, ritualized so that it can't happen except on purpose.

Then ritualization spreads out over everything where it serves no purpose.

Rory said...

It could be that taking the kids out of circulation and to a quiet place where they can heal might be better than, say, dragging them out in front of crowds to act like they're experts on cave safety.

rhhardin said...

The kids were out of circulation. This puts them back in. Some politician or charity wants them back in. Hearne's law.

tcrosse said...

Give them some time to work on their Mindfulness Jars.

mockturtle said...

It could be that taking the kids out of circulation and to a quiet place where they can heal might be better than, say, dragging them out in front of crowds to act like they're experts on cave safety.

Good point. Contrast that with what would have happened here, with TV spots, book deals, movie offers, etc.

Levi Starks said...

Sounds like Christianity has crept into Buddhism

rhhardin said...

The Wild Boars are reboarn.

rhhardin said...

Cave canum.

tim maguire said...

Not to seem ungrateful, but as I recall, the SEAL had a heart attack or something--it's not like he died in an accident that wouldn't have happened if he weren't trying to rescue the boys. That was the thing he was technically doing when he died, but it's not why he died.

Now they all have to become monks out of gratitude.

Narayanan Subramanian said...

"retreat" would be a better term.

Owen said...

rhhardin: on fire today!

I think this ritual is valuable. It sounds a damned sight more positive --for the boys, for their families, for the society into which they are growing-- than what might happen here. They have been changed by their time underground. They can't undo it or bring back the man who died to save them. The occasion is so fraught with emotional power that it transmutes its elements into symbols, and they enable --require-- ritual. Ritual as a kind of detoxification, pain management, claim of meaning.

This may be a Buddhist ritual but as a Christian I am thinking about another time when to save others a man died and was buried, and then a miracle occurred, changing everyone forever. The echoes are marvelous. It's through ritual that they reach us.

Caroline Walker said...

I didn’t read this at all as “Christian boy left out.” His family enjoys the freedom not to participate in a religious rite of a different faith tradition. He’s given space. Win.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It could be that taking the kids out of circulation and to a quiet place where they can heal might be better than, say, dragging them out in front of crowds to act like they're experts on cave safety.

This is actually a good idea. Perhaps we could take that odious David Hogg and put him into a monastery for a while so he can learn some humility and gratitude for those who also died trying to save others.

Plus he could start by learning the difference between an AR-15 and a machine gun and a shotgun.

I think a couple of years should do it.

joshbraid said...

I agree, sounds like taking time out to heal and focus is a good path. Why would Christian parents want their son to become a Buddhist monk?

The Cracker Emcee Rampant said...

“Now they all have to become monks out of gratitude.”

Um, no. Sounds like more of an old school retreat. With the added grace of honoring a true hero. Asians do a lot of crazy shit but when they decide it’s time for contemplative restraint and moderation, nobody does it better.

EDH said...

“Get thee to a nunnery.”

Although a nunnery is a place for pure women who give themselves body and soles to God, a nunnery also means a whore house. Nunnery has a double meaning. Essentially, Hamlet is telling Ophelia that she is both pure and impure.

paminwi said...

DBQ: spot on!

Owen said...

DBQ: well said.

joshbraid said...

EDH, sorry, the word "nunnery" was corrupted as part of the anti-Catholic culture of Elizabethan times, so it is actually "hate-speech".

wildswan said...

Sounds like a "retreat", not becoming a monk and taking permanent life altering vows. The Christian boy almost certainly opted out.

tim maguire said...

This article might describe a retreat, but other articles have said they are all becoming monks.

joshbraid said...

The headline of the NYT article "Thai Boys Become Monks as Rescuer’s Widow Looks On".

Begonia said...

Michael Fitzgerald and tim maguire, there were a lot of unverified bits of news flying around on social media, such as bit about the parents approaching the soccer coach and asking him to go in after the boys (unverified) and how, exactly, the Thai navy seal died (only verified reports say that he "ran out of oxygen")

It's interesting to see how fake news and rumour that start in other countries get so quickly spread over facebook. It's like a mirror on what is happening in this country.

My husband is from Guatemala, and after the eruption of Volcan Fuego earlier this year, I have seen lots of our family and friends down there share fake news stories and conspiracy theories on facebook. I have basically stopped sharing any posts, or commenting on any posts, except to note that something is fake (if I have been able to verify that it is fake).

Leland said...

If rituals are a bad thing; hopefully they would have recognized that before their annual ritual cave hike.

david loewinger said...

"Correspondents say it's seen as normal by Thais for boys and men to spend time as monks as a rite of passage."

It sounds like being ordained as a monk doesn't have the same meaning in this context as it does with Catholic monks, but rather can be for a limited period of time and is a normal religious practice.

Unknown said...

"The NYT article on the ordination puts the focus not on the boys' spiritual journey but on the debt owed to Saman Gunan, the Thai SEAL who died:..."

Of course the NYT deemphasised the spiritual aspect of the story, didn't they completely ignore this aspect of the copper miners trapped underground in Peru, who emphasised the importance of their christian faith in their survival?

joshbraid said...

It is common for Buddhist men to spend time in a monastery before getting married.

Begonia said...

The NYT article mentioned that the Christian boy attended the initiation ceremony but did not participate.

The BBC mentioned twice that the Christian boy will not be ordained as a monk but didn't mention that he attended the initiation ceremony.

George Spix said...

Worse, because as Torquemada says, he should be dead by now, KFC, Coke, fatty food,no sleep and worse per the FDA and all their tests and commandments. All he's missing is being a heavy drinker like the 103 year old cigar chomper across the street. Can smell him coming a block away.

Vance said...

rrhardin inadvertently touched on something that I think explains why the flag kneeling NFL people are so reviled. They are violating the American ritual. We have very few "ritual" events as Americans. Sacred, communal experiences that set us apart and bind us as a group.

For instance, old time religion had lots of ceremony. If you were a member in good standing, you participated. If you were not, you did not. And if you were expelled, you were "excommunicated" from being forbidden to receive communion.

Those ceremonies are very important. They mark and unite the group. As Americans, what ceremonies do we have? We have the 4th of July fireworks, we have Black Friday, we have Thanksgiving, and we have sports on various days. Part of sports, no matter what sport it is, is the National Anthem and standing there respecting the flag. Respecting the flag at sporting events or when the flag goes by during a parade, or for a funeral, is about it as far as civic ceremonies go.

And the left has decided to spit and desecrate our civic ceremony. And then whine when people get upset. Rrhardin sees no problem with the left kneeling to disrespect the flag, but it's the civil ceremonial equivalent to bursting into a Catholic Church and stomping on the Eucharist during Communion.

Mary Martha said...

As I understand it - young Buddhist Thai men will often spend a short time as a monk.

It doesn't have the same level of 'permanence' that ordination that the Christian use of the term holds.

The Christian boy may choose to participate in something similar in the form of a 30 day retreat.

rhhardin said...

They mark and unite the group. As Americans,

The single thing that unites us as Americans is the constitution. Americans internalize the rules. You can draw Mohammad if you want and nobody can punish you.

A Muslim either can't be an American or can't be a Muslim, for that reason. Immigration policy motive. Ordinary Americans just say of course he can draw Mohammad, what's the problem.

Flag ritual is military, not civilian. It's used to drill out individuality and drill in team operation. The more pointless the actual exercise, the better. Then there's no actual goal that might intrude on the training.

Civilians on the contrary ought to be suspicious whenever they see a flag. Politicians always have a dozen behind them as decoration. Who wants me to act respectful and why, ought to be the question of the moment. They're up to something. A power trip perhaps.

Marc said...

And Christian monks aren't ordained. Priests are ordained. Christian monks profess their vows; a subset is ordained. The press use of 'ordain' is presumably just the choice they've made to represent whatever the Thai word is.

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Cacimbo Cacimbo said...

What a different culture. I am impressed that the parents allowed their children (ages 11-17) to sleep away from home for nine nights less than a month after they were rescued from cave.

Oso Negro said...

I can confirm that it is perfectly normal for Thai men to spend time in a monastery in this manner. It is also perfectly normal for them to have a reason for doing it, such as their mother is getting old and they want good outcomes for her.

mikee said...

The Christian boy would no more participate in a different religious ceremony than the other 8 kids would take Communion with him. Different is different, in this case, not good, not bad.