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2011年7月25日 星期一

2011 July Report─The Simple Life in Pathom Asoke

Khao Kwan Foundation (KKF) is located in countryside. However 20 years passed by, the farmers live near KKF still use chemicals in their rice field. KKF’s founder Daycha, he ever visited the owner of the land which near KKF’s rice field ,the farmer uses chemicals and fertilizer. He chat with this farmer, the farmer told him that now his health is bad, and the harvest of rice is bad, so he was in debt, and he even said to Daycha that : ”Soon or latter this land will belong to you”. Daycha asked him: ”Why don’t you learn from me, like me, I do nothing on the rice field? ”He said, ” It is except that you change my religion! ” Because using chemicals is his belief.

Otherwise, if someone think that we don’t want to kill any life, and practicing organic/ natural agriculture is the only road. Asoke community has long history in Thailand. And they are famous by promoting vegetarian. In July 12-18, I went to Pathom Asoke community and live in a week to understanding their lifestyle.

According the Chinese reference I got that point there has 7 Asoke Community now, but because of every year maybe has increasing, so this might not the correct number. This community was created because of leader called Phra Bhodhirak. He was born in 1934,and he was a famous TV host、composer ,he quit his job at 35 year-old, and few months later he became a monk, he shocked his relative and friends. And then he created the Santi Asoke clergy group. He insisted on vegetarian, because of the first precept of monk is refraining from destroying any life. It is contradiction that monks said that people can’t destroy any life, but they accept people give them the meat. Therefore, Asoke group promote vegetarian strongly , they produce material by themselves, there are some vegetarian shop in Bangkok and Chiang Mei.

Phra Bhodhirak obeyed the precept strictly, and his behavior is different from the mainstream Buddhist clergy group, and then he was accused to the religious court.
Because he committed to reveal the essence of Buddhism, so this 10 years long lawsuit doesn’t hurt his influence. He ever said that: ”Yes, I have a sharp tongue. But it is only because there are already plenty of monks using the carrot. So it is my job to use the stick.” Phra Bhodhirak encouraged people working hard ,and practice with open eyes, engaging energetically in any type of work instead of meditate by sitting or walking. In Asoke community, they are anti-consumerism, because they refuse to follow the whims of fashion.

The leader of Asoke,his name is Phra Bhodhirak

The land of Pathom Asoke, it comes from someone’s donated. People who live in this community need to obey rules. that is to “keep the five precepts.” This five precepts are below: 1.Don’t kill any life,2. Don’t be a thief, 3.Don’t betray your lover
4. Don’t tell a lie, 5.Don’t drink wine or anything which can let you addicted to it.
They eat two meals a day, one meal at 9:00 O’clock, another is at 16:00. At beginning, I am not used it, before the meal time I ate some fruit to stop hungry, finally I found that when this become a habit and your body will used it, someone even just eat one meal a day.

Because of the Asoke community doesn’t use money, like eating, living, trafficking, education is free, therefor everyone here worked hard, no matter how old you are, young age like 13 year-old, or 84 year-old. They wake up 4:00 o’clock, and everyone working in shampoo’s factory, kitchen, organic garden, community shop, snack bar, tofu’s factory, mushroom’s garden, school, their own media-FMTV, etc. When I saw the monk, he operate the complicated machine by himself to broadcast, and the high school’s student operate camera to shoot the big campaign, senior high school’s student drive a big trunk…,it is all surprise me ,and I found their attitude, no matter who you are ,you need to learn any work you do. And, everyone has not only one job, like a teacher, he teach student as volunteer, and except his teach time, he need to work in factory, or being a driver of cars ,etc. Let me feel the Asoke resident like the worker bees in the bee society, everyone everyday wake up, and working all day.

One of the Asoke resident works in community's shop

The student,the teacher,and student's father,they all work together to prepare food for
community's resident

The teacher were teaching music to students

Every time I throw garbage in Thailand, I always wonder that: “Why the Thai didn’t do recycle on garbage? ” I came to Thailand over 8 months, this is the second time that I saw the place has recycling garbage can, and the first time I found that is in the hospital. This community has a recycling center, somebody is responsible for separating garbage and sold the worth resources. , And they have a second-hand shop, this shop selling the materials which were sent from the neighborhood, and they are responsible for cleaning or fixing it. Because of Asoke community emphasize on giving, their goal is not get profit, the price of second-hand product is low. Otherwise, all girls or women are have short hair, and they wear the uniform, it is a blue shirt, because they refuse to follow the whims of fashion.

The recycle garbage cans,there show pictures to point out which recycle item to put in,even
foreigner,like me can understand it

No matter who you are,everyone here wear wiht the blue shirt

I am impressed about in Asoke’s education. They established boarding-school for high and senior high school student in 1992. The Asoke’s school is called Samma Sikkha school, there is no tuition or other expenses; teachers work for free. Their daily schedule like below: wake up at 4:00-4:30, start to study , in the morning they always do something related to study; in the afternoon they start to work in the community, for example: cooking、plant vegetables、package the shampoo、pick up the mushroom…etc. After 6:00 pm they continue to study until they go to sleep in 9:00 pm. There are 66 students now, in the beginning, I thought almost students come from community resident, until I met a father who comes from south of Thailand, I chat with he, he said to me that he came to see his daughter for one weeks. And the teacher also told me that now only 3 students come from community resident, because a lot of resident here are single or they are only couples, they didn’t have a child, so almost the students are come from other part of Thailand.

Before student's breakfast,the monks will lead students pray,and then having a speech to them

In every working place, the workers are the teacher of students, teach them how to operate the machines, and how to good at work, it is also let student learn how to teamwork. The work item will change every 7 months, so every student can do every kinds of work in this community. I am very appreciate their thinking of education, I think learning is not only on textbook, but also let a person have a living skill, in this way a man can live alone in everywhere. Because I speak Mandarin, so I knew a Thai girl who can speak Mandarin. Her Chinese name is Lee Yu Hong, and she was a student in this Samma Sikkha. She told me that this school emphasis is on developing and strengthening the students’ character, training them to be good people, work hard and be unselfish, and the last thing is reading. The students need to obey the precepts strictly, if they break the rules, there has small punishment, but if the situation is more serious, the school has its own stay down system, and the student will stay one more year.

Originally, I plane to go Pathom Asoke on 7/4, because of they are busy on parade. Is it real that a Buddhist group on parade? It’s let me feel curious and I ask about this activities. This campaign goal is to teach a lesson to politicians who are planning to enter the parliamentary system dishonorably by buying votes. They also want to push for political reforms by using the blank ballots as a reminder for politicians to heed the voice of the people.

Before 7.3 election of prime minister, the yellow-shirt group organized a team to hold a seminar to promote the group's ''Vote No'' campaign for the upcoming election. And before 7.3 election, Pathom Asoke and yellow-shirt group has a “Vote No” parade together, and because of this campaign, almost two millions people do invalid votes. The same as Phra Bhodhirak, the leader of Asoke, his criticism attitude towards to the mainstream Buddhist group, Asoke resident told people that there was another choice, if you were already tired of policy in Thailand.

I lived here for six days, and living with the simple good: I ate two vegetarian meals, sleeping on hospital bed, and using bicycle; (In fact, the resident here, they are barefoot, because this way can let people focus on walking. ) All environment I saw was forest、river、simple buildings; and everyone I met here, they not only welcome me to come this community, but also they said : ”Wish you everything is well.” Although this is the first time I come here, I feel very peaceful. I think that is because of the people, things and whatever I saw, everything is positive and pure. Like the sentence which was written in an introduced book of Asoke, ”While the materialist is mainly interested in goods, the Buddhist is mainly interested in liberation.”

The German Economist Ernst Schumcher, he ever mentioned in his article called “Buddhist Economics”: “As physical resources are everywhere limited, people satisfying their needs by means of a modest use of resources are obviously less likely to be at each other’s throats than people depending upon a high rate of use. Equally, people who live in highly self-sufficient local communities are less likely to get involved in large-scale violence than people whose existence depends on world-wide systems of trade.”

The environment in Asoke community is beautiful and quite

These are houses of monks and nuns.It's so simple.Because Asoke's goal is to put spiritualwealth in people ahead of worldly things

Now, The food self-sufficiency of Taiwan just have less than 50%, we are the people who “people whose existence depends on world-wide systems of trade.” Do we will get involved in large-scale violence? The oil price is expected to soar to an unimaginable extent along with the development of emerging economies, such as China and India. At that time, it is hard to say that Taiwan will having “food crisis” or not, because of Taiwan is the country which highly depends on import foods. I think that small is beautiful, a self-sufficient community, such as Asoke Community, it is a good example for Taiwan to reference.

This is Asoke organic fields,it's also a place to let srudent learning how to plant

Reference :
1. Marja-Leena Heikkila-Horn、Rassamee Krisanamis, ”Insight Into Santi Asoke”. Fah-aphai Co.Ltd

2. Tai-ASEAN Network News,“People's Alliance Continues Campaigning for "Vote No"” . 2011-04-11

3. The Nation, ”PAD makes final plea in 'Vote No' campaign”. 2011-07-02

4. The Nation, ” Figures show PAD failed to win support for 'no-vote'”. July 5, 2011

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