A TEMPLE abbot in Pak Thong Chai in Nakhon Ratchasima has hosted a project for elderly people to engage in Dhamma, as well as fun activities to promote their physical and mental health.
Wat Moung Sa Noi in Tambon Nok Ok hosted a re-opening ceremony on Tuesday for 70 local seniors to participate in a special project called “Sil Ha Charasuk School” (Ageing happily while maintaining the five Buddhist precepts).
The move was an idea of Abbot Phra Kru Soponparsitthikhun.
As a gimmick for the school’s re-opening following the April break, the elderly wore student uniforms and joined fellow schoolmates at the playground of Wat Moung School before class teacher Tuanjai Pansanoi had them introduce themselves.
They also joined games to “break the ice” such as a contest of ping-pong ball transfer with spoons and a balloon-blowing contest.
Some “students” had to spit out betel nut juice to join this lung exercising activity, which made their colleagues laugh.
The abbot said rural communities nowadays see people leave to work in big cities, leaving elderly relatives behind at home, so the latter become stressed.
Normal activities on Buddhist holidays at the temple weren’t enough to meet seniors’ needs. So, he established the “Sil Ha Charasuk School” to get them engaged in vocational training, games and prayer.
The school has opened every Sunday since February from 8am to 4pm and is due to run till August. After closing for a break in April, it re-opened on Tuesday, he said.
Somjai Choomsanoi, 75, said attending the school and having fun with fellow seniors was better than staying at home alone and feeling lonely, while their children went to work and grandchildren went to school.
In addition to its use in a Christian context, abbot is a term used in English-speaking countries for a monk who holds the position of administrator of a Buddhist monastery or large Buddhist temple. In Buddhist nunneries, the nun who holds the equivalent position is known in English as the abbess.
The English word "abbot" is used instead of all the various words that exist in the languages of the countries where Buddhism is, or was historically, well established.
The administrative duties of an abbot or abbess include overseeing the day-to-day running of the monastery.The Abbot or Abbess also has spiritual responsibility for the monastics under their care, and is required to interact with the abbots or abbesses of other monasteries.
Asian countries where Buddhism is still widely practiced have words in their own languages for the abbot of a Buddhist monastery or large temple:
in Chinese Chan Buddhist monasteries, one word for abbot is Fangzhang meaning "ten feet square", a reference to the size of Vimalakirti's stone room.Another Chinese word for abbot is Zhuchi, meaning dweller and upholder.
In Zen Buddhism, the most commonly used Japanese words for the abbot of a large Zen temple or Zen monastery are juji and choro.
The abbot of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery is known as the Khenpo. This means "the one who gives the monks vows". The abbot is addressed as, and referred to, as "Khen Rinpoche". Another word used for more senior abbots is Khenchen, which means senior khenpo.
The Korean word for abbot is chuji.