During the latter half of the 20th century, most Buddhist monks in Thailand began their careers by serving as temple boys, primarily to gain a basic education. The number of children living as temple boys has declined, although some parents still choose this form of religious education for their children. Boys, and, in some locales, girls, are now typically ordained as novices. Novices are not required to follow the full range of monastic rules. They are often in closer contact with their families, spending more time in the homes of their parents than with monks. Temporary ordination is the norm, for between one and three years. After this period, most young monks return to lay life, going on to later marry and begin a family. Depicted here is one young monk in meditation.
Further notes regarding Buddhism:
Buddhism is a religion that was founded by Siddhartha Gautama (“the Buddha”) more than 2,500 years ago in India. With about 470 million followers, scholars consider Buddhism one of the major world religions. The religion has historically been most prominent in East and Southeast Asia, but, its influence is growing in the West. Many Buddhist ideas and philosophies overlap with those of other faiths.
Some key Buddhism beliefs include:
Followers of Buddhism don’t acknowledge a supreme god or deity. They instead focus on achieving enlightenment— a state of inner peace and wisdom. When followers reach this spiritual echelon, they’re said to have experienced nirvana.
The religion’s founder, Buddha, is considered an extraordinary man, but not a god. The word Buddha means “enlightened.”
The path to enlightenment is attained by utilizing morality, meditation, and wisdom. Buddhists often meditate because they believe it helps awaken truth.
There are many philosophies and interpretations within Buddhism, making it a tolerant and evolving religion.
Some scholars don’t recognize Buddhism as an organized religion, but rather, a “way of life” or a “spiritual tradition.”
Buddhism encourages its people to avoid both self-indulgence and self-denial.
Buddha’s most important teachings, known as The Four Noble Truths, are essential to understanding the religion.
Buddhists embrace the concepts of karma (the law of cause and effect) and reincarnation (the continuous cycle of rebirth).
Followers of Buddhism can worship in temples or in their own homes.
Buddhist monks, or bhikkhus, follow a strict code of conduct, which includes celibacy.
There is no single Buddhist symbol, but a number of images have evolved that represent Buddhist beliefs, including the lotus flower, the eight-spoked dharma wheel, the Bodhi tree, and the swastika (an ancient symbol whose name means "well-being" or "good fortune" in Sanskrit).
There are considered three 'branches' of Buddhism:
Theravada Buddhism has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia such as Cambodia, Myanmar, and Thailand.
Mahayana, which includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Shingon, and Tiantai (Tendai), is found throughout East Asia.
Vajrayana, a body of teachings attributed to Indian adepts, may be viewed as a separate branch, or as an aspect of Mahayana Buddhism.
Tibetan Buddhism, which preserves the Vajrayana teachings of eighth-century India, is practiced in the countries of the Himalayan region, Mongolia, and Kalmykia.
His Holiness, The Dalai Lama is a title given by the Tibetan people for the foremost spiritual leader of the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" school of Tibetan Buddhism, the newest of the classical schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The 14th and current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso, who lives as a refugee in India.