Several countries in Ceylon (1), Thailand, Laos, and Burma (2) are all followers of Theravada Buddhism, or Southern Buddhism (3). These countries are all virtuous, keeping good moral precepts; especially on the island of Ceylon, the monks practice the way most maturely.
Buddhist scripture It is written that during the reign of King Ashoka, Buddhism in India had already passed to Ceylon. The son of King Ashoka, Mahendra, was the leader of a group of monks who came to propagate Buddhism in Ceylon. He brought a branch of Bodhi to the island. That is the vestige, evidence of the Buddha when he attained enlightenment, he himself sat in great concentration under the Bodhi tree. The prince also brought down the Three Tripitakas (4), and then invited some famous monks to come and translate them into the vernacular.
Buddhist ethics in Ceylon is not the same as in the Far East countries. The source of the religion is not reformed, the practice of the religion is not troublesome. This country still keeps the old rules very true. The order of the Sangha is still the same as in the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. People don’t show any more trouble. The Sangha still follow the old custom, not coveting riches, sitting in grass huts thinking about the Way, reading sutras, and offering flowers and incense to the Buddha. They uphold the ideal of compassion and salvation, teaching everyone around them. They kept the precepts very carefully and met once a month or two to listen to the Precepts (5) and to repent. They worshiped Shakyamuni Buddha alone. However, they also commemorate and worship the future Buddha Maitreya. In the temple, very limited sacrifices. The monks know themselves to be pure bhikkhus, not interested in competing for the position of the second person. Monks are all on the same level, no one criticizes anyone. They respect the person who is honored by the Sangha as the high priest and respect the elderly and virtuous.
In Ceylon, the monks do not confuse the Buddhas with the gods.
But in folk beliefs, people worship a few ghosts and gods to support their family, like they worship the tiger god, dragon god, enemy god, mountain god… They consider these gods to also belong to Buddhism.
The monks knew it was false, superstitious. But you can’t hinder them, you let them freely believe, as long as they respect the Buddha, respect the Buddha, respect the Buddha, and consider the Buddha higher than the gods.
In Thailand, Laos and Burma, people also follow Theravada Buddhism. In these countries, the customs are still the same as in Ceylon. Buddhism spread to these countries at the same time as in Ceylon, it was during the reign of King Ashoka, the king who was most famous for the propagation of Buddhism. At first, it was not very prosperous. In the fifth century, the Venerable Buddha-Gosha entered Laos and Burma, translating the Ceylon scriptures into Pli for the general public in the region. Since then, Buddhism has spread everywhere.
In Laos and in Burma, people practice Buddhism justly, very seriously, no less than in the island of Ceylon. But it’s a little different that people also worship ghosts, abstain from demons and ghosts. People invite, rely on, and offer sacrifices to them. People are very afraid of evil spirits and ghosts. There are also a few monks who practice deviations in the way of calling ghosts, howling ghosts and commanding negative souls.
In Laos, Thailand and Burma, the dignity of monks in the temple is slightly different than in the island of Ceylon. Increase them to divide each class to preserve and protect each other. Starting from the bottom, there are many functions. Who is a novice monk, novice, who is a monk, which is a monk, which is a temple master in the village, which is a temple master in the district, which is a temple master in the province, which is a temple master in the province. Water means the High Priest.
There were a few monks who went into retreat in the mountains, but from time to time returned to the temple to express their morality and thoughts. There were also five or seven monks who were free to live outside, some set up their own temples, some worked as teachers to children in the village.
Usually children’s education is entrusted to the temple. Children can enter the temple from the age of eight, while studying culture, chanting, and offering flowers and incense to the Buddha. There are many temples that are naturally high schools. Teenagers when going out, become a person of solid academic standing and moral character. In Laos and Thailand, there is a long-standing custom that parents must give their children to a temple to teach them for a while. The child is allowed to wear the temple robes for a period of at least three months, and lasting from fifteen to twenty years. Although parents have to let their children go to the temple and become a novice, it is a temporary practice, studying morality and praying for their parents’ sound and virtue. So at the end of the term, those teenagers are free to go home, get married and do business. There are also volunteers at the temple. After he was twenty years old, the Church reviewed and accepted him into the rank of bhikkhus, becoming an official monk. At that time, the bhikkhu diligently studied the way, cultivated virtue, engaged in meditative absorption, and his mind increasingly reached the shore of liberation and peace.
(1) Ceylon, now Sri Lanka.
(3) Also called Theravada Buddhism.
(4) Often called the Tripitaka, including the Sutras, the Laws and the Abhidhamma.
(5) Called the two periods of Bodhisattva.
Edited by Doan Trung Con, edited by Nguyen Minh Tien