If you have Buddhist Thai friends, you have probably heard many times them saying things like “I go make merit” or “I want to do merit”. What is this all about? Let me explain you.
Making merit is part of the Buddhist traditions. It is about making good things so that you will have good Karma later on. Meaning good things will happen to you. You can make merit in many different ways such as becoming a monk, having your son ordained as monk and donating money or necessary items to temples or monks.
Example of making merit is the trip with this purpose that my family did few weeks back. We visited really small destination which has 2 monks living on it. It does not count as temple in Thai culture and it could be maybe explained as place where you can make merit and pray without the temple status. Place for worship could be the right term. The location was really out there in the countryside in the end of the small little dirt roads. We were around 20 people and were driving four cars to make this road trip to happen. To give some perspective, we needed to drive over 150km one way to reach it. Yes, we picked this place for a reason and it was really out there in the middle of nowhere. Here is google maps link to give you an idea: https://goo.gl/maps/yJPDExZY8nnBR2g58
Our family is not rich but we are doing ok. We are sort of middle class family where we have everything that we need but it is not luxury life that we are living. When we heard from this place, we wanted to support it the best way we could. We gathered earlier to talk about it and everyone agreed that we should do something to help. We agreed on the time when our caravan was leaving from our homes and where to meet, and due the long distance (and hot Thai weather), we decided to start at 5am. Thai time that is, so we ended up leaving fashionably late at 6am as nobody was ready to start at 5am. Who was surprised to hear this fact haha
Some of us had bought big sacks of rice and other things that were to there to support the life of monks in daily basis in advance and they were already loaded to car once we started in the morning. Close by the temple, when we were still in main road, we stopped to buy water and more items that we knew were needed to survive by these 2 monks.
Once we reached the destination, we greeted the monks with high respect and unloaded everything to the house were monks were located. I could see small smile in the faces of these 2 monks as they saw that their prayers have been heard and we had enough supplies to support their immediate needs for several months.
All of us also donated money so more daily expenses could be covered. Part of the family members that were not able to join us or were not healthy enough for several hours of travel, were sending money for donation purposes via putting them to envelopes. These donations were to cover mandatory things such as buying more water, food and paying electricity bills. Like normally in Thai tradition, we made the money donations in the form of tree.
Traditions continued with serving meals for entire group but naturally waiting for monks to get started with dining first. After that, we did praying in several situations and buildings in the area. Monks were having a talk with us about life in general with guidance to continue in good paths and whole visit in this place was very unhurried and calm. We did also several other traditional Buddhist things such as got ropes tight up to our wrists by monk for good luck and traditional “shower by monk” as it was Songkran on the day of these events. This showering tradition is the origin of the Songkran water fights as its purest. It is basically meaning that you undress and only wear a robe and monk pours water on you few times to wash away the bad things and bad luck from your life based in Buddhist beliefs so you can start new year without burdens from the past. Foreigners normally don’t know the origins of why water fights happens during Songkran and now you are one of the ones who know 🙂
Even if you are not believing in Buddhism or any other religion, the takeaway from this post is that it pays off to be nice. Do good things and eventually good things will happen to you,
PS. If you want to visit this place, please let me know so I can help you how the reach it further.