A student spends the summer in Thailand as a monk in search of nirvana | VTX

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There are many rules that a bhikkhu monk must follow – 227 to be precise.

And if it’s a rule, chances are it’s because a monk did it in the past.

But as a monk in training with the in the forests of Thailand, Theeratart “DJ” Sukthavorn, a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Food Science and Technology from Springfield, Va., only had to follow 10 of these rules, like no singing and no killing – even a pesky fly on the wall.

In Thailand, it is customary for young men around the age of 20 to be ordained for a short period.

“At first I did this because of my parents and the importance of this tradition,” Sukthavorn said. “But halfway through my time in the temple, something changed. I began to feel the effects of having a clear mind and following Buddha’s teachings as closely as possible. I wasn’t doing this just for my parents anymore.

He built his mental toughness during his brief stay at the temple, where his only task was to attain nirvana – something that is difficult in a lifetime, let alone a month.

“Through my time in the temple and my meditation, I have learned to approach life’s obstacles and difficulties with acceptance,” Sukthavorn said. “I don’t have to like what’s going on. But what’s happening is real, and I have to accept it before I can do anything. My outlook on life has completely changed.

Sukthavorn’s time in the temple was short, but it helped him find himself in other ways as well. This helped him focus on his studies in food science.

“I want to study food preservation techniques used in Thailand because of the freshness of food,” Sukthavorn said. “Right now, we have the timeless technique of canning for preserving fruit. I want to work with Thai growers to find new, efficient methods for transporting their products to the United States. »

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