One thing I learned in Thailand is that offering food is one of the oldest and most common rituals of Buddhism. Each morning I would hear in the distance a deep pitched gong sound. A type of bell chiming the call for people in the village to be aware that their presence was near. Who was near you ask? It was the monks.
They stroll through the center of the streets in single file, oldest first, carrying their bowls in front of them. They rise early in the morning and when I asked about them the reply was simply that it was time to feed the monks.
These Buddhist monks live nearby in the local temples. The villagers who choose will wait for them in the front of their homes, sometimes kneeling as they prepare for a special blessing. This special blessing is one that comes to those who feed monks.
Feeding another person is a powerful symbol and in many ways the person offering the food is feeding a part of themselves. For hundreds of years monks have been blessing others by allowing others to feed them. They are showing the way of compassion through introducing a gentle path of community service. It is a reminder of what is good and a graceful look into the beauty of life.
This is what I love about traveling and experiencing the many different cultures on our planet. Our human experience is a gift and you don’t want to let it slip by without feeding a few monks every once and awhile.