Monks and Nuns do not take these vows lightly, the commitment is life-long. They can, however, “give them back” if they change their minds and want to return to a normal life. “Giving Back” the vows is seen as preferable to “Breaking” them because in this way the vows are kept “clean”. Yes, really.
Monks wear easily-recognisable orange robes: traditionally this was a cheap dye and the robes would be made from donated scraps and sewn together.
The role of monks is to serve as officiants for services and also to preserve and teach Buddhism. They live by a strict code of 227 rules (311 for female monks) regulating how they teach, eat, sit, walk, position their limbs, build a home, receive blankets, and even excrete. In return, they get Enlightenment and a place to sit on the metro:
As well as a place to sit in busy train stations:
One should not try to make physical contact with a monk. I tried to shake this guy’s hand, and it was a little awkward:
On my last day in Bangkok, Duncan and I sat and had a beer in the airport. Next to us was a Monk on an iPad. I’m not sure if this qualifies him to a simple and meditative life: I suppose the state-of-the-art intuitive touch interface is very simple, and the act of browsing the web is rather hypnotic and meditative.