Photograph courtesy of Stars and Stripes

In a bustling Southwestern bar at a Royal Thai Navy (RTN) base, a US Army captain stood out, not only for his uniform however for the emblem adorning his cap, the Buddhist wheel of dharma, a uncommon sight in navy circles.

Chaplain (Captain) Songkran Waiyaka, one in all solely 10 Buddhists amongst over 3,000 spiritual leaders within the Army, usually finds himself explaining the importance of his emblem to curious troopers.

“This wheel of dharma is my device to work together with troopers.”

Representing the teachings of the Buddha, or the dharma, Chaplain Songkran serves with the 53rd Transportation Battalion at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. He’s at present again in his native Thailand for Cobra Gold, a important navy train in Asia. Performing as a bridge between the US and Thai militaries, Songkran’s position spans from translation to cultural diplomacy, enriching his chaplaincy with various experiences.

Born into a farming household in Thailand’s Chiang Rai province, Songkran’s journey from rural life to navy service is unconventional. A former novice monk, he was ordained at a younger age, drawn to the problem that monastic life provided, very like his choice to affix the military. Regardless of being in a predominantly Christian battalion, Chaplain Songkran seamlessly integrates his Buddhist beliefs, selling mindfulness and psychological well-being amongst troops.

“As a Buddhist monk, I had no hair, no civilian garments, and strict guidelines. Now, as a chaplain, I abide by simply 5 precepts.”

Chaplain Songkran’s dedication to service led him from a Buddhist neighborhood in California to the military, the place he found parallels between his previous and current vocations, reported Stars and Stripes.

In a twist of destiny, Songkran discovered love throughout his chaplaincy coaching, one thing denied to him as a monk. With 13 years within the military, retirement looms on the horizon however he isn’t carried out but.

“I’m going to pop smoke completely to take pleasure in life after.”

The chaplain desires of penning his memoirs and even seeing his story hit the massive display.

Northern Thailand NewsThailand NewsWorld Information