Dhamma Exam Day
After the Thai Sangha Council discussed the possibility of organizing the National Dhamma Competency Exams (Naktham) here in the UK last year, it has now been decided to be implemented. On Sunday 14th of June, the first Exam took place with 14 people sitting it, all of whom passed.
The National Dhamma Competency Exams are comprised of four subjects; Dhamma Essay, Dhamma for Lay Life, The Life of the Buddha and the Five Precepts and Five Dhammas. The details of the four subjects are as follows: The Dhamma Essay is about explaining a given Dhamma topic and then writing another topic which is related to the topic given. The length of the essay is roughly 200 words or three A4 pages. Dhamma for Lay Life is primarily about which Dhamma is used or practised in life according to daily situations. The life of the Buddha section also has questions on aspects of the lives of his great disciples too who lived the life by his teachings (Dhamma). It is good to know about the life of the Buddha as he lived an exemplary life in both simplicity and wisdom. The final section on the Five Precepts and Five Dhammas is about learning the rules, discipline and regulations within the Buddhist tradition so that one can apply them in one’s life.
Dhamma tests or exams are good as they help us keep a check on our understanding of the Dhamma and help us to make use of it in daily life. Dhamma is a way of life and is like other subjects which need to be studied and tested. For me, I like to study and practice, but I dislike exams. I remember when I was a young monk, I studied Dhamma and had to take the exam. I thought there was so much pressure in taking the exam, but later I changed my attitude. I didn’t take the exam for the certificate or competition, but for the right understanding or the revising of what I had studied instead. Therefore, I was ensured that I did not have the wrong understanding of what I had studied. After changing my attitude, I felt it was easier to study and practice Dhamma and indeed to take the test itself.