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Three Burmese Novice-Monks walk and hold the black alms bowls they use to collect food.<br />
It is a traditional cultural requirement for every Burmese male to serve as a novice-monk at some point between their 10th and 20th year. (20 is the minimum age for officially becoming a Monk.) <br />
There is a Burmese saying: "You must become a Monk before becoming a man."<br />
The daily routine of monastic life is very busy; the discipline is exacting and rigid, but never harsh.<br />
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In Myanmar, Novice-Monks only have to observe 10 precepts, while a fully-ordained monk must observe 227. <br />
Nonetheless, a Novice-Monk's life is not easy: he sleeps in a carved wooden-bed, washes with cold water, and wakes before sunrise, and listens to teaching for hours each day.<br />
Each morning, the 'sharing of merits' and the meditation of 'loving-kindness toward all beings' are systematically performed.<br />
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Novice-Monks learn that the 'merit-making' is based upon three concepts:<br />
(1) giving<br />
(2) virtue<br />
(3) mental development.<br />
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Monks believe that 'merit-making' will benefit themselves and their family -- either in this life or in a future one.<br />
Serving as a Novice-Monk is also a great opportunity for poor families to gain access to an education that is free of charge. <br />
Novice-Monks are allowed to play football, watch TV, and have fun. They are still allowed to remain children --and are lots of fun to watch!