This is Ajahn Nit doing Sak Yant. He is using a long, metal stick (traditionally they used bamboo sticks) with a sharp tip. It is definitely a painful process!
Sak means to tap or tattoo and Yant mean Yantra. Sak Yant is an art form where a highly skilled person (oftentimes a monk) creates sacred tattoos that have specific meaning from the Buddhist perspective. Different tattoos have different meanings, which if you are interested, a quick Google search will show you the different tattoos and their meanings. But regardless of the meaning of any particular tattoo, one who gets a tattoo agrees at the very least to uphold the five Buddhist precepts. This type of tattoo is not to be taken lightly. It comes with responsibility.
On this day, Ajahn worked probably about five hours straight stopping just one time for five minutes. His concentration and intensity was palpable in the room as he completed four beautiful and intricate tattoos on this day. Here is one of them:
Later this year, when Blue Lotus goes back to Thailand, we will try to see Ajahn Nit. He lives in the hills of Doi Saket about an hour east of Chiang Mai city.