In Buddha We Trust
Buddhism isn't just a dominant religion, but the outlook, the moral philosophy and the way of life in the Thai kingdom renowned as the Land of Smiles. Nearly 90% of Thais are Buddhists and Buddha temples with marble stones and golden statues are the common sights all over Thailand. Even when just passing by, Thais bow down to the temples with a great deal of respect. Almost each Thai household has a special place with a miniature of the Buddhist Spirit House (or the House of Spirits), which is where the family conducting their daily rituals and religious ceremonies. Masterfully handcrafted by professional career artists, such topnotch Thai Spirit Houses are often visibly staged in the key office and residential buildings and in notable business places.
Click on the above or below pictures to view the Wat Pho temple, MPEG movie (7 sec., 635 KB).
House of Spirits
Speaking of the Thai Spirit House, saan phra phum in Thai, it is important to mention that worship of spirits was widely practiced throughout Asia long before the Buddhism first entered into the Thai life some 2.500 years ago. Today, many of these animistic beliefs are interlaced with Buddhism and it is here that the Thai Spirit House makes its entrance.
Until today, it is a social requirement for every Thai youngster and sometimes even grown men to undergo a sanctified religious training. They shave their heads, dress in saffron, white or orange robes (as monks in the picture above), and guided by monastic principles and rules practice the ethical Buddha philosophy of enlightenment in the Buddhist monasteries for a couple of weeks or months.
Many travelers have been impressed by the relaxed and decorous environment in every Buddhist temple all over Thailand. The devotees are reclining with the happy, compassionate smiles. The priests are all dignity and kindness. No doubt, Buddhists believe a man by good works holds on his bunya (merits) to balance against his bapa (sins).
Several spiritual meditation centers in Bangkok offer classes in English for foreigners interested to find out more about Buddhism and Buddhist meditation. These include the following:
Buddhist RitualsIt is quite interesting to see a daily ritual consisting of monks that early mornings
walk around the streets with a begging bowl collecting foods from faithful citizens,
who candidly believe that by giving alms to monks, they are blessed by their Gods.
Sedate Atmosphere Early Morning at Wat Pho
Keep in mind, Thais regard the Lord Buddha side-by-side with
their beloved King with the passion and respect bordering on awe.
For additional information on the Thai monarchy check out
Ordinary People of The Smiling Kingdom
Most Thai folks ain't only friendly, polite and tolerant, they are also remarkably kind and patient. Their ability to live happily without resolving a contradictory ultimate question of existence stun westerners. Despite a striking gap between the rich and poor, somehow, it seems that everyone knows and accepts his part in the diverse and socially unequal Thai society, assorted of various socio-economic groups. Folks try to face up their daily life with a sense that all human activities should have an element of fun. Thai faith is to avoid worries towards the future, to feel that life is a pleasure and to endure day-to-day difficulties without getting too frazzled. Adhered to the famous Thai smiles, there is a special word sanook, used to express a sense of pleasure while souls having a fine time or enjoy being in a good mood. Another popular expression often heard by visitors is mai pen rai, which means never mind - it doesn't matter, the one that serves well to illustrate the apparent ambivalence of the Thai people nature. For infomation on the Thai society customs and cultural traditions, refer to the page entitled Thai Culture and Traditions.
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