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Buddhism shapes way of life in Thailand

Update: 08/07/2016
A trip to Bangkok and temples reveal the seamless integration of Buddhist ideology and everyday living.
 

Buddhism shapes way of life in Thailand

 
BANGKOK, THAILAND-From meditation to mindfulness, to yoga\r\nclasses and retreats, the Western world seem to be yearning for answers from\r\noutside our own cultural traditions.\r\n\r\n

In Thailand, one of the most Buddhist countries in the world,\r\nyou can explore the philosophy that has taken hold of the West.

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More than 93 per cent of Thailand is Buddhist. Bangkok boasts a\r\ndensity of temples and a skyline full of spindly glistening spires. Every Thai\r\ncommunity, no matter how small or how poor, pools its resources to build an\r\nornate temple to ensure everyone has a place to practice.

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At Wat Pho, Bangkok’s most visited temple, lies the impressive\r\nReclining Buddha. Stretched out across 46 metres and decked head to toe in\r\ngold, you might get the impression that Buddhists worship an all-powerful\r\ndeity. Theravada Buddhism, the sect most practiced in Thailand, is not a\r\ndeity-worshipping religion. The resplendent images of Buddha seen all around\r\nhere are symbolic, not literal. Buddha was a man, not a god.

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Across Southeast Asia (in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia)\r\nthere is a similar refrain: Buddhism is about practising a philosophy of life,\r\nnot believing in a supernatural entity.

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Its three directives seem quite simple, really: lead a moral\r\nlife, be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and develop wisdom and\r\nunderstanding.

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In northern Thailand at Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, a 720-year-old\r\ntemple on a mountain, the seamless integration of Buddhist ideology and daily\r\nlife becomes even clearer.

Perhaps intentionally, the 309 steep steps to reach the temple\r\nentrance force visitors to slow down and become more aware of their\r\nsurroundings.

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There are, of course, crowds of tourists. But there are just as\r\nmany Thais, going about daily rituals, quite indifferent to the\r\npicture-snapping hoards.

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At the centre of the complex we witness monks chanting in an\r\noffering ceremony. A glut of tourists peers into the small hall with cameras at\r\nthe ready. Our guide says Buddhism does not shut people out and everyone is\r\nwelcome here.

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There are between 200,000 and 300,000 actively practising monks\r\nin Thailand at any given time, and many more who have practised at some point\r\nin their lives. Many women prefer to marry men who have been monks since it’s a\r\ntough ordeal that should instil good morals.

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You don’t need expensive yoga pants and cold-pressed juices to\r\npursue nirvana here. Buddhism in Thailand is about how you live your whole\r\nlife, not just parts of it. It exists in every moment, from deep meditation to\r\nscrubbing the floors.

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Nicola Brown’s trip was supported by\r\nIntrepid Travel and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, neither of which\r\nreviewed or approved this story.

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Source from: https://www.thestar.com/life/travel/2016/06/05/buddhism-shapes-way-of-life-in-thailand.html

BBT Website

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