Daily Archives: March 13, 2006

Health of Buddhism in Thailand

Hi. Sorry I have not written for so long. I have recently come back from working in Australia and am so happy to be back home in Thailand. The contrast between the two countries always makes me appreciate it here so much.

The Thai people are in general so nice and Thai culture is beautiful and even the current political trouble just leads me to appreciate that democracy here is live and well (compared to Australia where politicians can be as corrupt and immoral as they want and no one will raise an eyebrow).

However not everything here is perfect. One thing that concerns me is the state of Buddhism here. I am a Buddhist and I think it is a wonderful philosophy that can help people rid themselves of suffering and generate greater compassion to all living things. In short I believe it has the potential to greatly improve someone’s life and indeed the whole world.

But in Thailand it seems that for many people Buddhism is about merit making. About giving money to monks and about trying to improve your own social status. Sorry but to me this is not Buddhism.

Buddha clearly taught about not wanting such things as money or social status. It is of no value to pray to a statue of Buddha and ask for such things. The statue is just a statue. It has no power. All power to change your life is within your mind. By being greedy and wanting more, you are grasping. Buddhism teaches to stop grasping. Be happy with what you have and try to help others.

Meditation is a cornerstone of Buddhism. It is through meditation that someone can improve their mind. Yet giving money and rituals (that I believe have little or nothing to do with the teachings of Buddha) seem to be what many Thais understand as Buddhism.

Some of these rituals are harmless and may provide some good feelings to people. I am not suggesting that they need to totally disappear. But it seems they do need to be put back in their place and the Sangha here should do more to teach about the Buddha’s teachings and remove themselves more and more from the requirement for money and the performance of too many of these rituals.

What do people think of that? Expecially Thai people?

I hope people don’t think I am being rude or telling Thai people what to think, but it does seem to me that many people that think they are very good Buddhists have in fact totally missed the point. In fact if they could grasp the main teachings they would have a happier life.


I am sitting inside “Tawan Daeng” a Bar/Restaurant where soon Pongsit Kumphee will be playing live.
I like this place a lot, its walls are all painted in red, its lights are red and there are huge paintings of Che Guevara, Karl Marx and many other communists leaders. I feel home, is good to know that some corner of the world are still… red!

At ten o’clock sharp the notes of “Kid Tueng” start to fill the air, Pongsit really seems to be in good shape and so his group. Few acoustic tunes and then the sound of the electric guitars are literally calling the fans to dance close to the stage.
Not much talking, some jokes, sometimes Poo takes the time to sign some autographs (he did even sign my “Takshin get out” cap), to shake some hands and after that he would leave his music do the talking again.

He sings some of his classics, I really like “Sood jai” and “Yoo khon deaw”, wonderful music which reaches the climax with a thundering version of “Yod Chai”, rock music at his best.
Sadly after two hours of great songs an acoustic, nearly a-cappella rendition of “Tah laud way lah”, sung by the whole public marks the end of the show.
I wish for more, many of my favorites such as “Tueng Puen”, “Wung”, “Kuern Pliew” or “Luh Issarn” were missing from the set but I really did enjoy every minute of this show.

A concert played by a man who surely loves his music, a man who surely loves his fans, not an overpaid superstar but a regular and honest guy who clearly enjoyed to be among us.
No merchandising, nothing else than music and real, good “Sanook”, the joy to be together and to share the same passion and a wonderful night.
I was the only “falang” in the attendance but I really felt part of it, no differences, all people where there for this man and his music, no divisions of passport or color.

During the show I often did look around me and I could only see happy people around me, people peacefully enjoying themselves and this made me feel happy inside, I like so much the sight of happy people around me, and this was one of those magic moments where you can forget for an hour or two all struggles and enjoy yourself with your fellow human beings.

Thanks Pongsit and thanks “Tawan Daeng” for making it possible.
Please come back to Surin, soon.

BAN NAUDOM, March 12th 2549

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