Tag Archives: religion

The First Week in and Beyond

Dawn at Rayong Refinery
Sunrise at an oil refinery in Rayong through a back seat of my parents' car

I spent most of my first week back in Thailand with my mom and stay in Rayong where she lived for three days. On the final day, we went to the local district health clinic to have her blood checked. While we were waiting in the queue, I sat down and let my thoughts sink in and contemplated what I had learned in the past seven days in my home country.

We got to four Thai temples for different purposes: to wait for mom while she was having physiotherapy, to see an astrologer, to get a Thai massage and, finally, to make a merit as advocated by the astrologer. That was a triple dose of my religious journey in the decade.

It reminded me of the conversation with tweeter friends of mine: Tony, Jenny, Rai and Frances at a Yum Cha lunch before I left Sydney. We talked about some aspects of reincarnation and I told them I didn’t know what to believe anymore even though I had been raised as a Buddhist, however, I believed that religions and psychotherapy were designed to make sense of our lives.

The question I asked myself about a week back in Thailand became a bigger quest of soul searching—what I had learned about life in the past nine years living in the isolated continent, focusing the last three years that I started to make changes in my life: fighting depression, visiting Thailand, studying a Master degree and so on. Moreover, how I would optimise those lessons in the next chapter in my life.

First of all, I used to point my finger at the dramatic childhood that shaped my today. The depression and anxiety in I suffered while residing in Australia was a product of myself created from the past echoing the present then. It was not easy to be able to see that. Time to let go of it or got stuck with your own misery.

Secondly, when I looked at my mom, I saw a lot of me in her and could not help thinking that if I was sometime that unbearably passive. In fact, I had a despicable feeling for her for not being able to be an assertive role model. But how could you expect someone to teach you something they did not know how to and blame him or her for not doing so. Besides, as I grew up as an adult, I could now be assertive without being an aggressive person. And that was a credit to her because I also got her kind heart (which I did not realise it until the moment I wrote this paragraph). And she should have been applauded more for that.

And lastly, my mom kept telling me to make more and more merits because you would never know those good karmas would return you some favours. For her case, she did not have to wait for the next life when someone, whom she helped a long time ago, offered my parents some relief of home and work when they were about to hit the ground. They have been struggling for years and I felt guilty that I could not be much help. I have been back in Thailand now, might be able to do more merits and could start with my family.

After she finished with her blood test, we had breakfast and they dropped me off at bus stop to Bangkok. When I arrived in the city of Bangkok, it felt I now could look into the future. You definitely could not change what had happened but you could understand the relationship of the environment you grew up with. I just wanted to make sense of it so that I could be able to move on.

The Lost Three Gems in the City of Gods

In the reference of Buddhism’s three jewels (Triratna-ไตรรัตน์) including Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, Thais are still deeply in following the way of Buddhism life. This is just my alternative views of the practice in Bangkok.

Lost Buddha

Lost Buddha

Found on a Bodhi tree on a street.

Lost Dharma

Lost Dharma

Chanting Tripikata for a blessing in Sanam Luang.

Lost Sangha

Lost Sangha

Waiting on a street market.

Residencies of Gods

Grand Parents, the Housekeepers

There are always rooms for gods no matter how crowded Bangkok is. Habitats of gods and spirits can be anywhere in any forms: elaborate shrines, old spirits houses, or even temporary set ups. They show how people spiritually relate to the lands and the offerings reflect the strong bonds between the both worlds, convenient ways to comfort their souls.

The Trinity at Central World Plaza
Still Dancers of Brahma
Spirit House Junction
Breakfast for the Souls
Fumy Spirit
Mother of Earth
The Shrine of Lion God
Plastic Devotion
Remain of the Belief
Broken Offers
Tree House Spirit
Sneaking through the Spirit

Talk to the Other Side

Thais are very connected to spiritual worlds. Gods and guardians are placed everywhere to make sure that there is something to hold on and look forward to. The divine powers may grant their wishes, give them strengths or, at least, ease their minds. The people are very good at making sense of this tangible world by referring to the beyond.

There are many ways to get in touch with those in the unknown territories. Burning joss sticks seems to be a symbol of making contacts and a tool for the communication. Spots where incense are burnt and stuck indicates the spiritual significances of the areas and the relationships of the people and their lands.

Green Door and the King
Green Door and the King
A lady praying in trance in Tiger Shrine, Bangkok
A staff in Tiger Shrine preparing joss ticks and candles to worship gods
Joss sticks in the a pot on the street of Bangkok
A street vendor selling decorated joss sticks in Loy Krathong Festival
A relatively new spot where joss sticks are placed under a footpath tree
A homage to Rue Sii Pho Kru (ฤๅษีพ่อครู, spiritual master) of Petch Jing Likay Troupe (ลิเก, Thai folk theatre) before each show every night
A cigarette as a substitute for a joss stick for a spirit house on a street
Burning joss sticks for the Ganesh, resides in front of Central World Plaza
A simple recycled joss stick pot made from a milk tin
Joss sticks placed and in front of a house in Bangkok