Journey to Discover Thai Buddhism

KYLE - Posted on March 22, 2019 - 1,121 Views

“I’m not going to make it to the top without slipping and feeling breathless,” my chum, Ayumi said while we were hiking up to the temple, Wat Doi Suthep. It took almost 2 hours to get up there and having the mosquitoes buzzing around was not helping. In addition, there were another 309 steps leading up to the temple when we reached the temple grounds.

 

“You better try, take one breath at a time” I encouraged, “we have to make it up there in time for the sunset and evening prayers.” Although there was an option to take the red car (Songthaew) and a cable-car up to the top, I thought it would be more of an accomplishment if we hiked.

 

I have always been fascinated by Buddhist temples before coming to Thailand. The golden striking architecture, the peaceful environment, the monks in strange attires and their enormous Buddha statues truly amaze me. You might be thinking: “All Buddhist Temples looks the same, once you have seen one, you have seen them all!”. Sadly, I was wrong and ashamed of my ignorance.

 

Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city, but the pace here is more laid-back. That’s why Chiang Mai is the best place to explore Thai Buddhism. There are over 300 “Lanna” style temples, and each temple style is different from one another. They can be found scattered throughout the city and its surroundings. The one we are going to visit is one of the most revered temples in Chiang Mai.

 

At last, we reached the mountaintop, the breathlessness we felt has been over taken by our breath when we saw the views. We took pictures from the top with 360 degree views before going off to find where the evening prayer was being held. Then we heard the bells, the chanting’s sound strangely beautiful. Following the voices, we found where all the monks had gathered and quietly entered the room. The chanting was in Pali, a language widely spoken by the Buddha himself in the past.

Ayumi and I knelt down, making sure to tuck our feet under ourselves (pointing your feet in the direction of a Buddha is considered as disrespectful). I soaked up the peaceful ambience from the space and décor I’ve seen — the embellished Buddha statues of all sizes and colours surrounded by the offerings of flowers and fruits. I closed my eyes and put my hands together on my chest, letting the chanting washed over me.

 

In Buddhism, we are taught to find a way to overcome sufferings that are caused by our desires, ego and go beyond the material gains by cultivating wisdom and compassion. Everything is impermanent and we are all interconnected.

 

The next day, we waited by the roadside at the monastery nearby where a few Thais were already waiting to make offerings. Just then, you could see the monks walking barefoot in a row begging for alms. The sight was something to behold, so sacred and noble. Obviously, only the best food is given, as the monks are very well-respected in Buddhist culture and they require energy to study and practice so they are able to share the Dhamma (Buddhist Teachings) with the community.

It doesn’t matter how much and what you offer. It is vital to give from your heart with the right intention, wishing the monks can be liberated and hopefully guide us out of samsara (cycle of existences). It is also a way to support the monks by learning how to let go and dedicate this merits you have gained for others that are still going through suffering.

 

Immersing myself into the Thai culture, learning about their outlook on life, and seeing how their sense of community helped me to realize how to have a more peaceful mind and how to experience genuine happiness.

 

Thailand’s is well renowned for practicing meditation, visitors from all over the world often times come to Thailand to learn meditation or study Buddhism. There are even Thai temples that serve as a rehab centre for addicts. Theravada Buddhism is relatively stricter and generally considered closest to the form of early Buddhism. It is considered a way of life that every Thai men has to ordain as a monk once in their life, even for a short period of time.

While traveling, no matter how great it felt at first, every satisfaction and excitement ultimately won’t last for long, unless it had a more meaningful foundation to back it up. If not, everything I’ve once seen, will be gone one day, no matter how grand and beautiful but if we take time to cultivate our heart and mind, this contentment will transcend and last for eternity.

 

 

 

Kyle Neo

Blogger & Author of Monk Key & 108 Places to See Before Nirvana

A Buddhist guide from Bodhi Travel offers authentic insight to Thai Buddhism in Chiang Mai. Discover how you can travel with him and explore the Theravada Buddhism in Thailand.

 

Visit the link below for more information about our 5 DAYS CHIANG MAI BUDDHISM AND CULTURAL TOUR:

https://bodhi.travel/packages/thailand

 

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