Friday, April 8, 2011

Centuries old tradition continues daily

"Thirst for existence, O monks, has a specific condition, it is nourished by something, it also does not go without support. "- Buddha

Support. Nourishment. The Buddhist faith remains strong in Thailand because the people choose to support it. The way they do that is through the centuries old tradition of giving alms - i.e., providing nourishment - to the monks of their local temples.

Every morning, just after sunrise, the monks march out of the temple down the main local road and collect whatever food the people are willing to give. In return, they bestow blessings upon the people.

It is a very simple act - and yet, at the same time, it is a very powerful real-life manifestation of the spirituality of Buddhism.

Without this kind of real-life support, this show of belief, one wonders what would become of the faith - or for that matter, what might become of the people.

Thailand is the one southeast Asian country that has never been conquered or subjugated by a European power. At the same time, the country never really had to defend itself against the European powers during their colonial heydays.

It kind of makes one wonder, maybe there is something incredibly powerful about that simple act of faith, that belief in Buddhism, something unlike any other spiritual following in any other country, something that gives it strength unlike any other country.

Maybe that's why everyone smiles so easily in Thailand.

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