Thailand

  • A Trick of Light Paid Member

    I always thought I’d see a ghost at Wat Pa Sukato. Something about the crushing darkness of the red dirt paths of the forest monastery and the stars and moon wiped away by monsoon clouds made the vines and trees feel cavernous. The white beam of my headlamp would swing back and forth every night, searching for possible demons along the path back to my hut. More »
  • How a monk-turned-street artist sees New York City’s homeless Paid Member

    Walking home from the Academy of Arts University in San Francisco on a cold autumn night in 2013, Pairoj Pichetmetakul passed a scene he’ll never forget. On a nearly empty street in the SoMa district, Pairoj saw a young man beating a white-haired homeless man who appeared to be in his 70s. The attacker punched and kicked his victim, then sat on his chest and pummeled his face. Pairoj wanted to help but fear held him back. He was new in the country, his English was poor, and he couldn't call the police because his cell phone battery had died. So, he just walked home.  "I couldn't sleep," recalled the now-32-year-old artist, who goes by his first name. "I went back in the morning to find the old man but he wasn't there." More »
  • Buddhism’s Fundamentalist Streak Paid Member

    BANGKOK (RNS) To many Americans, Buddhism is about attaining enlightenment, maybe even nirvana, through such peaceful methods as meditation and yoga. But in some parts of Asia, a more assertive, strident, and militant Buddhism is emerging. In three countries where Buddhism is the majority faith, a form of religious nationalism has taken hold: More »
  • What's What in a Wat: Thai Buddhist Temples Paid Member

    I've never been to Thailand, but I've been to a few wats [Thai Buddhist temple]. Whether In Bodh Gaya, Lumbini, or LA—all places with Buddhist temples from all over the world—I've been especially taken by the elaborate, colorful structures that represent Thailand (actually the Thai temple in Lumbini is completely white in honor of the Buddha's birth, but it's equally impressive). However, the spiritual nourishment I've drawn from these places has nothing to do with my (in)ability to read them—I knew nothing about the function of a luk nimit (sacred stone ball), for example—but was simply a gift of their beauty. More »
  • Dinosaurs in Thailand Paid Member

    On Monday the Science section of the New York Times published "Old Bones Yield a New Age of Dinosaurs in Thailand," an article that reveals Thailand’s rich prehistoric past. According to the Times, Thailand was “teeming” with dinosaurs starting around 200 million years ago. Now, during periods of heavy rain, giant dinosaur bones wash ashore in the remote region of Baan Na Kum. For many years, residents were unsure of what to do with the ancient bones. So where did the prehistoric bones end up? Some were kept in local Buddhist temples: For years, farmers did not know what they were or what to do with them. The superstitious buried them. Others brought them to Buddhist temples, where monks collected them alongside artifacts and other curios. More »
  • Termite "Buddha" draws thousands Paid Member

    Thousands of Vietnamese have flocked to a rubber farm in the southern Binh Duong province of Vietnam to see the work of a group of very unusual sculptors---termites. The insects have created a nest that vaguely resembles the Buddha sitting in meditation posture. Via bigpondnews.com: 'Police and local authorities asked them to leave but others keep coming,' Vo Van Cuong, of the Rubber Company of Ben Cat, said. He said thousands of people from southern Binh Duong province and neighbouring areas had rushed to the forest site. The 40cm tall nest resembles Buddha sitting in meditation, Dantri International news website reported. More »