Thai Buddhism

Buddhism won’t be harmed by ex-drag queen

The Nation (Thailand): Critics say that, by ordaining as a monk, a celebrity transvestite is using the religion for selfish reasons, but, like everyone else, he has the right to seek solace in the temple

One key argument against the decision by a former Miss Tiffany to become a monk is that he may be doing so to escape personal problems or send someone a statement.

In other words, he may not be seeking the kind of spiritual peace that those seeking ordination are supposed to. Religion, critics of Sorrawee “Jazz” Nattee say, is neither a hiding place nor a means of revenge …

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Temples prepare to see in 2013 with chanting, meditation

The Nation, Thailand: Rather than just having fantastic fun at a party somewhere, beginning the New Year with a serene mind has become a trend. Some 30,000 temples are preparing chanting and meditating activities for tens of millions of people to celebrate 2014 in “Buddhist style”.

The chanting and meditation starts on New Year’s Eve and runs until New Year’s Day. Such a calm celebration has been conducted for many years, especially in Bangkok, where the first official chanting ceremony to welcome the new year took place about six years ago at Saket Temple with assistance from the Pom Prap Sattru Phai District Office, according to the National Buddhism Office.

The popularity of chanting and meditation to mark the start of a new year has spread widely in the past few years.

“My first time was four or five years ago at Suthat Thepwararam Temple in Bangkok. Since then, I’ve practised that every new year. This year I’m thinking of a temple in Bangkok or Chiang Mai. I haven’t chosen one yet,” said Ging, 44, an office lady.

“Sitting inside a temple, chanting and meditating, I feel tranquil,” she said. “Doing this has become a campaign so lots of people have celebrated New Year’s this way. Anyhow, it’s a good thing to do.”

Adjima Neenungnok, 33, a medical technologist in Nakhon Pathom, said she would ask her parents and sisters to chant at a nearby temple, as they believe that it would help bring good luck to the family. She plans to do this after holding a party with her family at home on the last day of this year.

Also, Adjima treated herself by visiting Chiang Khan, a timeless, charming community in the northeastern province of Loei, to chill out in the cool breezes with her friends during the weekend before having a good time and praying for the New Year with her family.

Considering the new custom to be a good value that was worth promoting, the Sangha Supreme Council in 2010 resolved that every temple host the activity across the country, the National Buddhism Office said.

This year, the government expects 30 million people to chant together countrywide. Each region will have a main temple providing the ceremony. Of course, Saket Temple and Buddhamonthon will be the main venues in the Central region. Saket can accommodate up to 60,000 participants.

Sanam Luang will be another major venue with not only chanting but also Dhamma talks and a musical featuring the life of the Lord Buddha. Up to 200,000 Buddhists were estimated to pack the park. Phra That Doi Suthep Temple is set as the major chanting area in the North, Phra That Phanom Temple in the Northeast and Phra Borommathat Chaiya Temple in the South.

After the chanting ceremony, Buddhists can make merit on the first dawn of the year by offering alms to monks at all temples across the country as well as at Sanam Luang.

The rites will be aired live by National Broadcasting Services of Thailand and Thai TV Global Network.

Thai temples in other countries will also celebrate the New Year with chanting and meditating, so those abroad can also join the Buddhist style countdown.

Until tomorrow, Phra Dhammakaya Temple in Pathum Thani is organising a thudong pilgrimage along with chanting.

The spiritual festivities are not limited to temples. More than 2,400 inmates at a prison in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen will also chant and meditate. It will be the launch of Dhamma practice at the prison, as a series of activities will be provided for them throughout the year to inculcate Dhamma in their minds and improve their conduct.

While it is easy to go to a nearby temple to try out the Buddhist style of counting down to the New Year, if it is not convenient to go out, people can still be part of the auspicious celebrations by sitting in front of a Buddha statue at home and chanting and meditating.

Original article no longer available…

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Candle-lit serenity in Thailand

Young monks rehearsed an evening candlelight ceremony at the Chedi Luang temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The country’s Buddhist temples are as much a part of the landscape as rice paddies and palm trees. But many temples in rural Thailand have fallen quiet.

Credit: Giulio Di Sturco for The International Herald Tribune

From a gorgeous slide show in the New York Times, accompanying an article on the decline of the Buddhist monastic tradition in Thailand,

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Thai Group says Steve Jobs reincarnated as warrior-philosopher

A rather quirky Buddhist organization has taken the distasteful, and I must assume dishonest, step of making claims about Steve Job’s rebirth. Many people only became aware that the Apple leader was a BUddhist when he died last year after a prolonged battle with cancer.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Dhammakaya Group in Thailand is now claiming that “Mr. Jobs has been reincarnated as a celestial warrior-philosopher .. and he’s living in a mystical glass palace hovering above his old office at Apple’s Cupertino, California headquarters.”

The WSJ pointed out that the widespread grief many felt after Jobs’ passing took an odd form, when some of hisadmirers in Malaysia “gathered on a tropical island and in a religious ceremony each took a bite from an apple before flinging the fruit into the sea in a bid to speed up his reincarnation.”

Now, over in Thailand, Phra Chaibul Dhammajayo, who is the abbot at the Dhammakaya Temple north of Bangkok, is claiming that Mr. Jobs has already been reborn.

“After Steve Jobs passed away, he was reincarnated as a divine being with a special knowledge and appreciation for science and the arts,” the Dhammakaya leader said in the first of a series of sermons beamed to hundreds of thousands of the group’s followers around the world.

The WSJ charitably notes that “Phra Chaibul’s claims are impossible to corroborate.” it seems reasonable to assume that they are, in fact, either fabrications or delusions.

It also notes that Chaibul has faced criticism for his claims, which have been accused of being part of a fundraising campaign. Sadly, that sounds about right. I have to say that Dhammakaya’s claims smack of an attempt to profit from the death of a prominent Buddhist.

It is salutary for us to remember that the Buddhist world is not as “pure” as we sometimes might like to think it is.

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Massachusetts Thai Buddhist temple topped off

Monks in saffron robes chanted a traditional blessing as the uppermost steel girder was hoisted 100 feet in the air and placed atop what will be the largest Thai Buddhist temple outside of Bangkok and the tallest structure in Raynham. [See previous stories for the background.]

“As a Buddhist, there is great merit in participating in building this beautiful temple, not just for the Thai people but for all mankind,” said architect Been Z. Wang of Architectural Resources Cambridge at the “topping off” ceremony Thursday morning for the NMR Meditation Center at 382 South Street East.

Dignitaries from Thailand, members of the local …

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Thailand’s young nuns challenge convention

Amy Sawitta Lefevre: Beam Atchimapon is already three days late for the new school term in her native city, the Thai capital of Bangkok – but for a good cause.

The nine-year-old is part of a small but growing group of Thai girls who choose to spend part of the school holiday as Buddhist nuns, down to having their heads shaven.

The temporary ordination of young men has long been part of Thai culture, with men spending a few days as monks and returning to their normal professions after time at a monastery.

But the ordination of “mae ji” or “nuns” is less common …

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Buddhist temple in Bedford, Mass., embraces its Thai traditions

Lisa Kosian, Boston Globe: Except for the statues of Buddha at the entrance, the Boston Buddha Vararam Wat in Bedford looks more like a New England home than a religious temple with its roots in Thailand.

The three arches in front are due for some adornment, said Rojana Laplume, a temple member; that is on the “to-do’’ list, along with finishing work on the monks’ living quarters upstairs.

To help with such work, as well as upkeep costs, the small community of Buddhists, predominantly from Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, is reaching out to a wider audience, with its first fund-raising dinner and concert …

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East meets West: Thai Buddhist temple in Raynham will be biggest outside of Bangkok

Rebecca Hyman: Several years ago, one of the highest-level Buddhist monks in Thailand and an advisor to the king was driving around Boston looking for inspiration for a massive meditation center to be built in Raynham when he laid eyes on the Genzyme building on the Charles River and said, “This is the image of my temple.”

“He wanted East to meet West,” said Architect Been Wang, who designed Genzyme and the meditation center that broke ground on South Street East last week and will be the largest Thai Buddhist temple outside of Bangkok.

The royal temple, Wat Nawamintararachutis, also known as the…

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Where to experience Buddhist hell in Thailand

Richard S. Ehrlich: Come to Thailand and go straight to hell.

Hieronymus Bosch’s medieval Garden of Earthly Delights and other paintings include sinners in a Christian hell, but if the Dutch artist is ever reincarnated as a Buddhist, he might be intrigued by Thailand’s temple murals and larger-than-life statues of horrific karmic punishments.

Want to copulate in an immoral tryst? Murder someone? Or violate some other important Buddhist precept?

You will soon find yourself in the midst of fiendish demons gleefully boiling wide-eyed sinners in hot, bubbling cauldrons. You’ll be screaming among men and women who have been stripped naked to maximize…

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