Thailand is situated in region of the world often characterised for its instability, but in that land bordered by Burma, Laos, Cambodia (Kampuchea) and Malaysia, Buddhism is a main source of strength and unity.
Thailand is situated in region of the world often characterised for its instability, but in that land bordered by Burma, Laos, Cambodia (Kampuchea) and Malaysia, Buddhism is a main source of strength and unity. The religion is experiencing a revival with a wave of temple building and the growth of militant anti-Communism among some of its monks.
SYNOPSIS: Harvest time in the countryside near Bangkok, and these villagers have boosted their hoped for prosperity by saving the equivalent of seven thousand pounds (14,00 dollars) for a new chapel.
In Bangkok, as in the small villages, the spiritual centre is the wat, or temple, with its distinctive steeply-pitched tiled roof , usually of green and gold. They are we;ll supported by the community. To purchase food for the monks who live in the temples is an act that gains merit for the donor. At one time, every young man was expected to become a monk, if only for a few weeks. About 80 percent of Thailand's young men not do so, and the temple remains the hub of life
The young people among the worshippers are earnest in their belief that their prayers will help bring them success in their studies, in romance and in business.
The older generation generally follows orthodox traditions, despite the pressures on them arising from the rapid westernisation of Thai society. Many still practise the ancient and revered rituals of Buddhism. One of them is a symbolic act affirming freedom. They buy caged sparrows and release them on the sabbath. But in modern Thailand, Buddhism is sometimes adapted to a more militant role.
At this beach-side college a Buddhist sect pursues an energetic anti-Communist philosophy. Their forty-acre (sixteen hectare) college is said to be worth about five million pounds (10 million dollars). It is financed by a wealthy foundation, and the 400 monks and novices begin each day with a military-style ceremony.
The college possesses many abandoned United States military vehicles either given free or bought when the last U.S. forces left nearly three years ago. By using some of them to provide spare parts for the others, the college has accumulated a fleet of about 100 trucks. They are available to carry throughout Thailand the new, anti-Communist teachings of the crusading Buddhist monks.