◦ A body of knowledge for rationalizing and sanctioning certain types of behavior and for disapproving of others ◦ Serves to induce predispositions and attitudes in the religious context which influence activities in non-religious context Rituals and ceremonies usually incorporate abstract ideas, values and beliefs which mirror religiously defined world view Religious values and beliefs are often incorporated into concrete everyday behavior and situations and inspire the motivation of individual Provides a brief account of the world view of Theravada Buddhism which has been predominant throughout Thai history Examines the relationship between Buddhism and Thai world view as expressed in various aspects of social life 4 Noble Truths: ◦ Suffering ◦ Cause of suffering ◦ Extinction of suffering ◦ Path to extinct suffering Suffering covers both mental and physical unpleasant conditions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Corporeality (Rūpa) = Body Sensation (Vedanā) = Feeling Perception (Sanna) = Recognition Mental formation (Saṃkhāra) = Thinking* Consciousness (Vinnāna) = Nerves *Some text explains this as volition. Impermanence Changeability Not-Self *The first two are also found in Hinduism but the third is exclusively of Buddhism. Avoids 2 extreme practices: ◦ Indulgence in sensual pleasures ◦ Self-torture as severe asceticism (Common practice among Indian hermits) Nirvana (Nibbanā) through the Noble Eightfold Path: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Right Right Right Right Right Right Right Right Understanding Thought Speech Action Livelihood Effort Mindfulness Concentration Wisdom Morality Concentration “One can attain enlightenment only through one’s own effort” This belief has been thought to have significant influence on Thai world view and behavior i.e. individualistic nature of Thai character Lack of rigid structure in Thai society In Buddhism, action (karma) can be categorized as: ◦ Physical ◦ Verbal ◦ Mental Action without volition is considered as void thus no result. Nibbanic Buddhism ◦ Deals with individual salvation Karmic Buddhism ◦ Deals with worldly matters i.e. happinesssuffering, good-evil, merit-demerit, etc. ◦ (In Palī, the word “world-loka” means dual) ◦ To discipline one’s behavior, perform good acts, accumulate merit, etc. *Karmic Buddhism must be adequately (and properly) done before one can proceed to Nibbanic Buddhism. Boys can be “temple boys” to serve monks, learn Dhamma, or get ordained (novice) and continue studies Girls help in household matters or support family by working Men are likely to be practitioners Women are likely to be supporters What is world view? ◦ The sum of ideas and conceptualizations which individuals in a cultural system have towards their environment and universe. ◦ It’s manifested in various forms of behaviors and attitudes and can be seen as collective characteristics of the people enculturated in the same cultural setting. Individual are seen as either higher or lower, younger or older, weaker or stronger, inferior or superior, richer or poorer, and rarely equal. The kinship term “phi” (elder brother/sister) is often added in front of a person’s name to indicate that s/he is older than the speaker. In a more formal situation, the word “khun” (polite title to call people regardless of age and gender) is always used esp. in the city. Age and seniority are sensitive issues for Thai so that they can use not only proper terms in conversation, but also appropriate behavior. “Thi sung thi tam” (high place, low place) is an important concept. Those who do not recognize and conform to this norm are frowned upon and disliked in society. Social status, either high or low, is considered as a result of bun-bap (meritdemerit) karma (deeds) in one’s past lives. 11 Kama Bhava - Beings consist of form and sensual desires. ◦ 4 Kinds of low beings: animal, ghost, demon, hell ◦ Human being*(the most suitable for enlightenment) ◦ 6 Kinds of deities and gods 16 Rupa Brahma – Higher Beings consist of form only, no sensual enjoyment 4 Arupa Brahma – Higher Beings do not have perceptible bodily forms and sensual enjoyment. Most Buddhists (monk and lay) prefer rebirths within the world of sensual happiness to complete salvation from suffering. In short, nirvana (the ultimate goal) is less desirable than worldly happiness in Thai popular Buddhism. King Lithai in Sukhothai period depicted the Buddhist cosmology of three worlds in this text. Monks Kirsch(1975)’s ◦ Moral Hierarchy King&Noble Politicians Gov. official The Wealthy The Poor Unequal in terms of quality and quantity of individual’s accumulated karma in past lives (Theravada) Equal in terms of everybody has Buddha Bhava or nature of enlightenment (Mahayana) In Buddhism, what one is does not matter as much as what one does In Hinduism, what one does does not matter as much as what one is (due to caste system). ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Brahman Noble Vaisaya Sutra Jandan (untouchable) There are some Hindus who converted to Buddhism b/c of caste system i.e. Dr.Ambedkar Confusion of term usage ◦ Karma = deed, either good or bad ◦ Būn = merit ◦ Bāp = demerit, but Thais often use karma for this meaning A Thai proverb: Bun tham karma tang means Būn does and bāp directs Thai names, esp. traditional names are likely to have būn somewhere in the first name or even family name Thai songs, both classical and contemporary, use of the words karma, būn, and bāp and many other related terms. ◦ Suk kan ther rao = Let’s be happy (MV) The world is like a play, we just have to follow each scene as we are destined. Don’t worry, keep smiling and we all will be fine. Let’s be happy, why getting sad for nothing. Don’t worry, it’s just waste our energy. We were born as humans so we have to be patient. Don’t be sad, we just have to bare with it. The world is like a play, don’t worry. Happiness and suffering come together. Let bun and karma(bap) play as they wish. Don’t be sorrow but keep smiling for it. Let’s enjoy ourselves and be happy together. Forget the suffering and refresh your mind and feeling. Being happy is good, don’t be hesitant. Don’t be frowned but smile. Lives must go on and we have a long way to go, renew our lives by smiling. Either success or failure, is a result of būn and bāp from past lives Love and marriage are caused by ◦ 1) both partners had been together before in their previous lives ◦ 2) assistance and favor done to each other in the present life Religious activities i.e. giving food and offerings to monks and nuns, chanting, supporting temple, observing precepts, listening to sermons, practicing meditation, etc. Social activities i.e. digging communal wells, building roads, taking care of aged parents, helping the poor, etc. Can bring better life in the future according to law of karma Law of karma in Buddhist belief may be compared to the law of motion in Western science. Reynolds (1976), Karma gives order and regularity to the moral and social universe much as the Newtonian laws of Western science give order and regularity to the physical universe 1. Karma – Law of action/reaction 2. Mind – Mind manipulates body 3. Climate – Beings can survive in a certain temperature 4. Intake i.e. food, contact, etc. Thais don’t explain everything with law of karma. A Thai saying for car users: “Accident isn’t bad luck(bāp), but caused by reckless action” Help or favor done by someone which entails gratitude and obligation on the part of the beneficiary. The recipient would feel mentally indebted, be grateful to the giver, and supposed to seek an occasion to repay the favor whenever s/he can. What parents do for their children is bun khun so children should repay them whenever they can. Taking care of aged parents is social obligation rather than option because of this concept. Abandoning parents is considered ungratefulness. The Buddha said “Mother has more būn khūn than father” 1) Those who have rendered a favor (pubbakārī) 2) Those who show gratitude and repay the favor done to them (katannū katavedī) This falls under “give and take” circle. Buddhism regards such persons as examplary individuals whose actions bring harmony and happiness to society. Cool heartedness is a typically Thai value, not that every Thai is a coolhearted person, but its quality is highly valued in Thai culture esp. in the crisis situation. King Rama VI composed a poem “…those who should be praised even more are those who still smile when facing dangers” 1) Psychological quality of not being anxious when confronting problems 2) Not getting angry easily when one should be or expected to be 3) Ability to suppress one’s emotion and not becoming easily nervous or emotionally disturbed 4) Indifference In short, it is the characteristic of a stable personality Chai-yen-yen = to be cool-hearted Mai-bpen-rai = does not matter ◦ Phillip(1965) regarded this as “social cosmetic” Choei-choei = indifferent, stable Thai social life places strong value on overt calmness in social interaction. To express open anger, dislike and annoyance is considered improper. 1. 2. 3. 4. Mettā = Loving kindness Karuṇā = Compassion Muditā = Enjoy others’ success Ubekkhā = Equanimity ◦ (Be indifferent after have done everything one supposed to do) Equanimity = Indifference ◦ Allow wrong-doers not being punished Law of Karma “The mistreat we received is a bad karma of our past lives. Once we have paid-off, we should stop this circle of karma” Most Thai Buddhists forget that “Everything has a beginning” Therefore Thai Buddhists have perpetuated violence and social injustice somehow more or less. Buddhism emphasizes the individual’s effort as the only means for any achievement. “An individual’s self is his refuge” “One’s self is the most beloved” “Winning one’s self is the true victory” “It’s the maker who reaps his būn, not somebody else” “To do as one wishes is to be a genuine Thai” Comparatively to the West, Thais have not been very good at teamwork in any level. *****Social harmony yet individual success*** Unlike Hinduism, Buddhism allows individuals who occupy any social positions to be free to move in any direction much as soccer players. Cool-heartedness is characterized by stability of personality, control of feeling and emotion, and the ability to handle situations with care and prudence. Buddhist emphasis on individualism seems to play an important part in shaping up the individualistic tendency in Thai attitude and behavior.