Buddhism in Thailand
When Brook and I were still in school at Huntington University, we spent a good bit of time researching and learning about the world’s many differing religions. We made it a point to study about Buddhism in particular, as we knew we would be spending most of our Senior year living abroad and working here in Thailand. By no means would I ever claim to be an expert on the subject – I still have plenty of questions myself that I must ask and try to find answers for every day! – but I have a feeling we may know a good bit more about Buddhism than a lot of people back in the Midwestern States, where we come from.
The thing is, here in Thailand Buddhism is almost nothing like what we read about. It looks, feels, sounds, and is practiced in a way that seems to make it unlike all of the things we studied in school. Why? Because Buddhism in Thailand has, through the years, taken on a life and an identity completely its own. An identity that has been created by a fusion of Buddhist teachings, Hindu beliefs, and various folk-religious practices (animism, spirit worship, etc.) The wild thing about Thai Buddhism is that the original teachings of the Buddha don’t actually relate to the spiritual realm, yet Thai Buddhist worship is wrapped up in fear of the spirits which surround us and the appeasing of said spirits has become priority.
The organization that we are serving in Thailand through, OMF, has recently put out a short video which talks about the nature of “Folk Buddhism” in Thailand and the effect that it has had on generations of Thai Buddhists. I am going to post this video below, though I will warn you that it does contain some pretty intense scenes regarding ritual practices and spirit-possession. So, be sure to watch this without your young children around, and be prepared.
When the video is finished, if you feel so led, please do pray for the people of Thailand. There is much darkness surrounding us every day, and though we may not see it face to face all the time, the undercurrent of spiritual warfare is alive and thriving.
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