Thailand is mainly of Buddhist religion. Of all the religions of the world I've encountered, this one is most unique in my opinion. The religion is not based on any Deity. There is no god in their religion. It's based on reaching a state of enlightenment.
They believe in doing no harm. Karma is rooted in their beliefs. Whatever you call Karma, I certainly believe in it as well. What harm we do to others will be returned to us.
As a facilitator to their journey on their path to enlightenment, many elaborate temples have been constructed over the years. The following photos are of some of the many I encountered in the northern city of Chiang Mai.
Temples have a variety of purposes. It is a place of learning and teaching, it is a place of meditation and chanting, and it is a place to bring offerings of incense and candles before the statue of Buddha. The statue is the focal point of the temple.
Monks take residence around the temple. I see them as the temple keepers. The monks can meditate at the temple or in their homes.
Monks have no other jobs than service to the temple and those in the community. They are suppose to be free from worldly desire, however, they are human and there are many incidents where they fail. Those stories of failure are often relayed by locals.
It always seems human failures make better stories to tell.
One of the things I don't understand regarding the temple is how elaborate many are. Much money is put into their construction, yet the people that serve them are so poor. But I suppose that is not unique to Buddhism.
New Temples are constantly under construct or renovation. The money comes from donations, not the government:
Inside a typical Temple. The Buddha statue is always the focus:
Buddha was the first to attain the 4 stages of enlightenment and reach Nirvana (freedom from worldly desires and suffering). Nirvana is what all who follow the religion seek.
Monks are often seen outside the temples in the community. I'll share another post of the morning ritual where the monks enter the streets early in the mornings to accept the offerings of the villagers (or city dwellers).
This big gong is often rung when the monks go into the community to collect alms from the people.
On one morning I arose and asked the hotel concierge if he could direct me to the nearest nudist colony. He obviously misunderstood me as he sent me here instead, to a Buddhist colony!
Just joking, of course.
It was kind of cool seeing all these young boys in the monk training program. Monks are treated with high esteem and it is a noble profession to enter for most of their faith.
Buddhist temples are ubiquitous throughout Thailand. But, Chiang Mai stood out among all the cities I entered in the country for temples and monks. It seemed to me to be the equivalent of the Catholic Vatican, although I know they don't see it that way.
I'll share another post in the future of the grandest of all temples located outside Chiang Mai. It has a personal story to it I will share.