Buddha in Bangkok


The mailbox sums up life nicely–Bangkok or other places. That’s kind of the nature of perception. We are here and not somewhere else. Memories, traumas and desires might try to take us away from here and the present, yet all we really have is this moment to experience.


Buddha is big here in Bangkok. The largest gold covered statue of Buddha in paranirvana about to die, is joined by huge extremely obese Buddhas,

gold Buddhas, jade Buddhas, teeny Buddhas, Buddhas standing

and sitting, Buddhas covered in robes for the winter (vs. the spring and rainy seasonal robes).

Here a Buddha there a Buddha everywhere a Buddha.

These Buddhas are accompanied by things one should not do in front of the statues. The Heart Sutra which says ” no form, no sensation, no perception, no formation, no consciousness” might add, “no food, no shoes, no pointing of ones feet, no bare shoulders, no Buddha tattoos, no Buddha furniture,” and when you are finished puzzling over this last, your can move on the obscure admonition, “no dangling dolls.”

You may have noticed that in Thailand Buddha generally is covered in gold. Thai temples like bling a lot and the one non gold Buddha we saw was the emerald Buddha which was really ” only” jade.

With all of the can’t dos, bowing and prostrations going on, non-Buddhists and many Buddhists themselves may think that Buddha is god, the eastern equivalent to Jesus, Allah or any of the various Hindu deities. But he is not and Buddhism does not actually worship any gods and is classified by some religious scholars as not a religion. Bowing in front of a Buddha statue is an acknowledgement one’s own possible enlightenment or even better that one is already enlightened but our various habits and desires hides that from our own realization.

So here I am in Bangkok, walking around with my friend Dave Robb, temple visiting, Buddha bowing and sight seeing. Here is where we are until we are not which comes quicker than any of us expect since we are not often paying attention in the first place.


And don’t forget, we are all Buddha, gold or not.

4 Replies to “Buddha in Bangkok”

  1. Don’t know if comment went through. Said I like the (sideways) photos and thoughts. Looks interesting! But what were you looking at in the mushroom thought? Were you not being there? 😉


  2. Ho Ho, Alan — so you thought Buddhism was a non-deistic non-religion?! Sure looks different in SE Asia, doesn’t it? My impressions have always been that the ministrations and supplications to Buddha over there are quite indistinguishable from those to Jesus and the Virgin Mary over here, and the more desperate the living conditions (e.g., Myanmar/Burma over there, Mexico over here), the deeper the “prayers”. My theory is that the Western hippies in the ’60’s who went to Asia/India to try to find respite from the confines of their Judeo-Christian upbringings (e.g., Ram Dass, Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein) and seized upon the THEORY of Buddhism being non-deistic, and imported that to the West. But it’s quite different from what is found in the East. As you seem to be observing! Love your blog, and glad you included me on the list. Keep your eyes and mind/body open! Jay


  3. Jay, interesting enough the tour guide in Wat Pho gave me a description of Buddhism that was non-deistic. The same happened in China. I think where the perceptions of similarity come in on the earning if merit part. If you do enough prostrations, give enough flowers, scarves or whatever the local custom, then you earn something and a forgiveness of past lapses of behavior. Here in Bhutan, Buddhsm has tons of deities that are pretty local to the region and seem to be add-ons. The American contribution to Buddhism is that we can more individually focus on the path without paying attention to deities, past and future lives and reincarnation. Zen provides a clean slate from many of the accretions to Buddhism and American zen infuses this with the scientific and psychological bent of our times


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