There are a few points I want to reinforce about the Thai language.
My favorite theory deals with frequency. Said theory applies to all communication, if you ask me. Let’s see if you agree.
I once heard, from several credible sources, that a very small percentage of conversing is actually the words exchanged. That can be a puzzling concept to grasp, but does go to the heart of mysticism in general, as far as I’m concerned. My thought is that the non verbal communication fluxes at various frequencies. The closer the bandwidth of those frequencies, the more there can be sense of serendipitous simpatico experienced; and don’t try to tell me you’ve never noticed that!
Anyhow, there’s probably a library of books about all that.
I wish to reinforce an aspect of Thai pronunciation, that I also mentioned in the last post. My only understanding of Thai phonetics is based on the transliteration of their alphabet into the Roman alphabet. One of the biggest areas I run into trouble with is when letters or combinations of letters are assigned different sounds. The R is, perhaps, the easiest example. Some of the most challenging sounds for me, and concurrently for the Thai, are when two letters are put together to make a special sound. In English we have TH, SH, CH and such. The Thai put those in words, but they don’t sound the same. Also, they have stuff like GN and BP; and others.
So …. The word of the day is bpoo. It almost sounds like boo and very little like poo. I think it basically it means grandfather.
555555 That’s funny! I went to research more about Bpoo Cow; both Google and Bing directed me to Gems via Thailand.
I just leaned the name Bpoo Cow, this January, when I went on a photo outing or more precisely when I looked at the pictures with my wife. (They are all here.) I first ran into him in April of 2008. I didn’t know then how important his image and his name would become. Among other things, as you can see, he was chosen to be the visual representation of Sammi Law. He beat out the following column of contenders.
Bpoo Cow means White Grandfather. He is highly venerated; a monk from somewhere in history. I hope to learn more about him. Perhaps, when either or both of my wife’s daughters have children and those kids learn to talk. By then I should know more Thai.
But, backing up a little …
Somewhere near the end of last year, Ponra went off and visited an old friend. I had met her once at a house blessing ceremony. She is the ex-wife of our next door neighbor. It was their daughter’s house.
Well, it turns out she is called Bpoo.
During that visit, in December, some very interesting revelations surfaced. It appears Bpoo is a medium or psychic or helper. Ponra found out quite a bit about our past lives; mostly, one in particular that we shared in Krung Thep. There was, also, the re-addressing of a woman’s health issue that had been the subject of a previous session with a psychic monk, many months ago. Bpoo said, “Like tree when branches cut. Grow back.” There was some concern about baggage I was carrying, too. The upshot being Bpoo wanted both of us to have a special appointment and purge. As I recall, it was assigned a 1000B fee, as well as requiring a certain number of certain flowers.
It is tough to explain just how broke we have been. Easier to talk about it now: first, because a whole bunch of stuff floated up into the light of day; and second, because my first Social Security check is scheduled to be auto-deposited tomorrow.
I had been quite blessed, around Christmas, by enough support from a few friends and my children. Without that, YOU would not be reading this because Gems via Thailand needs a bit of baht to carry on. It almost starved to death. Additionally, I was in a heck of a pickle about visa renewal.
Basically, I ran out of money, with the exception of some visa run funds, about a year ago. I thought we were doing ok by chopping and selling bamboo, but it turned out that my wife had been secretly borrowing money for months to pay for her daughter’s schooling and so I could eat. She and Ooee/2nd daughter, who lives with us, have been eating with the neighbors.
Blah, blah, blah ……
I guess, the point is, I was surprised when Ponra said she had the money and was successful at collecting all the flowers. We went to see Bpoo on March 6th. Not long after, I was modestly agitated to find out she had spent the money set aside to buy more bamboo. On the plus side: I had long ago developed a strong faith that I wouldn’t starve to death; and I had prepaid my internet when I got my Christmas presents.
March 6th was another interesting day in the 22600+ day series. The forth of March marks my birthday. A residual from that celebration was … not sure … it could easily be called food poisoning, but I don’t think it was. I was functioning below par, which ironically can often be a very open and receptive place emotionally. None-the-less, I was reluctant to leave the house or the proximity of our outhouse. I was assured Bpoo had adequate facilities. She lives in a very nearby village – next one over, north.
We arrived mid-morning. She had a pleasant Western type bathroom on the same floor as her meeting room; and what a room it was/IS!
My first impression of the set up was that it should be in a movie or one of those TV shows were all this weird stuff happens and the trail leads to …… It filled the width of the room (about three meters.) and it encroached into the room several meters, as well as bumped against the ceiling. There was a symmetry of sorts; although a few bands of flashing colored lights threw everything out of whack – for me. It appeared to once have had a balanced conceptual theme. I surmised that it started out many decades ago. There was a nice variety of Buddha statues, a couple of really cool brass Gardua pieces, and several forms with which I was unfamiliar. In a mirroring sort of way there were gold, I call them, umbrellas and trees on the left; with matching sets in silver on the right.
It was obvious that icons and tidbits were added randomly over a long period. I would have liked to take a few dozen pictures, but I was sick, didn’t have a clue what I was getting into when we left our house and didn’t bring my camera. That was probably just as well, because I was reprimanded a couple of times for infringing on the sanctity of the surroundings, as it was. (I approached the altar once to get a better look and foolishly put the wrong pillow under my butt.)
There was a beautiful plush carpet stretched out in front of this mountain of divine symbols. I found it curious that the two primary mediation pillows were set perpendicularly. Maybe the smaller carpet those cushions were on was swung around for our host and hostess’s private meditations.
I have a developing fondness for Garuda, not that I know much about it. Those two pieces could have been sculpted by Frederic Remington. They were exquisite. Maybe I will be able to get a shot of them in the future. That would best be done by moving them and at this time I’m inclined not to ask.
There is one tradition about altars and what sits on them that I did learn very early on. Only men are allowed to clean them. It is deemed inappropriate for women to handle the statues. I have yet to find out how that edict plays out when the person in question is androgynous.
I think Bpoo, in addition to literally meaning grandfather, is also the term used for some of Thailand’s spiritually hermaphroditic or asexual spiritualists.
Our Session: Naturally, the first thing was to establish where the toilet was. Once that was shared, I was given a pillow for my head. It was suggested I lie down and relax. It was one of those times that being comfortable with not understanding a word being talked about was well appreciated. My wife and Bpoo went on and on and on …. I did glance over occasionally. All their conversing was accompanied by a very intricate and detailed arranging of teeny blossoms, small flowers and parts of clusters – very precise willful choices. I would or could call all that neurotic, but that is a term I prefer to reserve exclusively for describing my own actions. I had a distinct sense that Bpoo had a very strong commitment to getting everything just so. The importance of the ritual throbbed palpably. It was unmistakable that all her actions were manifested out of or anchored in a definitive belief structure. That made it intrinsically holly in my mind’s eye. I spent my time in reverent appreciation with and occasional inward reiteration that I was grateful for the opportunity to refresh my practice of patience. In truth … for myself … in Truth I consider Patience hallowed.
Jeeze! or Gee wiz! It was almost four in the afternoon before Bpoo stepped outside and fired up a fistful of incense.
Her husband had been in and out of the room a few times. He was summoned back and advised to change into his whites. He had a few tasks. Some I remain oblivious to. It was, however, clear that he was in charge of the string. String is powerful. Not only is it used in many services to connect and bind congregations together, but it is also used to enclose and protect. I have seen it strung around a bunch of buildings where it purportedly insulated the dwellings from unfriendly ghosts.
Other times, and this is simply postulating and conjecture, I have seen it woven around gatherings at the Wat, as if it is being strung around so that the people can comfortably open themselves up to a forthcoming inundation of blessing the monks are about to broadcast. I think the string is there to keep unwelcome or unhealthy influences out and all the monk’s frequencies in. I’m pretty sure that was the purpose the string that day.
Yes, I frequently think in terms of frequency. Check it out; everything vibrates at some frequency.
It was suggested I visit the facilities before hand, as in, it was going to be a long trip. I was admonished not to go outside that string circle once things got under way.
All flora was respectfully situated, the string nestled us, the four of us all faced the altar and chanting ensued.
Oh yeah! Early on, I had been forewarned by Bpoo that she would, or could occasionally, radically change the volume and tenor of her voice. “Would that bother me? Groo-ah mai Scared?” I said no, but inwardly gave myself permission to be startled. It wasn’t much different than someone babbling in tongues. Or is that testifying? Mai cow jai krb
It was a long session.
This part surprised me the most.
When all was said and done and the string was all rolled up, Ponra informed me that Bpoo was going to give us a shower – serially. A Thai “shower” is dipping a bowl in a room temperature reservoir and pouring it over, over and over.
Ooops! Forgot and important aspect.
Just before Bpoo entered her trance, she lit three white candles. They were placed horizontally over a bowl of water. A bowl like monks carry when collecting Tahm-boon. The candles were supported by sticks of incense. Their drippings went into the water. I’m pretty sure that was a way of collecting the ether or chi or, as Wilhelm Reich liked to call it orgone. (I have long been buoyed by Wilhelm’s theories.)
Anyway, that was special water – very special and powerful.
A dash or two was added to the big tank before we were showered and I was instructed to drink some to resolve my stomach issues. I was wrapped in a swath of cloth when I was bathed in a distinctly proprietary manner; could say baptized – just did, didn’t I? There was an accompanying incantation. As we were drying and dressing, I was informed that we had to come back and repeat that last step every day for the next week. I was happy that the next night, the incantation was written out, the power of performing the ritual was passed on to Ponra and we got a couple of bottles to go. She did well at reproducing the ritual, except, I didn’t remember Bpoo ending with a big splashing dump over my head. I think Ponra improvised that.
We were told a whole bunch of good stuff about being happy and prosperous soon and well into the future. There was an apparent theme of things getting better and better. I’m all for that. I’ve felt that way for a few decades, so I was happy the trend is foreseen as continuing uninterrupted. Ponra is more of a worrier, so I was happy to have her hear that prognostication – AGAIN. I’ve lost track of how many psychics have told her that.
It did boost her spirits. So much so that she started slowly leaking clues as to how much debt she had acquired and that she had spent all her business’s capital reserves and couldn’t buy any more bamboo to chop to make any more money.
Admittedly, that dynamic eroded some of the happiness within our home for a few days.
There’s always something, isn’t there?
And ya know, that’s ok with me. Can’t grow in vacuous doldrums. I kinda believe that continued growth is the best antidote to atrophy and perhaps even entropy. Ultimately, if we live long enough, life will wind down of its own accord. I like to think all that will be buffered and hopefully smoothed out and softened, as long as I keep an open mind so new stuff can be absorbed, reviewed, rejected or asimilated.
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