I want to write about …. Well, I have this working title of “Thai Mysticism”, but I have such a minimal understanding of that tradition or those traditions. At what I perceive as the core, it seems to be anchored in Buddhism; although I have observed several residual Hindu undercurrents still swirling around.
Let’s all be aware that I am no scholar. At best, I am modestly observant. There was a time I considered myself to be a good listener, but since I have moved here, I comprehend very very little of what I hear. Over time, I have become fairly adept at not listening and have become much more comfortable with having no understanding. So, naturally when something starts to make sense it catches my attention.
It seems to me that the Thai language is simplistic in its vocabulary – I think there are mostly nouns and verbs; not so many adverbs or adjectives. I’m still learning; and extremely slowly at that!
My basic premise is that communication around here is strongly intuitively based or straight out psychic. It appears as though tonal variations convey most of the content. As I recall, music is a right brain or creative sphere activity. It sounds like singing to me and many conversations sound like rounds, because everybody talks at the same time, there’s a lot of repeating and much joviality.
Here … I just ran into this the other day.
The Thai are so polite they have transliterated the sounds of their alphabet into this twenty six symbol, or Roman, alphabet.
Yup! That’s one word and that’s how the Thai write and speak. What’s missing is the roller coaster ride of tonal inflections and many of the “Roman” letters are pronounce much differently than how other folks, who grew up with them, would say them. See those R’s? I don’t know why they put them tee-ni. (They’re practically unpronounceable!)
I encountered some banter about it not being a word, but I think it is because, in the West, words have little spaces before and after them. When a Thai person speaks, for the most part, they breathe like a singer. I had my wife say it. I couldn’t tell when she inhaled. In addition, to call the sounds words is kinda Western, actually. Yes, they are sounds; sounds that can be represented by symbols, but … ,but … I don’t seem to be able to grasp the point I want to make, perhaps you can sense it?
Here is one translation. It is a string of concepts all chopped up so Farangs can look at it comfortably.
I think this qualifies as esoteric:
- krungthep mahanakhon
The land of angels, the great city of
- amorn rattanakosin
immortality, various of divine gems,
- mahintara yudthaya mahadilok pohp
the great angelic land unconquerable,
- noparat rajathanee bureerom
land of nine noble gems, the royal city, the pleasant capital,
- udomrajniwes mahasatarn
place of the grand royal palace,
- amorn pimarn avaltarnsatit
forever land of angels and reincarnated spirits,
- sakatattiya visanukram prasit
predestined and created by the highest divas.
Huh! This side trip almost seems off topic; well, I just had a feeling you were thinking that.
There was one rebuttal or challenge to that being the longest name I thought was cute. The argument was that any town (clown) could just string a bunch of words together and remove the spaces. No! That would simply create a copy cat category. The Thai language, which is a derivative of Sanskrit, has been structured with no spaces and no punctuation for centuries – thousand of years.
Uh oh! I found another page….
There is a good chance I could, as well as you could, find many many translations or interpretations. I like the combination of the one above and this one – “The city of angels, great city, residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.”
- I found out that on September 4, 1781, a group of forty-four settlers known as “Los Pobladores” founded the pueblo called “La Reyna de los Angeles” (In Southern California.) Krung Thet was established in 1782. Hard to believe they could have been in contact with each other. I dare say that such a concept, as a city of angels, was approached via very different venues; perhaps somehow metaphysically connected?
- I found out the Thai don’t refer to their capital as Bangkok. It is known as Krung Thep; although the name Bangkok is older. The Th is not said like this – more like Te-hep, a strong T getting pushed through an H. Like Thai is not thigh.
- I found out Indra is of Hindu origin and was/is considered to be the King of the Gods, also the God of storms, rain and designated as the protector/defender of Buddha. That caused me to wonder if it was Siddhartha’s mother who handed out that assignment and who told the Thai.
- I found out Vishnukarn or Vishvakarman is also of Hindu origin and is considered to be the “Principle Universal Architect” or “Lord of Creation” – a Deva.
- I found out Deva would the masculine and Devi, the feminine; both basic terms for any benevolent supernatural being – aka deity. They are sometimes know as Suras and are often warring with their negative counter parts Asuras. (There sure is a wide opening for a pun there!)
- I found out how to do Bullet Points.
I think Vishnukarn looks very feminine, but was always referred to as “he” when I was looking around. The artistic print came off Wikipedia and then I remembered a shot I took a long time ago. I think they are both Vishnukarn.
There will be some discussion about androgynous beingness coming up, if I stay on this time line. I originally launched with March sixth as a target staring point. We might get there in a couple of days.
Again … I am no scholar, but it is worth mentioning that I am much more comfortable, more comfortable than I’ve ever been, with being redundant.
I have had a passing relationship with Hinduism. I was mostly interested in meditation and not nearly as willing to learn a bunch of new stuff, as I seem to be today. A strong impression that I retained is that the belief structure is multifaceted, to put it mildly.
For some reason, I developed a fondness for Ganesha with all his hands and purported dexterity. I see statues of him around here from time to time. Yes, “he” is referred to as a Deva, also, but I can see “he” has tusks. Ok ok! Female African elephants can have tusks, but only male Asian elephants do.
So … Thailand is considered to be a Buddhist country. There are quite a few Muslims in the south that are not happy about that and I understand there are some Christians here and there. I see a church once in a while. The King is Buddhist. The longest reigning king in history, I think. His life has had an incredible impact. I’m pretty sure previous kings were Buddhist too, but I didn’t go back 2555 years.
Again … Again … there is way more that I do not know than I know … but it seems to me that contemporary Thai Buddhism would be sort of analogous to Reform Judaism. I say that because I consider that branch of Judaism to be more liberal, progressive and have kind of evolved in sort of modern times; while still retaining many very old tenets. It’s a weak analogy, particularly since Thailand has been “modern” for a very short time and in many limited ways.
By contrast, I think of Zen Buddhism as more Orthodox, for whatever that’s worth.
Another thing about Thailand is that it’s on a peninsula that juts out into what used to be major travel routes and it spent some time buffering what was once French and British imperialism.
[Everybody is suppose to drive on the left side of the road and most toilets have a spray wand version of a bidet.]
I would guess that Buddhism came here relatively quickly after it became Buddhism and that Hinduism seeped into this neighborhood long long ago. Thailand was once a primary intersection for everything that moved around in this part of the word. I will boldly say that this place was cosmopolitan wayyyyyy before that word was invented. (Yup! I looked it up – 1844.)
I think that the cosmopolitan history of this culture has an important bearing on the mysticism of this land. I think Thailand is and has long been a pocket of uniqueness, as well as a caldron for simmering “foreign” ideas. The ambiance or vibe or mystique … je ne sais quoi. “It” does not seem to have permeated across any boarders into Lao or Cambodia; and certainly not into Myanmar – formerly know as Burma, which sent the last gangs to trash and smash everything.
You see up there, within the translation of Krung Thep’s full name? One rendering is “the pleasant capital” and the other is “the happy city”. Thailand has the well deserved reputation as, and the nickname of, The Land of Smiles.
What’s up with that? Why are these people so happy? Tah-mi boo-kohn Thai me joie de vivre mahk mahk mai
Je ne sais quoi!
I know I am happy to be here and I am happy to be looking into such a mystery.
Someone suggested it has a lot to do with the monks. They are a heck of a crew, as far as I can tell. They’re always telling jokes; many of which they crack themselves up with. I’m pretty sure most of them are very intuitive and many are most assuredly psychic. A Thaiglish way of describing a few I’ve met would be to call them itty witty idiot savants. (itty witty – psychic.); and whoever coined the phrase “idiot savant” had some kind of perversely oxymoronic sense of humor, didn’t they?
I ran into a monk the other day. He asked why I was limping. (That’s how I interpreted his gestures and sounds.) I explained. He apologized for not knowing English. I said, “Mai sahmkan tahm itty wity dee” – not important psychic powers good enough. When he stopped laughing, he asked if I would like him to eliminate the pain. I said it was important to me that I remember where it came from, so he went and sprawled out on an adjacent hammock. Ponra and I continued on our way to the festivities.
Earlier today Ponra, my wife, recounted ma kernee (last night). She had a dream that money was coming to her and she was happy. (She worries about money – A LOT! BTW she thinks everyone who visits this blog, looks at her pictures or follows on Twitter or is friends on Facebook should kick in a dollar. Seriously, that’s her feelings about the internet and she checks regularly! She tenaciously refuses to give up being disappointed.) Anyway … she had that dream; then she woke up; went back to sleep; had the same dream again; awoke again, back to sleep; same dream. She told me that before I started writing. Right about where I was typing “What’s up with that? Why are these people so happy?” she came upstairs with a big fat envelop from the Social Security Administration (of the US of A).
That was, essentially, my ship coming in; although we just found out the income level for a “retirement visa” was raised to more than I used to make when I worked … blah, blah, blah …
I’m delighted with my pittance. There was a time I didn’t believe there would be any funds left by the time I reached this age, which didn’t bother me much because I hardly ever suspected I would reach this age, which is a reasonable testimony to my thought process; now that I write that.
This is where I’m just talking to myself ……… I’ll go edit and format now.
I would very much appreciate hearing from you. I highly value your input/feedback.
Please use the Comment Box below, this private address >>> firstname.lastname@example.org
OR choose one of these other very public options to share more broadly.