This prevalent social etiquette was difficult for me understand when I first came to Thailand. Over time, more and more of its spirit is being revealed. I think there will always be a mystery involved in the depth of its importance to the Thai; just as there are abundant mysteries within many customs and traditions worldwide.
I have been told that Tahm-boon is in essence performing an act of merit; doing something good for life. What I came to realize, as I explored the philosophy, was that Tahm-boon has counterparts or similar manifestations in most societies.
Early on, I searched academia (English sources.) for more insight:
The American Heritage Dictionary, had several renderings for merit. From the many definitions, perhaps, the following comes closest to how it is used in this Buddhist tradition:
Merit (In the context of theology.) – Spiritual credit granted for good works.
An online Thai/English dictionary seemed to support the same theme: ทำบุญ - tam bun – [to] make merit
My wife maintains that Tahm-boon is an unbreakable thread binding Thailand’s population. Such actions appear to affirm the interconnectedness of the people and exemplify the generosity of spirit and good will so pervasive in Thailand. Some say, it is a part of why everyone smiles so much.
It is my wish to share a bit of my growing relationship with Tahm-boon. I apologize if I fall short. The Thai have practiced this tradition for thousands of years. Its actions bring to life their Golden Rule: Do Good – Get Good or tahm dee di dee, as they say.
This page is here, also, because our village would benefit greatly from a little assistance.
I would consider it a great honor to act as the representative of your generosity. There are many here who would be extremely grateful.