Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thailand: Bright Enlightenment, Dark Politics


Pandit Bhikkhu walks the path to spiritual enlightenment (The Star/Greg Jorgensen).

Thailand temples offer retreat and spiritual enlightenment
BANGKOK – A growing number of people are trying to tidy up the crowded fa├žade of their cluttered lifestyle — they're tackling the congestion at its root by exploring a simpler yet richer path: studying Buddhist meditation and, in some cases, being fully ordained as a Buddhist monk or nun.

While one can manage this in almost any big city, many people aren't aware that the process is gaining popularity in Asia, where the religion was born and remains the dominant moral philosophy.

One of the most popular places for this undertaking is Thailand, where many people subscribe to Therevada Buddhism, a school that claims direct lineage back to the Buddha himself. It emphasizes wise reflection, meditation and the belief that one of the main causes of human suffering is craving, or the desire to amass wealth.

"The more you give up, the more freedom you have," says Pandit Bhikkhu, a Brit who was ordained as a monk in 1996 and one of the most visible westerners in Thai Buddhist circles. More>>



Thaksin Shinawatra: interview with The Times
Richard Lloyd Parry, Asia Editor of The Times, spoke to the ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra at his home in Dubai

Thaksin Shinawatra: [My election victory in 2001] was the first time in Thai history that one party won half of parliament's seats. We won a landslide — half of parliament's seats — and we formed a coalition government. And it was the first time in Thai history we stayed for a four-year term without the House being dissolved. And it's the first time in Thai history that the prime minister was re-elected for a second term. And the first time in Thai history that we won 377 seats so that we could form a government without needing a coalition — 76 per cent of the parliament's seats at that time. That became my problem — because I was too popular, being loved by the people too much. That's where my problem comes from. I was told by some of my people that the media would start to attack me... More>>

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