Monday, 31 March 2008


Land of Hinduism

Features Hindu gods and goddesses Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Uma, Lakshmi, Ganesh, Indra, Narai, Sarasavadi

Land of Mahayana-Taoism

Features the supreme sages and foremost teachers of China such as Lao Tse, Confucious, Tao-Tse and other famous Chinese saints who have toiled to protect and bless people in the world and bestow happiness on all.

Sunday, 30 March 2008


Land of the Five Great Mothers (Goddesses)

Featuring the five great mothers who protect and bestow merit to human beings inhabiting this world

  1. Mother Earth
  2. Mother of Rivers
  3. Mother of Wind
  4. Mother of Fire
  5. Ceres — Mother of Grain

Valley of the Four Buddhist Saints

Statues of four famous and highly revered monks are installed in the valley. They are:
  1. Luang Phor Tuad
    Associated with the miraculous phenomenon of turning seawater into freshwater
  2. Luang Phor Somdej Phra Buddhacharn (Toh) Brahma Ransi of the Central Region
  3. Phra Kru Ba Sri Vichai of the North
  4. Luang Poo Man Purittatto of the Northeast

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Don't let evils grow in your Mind

Rust grows on iron and destroys it; so evil grows in the mind of man and destroys him.

Most of the time, it is so easy to slip into shamelessness, to be pert and bold like a crow, to hurt others without feeling of regret for such action. It is hard, indeed, to feel humble, to know respect and honor, to get rid of all attachments, to keep pure in thought and deed, and to become wise. It is also easy to point out the mistakes of others, while it is hard to admit one's own mistakes. A man tends to broadcasts the sin of others without thinking, but hides his own sins as a gambler hides his extra dice.

So, what can we do??

The first step toward spiritual freedom from the worldly bonds and fetters is to control one's mind, to stop idle talk, and to be somewhat pensive.

He who is influenced by his likes and dislikes can not rightly understand the significance of circumstances and tends to be overcome by them; he who is free from attachments rightly understands circumstances and to him all things become new and significant.


A holy site situated in the midst of forests, mountains and nature, The Kuan Yin Inter-Religious Park offers complete serenity and spiritual inspiration.
A source of religious knowledge and an ideal place for mental and spiritual relaxation, the religious park is divided into separate zones. Each depicts sacred images associated with a particular religion. Depending on one’s faith, visitors are invited to recite prayers to seek spiritual guidance and the ‘light of wisdom’ to help alleviate suffering and seek blessings from the deities.
Opening hours: 08.00 – 17.00 hrs daily, including weekends and public holidays Proper attire is required. Please refrain from smoking and the consumption of alcoholic beverages and intoxicating items.
Location: 40 Moo 2, Pusawan sub-district, Kaeng Krachan district, Phetchaburi province 76170Distance from Bangkok: 160 km (approximately two-hours’ drive)
Admission is free and vegetarian food is provided at no charge. Donations are greatly appreciated.

Friday, 28 March 2008



Amulets consecrated by the late Luang Poo Jiam of Wat Intrasukaram have become a compulsory uniform accessory for about 4,000 soldiers from the Northeast deployed in Pattani. They have been ordered to wear the amulets at all times or face a punishment of three nights behind bars.
Maj-Gen Thawatchai Samutsakorn, deputy commander of the 2nd Army Region and currently commander of the Pattani Task Force, said he had issued Luang Poo Jiam amulets to all the men in the four battalions deployed to the far South from the Northeast, and given strict orders that they wear them at all times.
It is not an unpopular order as amulets and Buddhist soldiers go hand in hand in the far South.
It is said that the number of talismans worn by the members of the 20 battalions in the far South far exceed the number of troops.
Some soldiers have over 100 amulets with them. Wearing amulets gives them confidence and they believe a sacred object will protect them from danger. ''This amulet makes me feel safe even if I don't have a bulletproof vest,'' one soldier said.
Maj-Gen Thawatchai, a native of Khon Kaen, has kept one amulet, from the ''King's soldiers'' collection, for himself. It is worn together with a small, inscribed, metallic scroll, or takrud.
Luang Poo Jiam was the abbot of Wat Intrasukaram in Sangkha district of Surin. He consecrated about 100,000 amulets shortly before he died two years ago at the age of 97.
It is one of the most sought-after collections for people in the Northeast.
Pvt Kiattisak Tangthong said he brought about 20 different amulets with him from his home in Surin and was given the Luang Poo Jiam amulet as an extra.
''I am happy to wear it because it will protect me from harm and also from punishment. Failing to wear it will put me in jail for three nights,'' the private said.
However, he realised his commanders issued the instruction with the best of intentions.
''They want us to be safe. That's all,'' he said.
Sgt Sitthiporn Thongsuk, 53, also from Surin, said he brought more than 100 amulets with him to the far South and usually wears more than 40 at a time. One is from Luang Poo Jiam's ''King's soldiers'' collection, but he bought it himself in Surin a long time ago.
''My Luang Poo Jiam amulet protected me during the Thai-Lao conflict, known as the Chong Bok battle, in 1988 and I hope Luang Poo Jiam will continue to help me,'' he said.
Maj-Gen Thawatchai said he began strictly enforcing the order after the bombing of a bus carrying his soldiers two weeks ago.
They were on the way back to Pattani after a short break in Khon Kaen. It was said some soldiers on the fourth bus were not wearing the amulet when the bus was attacked. They kept it in their rucksack instead.
Fifteen were injured. Those wearing the amulets on the other three buses were unharmed.
''I learned that some merely kept the amulets in their bags.
This was why they were not protected.
''So I have ordered them to wear it at all times,'' Maj-Gen Thawatchai said.


I love the topic on Friends. My Friends are all Very important to me, but I was badly hurt by some of them ( maybe, I hurt them too) and I was really disappointed. Came across the following in a book I've read recently.

[A man should recognize among his acquaintances those with whom he should associate and those with whom he should not. He should not associate with those who are greedy, clever talkers, flatters or wasters. He should associate those who are helpful, willingly to share happiness as well as suffering ( 同甘苦,共患难). Those who give good advice and who have a sympathetic heart.
A true friend, the one with whom we may safely associate, will always stick closely to the right way, will worry secretly about his friend's welfare, will console him in misfortune, will offer him a helping hand when he needs it, will keep his secrets, and will always give him good advice. ]

I must say, it is very difficult to find a friend like this, and therefore one should try very hard to be a friend like this, I did.. but I guess I wasn't appreciated or maybe, I wasn't good enough.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

随想 (一)


只有心无外物 才能让人无所察觉



















Wednesday, 26 March 2008


《清明》 清明时节雨纷纷,路上行人欲断魂。借问酒家何处有?牧童遥指杏花村。(唐)杜牧

清明节是一个纪念祖先的节日。主要的纪念仪式是扫墓,扫墓是慎终追远、敦亲睦族及行孝的具体表现,基于上述意义,清明节因此成为华人的重要节日。 清明节是在仲春与暮春之交,也就是冬至后的106天。扫墓活动通常是在清明节的前10天或后10天。有些籍贯人士的扫墓活动长达一个月。 清明祭扫坟茔是和丧葬礼俗有关的节俗。据载,古代“墓而不坟”,就是说只打墓坑,不筑坟丘,所以祭扫就不见于载籍。后来墓而且坟,祭扫之俗便有了依托。秦汉时代,墓祭已成为不可或缺的礼俗活动。

中 国 人 重 孝 道 , 讲 求 慎 终 追 远 , 表 现 於 行 动 上 的 便 是 祭 拜 祖 先 。 自 古 以 来 , 历 代 都 有 扫 墓 的 日 子 , 虽 然 日 期 不 一 , 但 大 约 都 在 清 明 前 后 , 因 为 清 明 正 是 寒 尽 春 来 , 万 物 复 苏 之 时 , 正 可 表 示 对 祖 先 的 崇 敬 。 清 明 节 结 合 了 人 们 对 祖 先 及 自 然 的 崇 拜 , 显 示 国 人 崇 尚 孝 道 的 美 德 , 但 是 在 今 日 社 会 中 , 除 了 扫 墓 及 祭 拜 以 外 , 遵 循 祖 先 的 教 诲 及 发 扬 祖 先 的 美 德 , 才 是 孝 道 的 更 具 体 表 现 。

Tomb Sweeping Day The Qingming Festival meaning Clear and Bright Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival on the 104th day after the winter solstice (or the 15th day from the Spring Equinox), usually occurring around April 5 of the Gregorian calendar Every leap year, Qing Ming is on April 4.

For the Chinese, it is a day to remember and honour one's ancestors at grave sites. Young and old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, (joss) paper accessories, and/or libation to the ancestors. The rites are very important to most Chinese and especially farmers. Qingming itself was created by the Tang Emperor Xuanzong in 732.

It is said that because the wealthy held too many expensive, elaborate ancestor-worshipping ceremonies, in a needed effort to lower this expense, Emperor Xuanzong declared that respects could be formally paid at ancestor's graves only on Qingming.

Festival in Thailand

Buddhist New Year
In Thailand the new year is celebrated for three days from the first full moon day in April. In Mahayana countries the new year starts on the first full moon day in January. However, the Buddhist New Year depends on the country of origin or ethnic background of the people. As for example, Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese celebrate late January or early February according to the lunar calendar, whilst the Tibetans usually celebrate about one month later.
This Thai Buddhist festival goes on for several days during the middle of April. People clean their houses and wash their clothes and enjoy sprinkling perfumed water on the monks, novices and other people for at least two or three days. They gather around the riverbank, carrying fishes in jars to put into the water, for April is so hot in Thailand that the ponds dry out and the fish would die if not rescued. People go to the beach or river bank with jars or buckets of water and splash each other. When everyone is happily wet they are usually entertained by boat races on the river.
Loy Krathong (Festival of Floating Bowls)
At the end of the Kathin Festival season, when the rivers and canals are full of water, the Loy Krathong Festival takes place in all parts of Thailand on the full moon night of the Twelfth Lunar month. People bring bowls made of leaves (which contain flowers) candles and incense sticks, and float them in the water. As they go, all bad luck is suppose to disappear. The traditional practice of Loy Krathong was meant to pay homage to the holy footprint of the Buddha on the beach of the Namada River in India.
The Ploughing Festival
In May, when the moon is half-full, two white oxen pull a gold painted plough, followed by four girls dressed in white who scatter rice seeds from gold and silver baskets. This is to celebrate the Buddha's first moment of enlightenment, which is said to have happened when the Buddha was seven years old, when he had gone with his father to watched the ploughing. (Known in Thailand as Raek Na)
The Elephant Festival
The Buddha used the example of a wild elephant which, when it is caught, is harnessed to a tame one to train. In the same way, he said, a person new to Buddhism should have a special friendship of an older Buddhist. To mark this saying, Thais hold an elephant festival on the third Saturday in November.
Ulambana (Ancestor Day)
Is celebrated throughout the Mahayana tradition from the first to the fifteenth days of the eighth lunar month. It is believed that the gates of Hell are opened on the first day and the ghosts may visit the world for fifteen days. Food offerings are made during this time to relieve the sufferings of these ghosts. On the fifteenth day, Ulambana or Ancestor Day, people visit cemeteries to make offerings to the departed ancestors. Many Theravadins from Cambodia, Laos and Thailand also observe this festival.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008



“泼水节”,又称宋干节,是泰国的传统新年, 中国人常说“遇水则发,以水为财”,对泰国人来说,似乎也如此。泼水节共三天,全国都披上盛装,友好的泰国人用泼水的形式表达欢乐、喜庆、尊敬和祝福,互祝新年快乐。年轻的一辈会将芳香的水倒在父母和长辈的手中,表示对他们的尊敬,同时也祈求神明保佑。此外,此时在芭堤雅一些庆祝活动,如食品展、花车游行、风筝比赛、划船竞赛、庙会、“泼水小姐”选美及烟花表演也同时举行。

Sunday, 23 March 2008



Saturday, 22 March 2008


Going through hell
is not going to hell forever.
We only pass through.
Terrible as it might be,
it is only part of the long learning process;
the long detour taken
on the way to Enlightenment.
Your personal hell is not a personal punishment;
it is an urgent wake-up call.
It is spiritual training -
which is only as tough as it is necessary for you,
in the name of your personal karma.
Karma will deliver justice, yes,
eventually, with or without you.
But sometimes, justice can be delivered through you.
Have confidence in karmic justice then,
and have the right sense of justice -
For delivering justice with Compassion and Wisdom
is the way of the Bodhisattva.

Friday, 21 March 2008

泰国水灯节 传说 (一)


比较有根据的水灯节传说,始于八百多年前的泰国第一个王朝-素可泰王朝。那时,每年泰历十二月十五日月圆时节,居民都聚集于首都庆祝「灯节」,而皇上必循例龙舟游河,王后及妃嫔亦随圣驾游幸,其时臣民嬉水于河中,随后在国王的主持下,全城大放烟花,彻夜欢腾。 相传皇朝中有位名为娜诺帕玛丝的贵妃,心灵手巧,极富艺术天才,她别出心裁地用香蕉叶折叠成了一盏莲花形的灯船,上面以水果雕成的花鸟图案装饰,并插上鲜花,点着香烛,放在水里,使其随风飘荡,以表示对佛祖和河神的感谢之情。

国王见后大喜,下令以此水灯作为范例,每年十二月十五日为水灯节。从此,每逢水灯节,各式水灯的制作,便蔚然成风,水灯的形状式样愈来愈多采,制作技术也更加精巧娴熟。 放水灯的含意也随着时代的变迁而不断扩展,譬如农民放水灯是感谢河神给予他们充沛的水源,灌溉庄稼,并祈求来年风调雨顺;青年男女寄语水灯是希望自己能找到如意伴侣;佛教徒则祈求灾祸随水飘去,幸福随波而来。 水灯节,各地都有循例举行,惟不那么隆重热闹。在传统上要数素可泰府和清迈府的水灯节最为热闹,节目多姿多采,而且富有地方性的诗情画意。


Sunday, 16 March 2008

儿子剃度出家缺经费 父亲上吊

武里喃府1名村民想为儿子举办剃度出家典礼,但因没经费,一时找不到出路,竟上吊自尽,准备要以可得的抚恤金来作儿子的剃度费。 武里喃府那菩县警方昨天早上接报,在那菩县诗沙汪区万屏7村66号屋子内有人上吊自尽,据报即率员前往调查。死者是该屋房东巴实,54岁,以浴巾上吊死於楼下厨房的横梁上,现场没有搏斗痕迹,浑身亦没有任何伤痕。 死者的51岁妻子通诗说,她和巴实结婚已有好多年,共育有3个儿子,她丈夫已种田为生,一向生活很幸福,没欠债务,次子与幼子都已成家,且到其他府去谋生,只有32岁长子颂奇尚未成家,并在武里喃府工作。而且曾答应要落发出家,以报答父母恩。所以这两年来,丈夫尽量积蓄,准备筹备为儿子的剃度费用,预计需要3-4万铢。而儿子将於今天(7日)削发出家,远近的亲戚都陆续到她家来帮忙。昨天早晨6时,大家到厨房准备菜肴时,打开电灯一看,发现巴实已上吊自尽。 通诗说,她不知丈夫因何事萌短见,只有近几天来,丈夫显得闷闷不乐,晚上也睡不著,但她不敢多问。只曾听到丈夫诉说,有人来借钱,现在儿子剃度礼的经费已没著落。 其长子颂奇则说,因父亲说已筹备了4万铢,可作剃度经费,但后来得知有邻居来借去3万铢,答应会在他出家前归还,可是至今仍未归还。可能为此使得父亲烦恼,找不到出路,才决定上吊自尽,并能从农合银行可领得的抚恤金约20万铢,来作为剃度经费。总之他於办完父亲的丧事后,还是会照原来所决定,要剃度出家。


**伟大的父亲, 穷人的悲哀.... 但是有时侯就是穷日子才让人们更珍惜身边人!

Saturday, 15 March 2008


女儿尸体寻获 1嫌犯落网
哒叻府考萨民县1对夫妇日前发现女儿的机车被停放在县内某住处后,随即聘请法师前来占卜其失踪已有5个多月的女儿下落,竟成功找到女儿尸体及财物。警方闻讯立即逮捕嫌疑犯。 据悉,哒叻府警方曾於早前接获1对夫妇报案称,他们的25岁女儿帕拉蓬在去年9月29日神秘失踪。期间警方展开调查但无任何收获。直到近日,该对夫妇因发现女儿的机车被停放在56岁女子拉迈的住处,因此出钱聘请法师占卜,先在附近空地挖出女儿的尸体,然后再在拉迈住处附近1垃圾桶找获女儿的身分证、衣物、钱包及其他财物,所以赶到警局报案,要求警方缉拿拉迈。警方鉴於拉迈在搜获帕拉蓬的尸体后,随即搬到其朋友的住处居住,因此派人以涉嫌谋杀的罪名将其抓住。此外,警方查悉1名任职某罐头工厂守卫的28岁男子乃能,於事发当日与及帕拉蓬一同前去拉迈的住处,因此下令追查乃能的下落。 拉迈供称,当日3人均在其住处饮酒,后因乃能向其借钱2万铢发放高利贷给朋友后,并未交还该批款项,因此曾与乃能发生争吵。期间她因见乃能经已睡著,所以便跟著入睡,并於稍后时间出发前去曼谷市,因此对命案全不知情。此外,由於她每次返回住处休息均无法入睡,故搬到朋友的住处暂住。 警方表示,虽然拉迈目前仍否认犯案,但鉴於帕拉蓬身形肥胖,故推测乃能无法独自处理帕拉蓬的尸体,因此相信拉迈将在稍后承认罪名。至於失踪多时的乃能,警方已查获有关消息,并派人前去追查他的下落。


***这个世界有很多我们不能解释的事情,天天都在发生. 原来警察办不到的事,法师竟然轻而易举的就帮了一个大忙,让死者沉冤得雪,真的不可思议!

Friday, 14 March 2008


People are always changing -
how can anyone be yours to have and hold forever?
We can only love in the moment.
We can only seize the moment.
But do not be misled…
this moment is also not for you to have and hold forever.
It slips right through your hands
like sand falling through clasped hands.
If the passing is going to happen whether you like it or not,
why not learn to enjoy it?
Enjoy change,
learn to be one with change.
Enjoy love in the moment.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008


Life in the world is unpredictable and uncertain. Life is difficult, short and fraught with suffering.
Being born, one has to die;
this is the nature of the world.
With old age there is death; this is the way things are.
When fruit is ripe, it may drop early in the morning. In the same way, one who is born may die at any moment.
Just as all the pots made by all the potters End in being broken, So it is with the life of all who are born.
Neither young nor old, foolish nor wise Will escape the trap of death. All move towards death.They are overcome by death. They pass on to another world.
A father cannot save his son or a family it's members. Look! With relatives watching, with tears and crying, Men are carried off one by one, Like cattle to the slaughter. So, death and aging are a natural part of the world. Thus, the wise grieve not, seeing the nature of the world.

Monday, 10 March 2008







如何祭拜虎爷呢? 在白虎面前跪下,点燃手中的香烛后,拿出一块猪油,往白虎嘴上擦,接着以蛋喂虎,有的嘴里还念念有词:“好人近身,小人远离。”

**每年过年泰国人必拜的9座庙,如郑王庙、玉佛寺等,其中唯一的华人庙就是「虎爷庙」。由於移居泰国的华人大都从商,来此祭拜后生意兴隆、事业有成,所以做生意的人祁求事业发达特别灵验。Wat Sanjaoporsua (虎爷庙)

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, Ayutthaya

Originally built in 1448 as the king's private chapel (the equivalent of the Wat Phra Kaeo in Bangkok), Sri Sanphet is just south of the raised Grand Palace area.
The buildings were renovated in the 16th and 17th centuries. The 17m (55-ft.) bronze standing Buddha was originally cast and covered in gold in 1500 during the reign of the ninth king, Ramathipodi.
In 1767, the invading Burmese tried to melt the gold off the Buddha statue, causing a fire that destroyed both the image and the temple. The Buddha you see today is a replica.
Nearby are three Sri Lankan-style chedis, built during the 15th century to enshrine the ashes of three Ayutthaya kings.
Location: Just south of the Grand Palace ruin in the northwest end of the island
Cost: 30B

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Wat Ratchaburana, Ayutthaya

Opposite Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya stands Wat Ratchaburana, built in 1424 and splendidly restored. The towers (both rounded Khmer-style prangs and Sukhothai-style pointed chedis) have even retained some of their original stucco.
In the two crypts, excavators in 1958 found bronze Buddha images and votive tablets, as well as golden objects and jewelry, many of which are displayed in the Chao Sam Phraya Museum.
There are also murals, rows of seated Buddhas, standing disciples, and Jataka (tales from the Buddha's former lives) scenes in the four niches, as well as a frieze of heavenly beings and some Chinese scenes.
You can climb inside the prang for nice views and a little exhibit. The mysterious staircase down, leads to two unrestored rooms with original paintings still visible on the walls.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Wat Yai Chai Mongkon, Ayutthaya

Visible for miles around, the gold chedi of Wat Yai Chai Mongkon is one of the most stunning sites in town (though most of what is striking are recent additions).
King U-Thong founded Wat Yai in 1357 as a center for monks of a particularly strict order returning from study in Sri Lanka.
The recently restored white reclining Buddha near the entrance was built by King Naresuan. The massive pagoda celebrates the defeat of the Burmese at Suphanburi in 1592 and King Naresuan's defeat of the crown prince of Burma in an elephant joust. The gold chedi is surrounded by sitting Buddhas.
In front of the chedi are the stumps of columns which once supported the roof of the temple.
Location: The temple is a long walk (or a short tuk-tuk ride) southeast of ancient Ayutthaya, across the Pridi Damrong Bridge and NW of the train station. After crossing the Pasak River, take the Bangkok road, turning right about 300 m beyond the railway.
Hours: Daily 8am-6pm
Cost: 20B

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Wihaan Phra Mongkol Bopit, Ayutthaya

Wihaan Phra Mongkol Bopit is home to Thailand's largest seated bronze Buddha.
The great Buddha image is housed in a somewhat cramped wihaan, built in 1956 in the style of the original, which was destroyed in 1767.
The Buddha statue was either brought from Sukhothai or copied from a Sukhothai image. It was erected here in 1615 by King Ekatosarot, in honor of his brother Naresuan, who drove the Burmese from Sukhothai.

Location: West of Wat Mahathat and just south of the Grand Palace area
Hours: Daily 8am-5pm
Cost: Free

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon

Shwedagon's main stupa at dusk
Southern entrance

Gleaming in gold and decorated with diamonds, the huge Shwedagon Pagoda (also Shwe Dagon Pagoda or Shwedagon Paya) in Yangon is a spectacular work of Burmese temple architecture and is the holiest Buddhist shrine in Myanmar.
The legend of the Schwedagon Pagoda begins with two Burmese merchant brothers who met the Buddha himself. The Buddha gave them eight of his hairs to be enshrined in Burma. With the help of several nat (spirits) and the king of this region of, the brothers discovered the hill where relics of previous Buddhas had been enshrined.
A chamber to house the relics was built on the sacred spot and when the hairs were taken from their golden casket, amazing things happened:
there was a tumult among men and spirits... rays emitted by the Hairs penetrated up to the heavens above and down to hell... the blind beheld objects... the deaf heard sounds...the dumb spoke distinctly... the earth quaked... Mount Meru shook... lightning flashed... gems rained down until they were knee deep... all trees of the Himalaya, though not in season, bore blossoms and fruit.
Once the relics were safely placed in the new shrine, a golden slab was laid on the chamber and a golden stupa built over it. Over this was layered a silver stupa, then a tin stupa, a copper stupa, a lead stupa, a marble stupa and an iron-brick stupa.
Later, the legend continues, the Schwedagon stupa fell into ruin until the Indian emperor Asoka, a Buddhist convert, came to Myanmar and searched for it. Finding it only with great difficulty, he then had the jungle cleared and the stupa repaired.
It is easy to see why the Schwedagon Pagoda is such a holy place for believers. Built on the site of the relics of previous Buddhas, containing the relics of the most recent Buddha, the site of miracles and of royal patronage, this is an important stupa indeed.
Legend has it that the Shwedagon Pagoda is 2,500 years old, but archaeologists estimate it was first built by the Mon sometime between the 6th and 10th centuries (i.e. during the Bagan period). The pagoda emerges from legend into history in 1485, which is the date of an incription near the top of the eastern stairway that tells the story of Shwedagon in three languages (Pali, Mon, and Burmese).
It was around this time that the tradition of gilding the stupa began. Queen Shinsawbu provided her own weight in gold (fortunately she was a lightweight at 40kg), which was made into gold leaf and used to cover the surface of the stupa.
The queen's son-in-law, Dhammazedi, offered four times his own weight plus that of his wife's in gold and provided the abovementioned 1485 inscription. It has been rebuilt many times since then due to earthquakes (including eight in the 17th century alone); the current structure dates from the rebuild under King Hsinbyushin in 1769.
After the First Anglo-Burmese War in 1824, British troops occupied the Schwedagon Pagoda complex, which stands high over the city like a castle. In 1852, during the second war, the British occupied the pagoda for 77 years and pillaged its treasures. In 1871, King Mindon Min from Mandalay provided a new hti (the decorative top), flustering the occupying British.
As a symbol of national identity, the Schwedagon Pagoda was the scene of much political activity during the Myanmar independence movement in the 20th century. Amazingly, the huge earthquake of 1930 (which destroyed the Schwemawdaw in Bagan) caused only minor damage to the Yangon stupa. But the following year, it suffered from a disastrous fire. After a minor earthquake in 1970, the main stupa was fully refurbished.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Wat Phnom, Phnom Penh

Stupa of Wat Phnom
Temple buildings of Wat Phnom
Shrine beneath the stupa
View of Wat Phnom (Photo by Magalie L'Abbé)

Wat Phnom is the temple on the hill in Cambodia's capital city of Phnom Penh.
According to legend, in the 14th century a woman named Penh found sacred Buddhist objects in the nearby river and placed them here on the small hill that later became a temple. Phnom Penh, the name of the city, means "Penh's Hill."
Wat Phnom itself is a standard Southeast Asian wat, with Naga snakes on the cornered peaks of the roof and murals of the Buddha's life in day-glow allegories along interior walls.
Don't miss the central ceiling, which, unlike the bright walls, is yet to be restored and is gritty and authentic.
The hillside park around the temple was once a no-go zone peopled by armed dealers and pimps (in the evening you should still be careful), but now it's a laid-back little park.
You're sure to meet with some crafty young salesmen here who will offer you the chance to show your Buddhist compassion by buying a caged bird for a dollar and letting it go. Stick around long enough, and you'll see the bird return to the comfort of the cage.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon Main Stupa

The large platform that supports the great stupa contains a variety of other stupas, prayer halls, sculptures and shrines.
One must always walk around (circumambulate) stupas clockwise, so visitors take a left from whichever entrance to the platform they've chosen. Beginning from the southern entrance, straight ahead is a large shrine to Konagamana, the second Buddha, on the south side of the main stupa's plinth. Flanking the shrine are the planetary posts for Mercury.

Continuing west around the plinth, the pilgrim passes a double-bodied lion with a man's face, a laughing necromancer with his hands on his head, and an earth goddess. At the southwestern corner of the plinth is the planetary post for Saturn.
Away from the plinth towards the southwest corner is a pavilion with 28 images representing the 28 previous Buddhas, and near the far southwestern corner is a monument with inscriptions in four languages that recounts a 1920 student rebellion against British rule.
Moving up the west side of the platform, a glass case has two figures of nat (spirits), one of which is the guardian nat of Shwedagon. Next is a prayer hall known as the Rakhaing Tazaung, which is bare inside but has fine woodcarving on its terraced roof. The next prayer hall has an 8m (24-foot) long reclining Buddha, and north of this is the Chinese Merchants' Tazaung, featuring a variety of Buddha figures.
On the west side of the plinth are figures of Mai Lamu and the king of the nat, the parents of King Ukkalapa who is said to have enshrined the Buddha hairs at Schwedagon. The large building directly west of the main stupa is the western adoration hall, built in 1841 but destroyed in the fire that swept the platform in 1931. Flanking the hall are the planetary posts for Jupiter.
Returning to the west side of the platform, directly across from the adoration hall and at the top of the western stairway is the Two Pice Tazaung. North of this is a low pavilion built by manufacturers of monastery supplies. Next is is pavilion with tall columns and a multi-roofed pavilion (pyatthat) rising from the upper roof.
Opposite this, at the northwestern corner of the plinth, is the planetary post for Yahu, a mythical Hindu planet that causes eclipses. Nearby is the Eight Day Stupa, a small stupa with a golden spire and eight niches around its base, each with a Buddha image. Between the niches are figures of animals and birds, representing the eight directions, signs, planets and days of the week.
Northwest of the stupa is the bell pavilion housing the 23-ton Maha Ganda Bell. Cast between 1775 and 1779, this great golden bell was pillaged by the British in 1825, but they dropped it into the Yangon River while trying to get it to the port. After repeated attempts to raise it, the British gave up and said the Burmese were welcome to it if they could get it out of the river. The Burmese placed logs and bamboo beneath the bell until it eventually floated to the surface.
North of the bell pavilion is a large pavilion housing a 9m-high Buddha and often used for public meetings. Behind this is a small shrine with a highly revered wonder-working Buddha image covered in gold leaf.
In an open area of the platform to the east is the star-shaped wish-fulfilling place, where there are often many devotees kneeling and praying towards the great stupa that their wishes will come true. At the far northwestern corner are two banyan trees, one of which was grown from a cutting from the Bodhi Tree in India where the Buddha was enlightened.
On the north side of the platform is the Chinese prayer hall, with woodcarvings and Chinese dragon figures on the sides of the stupa in front of it. The adjacent pavilion is guarded by life-size figures of Indians and the next one by British lions. The significance of these figures is not clear. The crocodile-like bannister at the northern stairway dates from 1460.
Between the stairway and main stupa is a pavilion on the site where the great hti of the main stupa was placed before being raised to the top, and then the Hair Relics Well, which is said to be fed by the Ayeyarwady River. The Buddha's hairs were washed in this well before being placed in the main stupa.
On the north side of the plinth stands the northern adoration hall, featuring an image of the historical Buddha. Flanking the hall are the planetary posts for Venus. The post for the Sun is at the northeastern corner of the plinth, with the animal sign of the garuda, a bird-like creature of Hindu and Buddhist mythology.
Just northeast of the northern adoration hall is one of the most distinctive structures on the platform, a temple modeled after the Mahabodhi Temple in India. Next to this is a small gilded stupa and another two-pice tazaung, which enshrines a 200-year-old Buddha image.
The northeast corner of the platform is occupied by the golden Elder Stupa (or Naungdawgyi Stupa), built on the spot where the hair relics were placed before being enshrined in the central stupa. Women are not permitted to ascend to the Elder Stupa's platform.
South of the stupa is a pavilion dedicated to Izza-Gawna, a legendary monk who was able to replace his lost eyes with one from a goat and one from a bullock. The figure to the left of the main Buddha image has eyes of unequal sizes. In the far northeast corner of the platform is the Dhammazedi inscription from 1485, which was originally on the eastern stairway.
Heading south towards that stairway, one meets the elegant pavilion housing the Maha Titthadaganda (three-toned) Bell, which was cast in 1841 and weighs 42 tons. The bell pavilion's ceiling is made of lacquer inlaid with glass: look for red-billed green parrots hidden in the scrolling among the devas (angels).
Facing the eastern stairway is the eastern shrine hall, widely considered the most beautiful on the platform. Rebuilt after the fire of 1931, it houses an image of Kakusandha, the first Buddha. On either side are the planetary posts for the moon; adjacent to the post on the north are golden Shan umbrellas. Behind the shrine hall, up on the main stupa plinth, is a Buddha image known as the Tawa-gu, which is said to work miracles.
Next to the eastern entrance is the graceful U Nyo pavilion, with a series of woodcarved panels illustrating scenes from the life of Gautama Buddha.
A few structures south from here is a prayer post topped by a mythological hintha bird and an interesting hanging bell. Opposite these on the southeastern corner of the plinth is the planetary post for Mars.
The southeastern corner of the platform has another sacred bodhi tree and offers a good view over Yangon and across the Yangon River. This area of the platform is home to the office of the pagoda trustees, a small museum, a pavilion with fine woodcarvings, a revolving hti, and a telescope for looking at the real hti high atop the stupa.

Names: Shwedagon Pagoda; Shwedagon Paya; Shwe Dagon Paya; Shwe Dagon Pagoda
Dates: Founded 6th-10th century AD; first attested in 1485
Location: North of the city center between People's Park and Kandawgyi, Yangon, Myanmar
Hours: 5am-10pm
Cost: $5
Photography: Permitted; $5 camera fee sometimes enforced

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya

Wat Mahathat is perhaps the most striking of all of the temples in Ayutthaya and is located the very heart of the city.

History According to tradition, Wat Mahathat was built in 1384 by King Rachatirat to house a relic of the Buddha, but it is more likely it was built during the reign of King Boromaraja I (1370-88). In about 1625 the top portion of the prang broke off; it was rebuilt in 1633 some 4 m (13 ft) higher than before.

Later it collapsed again, and only the corners survived. In 1956 a secret chamber was uncovered in the ruins; among the treasures found inside were gold jewelry, a gold casket containing a relic of the Buddha, and fine tableware.

Wat Mahathat is typical of the Ayutthaya ruins: large crumbling stupas surrounded by low laterite walls and rows of headless Buddhas. One Buddha-head is in a tree trunk. The temple's prang, at 46 m (150 ft) high, is one of the old city's most impressive edifices. With its picturesquely ruined stupas, Wat Mahathat is a great place to be at sunset. Scattered around the temple are some important remains of variously shaped prangs and chedis, in particular an octagonal chedi with a truncated spire in the Ceylonese style. Nearby, the head of a still much-revered statue of the Buddha lies on the ground.

Location: Along Sikhun road near the terminus of Horattanachai and Naresuan

Hours: Daily 8am-6pm

Cost: 30B
eckhart tolle