We are in Bangkok, Thailand, in a hotel where they fold the towels into the shape of swans.
We walk past street vender stalls.
I look at the art prints in a store window — and see an image of the king and queen of Thailand — and an image that changes with the angle of vision. The first image is of the monk Somdet Toh (1788-1872), known to have magical powers and regarded as the most famous monk in Thailand. The image changes into that of Luang Pu Thuat (1582-1682), also known for his miracles connected with amulets. The sacred amulets were made in moulds that deteriorate with use. As a result, careful inspection allows an observer to determine the age of an amulet — older amulets are thought to be more powerful and extremely old ones are priceless.
A man inspects a Buddhist amulet with his eye-piece. Street venders sometimes obtain old charms from people’s estates and some buyers search for antiques.
I look at amulets and a child waves at me as I walk onward.
I obtain three amulets. Technically, Buddhist amulets cannot be purchased but are “rented.”
Karen and I visit Wat Pho – the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok. Wat Pho includes the Reclining Buddha, the largest Buddha in Thailand.
Wat Pho is know as the origin and center for Thai traditional medicine and massage. Like Chinese traditional medicine, the system is based on the idea that the body has meridians through which spiritual energy flows.
The Reclining Buddha is a major tourist attraction. It is 46 meters long, 15 meters high. It has a brick core, covered with plaster, plated with gold.
We wait in line to take a photograph.
We wait in line to take photos from this angle.
Most Thai Buddhists practice Theravada Buddhism — which emphasizes individual effort toward enlightenment rather than appealing to Buddhist “saints” (Bodhisattvas). Thai Buddhism is mixed with folk religion and Chinese traditions regarding spirits in the unseen world.
The name Wat Pho refers to the monastery of the Bodhi tree. The Bodhi tree at Wat Pho is a descendant of the original Bodhi tree under which the Buddha sat when he became enlightened (in India).
I watch boys play before viewing the great old tree.
President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clintom visited Wat Pho in 2012 during their travel in Asia.
They visited Wat Pho, met with the Thai king, and spoke with Thai politicians.
We took a ferry across the canal to the Temple of the Dawn — where I photographed mural screens and an altar.
This mural looks like a medieval battle — the storming of a castle.
Religion unifies people and, as a result, it is connected to warfare. There is a dark side to religion.
In this blog, I have shown swans, amulets, Buddhas, politicians, monks, a Thai king and queen, children, and a tree.
The Buddha did not advocate images or amulets — but, as occurs everywhere, people modify religion to fit group needs. They are unable to convert others through logic and there is a dark side to religion that contributes to war.
I am interested in your mental well-being. Spirituality can foster mental health.
What matters is the connection between your inner world and the unseen world.
There is nothing that I can say to you about this. It is something for you to investigate on you own. Through meditation you can see more clearly.