Thailand is a primarily Buddhist country and this religion influences many of the customs and traditions of daily life. Before you visit Thailand, it is helpful to learn more about Buddhism, so that you can gain an understanding of this religion. It will help you to comprehend why certain customs exist, as well as avoid accidently offending the locals during your visit.
What is Buddhism?
First of all, before visiting Thailand you might want to learn a little bit about what Buddhism is and what the basic teachings are.
Buddhism is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who experienced a profound realisation about death, life and existence which was termed “Enlightenment”. When Buddha taught, he didn’t try to teach people what he had learned – he only taught people how to become enlightened for themselves. The idea of Buddhism is that enlightenment comes from your own direct experience – rather than from hearing the dogma and beliefs of others.
Many religions are defined by what they believe, but Buddhism is “non-theistic” which makes it more like a philosophy than a religion.
The Four Truths
The basic doctrine of Buddhism consists of the four truths, which are:
- The Truth of Suffering
- The Truth of the Cause of Suffering
- The Truth of the End of Suffering
- The Truth of the Path That Frees Us From Our Suffering
Along with these four truths is a wealth of teachings and writings that reveal a lot of profound truths about life. You could study Buddhism for the rest of your life and still not learn everything – as the idea is to continuously explore the teachings and test them against your own experiences. Buddhism isn’t any specific doctrine – it is the process itself.
What to Know When Visiting a Temple
There are a lot of Buddhist temples all over Thailand and visiting one of these is a very important experience during your visit. These beautiful temples are elaborately decorated and they have a lot of cultural and historical significance.
Most Thai temples usually consists of a courtyard as well as small worship areas that are scattered around. These sheltered areas usually contain Buddha statues and areas where people kneel and pray.
Make sure that you always remove your shoes before entering the temple and do not touch the sacred Buddha statues. You should never point your feet toward the image of the Buddha, because the feet are considered the lowliest part of the body and it is very disrespectful. Also, don’t turn your back to the Buddha images or stand on a platform higher than them. You should also dress more modestly and not expose your cleavage, legs or shoulders.
These are just a few important things to know about Buddhism and visiting temples when you are in Thailand.
What are your thoughts on Buddhism? Has your trip to Thailand taught you more about this religion? Let us know in the comments below.
photo credit:Global Goose