Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday May 18, 2010

Day 4:

We went to the lecture at Payap University, which is a Christian university here in Thailand. We listened to speakers on the political issues here in Thailand. We are experiencing a first time thing while we are here. Then we heard a lecture on Buddhism in Thailand. Both were very interesting and opened my eyes while making me appreciate HOME that much more!

Payap University isn't like Lee where there are Christians all around. This is a Christian school in the middle of a Buddhist nation! A complete 360! We learned some interesting facts...

1. The king's daughter was de-crowned because she married someone from California and dirtied the blood line. Her parents were furious, and de-crowned her before she moved to the States. Since she was de-crowned her younger sister is now the crowned princess.
2. Apparently tanning is complete opposite here than in the states. The darker skin you have the lower you are. Thais associate darker skin with labor. If you don't have to work, then your skin is lighter and you have more money! This is just a stereotype, but one that is different than ours. While watching the news, all of the news people look white! That is more appealing, and "higher class." Also, you may purchase whitening face cream! Is that not the craziest thing!

Ok- on the lecture material stuff...

Thai's Political Issues.
Red Shirts = Democracy. Yellow Shirts/Army= Monarchy. Thailand is ruled by the king (hint: monarchy), but some people (red shirts) in Thailand want a democracy... I don't blame them for that. The red shirts are protesting mainly in Bangkok against the government asking for democracy. They have set up barricades using bamboo sticks and barbed wire. The protesting is a 24hr job. These people eat and sleep on the streets in Bangkok. They even have buses that have nothing but toilets in them. The military has had to step in and some of the red shirts have been killed. I understand the wanting of a democracy, but I don't want them to fight while we are here. The red shirts don't have any weapons, so they will not be able to defend themselves. The professor giving the lecture thinks this will end before we leave because the red shirts won't be able to continue much longer. The professor also said that Americans are safe, because this is an internal issue.

Buddhism in Thailand
Buddhism has been around over 2000 years. Over 90% of Thais profess to be Buddhists. There are over 300,000 monks. One half of 1% are Christians in Thailand. All kings have been Buddhists. There are three parts of the Buddhist religion. I'm going to give you the facts, then my opinions about the religion...

Buddha: He was a real person, named something else. He was born in India. He was a prince. He left the palace and went into the forest. He started torturing himself (ascetic way) with other people like him. He eventually left the Ascetic way. He said that there should be a balance between overindulging your body with good and bad stuff. This was called the Middle Way. The Middle Way is also referred to having a balance of thinking. Buddha became enlightened because he was free of indulgence and agitation. He was no longer searching or wanting anything in life. This is what state Buddhists want to reach: fulfilling everything.

Dhamma: the teaching of Buddha. The teaching is the laws established by Buddha. There is more that go into this, but it becomes a little confusing for us.

Sangha: the community of Buddha. This simply means the temples and monks. Girls are allowed to become nouns, if they choose, but nouns aren't allowed in Thailand. Also, it's honorable for men to become Monks, but not for women.

The professor was telling us that some of this has been changed. The rules have been altered. The monks go every single morning taking up an offering. Jade and I were talking about this topic, if the temples are so sacred then why do they charge people to come and take pictures? Why do they let people roam around if it's a place of worship? I don't see people coming into our churches just to take a tour? Also, when they are worshipping they are just thanking Buddha for bringing the laws to them, but they've altered so many rules that they're not all his now. The whole process is hard for me to wrap my mind around it.

This is what we did for the first half of the day! I really did enjoy learning all of the new stuff, and it broadens my thinking and knowledge, but at the same time it's hard to think that there are people that don't believe in our Almighty Wonderful God.

We are about to head out to dinner, get a pedicure (by fish I might add), and then a little more shopping! There will definitely be pictures posted of tonight... I might be crying!