07 April 2008

A Trivial Conversation

This entry has nothing to do with a film or a book, but a person. I read Daily Express, a new Thai newspaper that is given free of charge at various outlets in Bangkok. It's run by the Nation group and I think it's quite a good attempt to please both readers and advertisers. After all, who wouldn't love freebies?

But the subject today is not about this newspaper, but an interview inside with a Thai tennis player. He's just finished his time as a monk at Wat Bowonniwet. According to the interview, he said that 'I used to be consumed by rankings and ended up playing poorly. But now I let go.'

Reading up until then, I thought that his time at the temple must've changed this man as it'd made him contemplate on life and desire for material goods or superficial stuff, such as winning and rankings. However, I continued to read on and couldn't stop laughing, especially in the last paragraph when he said 'before I left the temple, I prayed to the Buddha that if I ever crack the top 100 again I will come back and be a monk for three months.' What? I thought he no longer cared about rankings and stuff!

I couldn't help but wondering now how little he had gained from his temporary monkhood. It does give a telling index, though, of how Thai people in general approach Buddhism. How much do we understand the religion? Do we practise Buddhism as a sort of superstitious belief? Or is betting our incurable nature, so indelible that we need to bet even when we practise a religion?

Reading the whole interview once again, I couldn't help but feeling sad that we seem not to realise how Buddhism can effectively be beneficial to our way of life if we do understand its essence. Our lack of understanding and the general malpractice by some practitioners of the religion may one day destroy this religion from the face of the earth. Let's hope this is not going to happen.

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