Saturday, August 19, 2006

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A Letter From Thailand


After a couple of hours of drilling more than a hundred golf balls through (rainy season) space, using a seven iron in a process commonly referred to as "driving practice", my Thai friend invites me to come along to the funeral of his uncle.

It is a buddhist funeral and this is the second night that the body is on display in the temple (perhaps they would call it a "wake" in Ireland). The four monks in orange togas sit cross legged like--well, like little buddhas--and chant the prayers for the repose of the dead man's soul. His wife and family are present. This morning, his daughter just arrived in northern Thailand from Taipei where she lives and works. Although we cannot understand each other at all, she smiles and laughs with me and my friend translates a little. We take our leave of the family in order to salute the statue of buddha three times--and then my friend leads me forward to the casket of the defunct one on which one can read thought provoking words that have relevance to the adherents of all faiths--and even to those people who profess none at all:

"We come into the world with nothing and depart from it with nothing."

After paying our respects we sit down with the relatives and friends of the dear departed. My friend asks me if I would like to donate something to the monks for the recital of the prayers and I reply in the affirmative. This evening fifteen others will do the same. One hundred and twenty baht is divided into six envelopes with twenty baht in each. My friend informs me that when my name is called, I must go forward and bow to the buddha three times. After that one envelope is deposited in the buddha's bowl--and subsequently one each in the bowls of the four chanting monks. Finally, I drop a sixth in an empty chair for the lay leader of the prayer. We (my friend and I) are given a pot of water when all these procedures are completed and kneel down before the buddha. We are told to pour the water from the copper pot into a little bowl and, while doing so, think of our dear departed ones. The chants of the four monks--whose faces are now covered in simple masks--continue to intone the necessary prayers. Apparently this is the night when the defunct one is informed of his own death and of the need to leave the temple of his soul before it is cremated once and for all, the day after tomorrow.

The prayers have now finished for tonight and we partake of coffee and biscuits. There is idle chatter. My friend and I take our leave with many bows and smiles and head for his car parked some short distance away. My friend's wife stays behind longer in order to say extra prayers. As we drive away, those simple words are still resounding in my head like a compulsive mantra:

"We come into the world with nothing and depart from it with nothing."

2 Comments:

Anonymous Sefi said...

In ogni religione si elaborano alcune procedure cerimoniali per segnare le principali tappe della vita delle persone che si identificano in esse: la nascita, l'ingresso nella società adulta, il matrimonio, e la morte. Le cerimonie rinsaldano il senso di appartenenza alla comunità religiosa e creano un senso di continuità con la tradizione passata, oltre a fornire delle occasioni di socializzazione per i membri del gruppo.
Il rito funebre serve a mantenere un'unione tra i vivi e i defunti e nello stesso tempo ad attestarne l'inevitabile separazione.
Anche la tomba assume lo stesso ruolo e, per dirla come il Foscolo, "...intesse con i vivi una corrispondenza di amorosi sensi."
La descrizione del rito funebre buddista , anche se diverso da altre religioni, assume il medesimo significato: dare supporto psicologico ai parenti e agli amici nell'elaborazione del lutto, accompagnare il defunto nel suo viaggio nell'aldilà.

[…] Con il sudore del tuo volto mangerai il pane; finché tornerai alla terra, perchè da essa sei stato tratto: polvere tu sei e in polvere tornerai!» (Antico Testamento, Genesi, 3).

2:15 PM  
Blogger pluto85 said...

MI PIACE QUESTA COMPOSIZIONE, XCHè è GIUSTO CONOSCERE ANCHE LE RELIGIONI DELLA THAILANDIA E LA LORO CULTURA

1:38 PM  

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