Warning: This post may contain some controversial opinion (i.e. mine). If you are a follower of one or several deities, don’t read on. Keep your children away from it as far as possible and ready the holy water or whatever spiritual cleansing agent is proper.
In order to do something different, together with the Best Husband of All, I decided to use the exclusive travel option to go from Bangkok to Chiang Mai: a private car and driver. This way, some impressions of Thailand can be collected and experienced on the way.
It turns out that Thailand consists of landscape, towns, roads, and a totally unsuspected number of Buddhist temples, and ruins thereof. I am convinced that there are lots and lots of Wats in the country. KiloWats. Possibly MegaWats. And our driver made sure we visited the biggest and best of them. No mercy.
Well the ruins of Ayutthaya and Sukhotai, the temples of Lampang and Lamphun make for some nice photos, but they also got me thinking about the motivation for all this building, gilding, decorating, worshipping. And of course, me having no religion at all, I don’t get it.
Example Ayutthaya: the ruins there, and the ones in Sukhothai, show all the work and effort behind those ancient temples. All the bricks had to be made from mud, cemented on top of each other, then all the stupas and chedis and buddhas were plastered, painted, covered with gold, worshipped, only to be torn down later by the Burmese or to be ruined by time. What a waste.
Nowadays the buddhas may look gilded, but the Buddha factories and shops of Bangkok show most of them are made of fiberglass.
I shouldn’t have read Julian Jaynes’ excellent treatise ‘The Origin of Conciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind’ while travelling through the manifestations of one of the big world religions. Good book by the way. His hypothesis is highly controversial, but it would explain a lot quite elegantly. The need for spiritual authorisation felt so strongly in many humans, for example.
Well whatever. The remains don’t do much for me, but they are beautiful sunset motives.