Buddhism in Thailand and How it Molds Thais Personality
Buddhism, Happiness and Behavioral Psychology
Discovering the practice of happiness in the meeting of Buddhism and psychology sounds like a good idea.
The Happy People of Thailand
Thai people are worldwide known for their extraordinary hospitality. It seems they have a natural talent to make visitors feel truly welcomed and particularly special by communicating in their caring, delicate and polite way, but also by expressing a genuine interest in their visiting guests, which becomes evident through the relentless curiosity and non-stop, kind of endearing, list of questions they take on: Where do you come from? What is your name? How old are you? Are you married? Do you have kids? How many? What do you do for a living? How long will you stay? On and on, always keen to learn something else about you.
Besides being hospitable, Thais are also friendly, laid-back, good natured and have an astonishing, straight forward regard for beauty in all its forms; art and aesthetics are everywhere, including unlikely items such as street signs and food, as well as the more evident creative expressions of beauty, which comprise, among other objects, the human body. Thais are quick to drop personal compliments and will do so gladly and without modesty, especially when enchanted by the visitor's smile. Even Thai women will compliment an occidental lady when charmed by her beauty (which we must admit is a bit rare in day to day occidental life).
Buddhism Ever Present in Thai Culture
Buddhism in Thailand: How Buddhist Philosophy affects Thailand's General Psyche
Analyzing Thais psyche and personality in relation to their religion, we must conclude that Buddhism has a lot to do with the way Thai people behave and interact with their fellows. Their kindness, interest and purity of heart come from ancient cultural ideals and beliefs, derived from their Buddhist spiritual background.
Roughly 95% of Thailand's population practices Theravada Buddhism. The omnipresent of their spiritual beliefs is evident in their culture, lifestyle and behavior. Buddhist ideals such as humility, gratitude, honor and filial piety are deeply engrained in their psyche and account for most of their charms. Religion and monarchy, which is still regarded by many as divine, are two of Thai’s culture sacred cows. Country issues, family, important life decisions and daily life affairs are married to Buddhist philosophy and animist rituals.
Buddhism Expressed Here, There, Everywhere
Buddhism and ArtClick thumbnail to view full-size
Buddhism in Every Day Life
Every Thai male is expected to become a monk for a short period of time in his life -usually three months during the wet season- which will earn the family great merit, because monks are very well respected. Buddhism devotees often consult monks before making important decisions such as marriage or getting involved in a new business.
Animist rituals are mainly represented by Thai's spirit houses, always situated outside buildings, businesses and homes to encourage spirits to live independently but, at the same time, to remain comfortable so as to bring good fortune to the site.
The spirit houses are typically ornate in the same fashion as Buddhist temples or "wats", and are designed as pedestals placed in prominent spots (for reference, see picture of Thai car wash with the two spirit houses on pedestals, placed with devotion to protect their business).
Food, drinks, flowers and artistic objects made of leafs and other natural elements are all offered to spirits to gain their favor. Even in big cosmopolitan cities like Bangkok, ornate spirit houses are revered shrines for local people. Beautiful art made primarily from natural resources such as leafs, feathers and flowers can be seen in shrines and Buddhist sculptures representing different deities.
How much "sanuk" do you have in your everyday activities?
Fun Fact about Thais
Paramount to the Thai philosophy of life is "sànùk", which means fun; everyday tasks are enjoyable in regard to how much sànùk you have while doing them.
More Information about Thailand
- Buddhist Art in Thailand: Bangkok's Main Buddhist Temples
Graphic overview of Buddhist Architecture & Sculptures in Bangkok's Main Buddhist Temples: Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho and Wat Arun; includes an extended picture catalogue.
- Step By Step Instructions On How To Get A Thailand Tourist Visa In Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City)
- How to Start Your Own Business in Thailand
- 10 essential pieces of advice for travelers to Thailand
Having recently spent a couple of great weeks in Thailand, here are my 10 pieces of advice, in no particular order (this is practical advice, not destination suggestions).
- Learn Basic Thai Before You Travel to Thailand
Before you travel to Thailand, it is a smart idea to learn some basic Thai words and phrases. (Even if you are not going to Thailand any time soon, wouldn't it be cool to know how to say a few phrases in a foreign language?)