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Buddhism not gold-plated

There is talk of raising Bt300 billion to build a massive statue of the Buddha, which would be the largest display yet of anti-Buddhist idolatry.

Siddhartha achieved his status of Buddha through "self-teaching" - learning to build his intellect. His teaching was about training the mind to be at peace with itself and the world around. He was raised as an aristocratic Hindu immersed in rituals and images of gods, but he sought only to understand reality.

The Buddha's teaching has nothing to do with temples or images of himself - only about enlightening the mind.

Teaching people to understand does not require buildings and images adorned in gold plate. Buddhism is about simplicity, allowing the mind to concentrate on its own development without the distraction of grandeur. It was his palatial surroundings that Siddhartha rejected in his pursuit of enlightenment.

Such a large sum of money would be more wisely spent on schools and on training teachers to pass on the words of Buddha as a basis for the national curriculum. Reform would then evolve naturally, with social cohesion. A 2,500-year-old training regimen is the answer to the idiosyncrasies of human nature and could produce a more congenial world.

JC Wilcox

Bangkok


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