Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last post for B.E. 2551

Last day of the Buddhist Era (B.E.) 2551, alias so called 2008, was not so special today, although I spent most of the day downloading gigabytes of softwares and updates for my 2 notebooks, an unusual task. In the evening, it 's home cleaning time. Some items have not been cleaned for a year or so already. Then it 's a one hour of "walk about" session.
After this post, I plan to do some jogging along the small road in my home for a while, and then perhaps to sit and meditate across the year's end. Hope it works out as planned. But I just "hate" noise of fireworks that people lit up tonight, I expect more around midnight.

Something just popped up in my mind, and I felt like I should note it here. I heard for some time that some expert had recalculated the calendar and said that the year that we called B.E. 2551 in Suwannaphum was actually B.E. 2501. Got to blame ancient Sinhalese kings :-) for they frequently reset their calendars when they newly assumed the throne in Serendip (Ceylon, i.e. Sri Lanka) so astrological experts goofed up about counting the year. Never mind, whatever people agreed upon is "unreal", not ultimate truth.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

King Naresuan 's Wat

There are many Buddhist monasteries in the former capital of Ayutthaya Kingdom that are historically important in the biography of King Naresuan the Great (then known as King Nares). A noted one is called Wat Pakaew, of the famed abbot Somdej Phra Panarat. According to Thai history, around 5 centuries ago, he was the one who asked for royal clemency for a number of Thai officers just after "the battle of the royal duel on elephant backs". Not in history book, he was the one who penned the widely used Pali chanting poem which praised the 8 victories of Lord Buddha, or the "Pahoong" verses.
Wat Pakaew was also the site for the royal cremation of King Naresuan 's body. Many people believed that Wat Pakaew was renamed Wat Vorachet (The name means the monastery of the royal brother). I had wanted to visit the Wat 's ruins for some time. Only recently did I have time to visit the temple. I noticed a spine-shape pagoda there, which I though looks like those present at Wat Po in Bangkok, where they housed relices of high ranking princes of the Rattanakoin era (Bangkok). I thus rationalized that this pagoda to the north of the central Prang might be the one which hold relics of King Naresuan, after the royal cremation ceremony. There is also a shrine dedicated to him at that Wat as well. There are some monks living in this Wat now, which is a small good news.

การเก็บสำเนาแฟ้มข้อมูลไว้ใน จีเมล์ โดยใช้ จีสเปซ

Firefox มี plugins จำนวนมาก และหลายๆตัวน่าสนใจ ตัวหนึ่งที่อยากจะหมายเหตุไว้ตรงนี้ เพราะเพิ่งลองใช้มา ก็คือ GSpace ใช้เก็บข้อมูลไว้ในพื้นที่จีเมล์ของเราได้ เป็นเน็ตเวอร์คไดรฟ์สำรองได้เป็นอย่างดี
การเก็บแฟ้มบางแฟ้มไว้บนเครือข่ายอินเตอร์เน็ตมีประโยชน์ เพราะเป็นการเก็บสำเนาข้อมูลไว้ เผื่อเครื่องคอมพิวเตอร์ตัวเก่งที่ใช้ประจำเสีย ต้องหันไปใช้เครื่องอื่น ที่ปกติจะไม่ได้ใช้(ดังนั้นแฟ้มข้อมูลอาจจะไม่อัพเดท) จะได้มีแฟ้มบางแฟ้มที่สำคัญไว้ใช้ได้ จะไว้ในทัมป์ไดรฟ์ ก็ไม่ชัวร์ ยังอาจจะเสียได้ หรือ ทำหาย หรือไม่ได้พกไปทุกที่ เราสามารถใช้ GSpace ในการส่งข้อมูลไปเก็บ หรือดึงกลับมาใช้ได้ (แต่ดูเหมือนจะมีข้อจำกัดเรื่องขนาดแฟ้ม แต่ยังไม่ได้ลองดูว่าเท่าไรถึงจะใช้ไม่ได้ และก็ข้อจำกัดเรื่องแบนด์วิธที่จีเมล์จำกัดให้ใช้ในแต่ละวันอีกด้วย)

เพิ่งอัพเดทไฟร์ฟอกซ์มา แต่ก็ใช้ได้ ปลั๊กอินตัวนี้ไม่พบว่ามีปัญหา

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Good things before New Year day

I want to document some merits for this month of December. I donated some money to help building a meditation hall for a temple in Lampang. I also donated some to join my friend 's drive to buy water purification sets for several forest monasteries in the NE Thailand. Additionally, I bought 2 toys, one for boy and the other for girl, to join a drive to collect Christmas presents for Pakkred Orphange in Nonthaburi, as organized by my daughter's English teacher at ANS. My daughter and my wife each also bought something for the kids as well. Xmas is an international holiday day now, thus I am pleased to share happiness to the disadvantaged ones. Next week is also my routine schedule to donate blood, once a trimester.

It 's good thing to talk about good deeds. If anyone is pleased with such good news above, the person immediately gets the merit as a pleasure in one's heart. Thai Buddhists would normally say the Pali word "Anumodhana" upon hearing that, which roughly means "(I am also) delighted".

A personal feat

I 'd like to note my small personal feat last Saturday. I could meditate in diamond cross-legged lotus seating position ( ขัดสมาธิเพชร ) for 1 hr and get a fair concentration while listening to two mp3 tracks of the late venerable Luangpoo (Holy grandfather) Sim 's preaching. The last time I did this I could sit only for 30 min at most. Luangpoo Sim always ordered his followers to sit in this position. So I regard him as a teacher who taught me how to sit in this position, the same position that the Buddha did when he became enlightened 25 centuries ago. During the meditation, I did not feel much pain as before. However, after the session I had to sit still for about half an hour to recover from the aching ankles.

A picture of Luangpoo Sim 's (wax) statue in this seating position is posted here as a reference in case someone might want to try it. I copied it from somewhere I have already forgotten. But I want to thank the picture 's owner here. (I don't think my non-commercial mirroring of this image here will violate someone 's copyright, as far as my interpretation of a Thai law is concerned.)

Congrats to Mr. Abhisit

I think I was among most people in Bangkok, if not in entire Thailand, to feel a bit relieved that Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva won a majority of parliamentary votes to become the next Prime Minster of Thailand, awaiting royal endorsement in a day or so. Congratulations to him. (I put up a link to his official website above.) He is a man of good moral and political standard, on top of good international education, so I personally think that he is the best qualified person at the job at this time (or for few past decades). Thai politics has its up and down cycles, much like a (mathematical) Sine curve, and I hope that we are now in a swing upward leg. I 'd also to take this chance like to thank Mr. Nevin for his sacrifice for the country. Although some political storms may be still coming but the economic storm is much bigger and should be concerned. I hope that the concern will cause political incitations by certain groups of people to be less. I hope the new PM have stamina to shoulder tough and hard works ahead.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

An image to ponder and be enlightened

My wife gave me a framed picture as a small birthday gift. Actually she bought two from MBK center in Bangkok and offered to give me both, but I just chose only one I like better so she kept the one for herself. Both of them are beautiful. A low resolution image of the one I chose is shown here just to give reader some idea. I though it has several implied meaning, as Thai would say it has hidden Dharmma enigma. I don't know whether the photographer intended or not, perhaps he just thought that the golden and the brown colors showed good contrast, or that there were good distinction between the soft texture of the lotus flower and the solid mass of the Buddha image. I though of the (Buddhist philosophy oriented) meanings in at least 3 ways:-

First, the wilted and discolored lotus flower was earlier a fresh brightly colored flower, but then it naturally decayed with time. This clearly showed the fact that everything has its start, its temporarily stay, and then its end (die). (In this regard, according to a story in Tipitaka scripture, at least a monk 25 centuries ago could become an Arahant by looking at wilted flower.)

Second, the lotus is one entity, the Buddha statue is another entity. Although there was somebody putting the flower in a hand of the seated statue, the statue did not feel pleased or displeased. Whether the flower were beautiful, or later wilted and rotten away, he did not care nor took possession that the flower in his hand as it belonged to "me". The "well-stabilized" mind thus maintain serenity and happiness.

Third, the lotus in the hand of the seated statue can be considered as analogous to the "observer", or the "knowledgeable mind". The statue is the physical structure of the body. The mind is one part, the body is another part. They are completely separate entity. What is called a "man" is unreal, since it is a composite entity that can be broken down. (Just like a car is not real, since an unassembled car is nothing more than a heap of spare parts.) In addition, the mind is impermanent, it naturally changes with time. The "knowledgeable observer", once brightly lit, can become dimmed mind sphere. If once "fully realized" that the mind is impermanence and can change itself, that the mind is suffering, is the cause of suffer, and is uncontrollable, a person could proceed from Anakami into an Arahant, and thus can be called "an enlightened one". Mind of an Arahant is free of 10 Kilasa (mental tints), and are in the serene happiness called Nirvana.

I can not think of a fourth aspect yet.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

About the Economist 's current articles

Two decades ago, I regularly read several magazines when I was far away from home and need to keep up to date of what 's happening at home on the other side of the globe. I remember that most of the time whenever there was news about my country, on any media though, it 's usually a bad news, or kind of tasty news favored by foreign reporters that tried to show how stupidly-looking or uncivilized my country or society was.

Today I just found the news that the current issue of the Economist magazine will not be available for sale in Thailand, due to self-censoring by the local distributors. I was curious and checked out some of the their articles. As usual, the articles hastily summed up decades of political history in Thailand based on foreigners' viewpoints. A number of "facts" presented in them were not accurate. No value of oriental culture were weighed in their analysis and the writers were not aware of the spiritual state or beneficial mindfulness of some Thai people they mentioned. Nor did they elaborate how disgustingly corrupt some Thai politicians were. I don't agree to a number of the authors' viewpoints. In Thai language, we have a catch phrase, "wrote things up after just staring at the candle flame (in a meditation)", which means that the writers were not inside the situation and wrote things up by their imaginations from a far away place. In general, I found the articles to have rude tone and not worth reading by Thais. I did not bother to post a counter comment at their website but to write my blog here instead.

Note added:-
Few days later (after the initial post), Thailand 's Foreign Ministry send a protest letter to the magazine 's about the publishing of two articles as distorting and explained the issues. I doubt that the authors or the editor(s) "got" it (inside their brains), but I do not care.


ข่าวที่อ่านเจอสองสามวันนี้ ที่ผมรู้สึกสนใจก็คือข่าวบริษัทยักษ์ทางด้านสื่อหนังสือพิมพ์อันดับสองของสหรัฐ ยื่นขอพิทักษ์ทรัพย์ เพราะเป็นหนี้คิดเป็นเงินไทยกว่า สี่แสนห้าหมื่นล้านบาท มากกว่าสินทรัพย์ที่มีอยู่ ข่าวนี้ทำให้เห็นได้ว่า หนังสือพิมพ์กระดาษที่เราเห็นวางแผงทั่วไปนั้น ต้นทุนสูงมาก และก็มีแนวโน้มที่จะค่อยๆหายไป แต่สื่อบนเว็บจะมาเป็นหลักแทน (อย่างไรก็ดี การหายไปของหนังสือพิมพ์กระดาษในอนาคต จะกระทบรายย่อยที่เป็นสายส่งหนังสือพิมพ์และเจ้าของแผงด้วย ไม่ต้องสงสัย) ส่วนสื่อออนไลน์นั้น แม้ต้นทุนต่ำ แต่ก็ยังขายโฆษนาไม่ได้มากนัก

ข่าวที่เกี่ยวข้องกันอีกชิ้นหนึ่งคือว่า มีข่าวว่า นักข่าวสื่อมวลชนที่มีสถิติโดนจำคุกทั่วโลกมากถึงประมาณ 40% ก็คือสื่อออนไลน์ และประเด็นที่น่าสนใจก็คือ เขาเตือนสติไว้ว่า คนเขียนบล๊อก (และผมว่าน่าจะรวมคนเล่นเน็ตอีกเป็นจำนวนมากหรือส่วนใหญ่ที่ไปโพสต์คอมเมนต์ที่ต่างๆนั้น) ก็ถือได้ว่าเข้าข่ายเป็นสื่อมวลชนเช่นกัน

เรื่องนี้ผมรู้ตัวและระวังอยู่แล้ว บล๊อกเกอร์อยู่ในกลุ่มที่ต้องระวังเพราะแนวโน้มมันสูงที่คนเขียนอะไรที่ไม่ระวังจะโดนข้อหาละเมิดต่างๆ (ไม่ว่าจะเป็น หมิ่นประมาท หรือว่า ละเมิดลิขสิทธิ์) แม้ว่าตอนเขียนจะระบายออกมาอ่านเองมากกว่า แต่เมื่อให้คนอื่นมาอ่านได้ก็จัดเป็นสื่อมวลชนไปโดยปริยาย ดังนั้นผมจึงพยายามไม่เขียนอะไรที่วิพากย์คนอื่นในแง่ลบ หรือไม่ระบุชื่อคนหรือหน่วยงานมาตลอด และอีกอย่างหนึ่งก็คือรู้ตัวว่าหากมีโทสะก็จะไม่เขียนอะไรออกมา หรือหากเขียนออกมาแล้วเมื่อรู้สึกตัวก็จะรีบมาลบบล๊อกออกไปเสีย และก็จะไม่ก๊อปอะไรๆของใครมาลงในนี้ นอกจากนี้ อะไรที่อยากจะเขียนแต่ไม่สมควรโพสต์ด้วยสาเหตุต่างๆมันก็จะอยู่แค่ในไดอารี่บนเครื่องโน้ตบุ้คผมเท่านั้นเอง

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Smiling moon

Many people mentioned of the smiling moon they saw last night. Some people send e-mails to their friends, with the photos they took. I also found a post in a friend 's blog (link given above). The celestial phenomenon seemed to give every Bangkokian who saw it a rare smile these days. Here I join my smile to spread the words around in the blogosphere. We, Thais, still have some hope and smiles while buried in this serious political situation.

(Photo credit : A copy of the picture posted in my friend 's blog)

After I wrote the first part of this post, few hours later the high court ruled to disband 3 government parties. Then in the evening, as I watched on TV the royal guards' marching in front of H.M. at the Royal Plaza for his coming birthdays in the next 3 days, I had an impression that everything would be over by that day. A couple hours later, it was announced that the siege of the two airports would end tomorrow morning. Finally, the much predicted serious bloodshed seems to have been thwarted. I now feel relieved. The hugh financial losses for people and the country will come soon, but not to worry too much for now.

Pennywort juice: my favorite herbal drink

It 's been quite some time that I have not had pennywort herbal drink, or น้ำใบบัวบก in Thai. Due to floods in several regions in Thailand this year, pennywort was rarely available in the markets. In traditional medicine, its juice is used to help curing of internal injuries. I just used it as refreshment. It 's been my favorite daily drink, but with some sugar added. Today I am glad that I could have pennywort drink again. It 's a tiny bliss to relieve me temporarily from daily stress. I also don't want to watch news these days.