Friday, November 27, 2009
เมื่อปีก่อนผมเคยดูทีวี ช่องดิสคอฟเวอรี่ เคยรู้สึกทึ่งในเทคโนโลยีที่ใช้ในการสร้างอะไรๆขึ้นที่ดูไบ เช่นการถมทะเล การสร้างเมืองอะไรขึ้นมาจากสิ่งที่ไม่มีอะไรเมื่อสามทศวรรษก่อน แต่ผมก็ไม่เห็นมันจะมีอะไรน่าสนใจในเมืองทะเลทรายแห่งนั้น หรือแม้แต่ความฝันเรื่องการสร้างเกาะต่างๆ จากการถมทะเล ผมเคยคิดว่า จะมีใครที่ฉลาดน้อยจำนวนมากไปซื้อบ้าง ผมเห็นความโลภที่ไม่เคยพอของคน เห็นการใช้แรงงานชาวเอเซีย ในสภาพความเป็นอยู่ที่ไม่ดีนัก เห็นเรื่องสมมุติต่างๆ ที่คนปั้นแต่งขึ้นมา เป็นเรื่องไร้สาระ เห็นระบบกฎหมายและสังคมที่ที่ล้าหลังของเขา
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
เมืองไทยเราปลูกป่า (reforestation) กันมาพอสมควร แต่ไม่รู้ว่าในระดับประเทศเพิ่มพื้นที่กันได้มากน้อยแค่ไหน แต่ที่แน่ๆ คนงานรับจ้างนายทุนเลวๆตัดป่าก็ยังมีให้จับได้
แต่สลากออมสิน (GSB's lottery) เป็นอีกเรื่องหนึ่ง จริงๆแล้วมันก็คือ ใบรับฝากเงินนั่นแหละ ฝรั่งเขาเรียกว่า CD (Certificate of Deposit) แต่มีการออกรางวัลให้ด้วย ซื้อมาหลายปีไม่เคยถูก เพิ่งมาได้รับแจ้งทางไปรษณีย์เมื่อวาน ถูกรางวัล ก็รู้สึกไม่ค่อยดีใจเท่าไร ตอนนี้มีค่าใช้จ่ายแยะ ได้มาก็รู้สึกว่าค่อนข้างเฉยๆ
กทม. ก็ยังไม่เห็นทำเรื่องการรีไซเคิลขยะอย่างเป็นระบบ ยังคงปล่อยผลประโยชน์มหาศาลไปอยู่ในมือใครก็ไม่รู้
ดูเหมือนว่า เมื่อเดือนที่แล้ว อ. อาจองท่านออกมาพูดไม่เห็นด้วยเรื่องการสร้างรัฐสภาใหม่ในกรุงเทพฯ ว่าควรไปสร้างที่อื่น เช่น ที่อีสาณใต้ ผมเห็นด้วยกับท่าน การจะสร้างไปริมแม่น้ำเจ้าพระยา ใช้เงินเป็นหมื่นล้าน แต่อยู่ได้อีกสักแค่สิบหรือยี่สิบปีกรุงเทพก็ต่ำกว่าระดับน้ำทะเลเสียแล้ว ก็น่าเสียดาย
Friday, November 13, 2009
สำหรับเรา ชาวต่างชาติ ก็เห็นตัวอย่างได้อีกอย่างหนึ่งว่า สำนักงานสิทธิบัตร ไม่จำเป็นต้องทำงานถูกต้องเสมอไป
ที่พึงระวังอีกอย่างก็คือ การบังคับใช้สิทธิบัตรในประเทศอื่นๆ หากว่าไปจดสนธิสัญญารับรู้สิทธิบัตรต่างชาติแบบไม่ลืมหูลืมตา ก็จะมีผลกระทบเชิงลบไปด้วย
มีคนจำนวนไม่น้อย กำลังต่อต้านการจดทะเบียนสิทธิบัตรซอฟต์แวร์ และ สิทธิบัตรกระบวนการทางการค้า ซึ่งผมก็ค่อนข้างเห็นด้วยในการคัดค้าน
ฝรั่งมีความโลภมากเป็นที่ตั้ง โดยเฉพาะบริษัทข้ามชาติ มีอะไรมันก็จะคว้าไปหมด
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Next morning we went to visit the place where Suchada (Suchata) 's house was. The mound is now covered with bricks and it now looks like an archeological stupa, perhaps in an attempt to lure tourists here. A mountain, Thais call Donkasiri, where Buddha spent his 6 years of physical torments during his quest to understand dhamma before enlightenment could be seen in the back behind our bus. We did not go there.
We visited a site near Niranjala river (Thais call Nerunchala) where Lord Buddha floated the gold tray after he consumed all the Payas (dessert made of rice, milk and butter) presented by Sujata on the day before the full moon night of May. He had not eaten for several days before. And he would not eat any food after the enlightenment for at least the next 49 days.
This locatlion is also where Buddha was given 8 bundles of long Gussa grass by a brahmin and he carried them across the river to where the Bodhi tree is (and now Bodhgaya) and used that to make a cushion for his sitting meditation on the enlightenment night (now celebrated as Vesakhabucha).
Nerunchala river is now mostly dried sand, with small stream running only afar in the middle, due to deforestation in the origin water source of this river.
Perhaps, the shrubs of grass we see in this picture are those of the Gussa grass.
We then proceeded to visit the oldest great Unversity in the World, Nalanda (Thais called it Nalantha) University. The guide said that its great coverage covers 7 x 3 sq.miles (approx 10 x 4.5 sq. km.). (But the dug archeological site covered only about 14 hectares, according to wikipedia). It was built in the old village where Sariputta (the right hand student monk of Lord Buddha, who was considered the most genius, and master of Abhidhamma) was born. Historians believed the University was built around 1600 years ago. It lasted around 800 years then destroyed by small muslim army. (I do not want to stir hatred here, but it 's a fact we should know.) Since no single person decided to fight, thousands of monks were slaughtered, many while in meditation. It was written that the temple complex was burning for months, esp. its 3 main libraries.
We could see several lecture halls in the area, with surrounding living rooms. This restored lecture hall is quite well preserved, with the platform in front of the class. That thousand years old hall gave me a kick to pose as a teacher there. :-)
Thai people like to stopped by to worship a big Buddha image made from black stone, called Luang Phor Dum (in Thai means the black father, and now the locals also called that in Thai name too). He is currently kept by local villagers outside the old Nalantha University. We went there and chanted mantra, meditated, and decorated him with gold-laced yellow robe. In the picture I also followed other Thais of sticking gold foil on him too. We also donated some money to help the locals in maintaining the small shack for the statue.
We had to walk a long way from the shack to the main road, where thousands or perhaps ten thousands came out to celebrate a festival to worship sun god (Suriya Dev) during that time causing a traffic jam on that small road.
We stopped by at an often neglected Ajadsatru's Stupa. A lot of cow dungs are abundant in the lawn. This was the location where King Ajadsatru built a stupa to keep Rajgir's share of Lord Buddha 's relics that he obtained after the cremation at Kusinara (currently called Kusinagar). Perhaps Lord Buddha 's relics are no longer there but we stopped to chant mantra there anyway.
We stopped by at a government's park, where the old Weruwan (Veruwan = bamboo jungle) monastery was donated by King Bimbisara to Lord Buddha. This was the first Buddhist monastery so it 's a very important location. Too bad, local officials recently cleared a lot of bamboo trees away and thus we felt a bit disengaged of the original Buddhist name from the current physical appearance.
Another group of Thai monks and laypersons are already there, (seen in the picture as) walking around a Buddha image (Thaksinawat, i.e. walk clockwise, but I think Indians call it Parikam now). We stopped there to chant mantra, meditate for 20 min, and decorated the Buddha only image there with a gold-laced yellow cloth.
After coming down from the vulture head peak, we briefly stopped by at the location where King Bimbisara of Rajgir was jailed and starved from foods (2600 years ago) by his son, King Ajadsatru (I spelled the way Thai people pronounced). From this area, the jailed King Bimbisara could look up to Buddha's shelter on the peak (arrowed) and possibly felt mentally comfortable while conducting his walking meditation to spend time in his cell. Without food he could live for a rather long time, until the new King sent a barber to make cuts on his feet so he could no longer walk, and eventually died. The story in Tipitaka also said that on that day, King Ajadsatru had his newborn baby and loved it very much. Soon he realized that his dad must have loved him so much too. But when the King ordered for the release of his dad, it was already too late to resurrect the former King's life. It 's a sad history.
Sunday, November 08, 2009
At the top of the Kitchakut hill, the original shelter of Buddha (Thais called it Mulakanthakudi) is located. There are stairs for people to climb up there. The shelter was small, only the size of around 3m x 3 m in size. New bricks were laid to show the location of the shelter and the ground was smooth covered with cement. I am not sure if that was how it looked like almost 2600 years ago. I supposed Lord Buddha lived in a much simpler way, even perhaps under a tree or a cave (like the Sugarakata cave). Again, it 's also possible that King Bimbisara built the Kuti for him up there.
Buddha would come down to the city for morning food alms, possibly by using the steep channel shown before the ladder was built.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Walking uphill to the vulture head peak (or Kitchakut hill) via the Bimbisara road was a pleasant walk in October weather like this. I wore a jacket but did not feel hot. The ultimate goal is the original Buddha's Kuti (shelter) on the hill top. However, along the path there are several important points, including the location where Devatata pushed big stones downhill aiming to kill Buddha, a cave where Phra Mokalana meditated, and a cave (Sugarakhata cave, or Pig head cave) where Phra Saribut (Sariputta) became an Arahant. Pictures are shown below. I think the gold leaves pasted on these caves could probably be attributed by Thai people mainly. They came here to worship, to chant mantra, and to meditate.
Notice small stars inside the Mokalana 's cave.
Sugarakhata cave was an important place mentioned in Tipitaka, where Buddha was teaching to Thikanaka while Sariputta was fanning the Buddha nearby. After the teaching, Thikanakha became a Sodapun while Sariputta, already a Sodapun by that time, became an Arahant. Besides, Sariputta was a wise teacher, second only to Lord Buddha. Buddha taught Abhidhamma only briefly to Sariputta, but he then explained in-depth to his students. Since I am an Abhidhamma student, I consider myself a student of his as well.
Rajgir was a big city 3-4 millennia ago. Thais also know its alias, Panjakhirinakara, which means the city surrounded by 5 mountains. Troughs in the ancient stone road created by carts thousands of years ago could be seen. The city was the capital of Magat kingdom.
After the capital was moved to Patliputra (Patna), after 2000 years, the city became a jungle, as viewed from the uphill road en route to "Kitchagut" hill (the Vulture head peak), where Lord Buddha 's Kuti was located. This clearly demonstrated the key principle of Buddhism, the 3 characters (Trilaks). Trilaks means everything (except Nirvana) has its start, its temporary existence, its end. A glorious city 3000 years ago is now visibly a forest. ( Well, I know that there is a (newer) small rural town in the name Rajgir located outside this mountain surround, but it is not the original Rajgir as Buddhists' regard.)
The is the place almost 26 centuries ago where, under a Bodhi tree, Lord Buddha sat cross-legged with strong determination that he would not get up again unless he discovered the dhamma. He eventually had enlightment on the full moon night on the 6th month (May). The fourth generation Bodhi tree planted on the same spot can be seen on the left next to the tall Viraha. The Vihara housed a sacred Buddha image, called Luangphor Buddha Metta by Thais, on the first floor. A lot of people came here to meditate, to chant mantra, to walk clockwise around it three times (as a gesture to pay respect), or to pay homage by "Asdangkhapranot" (Tibetan style), which means having 8 points of the body touching the ground. Thais only do the 5 points touching the ground gesture now. Historically we did the Asdangkhapranot too, but not any more. I did not try that. My monk teacher said that he tried it once and after 3 times his body was sweating. More importantly, the (borrowed) bed would be quite smelly, if it's not your own. I was impressed by the presence of Buddhists from all over the World, including westerners. I feel glad for their discovered path of life.
Later we went to visit the giant Buddha image, the Daibutsu.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
I took a direct flight from Bangkok's Suwannaphum (officially spelled as Suvarnabhumi) airport to Gaya airport in northern India. The direct flight on a Boeing 737-400 was less than 3 hr. I 'd say over 95% of the passengers in the half full plane were Thais. A number of vegetarians who informed the check-in counter also got their vegetarian meal on board. Nice service. (Nope. I 'm not a veggie.) I believe this direct flight is operated only during winter (cold) season. At this time the passenger load was low, possibly because it's just the start of the cold season (and thus suitable to visit India) as well as the time of economic down turn. October is also the month for Kathin ceremony (an annual ceremony of cloth donation for selected Buddhist monks to sew their robes) so a lot of devoted Buddhists like my friends are busy at temples elsewhere inside the country instead of going abroad to India.
We arrived at the Gaya airport just before 2 p.m. Indian time, 1:30 hr behind Bangkok time. We had been warned that there might be a small hassle to pass through many of the red tape at small Indian airport like this. This is the first airport I have encountered that boarding pass of everyone was rechecked after disembarking from the plane and just before getting into the terminal building. Amazing. Inside, I was then asked by someone in mixed English-Thai sentence asking for a pen so I gave him a 10 Baht gel pen in order to get into the country smoothly. Then there was a step when declared no. of luggage in the custom slips must match the number of things each of the passengers was hauling pass the terminal or one would be stopped at the exit door. India incredibly have officers at various steps to do all the unnecessary "tasks". Interestingly, I think our flight was the only one for the day.
We went straight to from the airport to the hotel in Bodhgaya (Thai called it verbally "Buddhagaya"), perhaps the main gateway to trace back Buddhist history in India.
We started by visiting some international temples first. It looked like those beggars and hawkers were mainly targeting (generous hearth) Thai tourists. It was amazed that many of them would try their best to annoy us so that they could get money. And some kids would not leave even after they successfully got some. Soon we learned our lesson on how to deal with them.
A picture of our plane taken at the Bangkok International Airport is shown below.
I think if one ask young Thais,
Why do millions of people went out in the evening to put down small candle-lit and incensed sticks-lit flower floats along rivers or canals ?, I guess new generation people might answer that the festival 's just for fun. I think if they did answer like that they would probably be right. For hundreds of years, that how young men had chance to meet young women at a rare night festival like this. Some might say otherwise that it is chance in a year to pay tribute to the river angel (Phra Mae Kongka) for providing life line to peple's living. But I would say that explaination was based on Hinduism belief, not Buddhism's. I 'll put down Buddhists' view point down here, which hopefully would be more useful to Thai Buddhists.
Firstly for Buddhists, putting the float along the river 's mainly for worshipping the foot print of Lord Buddha who stamped his footprint at a place called Numtanatee (perhaps a river bank or an oceanside somewhere) almost 2.6 millennia ago.
Secondly, it 's to worship buddha's relics that had been floated at Ganges river in Varanasi by an Indian King after he discovered the relics in an old stupa near Varanasi.
Thirdly, the 15th waxing moon night almost 2.6 millennia ago was the day a prominent Arahant and Buddha's right hand premier monk, Sariputta (Thais called Phra Saribut), went to Nirvana (died). So this is also a remembrance for him.
Those are the reason why I and people in our group put down floats at the Ganges river at Varanasi 4 days earlier, while we were still in India.