We're riding in the back of a truck taxi right now on our way to a hospital about 35 minutes from Sing Buri. The bumps in the road translate well to the truck and my bottom. There is a little rain and the skies are closed with a sheet of cloud cover. It's peaceful. We're in the present. Earlier today we visited the Buddist temple in Sing Buri. It is full of statues of Buddha and pictures of monks from the past. We placed incense and lit a candle and placed a gold leaf on a reclining Buddha.
This morning at 6am we joined some locals to give cooked rice and package (ours was with canned fish and a juice box) to the monks as they passed by. Each of us respectfully bowed before placing the rice in the their bowls. After collecting the food, they eat what they need for that day of the perishable items and then give the rest to the poor.
While walking through the temple we came to the large reclining Buddha. When we got to the head there was a spot to kneel and bow. I chose not to. P'Ao, one of the coordinators, asked me why I didn't kneel and bow. She said, "Is it against your religion?"
The night before while eating in town, someone asked the core beliefs of a Seventh-Day Adventist. I explained healthy life style, death as a sleep, salvation through Jesus' death and life, living with love towards other (God's charactor as Jesus lived), and heaven, "hell" as separation from God, and the new earth. There are several world regions represented in our group. It was refreshing to share Christianity as a simple way of life rather than a complicated religion. Talking with others there, we shared several core principles.
When P'Ao asked me if it was because of my religion, I hesitated, and said, "Kind of, it's because it's not living." I explained that for the monks and to her and other people I have deep respect. And in the Thai culture, we will show that by bowing. Also that I didn't mean any disrespect to her or anyone else. But to an image that is not alive, I will not bow. She understood. And she said, "That is good that you do what you believe. Some people come here and just do everything because it is what we do but you should do how you believe."
Last night P'Mick was leaning against the doorway and I joined him. He was eating the rambutan fruit that looks like a leche. We starting chatting a bit. I asked him about his family and his place here where we are staying. I noticed the meat of a rambutan fruit sitting next to a pillar. Ants had found it and were crowding around, making a line up the pilar to somewhere and nowhere. I was surprised and said something like, "Oh, no, you'll attract the ants." He said, "The ants have to eat too." And laughed. He had placed it there to feed the ants. I asked him if he killed the ants ever. Or mosquitoes. What about malaria? He said no and you just blow them off your arm and it's bad luck then, or wear long sleaves. No killing. One of his five principles he lives by. He explained to me that as a Buddist he lives in the now. The present. The past is past and unchangable and the future has not happened yet so why worry about it. The only thing we can do is be in the now. This morning the fruit had ants covering it entirely and when we left this afternoon on the truck, we could see the seed showing through.