Upon arriving in Thailand I was struck by how integrated Buddha and Buddhism was into daily life. In America, the separation of church and state is a core principal and people even bring cases to the Supreme Court if too much religion is infiltrating into government based places and things. In Thailand, everywhere you look there are Buddha figurines, or Temples honoring Buddha. The visual representations were just the beginning though. On the way from the airport our guide spoke about how 80% of the country is Buddhist. That fact alone shocked me, but after seeing more of the country and learning more about Buddhism I am less shocked.
One take-away I had from our Monk chat was that Buddhism is a way of living and philosophy more so than a religion. Coming at Buddhism with that in mind, it is easier for me to see why it is so easily integrated into culture here. This way of life is so natural and engrained here. People often go to the temple once or more a week and participate in many other ways with Temples and monks. Some of these ways include donating clothing, food, or money to the temples and monks. The people do not see this as a chore, but as a way of paying forward kindness and wishing good upon others. One of the core ideas of Buddhism is this idea of trying to pay if forward. I think this idea contributes to the friendly way of life here. Overall, everything I learned about Buddhism today was incredible and it really helped me to understand the country and it’s people more.