Buddha comes in all shapes and sizes
I thought I have seen it all. The standing Buddha, the sitting one, the sleeping statue, the up sized or tiny, the whole S, M, L range , the golden or silver sculpture, Buddha’s footprint, tooth relic and only recently Buddha’s eyebrow relic in Cambodia. With flowers and offerings or without, posing alone or with an elephant and monkey (who attended to him as prince Siddhartha Gautama sought solitude and enlightenment away from material pleasures before becoming Buddha – ‘the enlightened one’). But today’s tour offered yet another sight.
At Koh Samui’s most colourful temple complex Wat Plai Laem you get it all and on top: a one of a kind Buddha statue in a generous up size and with multiple arms. Multiple in this case means eighteen! Usually Buddha has two arms. This one needs them to hold all crucial elements of life. Buddhist temples will have at least one statue of the Buddha and possibly numerous statues of gods, each of which can be worshipped separately.
If Buddha can be portrayed in all shapes and sizes then it calls for a flexible, open and tolerant recipient. The varied colour scheme from white, bright pink, baby blue, pastel and dark green to red, purple, orange, black, silver and gold serves Buddha’s complexity. The message is one of multiplicity and the people it is aimed at open minded thinkers. So they are. Thai people are reserved, respectful and calm, friendly and helpful, open and tolerant. Men and women are of equal rights – you can see just as many women as men working at banks, malls, markets… their traditions and believes not having evolved into macho societies.
Buddha and the gods get a lot of presents. Buddha likes colourful flower arrangements and coconuts and fruit and fizzy drinks. Buddha appreciates life and beauty. He shows emotion and usually puts on his brightest smile for us. This also reflects behaviours and attitudes of Buddhist societies . They are worshippers of life, happiness and gratitude, they do not nourish on hate and sin but have a peaceful nature. This is how I have experienced Thailand’s people and I feel that through happy bright colourful statues and temples, shiny praying houses this is reinforced. I can’t help but smile when entering a Wat to admire beautiful Buddha statues, stupas and decorative temple patterns.
When visiting Bodh Gaya in India, the town where Siddharta Gautama sat under the Bodhi tree to seek enlightenment, we watched monks meditate and exercise. I walked around the site in high spirits for visitors are welcome and will not be limited by their presence as tourists in any way. You could move freely around the Bodhi tree and the temple site, monks smiling and happily engaging in conversation when you approach them. Just as in any Buddhist temple.
Buddhist places are fun and bright and inviting for all mankind. Not being an expert on religious believes, Buddhism, from my point of view, conveys endless respect for diversity, it therefore seems to show least obsessive-compulsive behaviours. Buddhism is likeable because it doesn’t seem to be restraining personal life. So far, the most accessible religion I came across on our planet. It is easy to relate to a faith based on positive ideas and believes.
The churches in Germany and Poland are rather dark with predominantly depictions of suffering, pain and death. Buddhist monks wear bright orange, priests and nuns wear pitch black. Even the impressive cathedral in Cologne is so dark it looks nicest at night when fully illuminated. You will never have that daunting feeling in Buddhist temples. Now let’s move on to reach Nirvana. Ohm.
How many arms do you see?
Wat Plai Laem, the temple floating on a lotus flower.
|Bathing elephant statue.||Smiling Buddha statue.|
|More vivid statues.|
The green god.
The elephant god.
Smiling Buddha from beneath.
|Buddha’s carriers and me.||Many heads god and Tomek.|
|Colourful Buddha houses.|
Koh Samui is famous for its mummified monks. This is just a statue. I checked.
Beautiful entrance gate.
|100 Baht for three fun rounds at the temple.||Donations for the temple start at 100 Baht.|
For another 100 Baht you can place a wish on a tile that will be used to rebuild the temple roof.
|Holy water blessing machine.||Normal water vending machine.|
Tombs with Thai name plaques and dates. We are now on the year 2555.
Date compromise for westerners.
Don’t worry – be happy!