Firstly, I would like to say "thank you" to Starky for his words in the final part of his recent sub "Again … Really?" (26 June 2014). He understands Buddhist principles – and we, who believe in the teachings, understand that nothing comes easily. It takes strong discipline to adhere to all the precepts – and herein lies the problem. "Maya" (or illusion) is around us everywhere when we descend into the gross physical level – and it traps us by drawing us to things that are attractive to us. The most obvious for males being the female side of the human entity. I want to stay away from coarse references here and merely to focus on the "love" aspect of "maya".
Thailand, being a Buddhist nation (95% of the population), has always drawn me more than any other place that I have traveled to or lived within. Specific memories are the triggers that start the journey down the corridors of recall and it becomes habitual if those memories are of happy times. That's only natural for everybody – even if one professes to be a Buddhist. Some memories are also strong of unhappy times – and, sometimes, it is worth the journey down those corridors to remember even those painful episodes if they contain association with a significant person. Avoidance retains curiosity – but successive reflection is a bit like immunization – eventually you become immune to the hurt and it becomes merely a bitter/sweet moment from the past. It works for me.
Christmas is always a special time for me in Bangkok – and I know that is a strange thing to say knowing that Thais do not believe in celebrating the birth of Christ. The thing I love about Christmas in Bangkok is the feel of the city with all of the lights, the music, the trees dressed in decorations and lights – and the mood of the place. They put on this show for the visitors and to encourage spending – but even Thais seem to enjoy that time by becoming involved in the celebrations – congregating around the trees and doing their shopping. Look, it is a period for kids to enjoy – but I guess I am just a big kid – a bloody old big kid – but a kid, nevertheless. Do any of us ever lose that need to be a kid?
My first Christmas in Bangkok was in 2004 – and I found it to be just a magical experience that I never forget. In years gone past, when I had been married with kids, back in Farangland, it was special and always a nice time of the year to share time together and express feelings of love and care – and a time for putting up the tree, decorating it and exchanging gifts. But, you know, those feelings were never as strong as my first Christmas season in Bangkok. That first time, I only had 5 nights in Bangkok, on my way to Chiang Mai, where I would, unintentionally, meet Lee. After three nights in Chiang Mai, I took Lee to Bangkok and we shared 10 days and nights just before Christmas there, together. At that time I was only recently separated from Natalise and still married to her. I was honest with Lee about that.
Ever since then, whenever I am in Bangkok for Christmas, Lee is the one who I am thinking of and wishing it was she who could be with me again there.
Serious Buddhists try to become worthy, by good deeds and thoughts, to be free from Samsara (the endless cycle of death and rebirth) – some even aspiring to achieve worthiness to become Arhat (an individual who has attained a state of perfection enabling entry into Nirvana) or Bodhisattva (a human being who is committed to the attainment of enlightenment for the sake of helping others). Either of those goals are noble as far as goals go – but very few of us will achieve attaining either of them. The other factor to consider is whether many of us aspire to achieve that – because it would mean giving up all of the "good things" that we now enjoy.
Consider this – no more sex holidays, no more booze, no more bar girls, no more self-indulgent longing for things we shouldn't want, no more thinking about past times that we still wish for, no more of any of the "bad things" that we like. Would we really enjoy living in an existence with those parameters? Only last week, I was pulling Loong's leg about him coming back in the next life as a Thai boy child – and his response was "I'm not coming back at all – I don't believe in that nonsense". I said to him "You don't have any choice – it's not your decision to make". He's a bit older than me, so he's likely to find out before I do – unless, of course, a grande piano or a very large Chubb safe falls on me from a great height, before he goes – or The Grim Reaper tracks me down first.
Look, there is a lot to be said for Buddhism – but I'm not sure I want to give up the things that I enjoy. I don't have enough of the things that I enjoy in this life – I want more. I want to come back, having been born into a rich Thai family with powerful connections. It would be wonderful if you could choose the time period in which you were to be reincarnated. I want to come back as the controversial former Premier of Thailand. Bugger this sitting around "upstairs" playing harps and being "good" – what's the fun in that? And, if you are unfortunate enough to go "downstairs", can you imagine what it would be like listening to all those bastards sitting around playing piano accordions and banjos (none of them in tune). Jeez – you wouldn't be dead down there for gold bars, would you?
I wonder what life was like for Methuselah, when he was gallivanting around the globe – gee, imagine the fun he must have had in 969 years? Would have been a bit of a bastard if he had arthritis though, wouldn't it? Still, if he was reborn as a Thai, he could just slip down to the local village Witch Doctor and he'd be jake – piece of cake. Can't remember for sure – but I think they are called Mor phee (Ghost Doctor). Perhaps it's Mor sukkha-parp dee (Health Doctor). Maybe even Faith Healer (Mor sue-sat) could be the correct terminology – anyhow Methuselah would have had plenty of time to find out about that.
So, what are you going to do about this? Do you want to have eternal bliss playing a harp "upstairs", or an accordion (or banjo) "downstairs" – or would you rather come back as a business tycoon? Bloody certain what I would rather have – even if I did end up living in exile in Dubai.
There are quite a number of philosophical and scientific arguments that have been put forward about the nature of time – and I really would like to ask a Thai about this – but they are mostly too busy with other important matters that must be attended to. John Wheeler and Albert Einstein pondered on this subject but were unable to come up with anything conclusive. So, how about this: Suppose there really are Multiverses – some of them (or all of them) duplicates of this Universe in which we think we live, where everything that has ever happened is still happening but just slightly out of phase so that nothing is noticeable. Think about it – there'd have to be billions of Universes in this Multiverse concept. We and they cannot know what is happening in each other's Universes but they are all functioning normally, out of our sight or knowledge. It would be wonderful if we had some way to make arrangements so that we could swap places with certain entities in any other Multiverse sub-set. In other words, time travel. Perhaps we could use telepathy – or a simple old notice-board posted at the destination of choice. "Wanted, someone willing to swap places for a short time, please contact Ishiro at Planet Earth 4th July 2014" (I wonder how you find out the postcode of this Universe.). You could go back to the time when you were just a baby – or perhaps not yet born. Just imagine the benefits that could bring. Just think – you could jump into a worm-hole and arrive at The Battle of Mafeking (God knows why you'd want to – oh, you like cucumber sandwiches, do you?) and change the course of history. The former Premier of Thailand would be welcomed here in Australia like a home-coming hero – they love billionaires in The Land Of Oz (gives the Government lots of tax) – and he could probably become a mining magnate (possibly even Prime Minister). Every major Company and Bank in Oz would be queueing up to ask him to become Chairman of their Boards Of Directors – and he could have an absolutely wonderful life here. Wouldn't they be envious back in Thailand when they found out about that? As for me, I would be quite happy with his life back in Thailand – and, when the time came for me to meet Lee, I would be financially quite well-off, thank you very much – and we could have the life we had planned.
Oh, allright – I can tell you don't like that idea – prefer to stick with harps and accordions, do you? Good luck with that one. Geez – why do I keep getting all of these difficult customers and skeptics? Personally, I'll be having a good chat with The Big Guy upstairs about this very soon, to see how we could pull this one off – but I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem for Him. You never know, we may not need to worry about the technicalities of Multiverses and worm-holes – if I just tell Him the place, the year and the name of the person I want to come back as, He'll probably just take care of the rest. Yeah, that sounds easier. We'll keep things simple. When I get there, I'll let you know how things turned out.