Saturday, August 28, 2010

LP Kalong's body at Wat Kao Laem

Video of the hall interior where LP Kalong's body is venerated. It was my first visit to Wat Kao Laem in Sakaew province.
Shot of the casket containing LP's body.
Paying homage to LP Kalong.
Temple gate.
Naga staircase.
Far view of the Ubosot.
A golden chedi.
Jatukam shrine.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The biggest Guan Gong statue in the world

Recently, the Shanxi provincial government in China has completed a project to build the biggest Guan Gong statue in the world at the birthplace of General Guan - Chang Ping village near Yuncheng city. This is to commemorate the deity and also to promote tourism. The bronze statue is 61m tall, symbolizing the age when Guan Gong passed away and the platform is 19m tall, symbolizing the age when he left his home town. Over 500 tons of copper, 2,000 tons of steel and 18,000 tons of earth were used to build this statue.

Indeed, of all the guardian deities in Buddhism, only Guan Gong enjoys such high respect and has such a giant statue built in his honor. Again, this is an eternal testament to the traditional values of loyalty, courage, humanity and righteousness, represented by Guan Gong. Even though the Chinese government build large monuments like these to attract the tourist dollar rather than promoting traditional values, they still serve to inspire all people who look upon them in one way or another. The Guan Gong monument park will be officially opened on Sep 13th 2010.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Coffin Sleeping Ritual in Singapore

Today there is an article in both Shinmin and Wanbao about a reportedly possessed young girl, whose family had to spend around $30K to perform an exorcism ritual for her, done by members of the Yin Fu Dian temple in Bt Batok. It was a very elaborate ritual involving the temple mediums and many helpers, who had to set up a golden coffin, various instruments, food offerings, paper money, figurines and bridge at the Choa Chu Kang cemetery. The girl had to walk through a symbolic Hell setting and lay in the coffin for 3 hours while the mediums recite their prayers. We seldom see such elaborate rituals here, which was why it stirred up such strong interest in the Chinese tabloids.

This ritual is similar to those luck changing rituals in Thailand where the person needs to sleep in a coffin and be "reborn" after special prayers by monks are performed to dissolve his or her old karma. The 2008 movie "The Coffin" is a much dramatized horror film using this ritual as its theme. But the important question that we all want to ask is: does it work? Only those people who have tried it will know. If we talk about possession, we don't really need such a complicated ceremony to solve the problem. Simply using holy water will do. If we talk about black magic, we have to see what kind of black magic and this ritual might only work for some forms of it and not others. If we talk about previous bad karma, then practicing Vipassana meditation and experiencing various painful Vedana (feelings) is the best way to expiate them. So we should not blindly put our faith in such rituals, but always try to use wisdom and mindfulness to scrutinize them well first. As the Buddha said, "Dhamma is the best medicine." Because in reality, we are all sleeping in our own coffin. What is this coffin? It is the 5 aggregates of clinging (upadana khanda). Clinging to form, feelings, perception, volition and consciousness binds us forever to the endless cycle of becoming. The 5 desires, desire for wealth, sex, fame, food and sleep are our coffin. We are constantly buried in the sea of suffering due to the pursuit of these desires. The desire for pleasant sights, sounds, smell, taste, touch are also no different. How can we ever rise up from this coffin and be "reborn"? Only through the cutting off, abandoning, renouncing and giving up of all forms of clinging and desires can it be achieved. Only by letting them die then can one be reborn as an Arya, a Noble one who has seen the end of suffering. Perhaps that is the true meaning behind the symbolism of the coffin ritual.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wat Sotorn in Chachengsao

Videos taken at the old and new Ubosots of Wat Sotorn, Chachengsao on Asalha bucha day 2553.
Close up of the original LP Sotorn statue inside the old Ubosot.
LP Sotorn inside the new Ubosot.
A closer shot.
The LP Sotorn Katha:
Namo Tassa (3x)
Iti Iti Iti Sotaro
Na Mo Put Ta Ya
Ya Ta Put Mo Na.
Back of the statue.
Phra Sangkachai 5" bucha chowed at the old Ubosot.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bogus Taiwan Master cons girls with Thai amulets

Couple of days ago there was an article in the Shinmin paper about a high profile religious conman in Taiwan being arrested for his crimes. Zheng Guanqian, has for some years gone around Taipei pretending to be an expert in Maoshan Taoist magic as well as the "only Thai black magic master" in Taiwan. Zheng has appeared on various news programs, paranormal variety shows, magazines and even writes his own books. As a result there were many gullible people who became his followers. He also has a blog about his so-called magical arts as well as an account on Yahoo auction selling Thai amulets. Having set up an altar in his hometown Tucheng, he provided religious services for women suffering from marriage and relationship problems, collecting amounts from 2,000 - 200,000 NTD from them for his rituals and amulets. Zheng sold mainly non-mainstream stuff like animal and human lukkok (seen above) which promised fast results, in line with his crooked personality. Zheng with variety show host Xiao Pan Pan. As we can see he wears a chain of 7 amulets. He started to run afoul of the law when he tricked several of the more attractive girls who came to look for him to perform oral sex for him, with the excuse of making "Metta Oil" for them. Zheng told them that the 2 most important ingredients for the oil was "their saliva and his semen", so naturally oral sex was the only way to acquire them. He promised that this Metta oil will solve whatever problems they had. This went on for a while and eventually some of these girls woke up and reported him to the police. The rest is history. When arrested, some of the cops asked him, "Will those little ghosts (that Zheng rears) help you in court and prison?" Zheng's dejected reply was, "They ran away long ago". Pic of Zheng visiting LP Up of Wat Thongsai, Nakhon Pathom, probably for getting his Mae Nang Pim amulets. The reason that Zheng was able to succeed in his sexual crimes was partially due to a general ignorance about Thai Buddhism and amulets in Taiwan and also Hong Kong. From time to time we hear similar stories of religious conmen tricking girls into having sex with them in the pretext of performing some magic ritual for them to solve their problems. These conmen almost certainly claim either to be Thai, Taoist or Tibetan magic experts, or even all of the above. That is not to say that such crimes don't happen in Singapore and Malaysia, but the people here are relatively more knowledgeable about such things due to our proximity to Thailand. Furthermore there are many different reputable guru monks and Ajarns from Thailand who visit Singapore and Malaysia regularly to meet devotees here. This greatly reduce the chance of bogus masters succeeding in conning a large number of people. As the Chinese saying goes, "When there are no tigers on the mountain, the monkeys declare themselves king". Such is the case in Taiwan and Hong Kong. However if we really want to look for the true cause of such religious crimes, it is that desire to get a quick fix to our problems that turns many people into fools. They fall easy prey to conmen offering magical solutions, ending up losing lots of money or being used and abused if they are attractive females. As such, the wise Luang Pors always teach us not to rely too much on Wicha, but to chant the holy verses and practice Vipassana meditation. Hard to accept as it might be, this is the only real and reliable way to solve our problems.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

LP Foo of Wat Bangsamak

Short clips of our visit to Wat Bangsamak, Chachengsao on Asalha bucha day 2553. This is the temple of the famous LP Foo.
Consecrations photos of the latest batch of amulets.
LP Foo's secretary reblessing the amulets we chowed from the temple.
Billboard advertising the batch of amulets consecrated last year.
Phra Sivali Shrine.
Vihara to LP Foo's parents.
The large Chedi of the temple.
Portrait of LP Foo. He was not around when we visited. Though he is famous in central Thailand and Bangkok, he is still relatively unknown in Singapore.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Wat Lin Thong in Ang Thong

Wat Lin Thong is a famous temple in Ang Thong province which specializes in Lersi Wicha. Above are short clips of the surroundings at the temple.
The open field at the temple is surrounded by statues of the various Lersis.
Having a shot taken with one of the great Lersi.
Portrait of LP Sakchai, young abbot of Wat Lin Thong. He is an up and coming master. However he was not around when we visited the temple.

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Blood Consecration of LP Samchai

Recently we visited a up and coming Wicha master, LP Samchai of Wat Dongradee, Ang Thong to chow his amulets and Lersi buchas. His temple was not really a temple, but a small shrine and kuti in a rice field. So LP was in need of funds to build up his temple. On conversing with him, I learned that he was of Chinese Teochew descent and could speak the dialect. He told me in Teochew some story of a Bangkok guy wearing his takrut escaping from a gang attack unhurt. So after chowing the amulets and the Phra Lersi Prom bucha (above left), I asked LP to rebless the bucha for me. Never did we expect him to show us his power by using his own blood to do the consecration!

An extract video of the blood consecration.
The rest of the consecration pics. At the end of the ceremony, LP gave each of us free tiger rians, but our driver was too shocked to take his.. so I ended up with 2 rians on top of what I already chowed. I've seen a lot in Thai Buddhism, but it was also the first time for me witnessing this kind of ceremony up close. I was filled with a mixture of shock as well as awe for this master.
The blood and wax stained Phra Lersi Prom 5" bucha.