This weekend, I went to Ayutthaya with my friend Katie. She is so great and I loved meeting up with her for some one-on-one girl time. For the most part, we walked around, looked at temples that were really old and beautiful, (what Ayutthaya is known for,) drank coffee and had some friend time. We laughed and listened to music and talked about our future plans post-Thailand. We had a great weekend and I think it was just what the doctor ordered as I wind myself down to end my journey in Thailand. Today, I rode the train back to Korat, where I connected to another train to come home to Muang Khong. I should probably write more about Ayutthaya itself, and probably will when I am less anxious about sharing my experience from my train ride home.
While I was waiting at the railway station in Korat, someone kept waving and motioning me to come over. I didn’t recognize who it was from a distance, so I decided to ignore them and assume they weren’t waving to me. I was listening to my iPod when someone taps me on the shoulder and I turn around and recognize a man a little older than me who I had met a couple of months ago at an English Competition. Oddly, his name is Coo Coo Cocoa Crunch. He was just SO excited to see me. His English is very good and he asked me to sit with him on the train because, “I have a lot of things to tell you, Chelsea.” I was kind of bummed because I was really excited about reading a book I had just downloaded onto my Kindle, but of course I obliged. I am really glad I did because I had the most entertaining conversation that I have had with a Thai person since I have been in Thailand.
Coo Coo first staring going off about how the judges at the English Competition were so unfair and blah blah blah and I stopped paying attention and just kind of nodded. Then he asked me if I had heard of the ghost at my school. WHAT??!!? No way. Apparently, a janitor died and now haunts MY building, but he only shows himself if you want him to. Not really believing him, I just kind of laughed. He then started talking about some program on Channel 5 Thai TV that has a “very reliable” host that “would never lie to his audience.” The program reveals spirits that are haunting people and places, such as one woman who was haunted by the husband of her former life. The spirit apparently made her eat tons of food for 10 years until an exorcist (or the Buddhist equivalent) came onto the show and removed the spirit from her body and put him in a Buddhist statue created for the spirit. It sounds like something right off of a TLC late-night special. While I found it hilarious that with his full heart believed this show to be the end-all-be-all it made me realize that reality TV isn’t just ruining the west, it’s taking the whole world down.
The former life ex-husband’s spirit led me to ask him about Buddhism itself and his belief on spirits and the afterlife. He explained it to like this: In this life, what you receive is 70% of what you put effort into in this life and 30% of what you put forth in the life previous to this. Heaven and Hell exist (in his opinion.) Heaven is what I assume to be Nirvana and you go there by giving love and assuming and needing nothing in return. Never needing any possessions or the love of others to exist is the only way to achieve heaven. When the spirit goes to hell, it goes a certain level based on its transgressions. After proper punishment, it is sent back to Earth as an animal that is appropriate to its transgressions. Coo Coo used the example of someone who lies and spreads rumors. Their spirit is sent to level 4 of hell. The monster (his words, not mine) will chop of the spirit’s tongue and it will serve its sentence in hell without a tongue. Then, the spirit will possess an animal such as a frog or a fly- Animals who use their tongue to survive. CC told me that he thinks Whitney Houston is in hell drinking many toxins because she ruined her life with drugs and she did not give her us her gift of song anymore. SIDENOTE: Thai people are very upset about Whitney Houston’s death. VERY. CC thinks she will be reincarnated into a snake or something because he thinks snakes cannot control their body, much like a drunk or drugged person cannot control themself. To me, this makes Coo coo’s version of Buddhism seem like a board game. “Chelsea has murdered a cow. Proceed to level 4 of hell.” “Chelsea has selflessly given her love, has no possessions and has not sought love from another human being. ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: Nirvana.”
Coo Coo told me he thinks that Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha all came from the same God and that he sent them to various parts of the world to tell the world about love because one God alone could not do it and needed ambassadors on different parts of the globe. They all speak the same message of love, just in a different way. He also told me that he thinks I was very good in my past life because my parents were able to raise me in a house with a lot of land. If I don’t agree with him on anything else in his theories, I will agree that I was blessed to be born with a beautiful home to sleep in and family that loves me. Coo Coo does not believe he is ready for Nirvana because he still desires clothes and money.
There are other parts of his theory and explanation that I haven’t wrapped my head around and I cannot account his theory to apply to all Buddhists in Thailand. I asked him if every Thai Buddhist believed like he did and he said, “No, only the educated ones.” I see what you did there, Cocoa Crunch.
I was very thankful that Coo Coo shared his theory on Buddhism with me. It is hard to talk to Thai people about Buddhism with the language barrier and all. Giving good merits and living life selflessly is such a great message to give to the world and Coo Coo tells me this is why he tries so hard to teach his students well, so that he can learn to give without expecting anything in return. This lesson in Buddhism was truly an entertaining conversation. However, I think I am going to search for a better explanation of Buddhism from someone who isn’t named after a Post mascot.