I was walking through glimmering Thai Wat, amazed by my surroundings. It wasn’t just the aesthetics; it was the fact that the temples in Thailand are displays of extravagance and utter opulence, yet the people are so humble and accepting, in both their everyday behavior and their faith. Despite the overwhelming glamor of their temples, they approach discussions of belief with a reserved sense of gentle positivity, never trying to force their world view on anyone. I had come to love Buddhists.
I paused to sit on a bunch next to a small waterfall, with birds around me pecking at dropped food and people strolling peacefully. I was admiring the intricate, flowing Naga statues surrounding a staircase when an old man sat next to me and struck up a conversation. It began aimlessly enough, yet it quickly drifted towards religion and, more specifically, Islam.
I’m not sure why he brought it up. Maybe he thought it would be relevant for the right wing looking white man. And his thoughts were profoundly hard-hitting:
[mildly paraphrased and condensed] “Buddhism is a true religion of peace. No one God, just a philosophy of obtaining inner peace and betterment. We accept things, we accept people. Islam is.. a religion that is spiritually sick.”
“How so”, I asked.
“It’s sick with arrogance. Their one God seems sick- Sick with pride. Look at ISIS, the every day people. It’s in all of them.”
There was a severity in his eyes. It was the first time I’d seen it in a Buddhist, come to think about it..
I just smiled.
There was a peaceful sanity to this place.