This I find impressive – the public reaction in a deeply Buddhist culture, guided, presumably, by recognition of the “Sublime Messengers” (deva-dūta – preferring “sublime”, as per Than-Geoff’s translation, to “divine” or “heavenly” because of the s/w Western religious overtones of the latter words).
“[A] tradition for males in Thailand who experience adversity”
“[A] ‘spiritual cleansing’…”
" ‘It’s like they died but now have been reborn’ "
Formal recognition and ceremony highlighting the significance of their ordeal in terms of the fragility of human life and the relevance of the Buddha’s teachings for dealing with it.
And as contrast with what might be the comparable treatment , for instance, here in the USA – being invited to the White House as “heros”, being bombarded with offers for commercial rights to media exploitation of their “story”, etc.
Perhaps it’s “complicated” in the sense that the belief system of the local people don’t conform to some Western conceptions of “Buddhism”. On the other hand, devas, yakkhas, and so on do make appearances in the EBTs…
Yes, those are in the suttas, as are non Buddhists, and the non blank slate of this world. Do you think ceremonies and offerings to appease angry spirits are integral to the path of liberation as taught by the Buddha and allowed for the Sangha? I do not think it is integral; I think it is understandable, and should be considered with attention to intentions, etc. And certainly, is part of how these particular events played out.
Everyone starts with all the cultural baggage of their situations at rebirth. Not all of it is likely to be retained, if one practiced Buddhism. This is improvement, I think, and natural change, and individual plus community variations, also themes in the EBTs.
Friend, let’s neither get too attached to ourselves or cultures; I believe this would be to our lasting benefit.
It depends if those spirits are angry with you. If they are, then it could be integral to ones path to make peace with them. I’m thinking about the commentary to the metta sutta about the tree dwelling spirits annoying monks in particular.
“Mendicants, you can expect eight benefits when the heart’s release by love has been cultivated, developed, and practiced, made a vehicle and a basis, kept up, consolidated, and properly implemented. What eight? You sleep well. You wake happily. You don’t see bad dreams. Humans love you. Non-humans love you. Deities protect you. You can’t be harmed by fire, poison, or blade. If you don’t reach any higher, you’ll be reborn in a Brahmā realm. You can expect these eight benefits when the heart’s release by love has been cultivated, developed, and practiced, made a vehicle and a basis, kept up, consolidated, and properly implemented.
Bhikkhu Bodhi translation uses the phrase ‘one is pleasing to spirits’ for amanussā, and he glosses amanussā as: Lit. “non-humans.” The word primarily refers to earth-bound deities, yakkhas and demons.
Edit: SN10.8 is a nice story of Anāthapiṇḍika being helped and encouraged by the “invisible spirit Sivaka”
I know! And painful, sometimes. My country of origin crumbles, some people cheer this; one might wonder, can values which inspired much good or moral behavior be invalidated by persistent and widespread behaviors which violated or mocked those values? I don’t think so, but what I think matters little if anything at all. This world, “my” country, what it once values and protected, all just chimera, appearances. As China and Russia struggle for undisputed power, as climate change speeds up, unbridled capitalism and anti-science shapes possibilities for many.
Cultural baggage. Another “thing” which tends to show as complicated, for everyone everywhere.