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Judgement day approaches – will Thailand take the dharmic path?  

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Re: “PM blames lack of spirituality for country’s political turmoil,” National, July 23.

The prime minister is to be commended for his perception that Thailand’s problems are caused largely by a lack of spirituality. The difficulty is that the English term spirituality is vague and hazy. It suggests a dreamy, ethereal quality possessed by naïve idealists dwelling in airy-fairyland who float high above the sordid problems of our earthbound lives.
The context suggests that the word the premier actually used was dharma (or, in Pali, dhamma). This is a much more robust term that every Thai will be familiar with. It encompasses a variety of interrelated virtues: duty, righteousness, religion and the principles inculcated by the Buddha’s entire teaching. That Thailand, a Buddhist nation, ought to embrace dharma, is a foregone conclusion; and the prime minister is to be commended for noticing it. But it is not self-evident that he, as the nation’s leader, has always followed dharma as his main guiding principle. His occasional outbursts of temper seem to suggest otherwise. But none of us is perfect, we all have flaws, and we all have a lot to work on.
As August 25, Judgement Day, approaches, I hope the distinguished judges of the Supreme Court will keep dharma in mind as they deliberate on their verdict in the Yingluck Shinawatra rice-pledging case. It has been said that men, institutions, and even entire nations define themselves by their actions. Will the court’s verdict, and the actions that flow from it, define Thailand as a dharmic nation, or as an adharmic (non-dharmic) one?
Stay tuned.
Ye Olde Theologian

Published : July 26, 2017