Yet, here at my home in Bangkok, Christmas is something decidedly different. Perhaps we could amend the lyrics of “White Christmas” slightly to make them more appropriate for our tropical climes, maybe something like, “The sun is shining, the grass is green, the orange and palm trees sway. There’s never been such a day…”
As millions of tourists flock here to escape Old Man Winter, Christmas is always something of an odd time for those of us who live here full-time. Many of us long for snow. We long for our loved ones and families and, most of all, we long for our traditions. If only we could have that, then we would have some true Christmas magic.
Well, if you’re feeling this way, or if you’re just a curious tourist who has never been to Thailand before, Buddha has a surprise for you. Did you know that you can be a Buddhist and keep your original religion, too?
Well, you can, and Thai Buddhism teaches that people of all faiths are welcome in Buddhism. Much like Jesus, Buddha was also a teacher. But, Buddha taught people not to blindly believe what they taught, but rather to try out his teachings for themselves to see what happened in their own lives.
This is quite different from most other religions. Many major religions tend to demand that you sort of “believe or else”. Whereas, in Thai Buddhism, we invite you to try out our beliefs and practices for yourself. How deep you go is up to you.
Yet, that is not the only Christmas magic that Buddhism has in store for people of other religions. Buddha also welcomed his followers to continue observing their original religious traditions. So, when I visit my family, it is perfectly acceptable and even encouraged that I celebrate Christmas with gusto.
Buddhism is often taught wrong. It is not about whether you see Buddha as simply a teacher or as The Lord. It is actually all about how you live your life.
And that, my friends, leads to this year’s Christmas magic. This year, I am going to teach you how to create your own Christmas miracle by tossing just a pinch of Thai Buddhism into your holiday eggnog.
To start off, we all know that this world is full of an awful lot of scrooges. Difficult people are all around us and Buddhism teaches that we will likely encounter far more naughty people than nice ones. But, Buddha taught us how to transform someone we hate into someone we love… and my gift to you this Christmas is teaching you just how to do it.
To create this Christmas miracle, you’ll need three things: a pen, a paper and one year of patient self-reflection.
Now, get out your pen and paper because we are going to create a miracle! On the top of a sheet of standard paper, I want you to write the name of someone who has been awful to you in your life. Very importantly, I want you to write that name on the upper right corner of the page.
Next, on the left of the page, I want you to write down absolutely everything that you hate about that person; every last detail. Now, on the right side, I want you to write just one thing, if only one thing, that you can respect about that person.
Finally, fold the page in half vertically, tear it along the fold, and throw away the left side of the page. You see, you just threw out all of the hate but all of the good remains; waiting to be tucked into your heart. Tape that goodness up somewhere where you’ll see it every day and, by next Christmas, you’ll find that not only is your enemy now your friend, but you’ll hopefully have filled out the rest of the page with more good things that you never even knew about that person.
From Buddha with love, now that’s what I call Christmas Magic.
All About Buddhism is a monthly column in The Phuket News where I take readers on my exotic journey into Thai Buddhism and debunk a number of myths about Buddhism. If you have any specific queries, or ideas for articles, please let us know. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to accommodate your interests.