passing away


POSTCARD #226: New Delhi:
October 13 2016, at the end of that day, I came downstairs and Jiab looked up from her Thai friends fb page and said: the king is dead. Jiab has this minimalist way of communicating. I checked on the internet and got the necessary information and for the rest of the evening there was no discussion, silence, clink of cutlery on dinner plate.

Next morning a Thai friend came to see us and she was wearing black. All through the weekend I could hear Jiab’s fb videos of the mourning, I looked from time to time and people were distressed, in tears, the entire population wearing black now for one year, newsreaders on TV wear black, any unnecessary colour is avoided. Many Thais change their fb profile image to black and white for the duration of breavement.

I’ve seen it before when Galyani Vadhana, Princess of Naradhiwas, the sister of the king passed away. Click on the link and have some idea of the scale of the funeral event. The same wearing of black for one year leading up to the funeral itself and in this case we can expect it to be a much larger event lasting for many hours.

After it all comes to an end, Thailand will be a different place, in a sense it’s the end of the monarchy, there will never be another king to take his place. Without the much-loved figurehead, who knows how Thai society will cope.

But before that there is this long period of mourning, the King has not yet passed away, he is passing away – held still in the hearts and minds of the Thai population who are unwilling to let him go. It’ll take all that time and more for everyone to adjust to the loss and be able to face what’s to come…

“It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another’s seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, ‘The monk is our teacher.’ Kalamas, when you yourselves know: ‘These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,’ abandon them.” [The Buddha’s words: Anguttara Nikaya, Tika Nipata, Mahavagga, Sutta No. 65]

18 thoughts on “passing away

  1. So impressive a man, humble and a perfect leader. So unlike the situation in the USA which is truly appalling at the moment. Have the British and Americans lost their minds? Do they even stop and think about the repercussions of a “protest” vote?? I am truly humbled by the King and his personal. (Also an impressive jazz musician! Thanks for posting this. I wish he were more known and portrayed here in juxtaposition to our political horror show!!

    • Thanks for this contribution Ellen. Our political horror show. It seems so far away from how we all would like to be, but nothing is said. Thus it thrives. Standing on the precipice, we only seem to know the value of something when we’re on the brink of losing it. The death of the king brings some wisdom into the patterns and ways we think in Western countries; the opportunity to wake up from the illusion and see what’s important…

  2. My condolences to the Thai people on the loss of their king.
    So many words in our languages, yet they often fail us at times such as this.
    In spirit, we are one.

    Seek peace,


    • Thank you khonyouwat. I’ve been in Thailand for thirty years and to an extent, have the same feelings as the Thais. This is the context (the blog) where I can best express these feelings and try to answer questions from anyone who would like to know more about the culture of Thailand.

      • Thanks for your reply. So you’ve been in Thailand even longer than me! (because of my young age). We share the same feelings. Thank you for your understanding and efforts to provide the right answers about Thailand. Perhaps it’s difficult to explain because we have something unparalleled with the modern society. I Appreciate.

      • Thanks and you’re welcome. I plan to share photos I receive on Line. There is a wonderful one seen from the air, mourners gather to form the Thai numeral 9 signifying Rama the 9th, which is the formal title of the King. I’ll try to upload that now…

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