What Can We Learn From an Ancient Buddhist Temple Swarmed With Chinese Tourists?

Naga Stair Doi Suthep

The number one tourist attraction in Chiang Mai, Thailand is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the temple on the mountain above the city. For tourists, it is colloquially referred to as Doi Suthep.

Doi Suthep is a Theravada Buddhist temple, built in 1383. The temple is located atop Doi Suthep, the mountain just outside Chiang Mai. As legend has it, the site was chosen by a white elephant. The elephant was released into the wild carrying a sacred relic. Eventually the elephant wandered to the spot of Doi Suthep, trumpted three times, and then died. The king of Lan Na (Northern Thailand) took it as an omen, and ordered a temple built upon the spot.

Over the years the temple has been expanded and embellished, resulting in an ornate complex plated in gold and adorned with hand-painted murals from the life of the Buddha.

Bells and pagoda at Wat Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand

It’s an astonishing sight.

If you can see past the thousands of tourists.

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Book Review: “Standing in the Light”

Standing in the Light Pantheist book

“Standing in the Light” by Sharman Apt Russell is a mediocre, book-length personal essay. The book is a history of pantheism told through a personal lens.

Using the braided structure popularized by creative nonfiction and personal essayists, Russell weaves back and forth between the story of her own life as a naturalistic, pantheist Quaker, and the story of pantheism and its key thinkers through the ages.

Pantheism, here defined as: “Everything is connected and the web is holy.”

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