Enlightenment doesn’t happen overnight.
Neither, apparently, does building a temple.
I don’t know how long they have been working on the new wihan (พระวิหาร), or shrine hall, at Wat Ratchathammaram (วัดราชธรรมาราม) in Maret on the southeast side of Koh Samui, but we’ve been driving past on the way to or from somewhere for several of our visits to the island over recent years – the sight each time causing me to remark on the beautiful red colour of the cement or clay in the building’s structure.
On our last two visits: mid-2011 and early 2012, we actually stopped. Comparing the two sets of photos that I took, I can see little change in the building or the surrounding grounds across the intervening time.
Thai temples are often decorated with murals depicting stories from religious and everyday life. Theravada Buddhist scriptures are written in Pali, an Indian language not generally understood by Thais outside the monkhood, and temple art provides a means of passing on historical, moral, and religious lessons.
At Wat Ratchathammaram, the murals are in elaborate bas-relief, instead of the more common stylised and richly-coloured wall paintings.
Karma, from the Sanskrit karman, or ‘action, effect, fate’, comes from one’s actions and intentions. Therefore, making merit (puñña), or doing good mindfully, contributes to good karma in the Thai world-view. Honouring others (especially the Buddha) and offering service (especially to the temple) are a great way to make merit.
Meanwhile, around the rest of the temple grounds, life continues.
It is a lovely, quiet spot, and I look forward to seeing what changes – if any – have been effected by our next visit.
Pictures: 22August2011 and 29April2012