The Ordained Dton Yaang Naa Spirit Trees of Thailand

Dton Yaang Naa Trees along Chinag Mai-Lamphun Road have been ordained by wrapping them in saffron monk's robes, ensuring they will not be cut down

The first time I saw the Dton Yaang Naa trees I was transfixed. I was returning from a press trip to learn about the care of Elephants in the Kingdom of Thailand, when our van driver turned down Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road. Twin rows of behemoth trees flanked the narrow, twisting road as far as I … Read more

Celebrating Makha Bucha Day in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Moonrise over the 800-year old Viharn at Wat Jed Yod during the Makha Bucha Day festivities

It may have been nearly 14 months since I’ve been able to travel internationally, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been sitting at home here in Chiang Mai. I’ve taken advantage of COVID travel restrictions to do something that’s long been on my to-do list: delve more deeply into Buddhism. Even though I embraced Buddhism as … Read more

Consecrating my Bronze Buddha Statue in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Phrapalad Thanwa reads from Buddhist scriptures during the Buddha statue consecration ceremony

For years, I’d been searching for a bronze Buddha statue to place on my home altar. I knew the pose I preferred, the one known as Calling The Earth to Witness. It depicts Buddha sitting with legs crossed in full lotus position, left hand resting in his lap palm upward and right hand resting on … Read more

PHOTO: Auspicious Buddhist Symbols on the Roof of Phuntsoling Monastery in Tibet

Auspicious Buddhist Symbols on the Roof of Phuntsoling Monastery in Tibet

On day seven of my overland journey through Tibet, we turned off the main highway and followed a narrow lane to the remote Phuntsoling Monastery. This little-known monastery was built in 1615 by great master Jonang Taranatha. He espoused the concept of Shentong, a hard-to-grasp ideology based on the idea that the Buddha-mind is ultimately … Read more

VIDEO: The Famous Debating Monks of Tibet

Tibetan monastic debate at Sera Monastery in Lhasa, Tibet

They lunged, red robes flying and prayer beads swinging. They clapped hands loudly in the faces of their partners. Forefingers shook in front of noses and voices were raised. This sea of red-robed monks were gathered in a courtyard of Sera Monastery in Tibet for a daily ritual known as the monastic debate.