Montien Boonma
HOUSE OF HOPE

"When my wife was bed-ridden, in critical condition, I went and made propitiations at shrines everywhere. I would chant continuously the Jinapanjara (an ancient mantra popularised by the late Buddhist saint, Somdej Toh of Wat Rakhang) and whatever I found in Lok Thip magazine (literally 'Heavenly World', a journal focused on the Buddhist supernatural). I took an oath to Mother Khun Im (Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion) to stop eating beef. I went to pray at the Buddha relics of Doi Suthep and Khruba Sriwichai. I recited the names of all the Buddhas, gurus, and deities - it was what I hung on to, like a kind of plea.

"I donated a pair of buffaloes, trying to find a pregnant one. The temple did a ritual saying, 'may you be free from calamity and bad Karma'. The buffallo was named 'Boonrod' (the merit of escape), because my name is 'Boonma' (the approach of merit). In the end it gave birth to a pair of twins, one male, one female. It turned out I saved three lives from the slaughterhouse, so I thought my wife would make it... The omens seemed to suggest that we had made merit in time.

"When we pray, even monks, they never really get there. Though they might feel they receive some kind of blessing, or inspiration. Every person's life is a process of building belief or faith - an empire for us to be able to survive. Without this empire, or this faith, we would be uncontrollable, we wouldn't know what to do, why should we work, ...Why should we live?

"Even though we know we must die, we still try to discover something, so that we can pass a better day. Those who are sick understand this."

   Montien Boonma
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