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Thread: Learn Thai from a Novel
13-10-10, 06:51 PM #1
Learn Thai from a Novel
If you see a banner of a woman holding a book "Blind by Choice" on thailandqa.com, that is a cross-cultural fiction written by me. But the woman in the picture is not me.
Anyway, I would like to help you improve you listening comprehension in Thai by recording a reading from the book (Thai version). I also have the English version for your convenience.
This is my favorite chapter (only the last part of chapter 13).
Please listen to the attached mp3 file first before you read the English part. If you want to know more about the novel, click on the image.
Here is a part in English from the book:
My family was Presbyterian, and as a child I attended church regularly with my folks. After I moved from home to go to the university, I gave up going to church completely. During my time in Thailand, I became familiar with Buddhist temples. It wasnt until I returned to America and read a book about Buddhism from the temple that I began to get an understanding of the religion.
In my view, Thais are fortunate to have Buddhism as their national religion. Buddhism offers a way to escape suffering and live happily. Of course, this depends on each Buddhist making an effort to understand the principles of the religion and apply them to his or her own life.
These days, more Westerners turn to Buddhism, and I often saw such people at the Thai temple. They would sometimes come along to join the prayers. I was impressed to see an American couple who were able to recite ancient Pali chants fluently without relying on prayer books.
Westerners at the temple didn't show much interest in the ceremonial side of Thai Buddhism. Instead, they would focus on practicing meditation and studying the core concepts of Buddhist teaching. The various Thai ceremonies were outside their area of interest. Perhaps this was due to a difference in cultural background. For Thai people, cultural practices and the Buddhist religion are inextricably linked. Marriage and birthday celebrations incorporate merit-making for good fortune.
The temple offered a meditation class every Sunday afternoon. However, very few visitors to the temple seemed to be interested. Initially, I didn't understand what it meant to practice meditation. I wondered how sitting still with one's eyes closed for a full hour could possibly achieve anything. The monk teaching the class told me that I had to try meditation if I wanted to know the answer to my question. Out of curiosity, I joined the group of Thai people practicing meditation.
Even after the monk gave me an explanation of meditation in English, I still didn't understand it very well. All I knew was that I was supposed to direct my attention to my breathing. That sounded simple enough; however, putting it into practice was harder than I expected. My mind was not accustomed to being still. I focused on my inward and outward breaths only momentarily before I became distracted by one thought or another.
My teacher compared the human mind to a monkey. By nature, monkeys are
restless just like the human mind which endlessly jumps around between scattered thoughts. He told me not to worry if I found myself distracted by other thoughts. Whenever I realized that this was happening, he said, I should simply draw my attention back to my breathing. If I practiced regularly, eventually I would be able to control my mind. He told me that each person is different, and some may need to practice meditation for quite a long time in order to still the mind.
Nonetheless, I managed to reach a meditative state of mind from time to time. Although this only occurred for very short periods, it gave me an appreciation of what true meditation is like. I had heard that some very serious practitioners were able to enter a deep trance, recall past lives and read minds. I, however, had no such lofty aspirations.
For me, simply being able to still the mind for a moment was a very good thing. I may not have attained freedom from human desires and attachments but, at the very least, practicing mindfulness helped me to be more aware.
I hope this will help you improve you listening comprehension.
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