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In Thailand, Nina understands the message of universal love

Nina London on New Year’s Eve in Chiang Mai, Thailand (Photograph by Bill Rosser)

As the sun set over the Ping River, the winding streets echoed with the melodic chanting of Buddhist prayers from 300 temples.

Everywhere we walked, we came across towering, gold-encrusted statues of the Buddha, surrounded by monks in saffron-coloured robes, shaved heads bowed in supplication. From young boys to wizened elders, they chanted in the New Year as one voice, reciting prayers from parchment texts.

When I heard this chanting, I simply cried. The vibration resonated in my chest, and it spread throughout my entire body in a wave both soothing and tingling. My cares fell away, and I felt the future as a vast lake beckoning me to swim.

We came to a familiar temple. The weathered, hand-hewn doors were open. Carved red dragons ten feet tall supported the sloping pagoda roof of green clay tiles. Jasmine incense drifted out into the still evening air. I blinked the tears from my eyes.

The golden Buddha sat on a pedestal altar, a huge presence, radiating light from the amber glow of countless candles. A mystical aura filled the room, bathing the saffron sea of kneeling monks. The reverberation of the chant filled me with wonder and awe. I gazed up into the all-seeing eyes of the Buddha, unclouded by the flow of centuries, his compassionate teachings still speaking to my heart.

I had a moment of clarity as I understood that peace is the high point of mankind’s journey we call evolution. I knew the message of the Buddha, as that of Christ, elevates us above our instincts to a place of universal love and, if we embrace love, there can be no war, no violence and no indifference to suffering.

I sat cross-legged, humbled on the stone floor. I closed my eyes. I saw this chant of peace on New Year’s Eve rolling from these hundreds of temples into the clear twilight, now ablaze with newborn stars, and I thought how the light of those stars has taken millennia to reach our eyes, but has finally arrived, and these chants of peace will also arrive, carried by the air in many voices. Over the high windswept passes of the Himalayas, across the green rice fields of Asia; they will calm the beating hearts of millions who struggle in fear and loneliness. They will bring joy in the New Year, peace on Earth, goodwill to all mankind.

I went out into the street and slowly walked away from the Ping River, holding hands with Bill. The ancient walls of Chiang Mai rose up before me, red bricks crumbling after 800 years. The sky opened up into the deep indigo of approaching night, and I let out a gasp of pleasure and astonishment: The heavens were filled with fireflies, hundreds moving in an ever increasing swarm, higher and higher!

I gripped Bill’s hand and we stared at this new magic. The fireflies were lanterns with a type of candle inside. The paper walls held the hot air, and they floated from the upraised arms of their owners, high into the darkness in a soothing auburn glow. Up! Up! They gracefully rose!

The Thai believe they carry away both the misfortune of the past year, and the hopes and good wishes of the new.

“Happy New Year, darling!” I turned and kissed Bill, and in his eyes I saw reflected the tiny pinpoints of light, and knew it was true.

Nina London is the founder of Mermaid Wellness Centre for Women, a certified Chi Gong and Laughter Yoga teacher. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their bodies and mind. Contact her at www.mermaidwellness.com and on Instagram: mermaid_wellness

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Published January 05, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated January 05, 2023 at 7:54 am)

In Thailand, Nina understands the message of universal love

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