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billzant

Kwan

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In a Thai lesson a textbook gave the following:-

“Thai people believe that the head is the most important part of the entire body. It is inhabited by the kwan which is the spiritual force of life. So never pat a Thai on the head even in the friendliest of gestures.”

I said I thought that was not a Buddhist idea, and my teacher investigated the Thai internet coming up with:-

ขวัญ หมายถึง นามธรรมอันหนึ่งคล้ายพลังจิตที่มีอยู่ในตัวมนุษย์ตั้งแต่เป็นเด็กทารก มีความเชื่อว่าถ้าขวัญของผู้ใดอยู่กับตัวผู้นั้นจะมีความสุขกายสบายใจแต่ถ้าขวัญของผู้ใดหายไปนั้นจะมีลักษณะอาการตรงกันข้าม

The teacher translated this as:-

“Kwan is an abstract noun meaning spiritual power which comes with human from their birth. It’s believed that people with their kwan will have both mental and physical happiness. On the other hand, if they lose their kwan, they will be unhappy.”

Can anyone shed any light on kwan, its origins and connections with Buddhism?

Hope you are keeping well,

All the Best,

Bill Z

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The Thai dictionary says:

1. [noun] morale; fortune; luck; courage; heart; spirit; prosperity; merit

2. [noun] whorl of hair on top of the head; cowlick

3. [noun] animistic life force; vital essence of all living things including plants and animals, especially crops

On the other hand winyaan is:

1. [noun] soul; spirit

My guess is khwan as "life force" pre-dates Buddhism. In my experience, when Thais talk about whatever is reborn they use "winyaan." I've mainly heard khwan used in the sense of morale.

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Khwan comes from Tai animistic beliefs that pre-date Buddhism. For some Tai groups, including Lao and Northern Thai, there are 32 separate khwan present in your body, each with a separate function in overseeing organs and physical capacities.

The interpretation from the Thai text you quoted sounds like a contemporary, revisionist explanation of khwan -- or perhaps the central Thai interpretation, I'm not sure.

Khwan bears no relation to canonical Buddhism, bu is definitely part of the Thai Buddhist fabric, which includes many elements of animism and Brahmanism.

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Thanks for the replies about kwan that point to it being animist. As I said on Littlebang on "Farmer's day" apparently the praahm (Brahmin?) presides over a ceremony to promote kwan, and I was also told that the King has a praahm to perform a ceremony for Him. I thought it might have had Indian origins.

I don't understand why kwan resides in the head?

Know anywhere in English where I can read about Thai animism?

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The 32 khwan reside in different places all over the body, but they enter and leave via the crown of the head, supposedly at the fissure in the skull thats partially open when one is a baby.

Further info:

http://www.patana.ac.th/secondary/science/Environmental%20Studies/EcoSoc/evolution/Origins.html

http://kirjon.com/sacred-sites/animistic-beliefs.htm

http://andrejandkarenbrummer.com/?page_id=1928

http://www.thaicov.org/resources/documents/string_tying.html

http://www.crvp.org/book/Series03/IIID-3/chapter-12.htm

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Khwan comes from Tai animistic beliefs that pre-date Buddhism. For some Tai groups, including Lao and Northern Thai, there are 32 separate khwan present in your body, each with a separate function in overseeing organs and physical capacities.

This interests me.

The brain is the headquarter of our nerve system that controls our organs and physical capacities too & Buddhism believed in meditation and its usefulness which works on the mind.

Isn't this something that showed the coherence between science & Buddhism

Looks like Buddhism is very science-based although it's long before science discovered it.

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Khwan comes from Tai animistic beliefs that pre-date Buddhism. For some Tai groups, including Lao and Northern Thai, there are 32 separate khwan present in your body, each with a separate function in overseeing organs and physical capacities.

This interests me.

The brain is the headquarter of our nerve system that controls our organs and physical capacities too & Buddhism believed in meditation and its usefulness which works on the mind.

Isn't this something that showed the coherence between science & Buddhism

Looks like Buddhism is very science-based although it's long before science discovered it.

In Asean countries for Lom Pran (chi'i,-chinese, Ki -Japanese), Prana (india) the center point is is the Tan Tien, two finger kun under the belly bottom (chinese), one finger under the Hara (Japanese). The brain is not the headquarter, but don't forget him.

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Now I understand. I had a patient in Li (Lamphun), Karen after a stroke. Impossible to touch her head for a treatment.

With the help of Luang Pho Kumjon she accepted the "clean light of the Buddha -Low level laser", 1 cm over the skin.

I don"t know what happens after, but when a came later with my wife (family in Li) people asked us, where is the finger of the Buddha.

When I say Karen I'm not sure, there is a melting pot in the mountains of Lamphun.

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Today at my temple is a large ceremony to 'riak kwan' call the spirit.

It is to be held for our Abbot who has been sick for more than a month with hepatitis B in hospital. They have arranged the usual Three-legged poles into a triangle like at a house=warming ceremony with bananas and other things around each leg. Sacred white cords go everywhere and to a Photo of the Abbot in the centre with a set of his robes.

Important monks in the area are coming to chant at the ceremony....

more details later.

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The tripod/pyramid-like structure and associated ceremony is a northern Thai ritual known as phithi seup chataa (life-extending ceremony). It's quite common throughout the north (but not elsewhere in Thailand), directly descended from a similar pre-Buddhist Tai tribal ritual, and performed for the sick and elderly.

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One of my favorite homework lessons in the 56 lesson series by Thomas Gething was the story about this subject. It's rather elementary.......but made for an interesting lesson and the neighbors enjoyed discussing it with me. The pdf file is available for download online.

[please provide the online link. use of foreign language passages outside of the Thai Language subforum is against one of our Forum Rules. (apologies for the removal)]

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BANGKOK 23 October 2017 18:32
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