A family’s serene philosophy of life

  • Letters
  • Sunday, 19 Jan 2003


BANGKOK: This year, Dr Prasert Prasattong-Osoth, the founder of Bangkok Airways Co, received some 500 to 600 New Year cards from his friends all around the world. But he was most impressed with the card sent by Khanchai Boonpan, the chief of the Matichon Publishing Group.  

“It’s the best card I have received this year,” he said. 

Khanchai is one of Thailand’s literary towers. Indeed, his New Year card is very meaningful, although it carries a very personal message about his outlook on the world. The card comes with a simple design. Its cover carries his picture, taken with his wife and two children, seated in a pavilion. 

The message is long for a New Year card, but it is very touching, reflecting his view of life that is very “Thai” and Buddhist in spirit.  

It sums up the philosophy of the Boonpan family: 

“Our way of life to achieve happiness is to live comfortably. Yet at the same time, we also have to think a great deal about other people. We have to think about other people because we are invariably indebted to them. 

“When we want to eat rice, we have rice to eat. Some people are growing rice for us. When we go to have a haircut, somebody is helping us with our hair. Some people also weave our clothes. Other people do practically all the things for us in our life. 

“If we can think of things this way, we then would want to make ourselves useful to other people. If we can do this, we’ll be happy.  

“We don’t have to do anything special to make ourselves happy. What is special should be looked upon as unusual. Therefore, we should strive for normal things. Everything we think or do should be treated as a normal matter. We should do things that create the least burdens and hardships for other people. And don’t forget that everything we do must be based on honesty and must benefit the majority of the people. Our personal interest should not be our sole purpose. 

“At the same time, we have to understand that human beings have their own nature. If anyone of us lacks ambition or has no dreams at all, that would sound rather unnatural. We must have hopes to live our life. But all of this should follow the path of righteousness. 

“We can only wish for the possibility. We can’t expect 100% result. We may get negative returns or break even. But nothing is everlasting. Suffering comes and goes. Happiness comes and goes. We should not be preoccupied with it. What is special is abnormal. When abnormality arises, we suffer immediately. 

“We suffer when we can’t be something we want. We suffer again when we can’t get hold of what we want. Most of us tend to think: why can’t we have what others have? The best way to deal with this is to forget the word why

“We have to be content with what we have, which is already a lot. We have a job to do. We can express ourselves in the profession we love. We have good friends, a stable organisation, a warm family. If we can think of things this way, we’ll feel comfortable. If not, we’ll suffer. 

“In living a happy life, we have to know ourselves. We have to constantly ask ourselves how we are or where we are at this time or at this juncture. We have to understand the family, the organisations, and the country. We have to look at the world and do things in a simple way. 

“But people like to make things complicated. Most people have forgotten to look at this point. We should strive for the normal. Everything proceeds with sufficiency. If we have consumed too much, we’ll vomit it out. 

“When we work, we should know our duty. We should know what we should and should not do. Then we should bear responsibility for what we have done. Of course, we all have flaws or make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. But if we do more good things than bad and do things for other people, if we think about other people, we’ll be comfortable with ourselves. 

“We should live within our means. Life would then proceed calmly. We should have no ill feelings toward others. If we were to get angry, that would be a sin. We should think that anger goes away quickly. Or we should think about things that are good and beautiful. Then our minds will be fresh. 

“Everything in this world changes all the time. Even our own life, which we care for the most, will go away some day. So we should do things in a normal way, then happiness will arise.”  

If Khanchai’s card sounds like a monk’s sermon, then we really need to listen to this good lesson to start out 2003. And we should live with his wisdom for the rest of our short life on this small planet. - ANN, The Nation. 

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