The Act of ‘Giving’ and Its Psychological and Social Effects on Thai Communities
The act of ‘giving’, a positive-universal act, cognitively involves three main participants: Giver, Thing and Recipient. In Thailand, Buddhists view the act of ‘giving’ as the fundamental religious practice, before keeping the five precepts and cultivating one’s mind. Moreover, Buddhists as givers believe in gaining the so-called ‘bun’ or merits back after conducting the act of giving, while, as recipients, they are taught to feel gratitude and to find ways to return to givers. Thus, the act of ‘giving’ is a reciprocal act, which yields benefits to all those who are involved in this act, and their communities. This paper examines the psychological effects of various ‘giving’ acts and forms on Buddhist givers’ and recipients’ beliefs and their states of mind; the reciprocal relationship between givers and recipients; and the social and economic impact of their act of ‘giving’ on involved institutions such as temples and communities. The results from questionnaires and interviews of this paper show the advantages of this ‘giving’ act that it greatly strengthens physical-mental health of givers and recipients; and binds the mutual relationship amongst members in their communities. If this giving act is conducted by people across the globe, this ‘giving’ act will function as a bridge toward the world peace.
Keywords: Community, Giving, Psychology, Religion, Society
Dr. Rungpat Roengpitya
Lecturer, College of Religious Studies, Mahidol University