พรพรหม

ผู้เขียน : พรพรหม

อัพเดท: 11 ก.พ. 2010 11.38 น. บทความนี้มีผู้ชม: 30790 ครั้ง

เรียงความภาษาอังกฤษ ที่ให้ความรู้เกี่ยวกับพิธีกรรมความตายไว้อย่างน่าสนใจ คุณรู้หรือเปล่าว่าทำไมจังมีผีเเค่ตอนกลางคืน


Preface: Why Study about Death?

Preface

Why study about Death?

The world’s great poet, Williams Shakespeare used to describe death as “the undiscover’d country from whose bourn no traveler returns.” (Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1). Death is mysterious; no one knows what their actual death would be like until they experienced it, only once in their lifetime. No one ever knows exactly if death is the end, or even a new beginning to a human’s life. What have been consoling our minds for long up to present are only beliefs, faiths that are embedded deeply in our traditions, some of which are common, some of which are extremely different.

 

In the 21st century, the information technology age and scientific revolution have proven successful; people now can meet virtually online, keep information in electronic files and send them across the world in less than 5 seconds; transportation has never been more convenient, fast and effective. Alongside or as the result of the scientific revolution, in all human societies traditions and cultures go through change. Some cultural traditions, for instance, are no longer practiced either because they are perceived as old-fashioned or uncivilized.

 

Up to the 19th century, the native Pacific islanders were still living their lives based on self-struggle; geological factors had been shaping their lifestyles. Due to lack of scientific knowledge, they had developed different kinds of beliefs or belief systems to explain natural phenomena. The curiosity had risen mostly from attempts to explain the phenomenon of death and some of the myths still have not been proven right or wrong even by science, up to the present. Such beliefs are explained by Natural Theology, the reasoned knowledge of a God or gods which man may be supposed, whether rightly or wrongly, to be capable of attaining by the exercise of his natural faculties alone (Frazer, 1991).

 

There are debates as to whether or not South-East Asians were the original people to migrate to the Pacific (Crocombe, 2007). However, the evidence that shows how the two regions, South-east Asia and the Pacific, have developed similar or different beliefs and traditions is still scarce. Different authors sometimes explained the same ritual differently. Furthermore, the written records are so old that the inherent racism of the authors by today’s standards is unappreciable. Authors, for example, referred to native islanders by such racially derogatory terms as “savages”, “these simple mind people” and “these rude people”. Interestingly, the authors contradicted themselves as well as their own racism when elsewhere they praised the rituals of the so-called natives as the progress of the human mind. Sir J.G Frazer (1991), for example, had once described the South-eastern Aborigine’s totemic creed as “general advance of culture” (p. 141). Beside from racially insulting, he was too subjective in advocating Christianity and saying that the South-eastern tribes of Australia were more advanced because they did not believe in reincarnation (p. 141). As Buddhists and Hindus will totally disagree with him since they totally believe in reincarnation, such a subjective argument seemed to ignore the difference in beliefs in religions that cannot be criticized neither as being right or wrong, nor being advance or lag. Thus, if Natural Theology holds, there shall be no such religiously offensive opinion in modern study when every belief is respected.

 

Geological Scope

As this essay aims to discuss the rites and traditions regarding death in the Pacific and South-east Asia, a geological scope is needed to constitute a common understanding of the two regions.

 

Southeast Asia refers to the countries which are located geographically south of China, east of India and north of Australia. The region consists of the mainland countries of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar and the island countries of Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, East Timor, and Indonesia.

 

The Pacific refers to the countries which are located geographically in Oceania. The region is divided into 3 main sub-regions: Melanesia (including: Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia), Micronesia (including: Pompeii, Guam, Wake, Yap, Palau, Truk, Kiribati, and Marshall Islands) and Polynesia (including: New Zealand, Samoa, Hawaii, Tonga, Cook Island, Niue, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Easter Island).


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