moonset king thailand
A cloudy night, a God-King’s final day, the moon says goodbye.

Respectful Condolences for the King of Thailand

It is with great sadness that I share the news: the day has come, as of royal announcement yesterday, His Majesty King Rama IX has vacated the throne.

Universally adored across Thailand for his dedication to his people and their unique culture, I pray he rests in peace after a lifetime of hard work and commitment to bettering his society. With great respect, and heartfelt condolences, I stand with my Thai friends and the country as a whole as they go through this important time of mourning.

I have spent many years as a guest in this remarkable community thanks only to the generosity of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and been treated with absolute grace and love by the vast majority of its beautiful people.

Though I will never fully know what it’s like to be born Thai, the country and its people will forever hold an immensely special place in my heart, and I am forever grateful for the profound spiritual and personal growth opportunity this has given me, and thankful to have come to understand a fair bit about the Thai culture and their love for a great leader who many looked up to as the father of a societal FAMILY — the Dhammaraja, Chao Chiwit.

This will be a time of reverence and ceremony that may very well be difficult for many Western viewers to comprehend. Start here for a good introduction.

The coming days, weeks, and months will likely be different for many of us. I highly recommend as foreigners that you show respect, and more importantly empathy for the mourning of the Thai people, have patience as shops may be closed, events canceled, entertainment zones/nightlife is downplayed, and some things may become a bit more inconvenient.

If you want to follow the local situation on the ground here in Thailand, here is my recommended Twitter shortlist.

There is no reason for alarm, though it may be expected to wear black, or dark, muted colors for the coming 30 to 99 days depending where you are, pay attention for official announcements, news updates, and cultural cues from your Thai friends, but let’s all remember that we are guests here and right now is a time for quiet reflection, humility, sympathy, and love.

In His Majesty’s own words:

“A good person can make another person good; it means that goodness will elicit goodness in the society; other persons will also be good.”

I’m bookmarking this page to return to soon for further research on the Theravada Buddhist concept of the Dhammaraja (ธรรมราชา) and the Ten Guiding Principles for a King (defined as the virtues of a righteous ruler):

King Bhumibol and His Enlightened Approach to Teaching

Thai father's day
Celebrating the King’s birthday and Thailand’s Father’s Day holiday on December 5th shortly after arriving in the country in 2008.
Thai King Bhumibol Benny Goodman
His Majesty the King is playing jazz with Benny Goodman
Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Long Live the King