“In an extended description of the religious rites, monastic life, and “superstitions” of the Siamese, de la Loubere cites among other things the wonderful power possessed by the Talapoin (the monks, or holy men of Buddha) over wild beasts.
“The Talapoin of Siam”, he says, “will pass whole weeks in the dense woods under a small awning of branches and palm leaves, and never make a fire in the night to scare away the wild beasts, as all other people do who travel through the woods of this country.” The people consider it a miracle that no Talapoin is ever devoured.
The tigers, elephants, and rhinoceroses – with which the neighborhood abounds – respect him; and travelers placed in secure ambuscade have often seen these wild beasts lick the hands and feet of the sleeping Talapoin. “They all use magic”, adds the French gentlemen, “and think all nature animated (ensouled); they believe in tutelar geniuses.”
But that which seem to shock the author most is the idea which prevails among the Siamese, “that all that man was in his bodily life, he will be after death.”
When the Tartar, which now reigns at China”, remarks del la Loubere, “would force the Chinese to shave their hair after the Tartarian fashion, several of them chose rather to suffer death than to go, they said, into the other word and appear before their ancestors without hair; imagining that they shaved the head of the soul also!”
Now, what is altogether impertinent”, adds the Ambassador, “in this absurd opinion is, that the Orientals attribute the human figure rather than any other to the soul.”
Without enlightening his reader as to the particular shape these benighted Orientals ought to select for their disembodied souls, de la Loubere proceeds to pour out his wrath on these “savages”.”
H. P. Blavatsky