Updated with new images.
A forest reserve in central Thailand has become the unlikely home of a group of Buddhist meditators who are convinced that they have encountered aliens both in the air and on the ground. For the last six years, members have been meeting near Buddhist statues on the peak of Khao Kala hill, approximately three hours north of Bangkok, to camp, meditate and seek out UFOs. The believers are known as the UFO Kaokala group. was founded by Ajarn Wassana Chuensumnaun, who believes that Thailand’s Buddhist population led to a special interest among the aliens.
Wassana claims to have had direct contact with aliens from both Pluto and another planet called Lokukatapakadikong since 1998. She said that Pluto’s alien leader told her that Buddha was “the greatest human mind,” and “never spoke to humans about paying attention to extraterrestrials, or about trying to communicate with them,” but did tell followers “to embrace the cosmic laws.” (Vice Magazine)
In further direct mind-to-mind communications, the leader of Pluto offered Wassana advice about “karma,” “reincarnation,” “greed,” “fear” and other Buddhist topics, as well as the calming reassurance that you shouldn’t worry about the end of the world as a result of nuclear war, climate change, mutant diseases or other “catastrophes.” (CNN)
Wassana’s sister, Somjit Raepeth, also describes encountering the extraterrestrial beings. The saga began when the sisters’ father claimed to have received alien contact while deep in Buddhist meditation. His family reportedly scoffed at his claims but the two sisters later joined him in meditation. “My father received the wave and it passed to me—it was like a phone line being switched,” Wassana said. “I felt a kind of ‘motivational energy’ pushing me.” (Vice Magazine)
“I asked my father to tell the aliens to show themselves,” says Wassana. “The next day, the aliens sent energy to spin my brother and brother-in-law.” (CNN)
She says the two men were pulled up by an unseen force as they sat on the living room sofa and spun simultaneously like whirling dervishes. They were carried out of the house and into the yard. “I felt like my legs and my arms had to spin,” adds Wassana’s brother-in-law Jaroen Raepeth. “I could not control myself for four or five minutes. I didn’t feel afraid. We both spun outside.” (CNN)
The aliens are described as tall, slender, grey beings with large heads and dark eyes. Their spaceships are said to be covered in bright lights or sometimes look like silver domes.
Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country, with about 95 per cent of its population professing to be Buddhists. A small number of Muslims, mostly in the south of the country, make up the nation’s second largest religious group. The Buddhists, while adhering technically to the conservative Theravada branch of Buddhism in name, have in practice been open to a number of innovations and adaptations, from the worship of non-Buddhist deities to the adoption of new forms of practice such as the luk thep, or angel child,* craze which swept the country in 2016 and the later rise in Buddhist funeral rites for pets.**
Buddhism has also historically been tolerant of notions of unseen beings, including those on other planets. But it also cautions adherents of the human proclivity for delusion, or failing to see things as they truly are.
“We don’t need to know if it is real or not, if it’s a fake story or it’s reality. Buddha taught us that maybe the one who says that he thinks he can directly speak with the alien, or he believes, he hears them,” says Buddhist scholar Veeranut Rojanaprapa. “But it is not useful. It doesn’t matter if he hears the alien or not. It does not help us for [experiencing] nirvana,” says Veeranut. “We do not say if it is right or wrong if the human can speak to the alien. But please listen carefully: most of the situations are only illusion.” (CNN)
Around the world, UFO sightings are currently in decline. Declines in sightings began around 2014 and dropped drastically between 2017 and 2018 according to records from two major websites, the National UFO Reporting Center and the Mutual UFO Network.
According to cultural historian Stuart Walton, this is due to the abundance of evidence that disputes claims about visitors from outer space: “Part of the reason is that the technology for providing documentary evidence of such matters is now widely available to everybody with a smartphone, and such purported evidence as there is on YouTube looks extremely threadbare. It isn’t so much that belief can exist without proof; it’s that it must emphatically avoid proof to remain belief. We are in the process, paradoxically, of proving a negative hypothesis with UFOs: there never was any such thing.” (The Guardian)
* Is Thailand’s “Angel Child” Craze Nearing its End?
** Buddhist Funeral Rites for Pets Gain Popularity in Thailand
Meet The Thai UFO Group Convinced That Aliens Will Save Us From Armageddon (Vice Magazine)
The UFO seekers flocking to a remote Thai hilltop in search of Buddhist aliens (CNN)
What is behind the decline in UFO sightings? (The Guardian)