Forest Recollections: Wandering Monks in Twentieth-Century Thailand

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University of Hawaii Press, 1997 - Religion - 410 pages
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I stayed in the forest] for two nights. The first night, nothing happened. The second night, at about one or two in the morning, a tiger came--which meant that I didn't get any sleep the whole night. I sat in meditation, scared stiff, while the tiger walked around and around my umbrella tent (klot). My body felt all frozen and numb. I started chanting, and the words came out like running water. All the old chants I had forgotten now came back to me, thanks both to my fear and to my ability to keep my mind under control. I sat like this from 2 until 5 a.m., when the tiger finally left. --A forest monk

During the first half of this century the forests of Thailand were home to wandering ascetic monks. They were Buddhists, but their brand of Buddhism did not copy the practices described in ancient doctrinal texts. Their Buddhism found expression in living day-to-day in the forest and in contending with the mental and physical challenges of hunger, pain, fear, and desire. Combining interviews and biographies with an exhaustive knowledge of archival materials and a wide reading of ephemeral popular literature, Kamala Tiyavanich documents the monastic lives of three generations of forest-dwelling ascetics and challenges the stereotype of state-centric Thai Buddhism.

Although the tradition of wandering forest ascetics has disappeared, a victim of Thailand's relentless modernization and rampant deforestation, the lives of the monks presented here are a testament to the rich diversity of regional Buddhist traditions. The study of these monastic lineages and practices enriches our understanding of Buddhism in Thailand and elsewhere.

 

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Contents

Introduction I
1
Buddhist Traditions in SlamThailand
18
The Path to the Forest
47
Facing Fear
79
Battling Sexual Desire
127
Wandering and Hardship
143
Relations withSangha Officials 1 72
173
CHAPTERS Relations irtth Iillagers
198
Sangha Conflicts and Social Transformation
253
Community Concerns in Regional Traditions
273
From Tradition to Fashion
286
Conclusion
291
Abbreviations
299
Notes
301
Glossary
381
Bibliography
387

The Forest Inraded
226
Many Paths and Misconceptions
252

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Thaïlande contemporaine
Stéphane Dovert
No preview available - 2001
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About the author (1997)

Kamala Tiyavanich is a visiting fellow at the Kahin Center for Advanced Research on Southeast Asia, Cornell University.

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