buddhism and competing authorities in thailand the history of thai buddhism is written 1) supportive...
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Buddhism and Competing Authorities in ThailandThe history of Thai Buddhism is written1) supportive and 2) resistanceBoth call for a return to an ideal past, where Buddhist practice was canonical, and uncorrupted. Both see protective magic as corrupt and superstitious. This type of approach establishes a dichotomy of victim/victimizer among the Thai Buddhist community. It suggests that Thai Buddhism was a static entity that existed in a pristine state.Thai Buddhists are not simply the supine receivers of modernization who choose to profit from it or be overrun.
State Control of Buddhism
19th century the Rama IV and V formalized the ecclesiasia and educational practices. This was part of the nation-building and social control process. Ecclesiastical ranks, textbooks, monastic examinations, the Pali canon, Vinaya enforcement.Sangha Act of 1902
Pro-government Political Activism among Thai Buddhists1934 govt examined Sangha finances 1941 govt control over internal Sangha organization.Military:social engagementto stop the spread of communism. Thammadut. Phra Kittivuddho had famous aggressive campaign to stop magicians and communists. Killing communists is ok.
Luang Ta MahabuaLuang Ta Mahabua: Buddhists should donate money to the government. Thai Help Thai: 500 million U.S. in gold. Got angry with Thaksin and Minister of Finance, Tarrin Nimmanahaeminda. Impeacement.Mahabua criticized for being becoming over-involved in lokiya. Westerners support social engagement, but often seen as western, Bangkok-centric, elitist, and potentially destructive to the supramundane status.
The Dhammakaya Movement
Dhammajayo (glowing Buddha)Student of Khun Yai and Luang Po Sod (1906-1959) of Wat Pak Nam.Although criticized as psychological manipulationcollege students and middle class.Meditation kit and retreats.General Chaowalit Yongchaiyud and Bankers.
RESISTING THE STATE Santi Asok started by Bodhiraksa in 1973 -- return to early Buddhism. Against magic and ritual.Forcibly disrobed in June 1989 for illegal ordinations.He is against Capitalistic Buddhism and promotes poverty reduction. But now strangely Nationalistic and anti-Cambodian.
Lay Buddhism/Social EngagementSulak Sivaraksa: grassroots movement. Journals and NGOs promote democracy, womens rights, land reform, environmental protection. Structural violence.Buddhadasa (1906-1993)Suan Mokh foreigners Dhammic Socialism -- humans were naturally social creatures and needed to work together for mutual benefit and support and co-dependence.
Buddhist EnvironmentalismLow-impact ideology of Thui Chanthakaro and others not well-received by govt and pro-business.Tree-planting day and deemed as protecting communists in forest.Luang Po Naan and Luang Po Khamkian apply Buddhist approaches to ecology.Phrajak Kuttajitto. After leaving his wife and five children to take up the monastic life in 1977 in Dong Yai forest started to ordain trees. Staged many protests and gained the support of NGOs and the foreign press, but he was arrested in1991.
Buddhism and NationalismIn 2007 push to make Buddhism a state religion.Some saw it as promoted by Thaksin as anti-Muslim.Queen Sirikit said that Buddhism was beyond state and politics.
Monks and Pro-Democracy ProtestsMost monks were not involvedPeace makers, some stood to protect civilians in fightingOne kicked a car and some protested.Calls to get more monks involved by both sides did not work.
Problems: 1) overestimate the influence of the central Thai ecclesia and the governments Ministry of Religion and Culture on the practice of Thai Buddhism. Less than 1% of monks ever attend monastic universities or take eccleiastical examinations. State printed textbooks are not wiespread and very few monks ever actually read pronouncements from the mahatherasamakhom.2) The Thai environmental movement and anti- financial corruption movements have either been ignored or criticized by many Thai Buddhists.3) Dhammakaya is popular, but actually growing more popular outside the country and loosing support within it. Seen as elitest.Many continually revisit their practice not by searching for a pure Buddhism that exists somewhere in the golden past, but respond to the changing needs of the time.