Life in a Theravadin country

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Life in a Theravadin country

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:43 am

Greetings,

I've not yet had the opportunity to travel to any countries that are traditionally Theravadin (e.g. Sri Lanka, Burma/Myanmar, , Thailand). Would anyone who has spent time in one of the countries care to tell us a little about their experiences there and how Theravada Buddhism fits into and moulds the local culture?

Thank you for those who already gave wonderful responses at http://lotuscafe.proboards55.com/index. ... &thread=71 - I have read and valued each and every one.

Metta,
Retro.
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Life in a Theravadin country

Postby dragonwarrior » Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:31 am

Hi Retro, actually I've never been to those countries, but as I heard from some of my friends, people in Thailand are so warm and friendly (they smile :) and laugh :lol: a lot). There are a lot of temples, golden stupas, and other Buddhist architectures. Since 95% of Thailand's population is Buddhist, pindapata is not only done in events like Vesak or Kathina (like in my country), but pindapata is a part of daily life. And I believe it's also done in other Buddhist country as well. Monks could be seen in public places like markets, walk around the streets, just like ordinary people, and they even smoke :? is smoking allowed? :?: Well, I think we just should come and see ourselves, ehipassiko ;)
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Re: Life in a Theravadin country

Postby Jechbi » Thu Jan 08, 2009 4:51 pm

Wonder how this guy would respond.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Life in a Theravadin country

Postby Element » Sat Jan 10, 2009 2:22 am

Insightful video about Buddhist life in Thailand.

Celebrating 25 Centuries Of Buddhism - Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo
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Life in a Theravadin country

Postby GrahamR » Sat Jan 10, 2009 11:25 am

Hi

My wife spent 25 years in Thailand so if there is anything specific I can ask her for you.

I've been a few times as a tourist and as our Indonesian friend says it's full of temples and stupas (Chedi) which are fascinating and often very beautiful. Monks are like most Thai people very welcoming to foreigners.

People are generally very friendly, even if most can't speak much English. I would generally try and ask groups of school kids for help, as they would usually find it fun.

I can't stand Bangkok for more that a few days, it's just too polluted and my daughter ended up seriously ill as a result. If you smoke 40 cigarettes a day, you might not notice.

With metta

Graham
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Re: Life in a Theravadin country

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:03 am

just to nit pick :rolleye:

but thailand is 95% theravada buddhist

that 95% doesnt count the many mahayana buddhists there as well (mostly chinese and vietnamese)
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Life in a Theravadin country

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:43 am

Hi JC,

jcsuperstar wrote:just to nit pick :rolleye:

but thailand is 95% theravada buddhist

that 95% doesnt count the many mahayana buddhists there as well (mostly chinese and vietnamese)


Are you sure of that?

It seems unlikely to me; the ethnic Chinese here are highly integrated with the Thai mainstream and pursue much the same sort of Buddhist activities as Thai Theravadins. In a survey I just can't picture many of them self-identifying as a different sort of Buddhist to that of the ethnic Thais. The typical Chinese here will support a Chinese Mahayana temple, but his dealings with it will likely be limited to fortune-telling and funerals; if he starts to take the Dhamma seriously, then he'll seek instruction from a Theravada teacher.

The ethnic Vietnamese seem to be rather more insular than the Chinese, but their numbers, even in Bangkok, are barely sufficient to support more than a handful of temples.

Moreover, I can't picture many Thais describing themselves as Theravada Buddhists. Setting aside scholar monks and the better educated laity, the word Theravada won't even be in most Thais' passive vocabularies. If you ask them to specify what sort of Buddhism they practice, the answer is more likely to be "Thai Buddhism."

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
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Re: Life in a Theravadin country

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:00 pm

its just what i read, it always says 95% theravada the other 5% are made up of mahayana, islam, xtions etc
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Life in a Theravadin country

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:21 pm

Hi JC,

jcsuperstar wrote:its just what i read, it always says 95% theravada the other 5% are made up of mahayana, islam, xtions etc


I suspect the figure of "95% Theravada" is based upon the last census, taken in 2000. It would, however, be a misreading of the data, for the survey's question on religious affiliation didn't distinguish between Buddhist schools. See here for the full figures.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Life in a Theravadin country

Postby GrahamR » Thu Jan 15, 2009 6:22 pm

Dear all,

My wife is a half Chinese Thai, but would see herself as a normal Thai Buddhist, I think the majority of Chinese in Thailand think that way. She would sometimes also go to a Chinese temple.

Graham
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Re: Life in a Theravadin country

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Jan 21, 2009 3:03 pm

I lived in sri lanka for many years. The culture is so infused with buddhist values, to live in such a culture is to 'humanized' all over again. People actually smile much more and smiles are expected after every transaction. People are more laid back (possibly one of the reasosns thouse countries arent more materially developed) and are able to let go. They are less ambitious somehow. Karma and rebirth are more readily accepted. People venerate monks and even lay people who practice the dhamma seriously. The island is dotted with temples ancient and new, some forest monasteries others catering to the elite in the capital. You grow up learning buddhism in school- it is taught as subject. You respect your parents more- and worship them. To live in a buddhist culture means that half the practice is done for you by the environment. There are buddhist channels on tv now. Once a month is full moon holiday where the radio and tv channesl will be full of buddhist sermons by various monks exploring every topic under the sun. People will go to buddhist temples and offer incense and flowers. Others may meditate. There are more and more meditation centres popping up everywhere and the layity is practicing meditation more than ever. Young people after their Alevels go on retreats. When the vesak festival comes around the whole isalnd goes into festive mode- it is a festival of light symbolizing the light of wisdom the buddha gave to the world. Every house will have lanterns and coloured lights. Some organisations will erect giant strucutres with with 'jataka' stories on them and multi coloured lights.

http://travel.webshots.com/album/550700 ... kU?start=0

This is not to say that everything is rosy in the third world. There is war, bombs going off, illness, the rupee depreciating, people working very hard everyday, sometimes seven days of the week. It is difficult, but people are less stressed and somehow happier as they have close families and friends. :group:
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
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