Thai forest tradition vs "non-forest tradition"

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Coëmgenu
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Thai forest tradition vs "non-forest tradition"

Post by Coëmgenu »

Hi!

I am new-ish to Dhamma Wheel and I have a pretty basic question that I can imagine could possibly illicit a complex response, but what are the Thai traditions of Buddhist teachings that aren't the Forest Tradition?

I only ask because the only tradition I ever seem to see represented outside of Thailand (and I've never lived in or visited Thailand) is the "Forest tradition" (which I am highly uneducated on the subject of).

Is the forest tradition the most practiced or only therevada tradition in Thailand? Or are there other traditions that either compete or complement the practice?
The thus come thus gone,
who has neither came nor went,
enthroned on men’s breath,

like the still turtle,
withdraws six appendages
and is clothed in light --

illuminating
the unilluminated
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Goofaholix
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Re: Thai forest tradition vs "non-forest tradition"

Post by Goofaholix »

In Thailand the Forest tradition is relatively small compared with non forest tradition Buddhism. The reason it's mostly the Forest tradition represented outside of Thailand is that the rest of Thai Buddhism is mostly social-cultural, ritualistic, superstitious, or academic and the standard of vinaya can be very poor.

The Forest tradition is the main one that emphasises meditation and the vinaya. In addition to this there are some non Forest tradition meditation centres which emphasise meditation and their roots come from Burmese teachers, these attract foreigners as well.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah
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Coëmgenu
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Re: Thai forest tradition vs "non-forest tradition"

Post by Coëmgenu »

Goofaholix wrote: [...] the rest of Thai Buddhism is mostly social-cultural, ritualistic, superstitious, or academic and the standard of vinaya can be very poor.
I assume that said Thais don't find their religion superstitious though, that's the thing with labels like superstitious. :p

Do you happen to know the names of any of these streams of Buddhism? I am always interested to learn more wherever I can.
The thus come thus gone,
who has neither came nor went,
enthroned on men’s breath,

like the still turtle,
withdraws six appendages
and is clothed in light --

illuminating
the unilluminated
with three shining cures.
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Goofaholix
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Re: Thai forest tradition vs "non-forest tradition"

Post by Goofaholix »

Coëmgenu wrote: Do you happen to know the names of any of these streams of Buddhism? I am always interested to learn more wherever I can.
Probably just main-stream. There are two main divisions in Thai Buddhism, Dhammayut I believe is probably all Forest tradition, and Mahanikaya which is almost all not Forest tradition except for the Ajahn Chah lineage and maybe a few other teachers.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah
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mikenz66
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Re: Thai forest tradition vs "non-forest tradition"

Post by mikenz66 »

Goofaholix wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote: Do you happen to know the names of any of these streams of Buddhism? I am always interested to learn more wherever I can.
Probably just main-stream. There are two main divisions in Thai Buddhism, Dhammayut I believe is probably all Forest tradition, and Mahanikaya which is almost all not Forest tradition except for the Ajahn Chah lineage and maybe a few other teachers.
Since the Dhammayut HQ is in Bangkok, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Bowonniwet_Vihara, I'm not sure it's as simple as that... It's interesting that the future King Mongkut re-ordained in a Burmese-originated lineage https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhammayuttika_Nikaya as part of the creation the new Nikaya.

This is also interesting:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maha_Nikaya
The identification of the Maha Nikāya as a single, discrete entity is an innovation of the Thai state. After the founding of the Dhammayuttika Nikāya by the then-monk Prince Mongkut in 1833, decades later all recognized monks not ordained in the Dhammayuttika order were considered to be part of the 'maha nikāya', the 'great collection' of those outside the new Dhammayuttika fraternity. As such, most monks in Thailand belong to the Maha Nikāya more or less by default; the order itself did not originally establish any particular practices or views that characterized those adhering to its lineage. There were in reality hundreds of different Nikayas throughout the Thai areas that were lumped together as the "Maha Nikāya".
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Re: Thai forest tradition vs "non-forest tradition"

Post by Pinetree »

I've bumped into a source, which I don't remember, from Thanissaro Bhikkhu, which presented some of the history of the forest tradition.

From my memory, the Forest tradition is more ... traditional, as in old or maybe untouched by the world (I believe "Forest" is correctly translated as "wilderness").

Before modern times, if you would go deep into the forests, you would find various groups of recluses having little to no contact to the outside world (larger cities). Not all of them Buddhist monks and not all practicing the same homogeneous tradition. And then there came modernization and politics, and you can check the link for more details:

http://www.audiodharma.org/series/16/talk/5996/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
DC2R
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Re: Thai forest tradition vs "non-forest tradition"

Post by DC2R »

The "non-forest tradition" approaches Buddhism from an academic standpoint, while the Thai Forest Tradition places an emphasis on meditation and virtue (sīla, which can be summarized as following the precepts). You will find many teachers like Ajahn Chah (from the Thai Forest Tradition) saying that actually engaging in the practice is crucial—knowing the facts and poring over them is not enough to realize the Noble Eightfold Path and eventually nibbana.

This except from forestsangha.org's about page is a good description of the Thai Forest Tradition:
The Thai Forest tradition is the branch of Theravada Buddhism in Thailand that most strictly holds the original monastic rules of discipline laid down by the Buddha. The Forest tradition also most strongly emphasizes meditative practice and the realization of enlightenment as the focus of monastic life. Forest monasteries are primarily oriented around practising the Buddha’s path of contemplative insight, including living a life of discipline, renunciation, and meditation in order to fully realize the inner truth and peace taught by the Buddha. Living a life of austerity allows forest monastics to simplify and refine the mind. This refinement allows them to clearly and directly explore the fundamental causes of suffering within their heart and to inwardly cultivate the path leading toward freedom from suffering and supreme happiness. Living frugally, with few possessions fosters for forest monastics the joy of an unburdened life and assists them in subduing greed, pride, and other taints in their minds.
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tiltbillings
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Re: Thai forest tradition vs "non-forest tradition"

Post by tiltbillings »

DC2R wrote:The "non-forest tradition" approaches Buddhism from an academic standpoint, while the Thai Forest Tradition places an emphasis on meditation and virtue (sīla, which can be summarized as following the precepts). You will find many teachers like Ajahn Chah (from the Thai Forest Tradition) saying that actually engaging in the practice is crucial—knowing the facts and poring over them is not enough to realize the Noble Eightfold Path and eventually nibbana.
And this is an accurate characterization of all "non-forest traditions?"
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723
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lctony
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Re: Thai forest tradition vs "non-forest tradition"

Post by lctony »

tiltbillings wrote:
DC2R wrote:The "non-forest tradition" approaches Buddhism from an academic standpoint, while the Thai Forest Tradition places an emphasis on meditation and virtue (sīla, which can be summarized as following the precepts). You will find many teachers like Ajahn Chah (from the Thai Forest Tradition) saying that actually engaging in the practice is crucial—knowing the facts and poring over them is not enough to realize the Noble Eightfold Path and eventually nibbana.
And this is an accurate characterization of all "non-forest traditions?"
I think it might be useful to identify "non-forest traditions".
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tiltbillings
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Re: Thai forest tradition vs "non-forest tradition"

Post by tiltbillings »

lctony wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
DC2R wrote:The "non-forest tradition" approaches Buddhism from an academic standpoint, while the Thai Forest Tradition places an emphasis on meditation and virtue (sīla, which can be summarized as following the precepts). You will find many teachers like Ajahn Chah (from the Thai Forest Tradition) saying that actually engaging in the practice is crucial—knowing the facts and poring over them is not enough to realize the Noble Eightfold Path and eventually nibbana.
And this is an accurate characterization of all "non-forest traditions?"
I think it might be useful to identify "non-forest traditions".
Agreed. It is worth pointing out that the Burmese Vipassana tradition(s) are meditation traditions, but not forest traditions.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723
Bakmoon
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Re: Thai forest tradition vs "non-forest tradition"

Post by Bakmoon »

Among Thai monks there is a two way sort of split. There are the forest monks who live good distances outside of cities and live rather strict ascetic lives according to the Vinaya and practice a lot of meditation, and there are the city monks who might primarily be interested in preforming traditional rituals, study, or a variety of other such things. There is also the different strands of Burmese Vipassana that have been brought to Thailand as well, but those aren't native to Thailand so they don't really fit neatly into these categories.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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