Buddhism in Thailand
October 2, 2004 11:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to Thailand for two and a half months on a grant to study engaged Buddhism and its intersections with international development projects. Any suggestions? (more inside)

I'm thinking specifically of visiting temples (perhaps where the monks speak relatively good English or you can volunteer to teach English) and NGOs working in agriculture, education, or appropriate technology, but would appreciate suggestions of specific places and organizations. My goal is to learn more about Buddhism in general, but also to explore its role in shaping how development organizations approach their work.
posted by AwkwardPause to Travel & Transportation around Thailand (9 answers total)
Try posting a question here

Thamkrabok may be worth investigating.
posted by the cuban at 12:39 PM on October 2, 2004

Besides the rehab that goes on there, the Earth Music of Thamkrabok is quite interesting.
posted by the cuban at 12:45 PM on October 2, 2004

Well, you can't go wrong with Nakhon Pathom (where Buddhism started in Thailand). It's only 35 km or so outside of Bangkok...rural area. I spent a good few weeks there....
posted by SpaceCadet at 5:17 PM on October 2, 2004

I've been told, by some fellow Zen Buddhists, that they are not so big on donating to charities and organizations because charity/compassion is something you do in your day-to-day life, not by giving to an institution.

(obviously, Thai Buddhists may vary. I'm just throwing that out there.)
posted by falconred at 5:17 PM on October 2, 2004

A good friend of mine is a librarian at the UN in Bangkok. I can get you in touch with him, if you want, as I'm sure he could give some good recommendations. Email me if you're interested.
posted by arco at 10:14 PM on October 2, 2004

I lived in northern Thialand for two years, so I am biased toward the north. I'm a big temple-lover and found the temples in the smaller northern towns to be the best in terms of general vibe. I don't know anything about the politics of any particular temple.

You might want to avoid that time every year that all the young boys come in and have their heads shaved and spend their dutiful 2 months or so studying at their local temple. It should be pretty easy to find out when that is.

As for English, I wouldn't let command of the language sway you too hard toward any particular temple; that is, there are more important ciriteria. Fact of the matter is that one monk, or maybe two, will make all the difference in your experience; I doubt that his capacity to speak English will bear much on how much your learn about the Buddhist way from him. Might even interfere.

Chock dee! (Good luck)
posted by squirrel at 1:58 AM on October 3, 2004

A friend of mine did his PhD based around a study of interaction of development NGOs with different ethnicities in Ethiopia, not at all Buddhist related but he's generally shit hot on the literature and some of the theory may be relevant to your studies. Email me if you think its relevant and I'll pass on the details.
posted by biffa at 5:26 AM on October 3, 2004

Also, do checkout reliefweb for details of NGOs in Thailand
posted by dmt at 5:58 AM on October 3, 2004

for engaged Buddhism, check out Chamlong's wat near Kanchanaburi, or Sulak Sivaraksa's organisation.

Chamlong is the guy who mobilisied the opposition to Suchinda's attempted coup in 1992; Sivaraksa is a political, engaged Buddhist who's been in prison for his beliefs.
posted by Pericles at 1:25 AM on October 4, 2004

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