Sunday, December 18, 2011

Buddhism in South-east Asia

I've just finished reading a book review of a history of Buddhism in south east Asia - Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar [Burma].... etc.  Very interesting indeed - I must get this book and read it carefully.  What jumped out at me was a novel look at what I have been calling syncretism.... but will have to modify perhaps - or modify for different places and different religions.  Apparently the ordinary Buddhists of this region - not the monks - but ordinary people, picked and chose which religion they would practise, depending on what the particular need was at any particular moment. Also some religions were considered appropriate in their place - that is, royal families were expected to be Hindu [properly speaking, followers of Brahamic religion], while ordinary people were Buddhist....

What jumped out at me though was that people in south east Asia do not understand the need to have one religion that is True, and have no need to reject other religions for one true religion.  It would be something like Christians going on the Hajj, and Muslims going to Confession, and Jews praying five times a day.....

Here is the review:

and here is the book:

Prapod Assavavirulhakarn.  The Ascendancy of Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia.  Chiang Mai, Thailand:  Silkworm books, 2010

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