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Monday, March 7, 2011

Buddhism, in the World, and in Thailand

I remember some years ago reading about Thai soldiers in the Middle East teaching the locals to wai, the Thai traditional method of greeting. Now on the surface this might have seemed a nice story, but, I wondered, “why isn’t there a story about Thai soldiers learning local traditions?”, like I had read about soldiers from other countries doing when being stationed in a foreign country.
All that aside let’s move ahead to 9 March 2011 and this story. And it in a way offends me.
I am a westerner and have been Buddhist for about 30 years and have lived in Northeast Thailand for more than 15 years.
Here’s what I plan to do. Hopefully start a discussion about Buddhism, Thailand and Thai Buddhism.
Lets try, if possible, decide on a definition of ; “Who is a Buddhist?
On the web the following seems to be generally accepted
“one who follows the teachings of Buddha
of or relating to or supporting Buddhism;"
So for argument sake let’s go with this.
What does it mean though? I would guess that a Buddhist is one who follows the
Tripiáš­aka as written and preserved in the Pali Canon and  undertake the following;
1. I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking life
2. I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking what is not given.
3. I undertake the training rule to abstain from sexual misconduct. 4.
I undertake the training rule to abstain from false speech.
5. I undertake the training rule to abstain from fermented drink that causes heedlessness
Please note these are not commandments.
So can we agree that the above constitutes , Who Is a Buddhist? That is on who both the is aware of the Tripitika and the observes the precepts, or perhaps for simplicity let’s just go with the precepts.

Hmm, too many words for me. It’s a start. Just who is a Buddhist?