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Title: Buddhism & Thai World View Author: windows Last modified by: windows Created Date: 2/18/2012 4:41:49 AM Document presentation format: On-screen Show (4:3) – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Buddhism%20

Buddhism Thai World View
  • A body of knowledge for rationalizing and
    sanctioning certain types of behavior and for
    disapproving of others
  • Serves to induce predispositions and attitudes in
    the religious context which influence activities
    in non-religious context

In Religion,
  • Rituals and ceremonies usually incorporate
    abstract ideas, values and beliefs which mirror
    religiously defined world view
  • Religious values and beliefs are often
    incorporated into concrete everyday behavior and
    situations and inspire the motivation of

Structure of the paper
  • Provides a brief account of the world view of
    Theravada Buddhism which has been predominant
    throughout Thai history
  • Examines the relationship between Buddhism and
    Thai world view as expressed in various aspects
    of social life

Buddhist World View
  • 4 Noble Truths
  • Suffering
  • Cause of suffering
  • Extinction of suffering
  • Path to extinct suffering
  • Suffering covers both mental and physical
    unpleasant conditions

Life consists of 5 aggregates
  • Corporeality (Rupa) Body
  • Sensation (Vedana) Feeling
  • Perception (Sanna) Recognition
  • Mental formation (Sa?khara) Thinking
  • Consciousness (Vinnana) Nerves
  • Some text explains this as volition.

Three Natural Characteristics
  • Impermanence
  • Changeability
  • Not-Self
  • The first two are also found in Hinduism but the
    third is exclusively of Buddhism.

Middle Path (Majjihima patipada)
  • Avoids 2 extreme practices
  • Indulgence in sensual pleasures
  • Self-torture as severe asceticism
  • (Common practice among Indian hermits)

The Buddha during asceticism
Ultimate Goal of Buddhism
  • Nirvana (Nibbana) through the Noble Eightfold
  • 1. Right Understanding
  • 2. Right Thought
  • 3. Right Speech
  • 4. Right Action
  • 5. Right Livelihood
  • 6. Right Effort
  • 7. Right Mindfulness
  • 8. Right Concentration

Concept of Individualism
  • One can attain enlightenment only through ones
    own effort
  • This belief has been thought to have significant
    influence on Thai world view and behavior i.e.
    individualistic nature of Thai character
  • Lack of rigid structure in Thai society

Volitional Action
  • In Buddhism, action (karma) can be categorized
  • Physical
  • Verbal
  • Mental
  • Action without volition is considered as void
    thus no result.

Spiro (1970)
  • Nibbanic Buddhism
  • Deals with individual salvation
  • Karmic Buddhism
  • Deals with worldly matters i.e.
    happiness-suffering, good-evil, merit-demerit,
  • (In Pali, the word world-loka means dual)
  • To discipline ones behavior, perform good acts,
    accumulate merit, etc.
  • Karmic Buddhism must be adequately (and
    properly) done before one can proceed to Nibbanic

Division of Gender Roles
  • Boys can be temple boys to serve monks, learn
    Dhamma, or get ordained (novice) and continue
  • Girls help in household matters or support family
    by working
  • Men are likely to be practitioners
  • Women are likely to be supporters

Buddhism Thai World View
  • What is world view?
  • The sum of ideas and conceptualizations which
    individuals in a cultural system have towards
    their environment and universe.
  • Its manifested in various forms of behaviors and
    attitudes and can be seen as collective
    characteristics of the people enculturated in the
    same cultural setting.

1. The World of hierarchy
  • Individual are seen as either higher or lower,
    younger or older, weaker or stronger, inferior or
    superior, richer or poorer, and rarely equal.
  • The kinship term phi (elder brother/sister) is
    often added in front of a persons name to
    indicate that s/he is older than the speaker.
  • In a more formal situation, the word khun
    (polite title to call people regardless of age
    and gender) is always used esp. in the city.

Hierarchical Thai Behavior
  • Age and seniority are sensitive issues for Thai
    so that they can use not only proper terms in
    conversation, but also appropriate behavior.
  • Thi sung thi tam (high place, low place) is an
    important concept. Those who do not recognize and
    conform to this norm are frowned upon and
    disliked in society.
  • Social status, either high or low, is considered
    as a result of bun-bap (merit-demerit) karma
    (deeds) in ones past lives.

31 Kinds of Beings in Buddhism
  • 11 Kama Bhava - Beings consist of form and
    sensual desires.
  • 4 Kinds of low beings animal, ghost, demon, hell
  • Human being(the most suitable for enlightenment)
  • 6 Kinds of deities and gods
  • 16 Rupa Brahma Higher Beings consist of form
    only, no sensual enjoyment
  • 4 Arupa Brahma Higher Beings do not have
    perceptible bodily forms and sensual enjoyment.

Thai Buddhist Preference
  • Most Buddhists (monk and lay) prefer rebirths
    within the world of sensual happiness to complete
    salvation from suffering.
  • In short, nirvana (the ultimate goal) is less
    desirable than worldly happiness in Thai popular

Traibhumi of Phra Ruang
  • King Lithai in Sukhothai period depicted the
    Buddhist cosmology of three worlds in this text.
  • Kirsch(1975)s
  • Moral Hierarchy

KingNoble Politicians Gov. official The
Wealthy The Poor
Buddhism Unequal or Equal?
  • Unequal in terms of quality and quantity of
    individuals accumulated karma in past lives
  • Equal in terms of everybody has Buddha Bhava or
    nature of enlightenment (Mahayana)

Buddhism VS Hinduism
  • In Buddhism, what one is does not matter as much
    as what one does
  • In Hinduism, what one does does not matter as
    much as what one is (due to caste system).
  • Brahman
  • Noble
  • Vaisaya
  • Sutra
  • Jandan (untouchable)
  • There are some Hindus who converted to Buddhism
    b/c of caste system i.e. Dr.Ambedkar

2. The World of Merit and Demerit
  • Confusion of term usage
  • Karma deed, either good or bad
  • Bun merit
  • Bap demerit, but Thais often use karma for this
  • A Thai proverb Bun tham karma tang means Bun
    does and bap directs

Thai Names and Songs
  • Thai names, esp. traditional names are likely to
    have bun somewhere in the first name or even
    family name
  • Thai songs, both classical and contemporary, use
    of the words karma, bun, and bap and many other
    related terms.
  • Suk kan ther rao Lets be happy (MV)
  • https//www.youtube.com/watch?v5OkDc1KeeSg

  • The world is like a play, we just have to follow
    each scene as we are destined. Dont worry, keep
    smiling and we all will be fine.
  • Lets be happy, why getting sad for nothing.
    Dont worry, its just waste our energy.
  • We were born as humans so we have to be patient.
    Dont be sad, we just have to bare with it.
  • The world is like a play, dont worry. Happiness
    and suffering come together.
  • Let bun and karma(bap) play as they wish. Dont
    be sorrow but keep smiling for it.
  • Lets enjoy ourselves and be happy together.
    Forget the suffering and refresh your mind and
  • Being happy is good, dont be hesitant. Dont be
    frowned but smile. Lives must go on and we have a
    long way to go, renew our lives by smiling.

Love in Buddhism
  • Either success or failure, is a result of bun and
    bap from past lives
  • Love and marriage are caused by
  • 1) both partners had been together before in
    their previous lives
  • 2) assistance and favor done to each other in the
    present life

Meritmaking (tham bun)
  • Religious activities i.e. giving food and
    offerings to monks and nuns, chanting, supporting
    temple, observing precepts, listening to sermons,
    practicing meditation, etc.
  • Social activities i.e. digging communal wells,
    building roads, taking care of aged parents,
    helping the poor, etc.
  • Can bring better life in the future according to
    law of karma

East meets West
  • Law of karma in Buddhist belief may be compared
    to the law of motion in Western science.
  • Reynolds (1976), Karma gives order and regularity
    to the moral and social universe much as the
    Newtonian laws of Western science give order and
    regularity to the physical universe

Substance/Matter causes by
  • 1. Karma Law of action/reaction
  • 2. Mind Mind manipulates body
  • 3. Climate Beings can survive in a certain
  • 4. Intake i.e. food, contact, etc.
  • Thais dont explain everything with law of karma.
    A Thai saying for car users Accident isnt bad
    luck(bap), but caused by reckless action

3. The World of bun khun
  • Help or favor done by someone which entails
    gratitude and obligation on the part of the
  • The recipient would feel mentally indebted, be
    grateful to the giver, and supposed to seek an
    occasion to repay the favor whenever s/he can.

Parenting in Thai Buddhism
  • What parents do for their children is bun khun so
    children should repay them whenever they can.
  • Taking care of aged parents is social obligation
    rather than option because of this concept.
  • Abandoning parents is considered ungratefulness.
  • The Buddha said Mother has more bun khun than

Concept of Rare Persons
  • 1) Those who have rendered a favor (pubbakari)
  • 2) Those who show gratitude and repay the favor
    done to them (katannu katavedi)
  • This falls under give and take circle.
  • Buddhism regards such persons as examplary
    individuals whose actions bring harmony and
    happiness to society.

4. The World of Cool Heart
  • Cool heartedness is a typically Thai value, not
    that every Thai is a cool-hearted person, but its
    quality is highly valued in Thai culture esp. in
    the crisis situation.
  • King Rama VI composed a poem those who should
    be praised even more are those who still smile
    when facing dangers

Cool heart can mean
  • 1) Psychological quality of not being anxious
    when confronting problems
  • 2) Not getting angry easily when one should be or
    expected to be
  • 3) Ability to suppress ones emotion and not
    becoming easily nervous or emotionally disturbed
  • 4) Indifference
  • In short, it is the characteristic of a stable

Smiles even in Flooding
Related behaviors
  • Chai-yen-yen to be cool-hearted
  • Mai-bpen-rai does not matter
  • Phillip(1965) regarded this as social cosmetic
  • Choei-choei indifferent, stable
  • Thai social life places strong value on overt
    calmness in social interaction. To express open
    anger, dislike and annoyance is considered

Brahma-Vihara (Brahamans virtues)
  • 1. Metta Loving kindness
  • 2. Karu?a Compassion
  • 3. Mudita Enjoy others success
  • 4. Ubekkha Equanimity
  • (Be indifferent after have done everything one
    supposed to do)

Misinterpretings cause Injustice
  • Equanimity Indifference
  • Allow wrong-doers not being punished
  • Law of Karma
  • The mistreat we received is a bad karma of our
    past lives. Once we have paid-off, we should
    stop this circle of karma
  • Most Thai Buddhists forget that Everything has a
  • Therefore Thai Buddhists have perpetuated
    violence and social injustice somehow more or

5. The World of Individualism
  • Buddhism emphasizes the individuals effort as
    the only means for any achievement.
  • An individuals self is his refuge
  • Ones self is the most beloved
  • Winning ones self is the true victory
  • Its the maker who reaps his bun, not somebody
  • To do as one wishes is to be a genuine Thai
  • Comparatively to the West, Thais have not been
    very good at teamwork in any level.
  • Social harmony yet individual success

  • Unlike Hinduism, Buddhism allows individuals who
    occupy any social positions to be free to move in
    any direction much as soccer players.
  • Cool-heartedness is characterized by stability of
    personality, control of feeling and emotion, and
    the ability to handle situations with care and
  • Buddhist emphasis on individualism seems to play
    an important part in shaping up the
    individualistic tendency in Thai attitude and

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