Forest Recollections: Wandering Monks in Twentieth-Century Thailand
During the first half of this century the forests of Thailand were home to wandering ascetic monks. They were Buddhists, but their brand of Buddhism did not copy the practices described in ancient doctrinal texts. Their Buddhism found expression in living day-to-day in the forest and in contending with the mental and physical challenges of hunger, pain, fear, and desire. C...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published April 1st 1997 by University of Hawaii Press
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If you are looking for an exciting text full of awesome spiritual tough monks that take on Tigers, jungle fevers, starvation, wilderness, charnel grounds, ghosts, and sexual desire, this is it. It collects the accounts of a type of monk called thudong, a wandering ascetic, which received alms from nearby villagers and did walking meditation and other spiritual services. Their power again is their morality in their special life which helped placate lost spirits into other paths and protect villag...more
Most histories of Thai Buddhism focus on it as a centralized and institutional religion which ignores the long story of thudong monks wandering in the countryside free from the restrictions of state-sponsored (and controlled) Buddhism. Kamala tells their stories in their own words, but laments the end of the period in the 1970s when Bangkok succeeded in settling the wandering monks in monasteries. I'm not sure if this is correct, for other writers like the late Pattana Kitiarsa argue that divers...more