Thursday, May 11, 2006

Bangkok Buddhistism

A Tea Party
Just returned from an International Buddhism Conference in Bangkok; a tiresome trip, but not without benefit. Much insight into what Buddhists do when they gather together in large groups - they certainly don't practice much Buddhism... here are some of the highlights of the trip:

  • Discussing Pāḷi with the monks at Wat Mahadhatu Section 25

  • Visiting the room of the infamously antisocial Ven. Dhammanando at Wat Ben

  • Meeting Phra Kru Supat at Wat Mahadhatu Section 5 - he invited me to go to Germany with him this rainy season... should I go?

  • Clearing up my doubts about whether it is okay for monks to drink standing up with Ven. Brahmavamso at Buddhamonton

  • Commenting at workshop on Buddhist Education that criticising Buddhist education methodology as being outdated is in effect criticising the Lord Buddha's methods, which are over 2500 years old; commenting that the word "updating" might be better applied to computer software than teaching methodology.

  • Sitting for coffee with 1) a Korean Bhikkhuni, 2) the First Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Thailand, 3) an exuberant Thai/Tibetan Lama/Monk, 4) the Sri Lankan boy chosen to receive sponsorship for ordination by the King of Thailand (see photo).

  • Finding a set of little cubicles on the second floor of the UNESCO building labelled "Prayer Room", with a sign on the wall telling you where North is. Practicing sitting meditation facing North.

  • Sitting up in the English translation booth in the UNESCO conference hall on the last day of the conference, for lack of a professional to do the job. Performing simultaneous translation from Thai to English for the rector of the MCU's report to Somdet Buddhajaan (the acting proxy for the supreme patriarch) and the Somdet's closing speech

  • Meeting two Buddhists from Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

  • Holding long conversations with Peter Masefield about starting up a group to translate the commentaries to the Sutta Pitaka into English

  • Receiving several pounds worth of books - the Visuddhimagga translated into Thai, the Padarupasiddhi in Pali, a Nissaya translation of the first book of the Digha in Thai, and the Royal Thai-Pali Chanting Book

  • Receiving 7 MP3 CDs of Ajaan Jodok's dhamma talks - approx. 70 hours worth in all.

  • Celebrating my 27th birthday in Wat Phra Kaeo in the Royal Palace.


The highest highlight is my return home to Chom Tong where I will be able to continue my studies and practice in peace. If only I can just keep myself away from the microphone...
Reporting to Ajaan