Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.


Review: Militarism and Buddhism in Modern Asia

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 23, 2016

Buddhism and Violence: Militarism and Buddhism in Modern Asia. Edited by Vladimir Tikhonov and Torkel Brekke. New York: Routledge, 2013, 264 pages, ISBN: 9780415536967 (cloth), $125.00.

Reviewed by Kendall Marchman

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Thailand’s Mae Chis and the Global Women’s Ordination Movement

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 22, 2015

Becoming Bhikkhunī? Mae Chis and the Global Women’s Ordination Movement

Lisa J. Battaglia
Samford University

Women’s full ordination as Buddhist nuns (Pāli: bhikkhunī, Sanskrit: bhikṣuṇī) has been a contested issue across Buddhist traditions and historical periods. Today, there is a global movement to secure women’s full participation in Buddhist monastic institutions. The present study examines this “bhikkhunī movement” in Thailand from the perspective of mae chis, Thai Buddhist female renunciates who abide by eight precepts yet do not have full ordination or ordination lineage. Employing an anthropological approach informed by postcolonial critical theory, my research reveals that mae chis, women who lead a Buddhist monastic lifestyle characterized by celibate practice and spiritual discipline, are not, on the whole, eager to relinquish their present status, fight against the existing socio-religious order, or pursue bhikkhunī ordination. A critical-empathic consideration of mae chis’ apparent illiberal subjectivities regarding gender hierarchy, female renunciant identity, and women’s liberation brings to light goals and strategies of the global bhikkhunī movement that do not necessarily resonate with the motivations, aims or cultural sensibilities of the Thai white-robed female renunciates.

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Review: Buddhist Funeral Cultures of Southeast Asia and China

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Buddhist Funeral Cultures of Southeast Asia and China. Edited by Paul Williams and Patrice Ladwig. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012, ISBN: 9781107003880 (paper-back), $39.99.

Reviewed by Nicolas Sihlé

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Buddhist Reflections on “Consumer” and “Consumerism”

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Buddhist Reflections on “Consumer” and “Consumerism”

Peter Harvey
University of Sunderland

This article starts with a characterization of “consumerism” and the idea of “the consumer.” It then explores Buddhist attitudes on wealth and “Buddhist economics” before drawing on these to develop a critical assessment of consumerism as an ineffective and wasteful route to human happiness.

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Review: Buddhism, Wealth, and the Dhammakāya Temple

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Nirvana for Sale?: Buddhism, Wealth, and the Dhammakāya Temple in Contemporary Thailand. By Rachelle M. Scott. Albany: SUNY Press, 2009, xiii + 242 pages, ISBN 978-1-4384-2784-3 (paperback), $29.95, ISBN 978-1-4384-2783-6 (hardcover).

Reviewed by Jordan Johnson

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Esoteric Teaching of Wat Phra Dhammakāya

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 19, 2012

Esoteric Teaching of Wat Phra Dhammakāya

Mano Mettanando Laohavanich
Pridi Banomyong International College,
Thammasat University

Thailand’s controversial Wat Phra Dhammakāya has grown exponentially. In just three decades, it has come to have millions of followers in and outside of Thailand and over forty branches overseas. The esoteric teaching of meditation taught by the leaders of the community has inspired thousands of young men and women from various universities to sacrifice their lives to serve their Master, something that has never been seen before in Thailand or elsewhere in the Theravāda world. What is the nature of this esoteric teaching? Why is it so appealing to these young minds? These questions are discussed and analyzed by the author, who was one of Wat Phra Dhammakāya’s founding members.

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Review: The Thai Cult of King Chulalongkorn

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 18, 2011

Worshipping the Great Moderniser: King Chulalongkorn, Patron Saint of the Thai Middle Class. By Irene Stengs. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2009, xii + 316 pages, ISBN 978-0295989174 (paper), US $35.00.

Reviewed by Luke Schmidt

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Strategies for Buddhist Environmentalism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 18, 2011

The Lorax Wears Saffron: Toward a Buddhist Environmentalism

Seth Devere Clippard
Arizona State University

This article argues for the reorientation of eco-Buddhist discourse from a focus on establishing textual justifications of what Buddhist environmental ethics says towards a discourse in which Buddhist rhetoric and environmental practice are intimately linked through specific communal encounters. The article first identifies and assesses two different strategies used by advocates of Buddhist environmentalism in Thailand, one being textual and the other practical. Then, after laying out the deficiencies of the textual strategy, the article argues that the practical strategy offers a more meaningful basis for a discourse of Buddhist environmental concern—one that accounts for the differences in Buddhist communities but does not discount the importance of key Buddhist concepts. This article will suggest that a rhetorical interpretation of environmental practices offers the most effective means of articulating the ethical foundations of religious environmentalism.

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Santi Asoke Movement in Thailand

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 11 2004

Santi Asoke Buddhist Reform Movement: Building Individuals, Community, and (Thai) Society

Juliana M. Essen
Soka University of America

The late 1990s economic crisis in Southeast Asia marked a critical moment in Thailand’s history. Now, many Thais pause to reevaluate their nation’s development path and to consider alternatives for a primarily Buddhist, agrarian society. The Santi Asoke Buddhist Reform Movement in Thailand offers one such alternative. The Asoke group’s aim is not a Western ideal—to accumulate high levels of material comfort, but a Buddhist ideal—to release attachment to the material world and attain spiritual freedom. Like other Buddhist approaches to development, Asoke-style development begins with personal spiritual advancement; yet it emphasizes worldly engagement in order to address contemporary social, economic, and environmental dilemmas. This paper draws from ethnographic research at one Asoke community to illustrate how Asoke Buddhist beliefs and practices contribute to development on three levels: individual, community, and society.

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Review: Death in Thailand

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 10, 2003

The Funeral Casino: Meditation, Massacre and Exchange with the Dead in Thailand. By Alan Klima. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002. 336 pages. Paperback. ISBN: 0691074607.

Reviewed by Patrice Ladwig

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Abortion in Thailand

ISSN:1076-9005
Volume 5, 1998

Abortion in Thailand: a Feminist Perspective

Malee Lerdmaleewong, R.N., M.N
Bangkok, Thailand

and

Caroline Francis, B.A., M.A.
Mahidol University Bangkok, Thailand

The objectives of this paper are threefold: (1) To examine the abortion debate in Thailand, identifying issues raised by Thai feminist scholars about the status of women; (2) To overview some of the more prominent feminist arguments regarding abortion (particularly those written by Canadian and American scholars) as a tool for defining women’s reproductive rights; and (3) To focus on a study of attitudes toward abortion among health care personnel and post-induced abortion patients in Bangkok, Thailand in order to discern the degree of support (if any) for feminist abortion arguments.

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Review: Wandering Monks in Twentieth-Century Thailand

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

Forest Recollections: Wandering Monks in Twentieth-Century Thailand. By Kamala Tiyavanich. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997, xxi + 410 pages, ISBN 0-8248-1781-8, US$29.95.

Reviewed By Tessa Bartholomeusz

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Review: Engaged Buddhism in Asia

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

Engaged Buddhism: Buddhist Liberation Movements in Asia. Edited by Christopher S. Queen and Sallie B. King. New York: State University of New York, 1996, xii + 446 pages, ISBN 0-7914-2844-3, $24.95.

Reviewed by Mavis L. Fenn

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Buddhist Economic Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 17, 2010

Sufficiency Economy and Santi Asoke: Buddhist Economic Ethics for a Just and Sustainable World

Juliana Essen
Soka University of America

Mainstream economic thought and practice has resulted in wide-spread socioeconomic disparity and environmental devastation in all corners of the world, unmitigated by a multi-billion dollar development industry informed by these same economic models. To reverse this trend, the dominant forms of economic thought and practice must be reunited with ethics that are more caring of the human-nature base. Such ethics may be found in alternative economic models based on religious, spiritual, environmental, or feminist values. This essay considers one such alternative: Buddhist economics. After outlining a theory of Buddhist economics, this essay considers two models: the Royal Thai Sufficiency Economy Model and the approach adopted by the Santi Asoke Buddhist Reform Movement of Thailand. Both are conducive to economic activity that is more socially just and environmentally sustainable, particularly due to their ethics of self-reliance, moderation, and interdependence.

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