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The term Buddhism is derived from the honorific title given to the founder of the teaching. Buddha means the Awakened or Enlightened One; and Buddhists maintain that their religion is universal and eternal, and that its “light” is periodically rediscovered and proclaimed by Buddha – a name applied to all such “prophets and not only […]

The Buddhist church of Thailand has its own organization, which resolves on its own authority any problems which arise within the order of monks. All the monks (bhikkhus), who number about 150,000, and the novices (samaneras) belong to the Sangha (Order). At their head is the Sangharaja or Patriarch, who is elected by the Order […]

Buddhism teaches that all life is suffering and disappointment, from which the wise man must seek to deliver himself. The aim is thus to transcend the cycle of births and attain the final liberation of Nirvana. Nirvana (literally the act of erasing or extinguishing: the word is used, for example, of putting out a fire) […]

To a western visitor the most impressive witnesses to Thai artistic culture are undoubtedly the magnificent Wats. The visitor gets confused by the profusion of strange-looking buildings, and the following account of the individual parts of a Wat may therefore be helpful. The word Wat originally denoted any religious edifice, but is now applied to […]

In popular belief the complex concepts of the Buddhist doctrine have been considerably simplified. Among these is the idea of karma. The doctrine of karma, taken over from Brahmanism, rests on the transcendent power of deeds. It teaches that every gesture, every word, every thought produces, in addition to its visible effect, another effect which […]

The Malay population of Thailand is almost entirely Muslim, making Islam the largest non-Buddhist religious community. Since Buddhism does not seek proselytes and shows the greatest tolerance towards other religions the Muslims have complete freedom of worship: indeed the government is at present encouraging the construction of mosques in the southern provinces. Among the country’s […]