Constructions of Buddhism: autobiographical moments of Western monks' experiences of Thai monastic life
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Contemporary Buddhism 12 (2):327-346 (2011)
This article explores the autobiographical writings of Western monks living in Thailand in the light of scholarship on modern and Western Buddhism to understand their constructions of Buddhism. I explore Western monks' understanding of Buddhism before leaving for Thailand, their experiences of integrating into Thai Buddhism, and their lives after returning to their home countries. Their constructions consist of Buddhism as a scientific, rational tradition focused on the practice of meditation. These constructions are challenged during monastic life in Thailand and further problematized when reintegrating into their home countries. I find that they encounter challenges incorporating monasticism into Western countries and may choose lay life?reflecting the trend of laicization in Western Buddhism. I conclude that their constructions of Buddhism conceived in Western countries affect their experiences in Thailand and afterwards.
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