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Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

By Devik Balami at
Bhikkhy Buddhadasa

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu was a famous and influential philosopher of the 20th century. Buddhadasa is popularly known for his reformation in conventional religious perceptions in his home country, Thailand as well as abroad. He was also known as Phra Dharmakosacarya and Nguam Indapanno.

Life History of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Bhikkhu Buddhadasa was born in 1906 in Ban Phumriang, Chaiya District, Southern Thailand. His father, Sieng Phanit, was a shopkeeper of second-generation Thai Chinese ancestry and his mother, Klaun, was Thai.

In 1926 CE., he renounced his civilian life and traveled to the capital of Thailand, Bangkok for the training. When he reached there, he found out that the Wats were completely dirty, crowded by the people. He also noticed that the Sangha was very corrupted and preoccupied with prestige, position, and comfort with little interest in the highest ideals of Buddhism. Hence, Bhikkhu Buddhadasa returned to his hometown and then acquired a forest track near his village. He then named it Suan Mokkha which means garden of liberation. He then strove for a simple, and pristine practice that emulates Gautama Buddha's teachings. He then attracted many Thai people through his ability to explain complex philosophical and religious ideas in his native Southern Thai.

Buddhadasa's No Religion

In his practice and learning period, he was more focused on a comparative approach that tries to explain Buddhist's teaching through other thought systems- Taoism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Jainism, and Natural Science. With this methodology, he then adopts a view that rejects exclusionary religious identification. In his No Religion, Buddhadasa famously remarked that in advanced perspectives there is no religious identification whatsoever. He also quotes that those who have the highest understanding they certainly feel that the thing like religion doesn't exist. The religions- Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam don't even exist at all.

Wat Thannamlai

Buddhadasa founded Suan Mokkh nearby his village. Alternatively, Suan Mokkh is also popularly known are Wat Thannamlai. His primary teaching in Suan Mokkh was focused on the quiet awareness of one's breathing pattern called anapanasati. His personal practice was very much grounded in advanced research and interpretation of early Pali texts and as well as his radical private experimentation.

Later, Buddhasaha's teachings attracted many foreign tourists who seek his hermitage. He also had a talk with leading scholars and other clergies on various faiths. The main objective of these discussions is to probe the similarities. Before his death in 1993, he established International Dhamma Hermitage center across the highway. The purpose of this center was to aid in the teaching of Buddhism and yogic practices to international students.

Buddhadasa's works

It is well known that Buddhadasa had written lots of texts during his lifetime. If all collected then these texts will literally take up an entire room in the National Library of Thailand. Some of his well-known books which are translated in English are as follows

  • The ABCs of Buddhism. 1982.

  • Handbook for Mankind (Buddhadasa's most well-known book)

  • Heart-wood from the Bo Tree. Susan Usom Foundation, 1985.

  • Keys to Natural Truth. Trans. R. Bucknell and Santikaro. N.d. First published 1988.

  • Me and Mine: Selected Essays of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa (preview). Thēpwisutthimēthī,Buddhadasa, Swearer. SUNY Press, 1989.

  • Mindfulness With Breathing. Trans. Santikaro. Second Edition. The Dhamma Study & Practice Group. 1989.

  • No Religion. Trans. Punno, First electronic edition: September 1996.

  • Paticcasamuppada: Practical Dependent Origination. The Dhamma Study & Practice Group, 2002

  • Teaching Dhamma with Pictures Published by Sathirakoses-Nagaparadi Foundation & Ministry of Education, Thailand On the occasion of the Centenary Celebration of the Birth of the Ven. Buddhadasa Bhikku(27 May 1906 - 27 May 2006)

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