7 Saturday Mornings
Sat. 13th Feb – Sat. 26th March
For the first time in Bangkok:
A COURSE IN (THAI) BUDDHISM
Despite being the Theravada Buddhist capital of the Asia, there has never been an English language Course in Thai Buddhism, in Bangkok.
Millions of visitors come to Bangkok every year, and many thousands of expats have made Bangkok their home. We appreciate the Thai culture, but are also mystified by it. Well, there will always be more to learn and understand, but one big part of Thai culture is it’s roots in Theravada Buddhism.
|..are you surprised by the behaviour of some monks? Do you think they should smoke cigarettes? Eat meat? What is ‘real’ Buddhism, and what is animistic superstition? We’ll be dealing with all these kind of topics over the seven weeks.
This course will go through the main elements of Theravada Buddhism as understood and practiced in Thailand.
To sign up for the course there is a one-time 200 baht fee – this covers all 7 weeks.
We are kindly hosted by the Rojana Center, near Asoke junction, Bangkok. Donations go to the Centre for running costs and refreshments.
Meetings are 9:45-11:45 am on Saturday mornings.
You do not need to be Buddhist: in fact this course is presented for the non-Thai Bangkok expat in an academic, secular format.
How to Participate
This is the first time doing this Course in Buddhism, so to some degree we’ll be seeing how it unfolds, and what people want to learn about. But do please register that you will be joining. It helps cement your decision to attend, and also for us to plan out the refreshments, seats etc…
Usually people ask if videos can be posted for the weeks they are not there. But video processing is hugely time consuming for yours truly, and hardly actually goes and makes use of it in the end anyway (Youtube statistics tell a lot!). So, this time round the course will be live viewing only 🙂
The course is laid out for non-Buddhists. If you would like to participate in meditation, see the other events posted up for our little Bangkok Sangha.
There is a page of beginner’s resources here. These are some of the basic video and written outlines that should provide a good overview. You won’t be given an exam at the end, so it is up to you how much you would like to use the chance to study further. As for the actual talks, you won’t need prior reading. But it would help.
Your feedback will determine if we try to fit in some of the more systematic documentaries on Indian philosophy and Buddhism.
|Saturday 13th February:
‘GOTAMA AND THE EARTH GODDESS’ Overview of Buddhism – what it is all about, and how the records were kept for 2500 years. Do we class Buddhism as a philosophy, a psychology, or a religion? What does it mean to be a Buddhist? We’ll look at the story of the ‘Night of Enlightenment’ – which is an image you will see behind most Buddha images in Central Thailand.
|Saturday 20th February:
‘BUDDHISM, ANIMISM AND SUPERSTITION’ The community of Buddhist monks evolved from localized forest gatherings into a large and structured Sangha in a very haphazard manner. What behaviour should we expect of monks, according to their vinaya (rules of conduct). And how far has the modern Thai version of Buddhism changed from the original?
|Saturday 27th February:
‘KARMA AND THE CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE’ Buddhism accepts a pantheon of Gods – and yet they are unimportant. It accepts past and future lives – and yet teaches to focus on the present moment. It teaches that things are governed by Karma, yet it all depends on free will.
This is a teaching of extremes and moderation, full of paradox.
|Saturday 5th March:
‘THE SPECIAL TEACHING OF A SAMMASAMBUDDHA’ You may have heard that Buddhism teaches a lot about ‘suffering’. Well, it is not quite like that. This is not a pessimistic teaching, but one that points directly tot he nature of the mind. This teaching on the Four Noble Truths is the Buddha’s first ever sermon, and still the principle teahcing of all forms of Buddhism.
|Saturday 12th March:
‘THE ROOTS OF TREES AND CULTURES’ After the death of the teacher, there quickly developed many schools of Buddhism, with wildly different flavours. Buddhism spread North, South, and East. Most recently it has spread West too. In each case it has transformed and adapted. Yet, we all get along very well, considering…
We will look at some of the history and adaptations of Buddhism – both the monasteries and the teachings.
|Saturday 19th March:
‘GETTING OUT OF YOUR HEAD’ All the theory and history of Buddhism comprise a huge field for scholars. And yet, it all boils down to a simple practice of mindfulness in the present moment. There are a number of methods for meditation (which usually claim to be the only, or at least the ‘best’ one). Mindfulness, the key to most meditation systems has even been adopted as a modern therapeutic tool. Meditation in it’s various forms, is an essential part of all Buddhism.
|Saturday 26th March:
‘BEYOND BUDDHISM’ Buddhism is not the only ‘mystic’ enlightenment tradition. There are many of them. Other teachings from other teachers, form India, Asia, and Christianity. Does the modern seeker need to identify with any particular school? Can the modern scholar specialize and ignore similar teachings. We’ll look at some of the common ground between the spiritual traditions, some of the pitfalls of all religion, and where humanity might be headed.
Pandit Cittasamvaro is Bangkok’s busiest Western Buddhist monk. There may be a few hundred westerners who have taken long-term ordination living in Thailand – but they all would rather spend time in remote and strict forest temples. They all avoid Bangkok! Yes, Bangkok is the wild frontier of Buddhism, where meditation and spiritual pursuits are hard to find.
Pandit Bhikkhu has been living in the temples since age 24. Starting in the temples of the renowned teacher Ajahn Chah in the UK, he ordained in Thailand in 1996. Completing a degree in psychology, he is currently (ahem!) writing his MA thesis for a Masters in Buddhist Studies.
Since 2007 he has been organising Dharma talks, meditaiton and other related events in the wilderness of Bangkok.
Signing up cements your commitment, and gives us chance to plan out seating, and refreshments (we’ll have to see what we can make available). If there are updates to the course, shcedule or other details you’ll be notified. At the end of the course, your email will be deleted – privacy is important. Follow on the main website, facebook or meetup if you want to keep up with other events afterwards.
Please follow the map. It is VERY precise. It is easy to find: there are only one or two turns depending on which direction you are coming from.
Go down Sukhumvit 23 to the first four way intersection. Turn right, and then turn right again at the end of the road.
Or just ask the motorcycles inside Sukhumvit 23 – they know the way.
A few tips:
- Do not ask locals the way – they will not know the Rojana Centre, and will send you somewhere else instead.
- Follow the map – plenty of landmarks are shown along the way.
- Taxi drivers will NOT know the centre – get them to take you to Sukhumvit 23, and then find your own way.
- In Thai the centre is known as Rojanatam
- Quite a few other foreigners will be heading there at the same time.
Here are the GPS coordinates if you prefer : 13.739356, 100.564748
So what’s left to say? See you there …