Buddhism with open eyes
Belief and Practice of Santi Asoke
This book is an abridged version of my doctoral dissertation "Santi Asoke Buddhism and Thai State Response" written at the Abo Akademi University, Department of Comparative Religions, in Turku, Finland. The thesis was published by Abo Akademi University Press in 1996 with the same title.
This reprint was updated and edited in order to make it more readable. Parts of the theoretical discussion were omitted and some of the footnotes were left out. Chapter III dealing with Thai Buddhism in general has been shortened with reference to the abundant literature on the topic.
The Santi Asoke group has been generally regarded as an extremely controversial group, and no monographs in English have been published on the group. The few academic articles concerning Santi Asoke are not based on first-hand knowledge, and seem to rely on information supplied by the critics of the Santi Asoke group.
The purpose of this book is to try to present an objective outsider's view of the Asoke group. The material for this study was collected during my stay in Santi Asoke in Bangkok from October 1994 to March 1995. Many small details have changed after I left, albeit not drastically. Yet, all the dates and figures given in this study should be regarded as valid only for the above-mentioned period. However, the main topic of this study, the beliefs and practices of the Santi Asoke group, and the opposition of the Buddhist authorities to this group, still retains its validity.
I wish to express my gratitude to many colleagues and friends at various universities for their encouraging comments on the earlier versions of the manuscript. Most crucial for my work has been the positive attitude of Phra Bodhiraksa, Samana Wasa Wattiko, Samana Tissawaro, Sikkhamat Thipdevi and Acharn Aporn Poompanna at the initial stage. I would also like to extend my warmest thanks to my informants Sikkhamat Chinda, Sikkhamat Rinpha, Krak Phrae Fan and the monks, Sikkhamats and lay members of the Asoke group, particularly in Santi Asoke during my fieldwork in 1994-1995.
1 June 1997