<Without and Within> Introduction

  • Introduction

It is not easy for people visiting Thailand to make

sense of the Buddhist traditions that they encounter here.

Few tour guides seem able to explain the principles of

Buddhism with any great clarity, and Thai Buddhist friends

tend to be similarly vague. This book is intended to provide

an introduction to the teachings of the Buddha which will

shed some light on a subject that, to non-Buddhists, can

appear both unexpectedly rational and exotically strange.

This is not a text book. It is intended to be as concise

as possible, and deals in one paragraph with certain topics

that are dealt with elsewhere in books hundreds of pages

long. Obviously, a great deal has been omitted. Readers

interested in finding out more on particular points are

referred to the list of resources found at the end of the


Many forms of Buddhism have evolved over the past

2,600 years. This book deals only with the teachings of the

Theravada tradition, and specifically the form of Theravada

found in Thailand (which differs in certain minor details

from its expression in other ‘Theravadan’ countries such

as Sri Lanka or Burma). The book is also written from the

perspective of one particular monk living within the Thai

Theravāda tradition. I was born in England but have been

living in the forest monasteries and hermitages of northeast

Thailand since 1978. Inevitably, my background and

training have influenced the interpretations found here. I

have been fortunate enough to study with some truly wise

masters and this presentation of the Dhamma owes much

to them, in particular to two of the greatest monks of the

modern era, Venerable Ajahn Chah and Phra Brahmagunabhorn (P. A. Payutto).

I would like to express my deep

gratitude to both of them.

Janamara Hermitage

March 2013


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