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.