Spreading the Teachings in Northern Thailand

Buddhist Sites of Encounter as Spaces of Missionization

Missionization continues to be a dynamic force shaping modern Thai Buddhism. Buddhists continue to missionize in distinct ways by building on historical models, such as a concern with bringing knowledge and spreading teachings as opposed to formal conversion and renunciation of previous religious beliefs.

Buddhists in Northern Thailand have recently introduced new strategies, such as opportunities for religious encounters between Buddhist monks and non-Buddhist tourists. From a Theravada Buddhist perspective, the main value of such encounters is the ability to spread the dhamma, or teachings of Buddhism. Through interviews with over twenty monks who encounter tourists on a daily basis, this presentation reminds us of the value of spreading Buddhism for Buddhists, even if conversion is not involved.

Brooke contends that religious encounters are an opportunity to missionize and investigate the strategies Buddhist monks use to spread their teachings to international tourists.

From this unique context, we can understand both the ways the tradition creatively adapts and, more broadly, how Thai Buddhist missionizing attempts serve as an avenue for recognizing the dynamic interplay of religion and globalization.

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