Want to better understand Buddhism? Read this free book.There is no travel without learning and no learning without travel – Michel Serres This article originally appeared in Issue 15 of NomadHead Magazine.
As a keen traveller of Asia, seeing golden shrines and monks going about their daily routines is a sight that easily gets accepted as just part of the background of Asia. I’ve always wondered about the teachings of Buddha and how this religion works – even if it is a religion?
Why does someone become a monk?
I’ve seen female monks (in pink robes even!), what is their role?
How do you reach enlightenment?
Is Buddha fat (like in China) or skinny (like in Thailand)?
There are so many questions I have yet I could only imagine how many lectures and textbooks I’d have to wade through to become knowledgeable.
What I wanted was a Dummies Guide to Buddhism. What I found was even better.
The book is called ‘Without and Within’ and it is published by a non-profit Buddhist group in Thailand. The Buddhadasa Indapanno Archives Foundation (BIA) started this project in 2012 to commemorate 2,600 years of Buddha’s enlightenment.
They understand that ‘each Buddhist country has different practices, and this may sometimes be confusing to foreign visitors’. Their mission is to ‘provide a concise clarification of Buddhist practices in Thailand and to help foreign visitors enjoy their visit’. They do this by providing a free source of reading material on Buddhism in every hotel room. This method is similar to the Gideon Association in the USA where the Gideon’s aim to have a Bible available in every hotel room.
What I find so great about this book is that it is written in a very simple format, which is necessary when dealing with such a broad and foreign issue. It features short, concise questions and the answers are nice and digestible paragraph chunks. The author has gone to great lengths to ensure the information presented is interesting and to the point and it has definitely helped clear the air for me.
At over 240 pages it isn’t a quick read. It is a book that you can come back to and read sections of as your curiosity comes and goes.
You’ll find it available in most decent hotels in Thailand. Or if you aren’t fortunate enough to be holidaying there (come and do a Busabout tour!) you can download the book for free. Just visit this website: http://www.bia.or.th/en/.
Travel is all about learning and Buddhism is something that I’m still trying to wrap my head around. I’m not into religious belief at any level yet I’m curious for a better understanding of Asia and Buddhism is undoubtedly an integral aspect.
How much do you know about Buddhism?
Would a free book like Without and Within help you?
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.