The Lovelorn Ghost and the Magical Monk: Practicing Buddhism in Modern Thailand

By Reynolds, Frank | Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, February 2013 | Go to article overview

The Lovelorn Ghost and the Magical Monk: Practicing Buddhism in Modern Thailand


Reynolds, Frank, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies


The lovelorn ghost and the magical monk: Practicing Buddhism in modern Thailand

By JUSTIN THOMAS MCDANIEL

New York: Columbia University Press, 2011. Pp. 384. Halftones, Notes, Bibliography, Index.

Justin McDaniel, already a winner of the prestigious Harry Bender Prize for Best First Book in Southeast Asian Studies (see Gathering leaves and lifting words; Histories of monastic education in Laos and Thailand, University of Washington Press, 2008), has now produced a second very different kind of book that clearly solidifies his position at the forefront of Thai and Lao Buddhist studies.

This new book includes seven distinct but well-integrated components. The first is McDaniel's story of his own personal ethnographic practice and discovery (a story which he describes as one of surprising experiences leading to 'unexpected consequences').

The second component is his focus on aspects of the history and character of 'modern Thai Buddhism' that have been largely either ignored or disparaged by Western-trained scholars. He makes a convincing case that these aspects of Thai Buddhist life have been and remain 'mainstream' phenomena that involve rich and poor, urbanites and villagers, the highly educated and the less educated, monks and the laity.

The third is his astute decision to focus attention on two closely interacting 'figures' who have played/are playing crucial roles in the religious life of modern Thai Buddhists--one a mid-nineteenth-century 'magical monk' (Somdet To), whom he identifies as a (perhaps the) dominant locus of Buddhist interest in modern Thailand; the other a closely related 'lovelorn ghost' whose very traditional story has become a framework for important components in contemporary Buddhist practice on the one hand and Buddhist-oriented popular cinema on the other.

The fourth component is his insistence on the importance of local Thai histories, traditions, and practices that need to be identified and interpreted in specifically local terms. In this connection he develops a strong critique of the kind of scholarship that interprets Thai Buddhism as a 'syncretic' amalgam that includes 'Buddhist, Brahmanic, and indigenous components). And, especially in that context, he highlights the crucial importance of a growing corpus of excellent studies written in the Thai language by Thai scholars that have been (and are being) ignored by most scholars trained in the Western tradition of Buddhist scholarship.

The fifth component is his ongoing argument that the tradition of Buddhist practice on which he is focusing constitutes a 'mainstream' element that does not focus on 'other worldly' (lokottara) ideals or concerns.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Lovelorn Ghost and the Magical Monk: Practicing Buddhism in Modern Thailand
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.