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«Non-Monastic Buddhist» in Pāli-Discourse

Religious Experience and Religiosity in Relation to the Monastic Order


Sompornnuch Tansrisook

The book intends to grasp the meaning of upāsaka / upāsikā or Buddhist laity in Dīgha- and Majjhima-nikāya of the Pāli canon. Considering the texts as oral literature, the author examines and interprets the structure and stock phrases constructing the narrative with a theory of religious experience. Upāsaka / upāsikā is hence seen as the non-monastic follower, who, having experienced the significance of dhamma and the superiority of the Buddha, has the trust in the goal and spiritual path that the Buddha has shown. In this connection, Buddhist community is the assembly of the followers, monastic and non-monastic alike, sharing the same common ground and following the spiritual path in pursuit of individual liberation, which in tandem contributes to perpetuation of the community.
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This book is the publication of a doctoral dissertation in comparative religion (Vergleichende Religionswissenschaft), submitted to the Faculty of Philosophy, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University at Bonn, Germany, in December 2013.

The book deals with the concept of upāsaka/upāsikā or the so-called “laity” in the Dīgha- and Majjhima-nikāya of Pāli canon. The question of the study is simple: what is the followership of the lay Buddhist according to the scripture? Responding to the question, different answers have been provided based on method, perspective, orientation, and even belief of the researchers. Nevertheless, the results are not satisfying because they do not offer the sense (“Sinn,” in German), the meaning which constructs the followership, the direction of devotions leading to the spiritual goal. As the lay followers are the major composite of Buddhist community as well as the major population of Buddhist society, the basic concept is necessary to acquire for the foundation of studying and researching the people, their behaviour, their activity and organizations in relation to one another and other religious communities in a country, where Buddhism plays a role in the people.

The source of the study is Pāli canon, the religious scripture of so-called Theravada Buddhism, consisting of teaching and explanation composed, collected, and transmitted in the long tradition of Southern Buddhism, which centers are in Sri Lanka and mainland Southeast Asia. By the choice, not only because the scripture is rather an original and complete account of the...

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