SILPAKORN UNIVERSITY JOURNAL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, HUMANITIES, AND ARTS, Vol 15, No 1 (2015)

The Holistic Principles of Buddhist Communities under ‘Bunniyom’ System in Thailand

Boonthiwa Paunglad

Ubon Ratchathani University


Abstract


This article was developed from the researcher’s thesis ‘Bunniyom’ Discourse: A Case Study of Ratchathani Asoke Community, Ubon Ratchathani Province'. More documentary research; in depthinterview with the community leader and members and male and female Buddhist monks; and participant observation in the community was required to complete the article. The study found that Samana Bodhirak, the Buddhist monk who founded Asoke community, launched the word called ‘Bunniyom’system (Meritism) to challenge the traditional concept of merit-making and also the capitalism adopted by the current mainstream of development in Thailand. ‘Bunniyom’ system is the way of practical living according to Buddhist principles to diminish excessive desires. All Asoke lay communities throughout Thailand abide by communal consumption Satharana Pokee and the values of down-to earth living, hard work and perseverance, self-reliance, and sacrifice. According to ‘Bunniyom’ system giving to others and regaining less than giving or regaining nothing means merit-making which is opposite to Thai traditional belief concerning merit-making in Buddhism. The concept of ‘Bunniyom’ system is not only in the religious area but is included in every single aspect of living in Asoke community: economy, education, agriculture, communication, and politics. Although the principles are deeply rooted in Buddhism, Samana Bodhirak stressed that ‘Bunniyom’ system is applicable to any religion that concerns itself with modelling a way of life which promotes both equality and harmony.

Keywords: Alternative Development, Buddhist Communities, ‘Bunniyom’
System, Holistic Principle

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