A Bodhisattva on horseback

Buddhist social ethics and pragmatism in northern Thailand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In Theravada Buddhism temporal power is viewed as indispensible to the creation of political and economic conditions for spiritiual advancement. But it is a necessary evil. The Buddhist response to the misuse of power is to subordinate it to Buddhist ethics and to deny politics autonomy from religion. Yut, in Buddhist Thailand, there is another tradition which justifies pragmatism and even the use of force. This paper concerns a local leader in Northern Thailand who has attempted to achieve some sort of balance between these to contradictory traditions – a goal that has proved elusive.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-111
Number of pages11
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1983

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