Putthithanasombat, Phramaha Min, Petcharat Lovichakorntikul and John Walsh, “The Mobility of Theravadin Buddhist Monks in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region,” paper to be presented at the International Conference on Commerce, Financial Markets and Corporate Governance/2nd International Conference on Research Methods in Management and Social Sciences (Shinawatra University, Thailand: February 7th, 2015).
In the Theravadin Buddhist tradition, the monk is a central figure in enabling people to generate good karma by donating food on the morning rounds, in addition to activities based in the wat (temple). The mobility of monks, therefore, is an important issue and has, historically, been evident throughout the Greater Mekong Sub-Region, where there were no formal state barriers prior to the European colonization period and many porous borders continue to exist. However, the post-colonial period has been characterized by a series of repressive state regimes that have sought to limit the mobility of monks, in particular, as well as imposing other forms of social control. This paper uses an ethnographic approach to understanding the nature of monk mobility in the research area and the issues arising from it. Monks must behave in an entirely ethical manner but, it is shown, they still have some scope to compromise with the constraints placed upon them according to the concept of everyday political behaviour – that is, choosing how to comply with restrictions in ways which are conversant with spiritual and practical goals.
Keywords: Greater Mekong Sub-Region, monkhood, Theravadin Buddhism, travel