Increase or decrease font size for easier reading :
Thudong monks believe that the practice of wandering went back
to the Buddha's time. They think that the value of the Dharma is not to be found in reading
and studying but in training the mind. The best place to study the Buddha's teaching is not
in a confortable Buddhist temple but inside a deep and remote forest.
Thudong monks (พระธุดงค์)
valued wandering as an ascetic practise, as a mean of training the mind to face
hardship and the unpredictable.
When sleeping outdoor, wandering monks use a mosquito net called
The "KLOT" is a large umbrella equipped with an insect
screen and a wooden pole that could be pitched and set up like a small round tent to protect
monks from dew and insects.
In earlier times, meditation teachers lives with nature and did not try to build anything.
Being an abbot was a burden and an obstacle to practising meditation for those masters.
Nowadays, offering buildings is the Buddhist religious activity that most interests lay people.
The awarding honorific titles given to abbots are in conflict with the
Buddhist core fundamentals that urged monks to turn away from wordly distinctions of authority, status
Local Buddhist traditions, which emphasized meditation, were associated with mysticism.
Meditation fell from favor among the urban elites.
There was a wide gap between Thammayut administrators, who favored
the ideal of a settled monastic life and Thammayut thudong monks, who favored the wandering ascetic
ideal. This cultural gap was between the Lao Thudong monks and the Bangkok trained monks.
Thudong monks had their own tradition, i.e. wandering between rain retreats, training monks
and novices in meditation.
In Thai Buddhism, original Pali language is
still used. In China, traductions have been done for Chinese Buddhism.
Thammayut abbots forbade monks from doing major construction and maintenance
work activities that they considered secular.
Thammayut authorities recruited the wandering monks to teach the Dharma
to villagers and to build forests permanent temples. The military coups d'etat of years
1957 and 1958
signified a major change for Thudong monks. Under martial law, any unconformist monk was at risk
to be labeled as insurgents and communist sympathizers. Many Thudong monks have no choice but to settle
and establish their own permanent forest temple.
Thudong monks' practises include wearing patched-up robes, possessing only three
robes, going out for alms and not omitting any houses on the almsround, having only
one meal a day, wandering in forest areas, sleeping in the sitting position, being
content with whatever shelter is provided.
In the Northeast, vast parts of forests have been turned into
single crop plantations producing food for exports. In 1961 the
forests represented 42% of Northeast region but only 14% in 1988.
Monks can no longer find remote forests inhabited by tigers or isolated caves where they can
stay for long periods undisturbed. The few wild remaining forests have been declared national parks
and are so off-limits for forest monks.
Many big temples in Isan have community radio stations.
Most DJ are the monks.
In 1970s, socially engaged monks have helped villagers
create producers' cooperatives, credit unions, child care centers, buffalo banks and
forest conservation measures.