Description (of 1st Edition): This book is a remarkable synthesis and empathetic interpretation of Buddhism in Southeast Asia. No other single book matches its depth and breadth, or its balance between scholarly interpretation and sensitive first person portrayal. The author focuses his analysis on Therāvada Buddhism in Southeast Asia as a dynamic, complex system of thought and practice imbedded in the respective cultures, societies, and histories of Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka. The book discusses three distinct but interrelated aspects of this system: the popular tradition in terms of paradigms of ideal action, rituals, festivals, and rites of passage
Buddhism as civic religion in terms of King Asoka as the paradigmatic Buddhist monarch, cosmology and kingship, and Buddhism and the modern nation state
and modern transformations of the tradition in terms of the changing roles of the monk and the laity, modern reform movements, and Buddhism in the West.