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For most people identifying as Buddhists in very Buddhist countries (Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand), what are the most significant ways in which being a Buddhist affects their lifes?

For instance, how common is

  • visiting the temple service at least once a month?
  • saying grace before eating?
  • intense meditation?

My current image is that unless one's a monk, being a Buddhist is a formality for most people in South East Asia, mostly manifesting in Buddhism classes in schools, weddings and funerals.

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    Last sentence of the question reminds me of this answer -- "People need Buddhism when their current raft has sunk."
    – ChrisW
    Apr 10, 2023 at 20:54

2 Answers 2

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Most South East Asian people do not practice meditation. However, historically, up until the recent present, Buddhist culture certainly strongly affected their lives.

Take the example of sexual conduct. In Thailand, in the mainstream society, men & women and husbands & wives did not show physical affection in public. This was simply part of Buddhist modesty. In such a sexually modest society, matters such as homosexuality & lady boys were never a great issue because, for the most part, the whole society engages in modesty. For the most part, homosexuals & ladyboys received the metta of the society.

Similarly, in Thailand, showing negative emotion in public, such as anger, was historically socially unacceptable. Generosity was also a large part of Thai society. There are many historical qualities of Thailand that are linked to Buddhism, such as the gender roles of men & women, which similar to the instruction in DN 31, the women are more assertive and the men more humble.

Overall, because there were/are so many monks performing alms round each morning, the general population sees monks everyday and gain a reminder of practising their social Buddhist principles.

However, in recent decades, Western corporate imperialism has now made large inroads. In fact, there are Western Buddhists that give the impression of celebrating this, for example, giving the impression of believing the current Western White Supremacist Woke Culture is superior to Thai Buddhist Culture. In this example, it seemed only one person saw the forest for the trees:

Well it seems that today "gay marriage" means child indoctrination and political agenda too, not only sexual preferences. At least in the West.

On this forum, it seems every time a Western backed government is elected in South East Asia, a Western certain member who lives in South East Asia celebrates and some other members & monks tag along with the Western White Supremist mass-media narratives.

The decline of Buddhism in Thailand, for example, is well documented & discussed, such as here. Most point to Western sensuality-based consumerism as a primary cause. It seems rather ironic how certain independent Western Woke monks undermine Buddhism in South East Asia by pushing Woke ideology, which appears to be the new Christianity used as a weapon of cultural warfare against non-Western people. It is arguable Woke is a divisive political doctrine of sensuality masquerading as 'human rights'. All of these Western White Supremist imperialist things, be it colonialism, Christianity, corporatism, consumerism, Woke-ianity, independent Western monks, etc, have, are & will obviously continue to undermine traditional Buddhist culture in South East Asia.

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Buddhism doesn't affect to any one's life unless they understand and practice the Buddhism.

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  • So the alms food a monk receives each day by South East Asian devotees whose primary Buddhist practice is dana does not affect a monk's life? Jun 10, 2023 at 1:46

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