You see, The Phuket News took a gamble several years ago on a tiny Buddhist series that had never been tried before. Entitled ‘All About Buddhism’, it was an original newspaper series written by a western convert that would break down the mysterious religion known as Thai Buddhism piece-by-piece.
Running this series was something of a risk. After all, what you had was a totally unknown writer attempting something that had never been done before, the possibility of misunderstandings, culture crashes, losses in translation, and absolutely no template to follow… yet we made it anyway.
Thanks to the generosity of readers like you, who fund our happy little shire with loyal newsstand purchases every week or two, we’ve not only enlightened expats in Thailand, but tens of thousands far beyond the borders of our happy Buddhist Kingdom.
So, today as both something of a retrospective and as a little treat, I thought we’d ring in AAB’s third season by taking a little tour of all of the most unlikely places where our series has popped up around the world. And some of the locations might really surprise you.
Without further ado: Welcome to Moscow. Yes, Moscow!
Thailand has seen a flood of tens of thousands of Russian tourists in recent years and no less than 50% of them wind up on our sandy beaches whilst they are in the Kingdom of Thailand. The Phuket News has even had to start a sister newspaper that is published exclusively in Russian and, from time to time, you’ll see our articles on laptops and tablets in Russia’s coffeehouses.
In fact, did you know that there are over 1.5 million Buddhists now living in Russia? Buddhism actually got to Russia on foot, Siberian Husky, or other winter-hardy mammals in the 1600s, but it got revived in Kalmykia, Russia after the 1991 fall of the USSR.
Meanwhile, not too far away, AAB has popped up in Belgrade, Serbia. Once part of the Roman Empire, also once part of the Byzantine Empire, and also once part of the Ottoman Empire, Serbia’s Tomorrow People Organization of Belgrade were kind enough to host yours truly at an educational conference in Bangkok in the Autumn of 2017.
Did you know that the very first Buddhist Monastery in Serbia is also celebrating its anniversary this August? The very first Buddhist Monastery opened its doors in Cortanovci, Serbia last August and has a staff of full-time monks. We’ll be mailing a copy of this article to them as the first of a series of monthly gifts.
Meanwhile, as joy erupts in Serbia, we travel on to Cambridge, Mass., in America. Cambridge is home to both the deeply-religious Bhumibol Square, dedicated to HM King Rama IX, as well as the highly esteemed Harvard University. AAB came to Harvard’s attention after I had the honor of meeting with their Admissions Department this past June.
And, for something totally unexpected, we come to Miami, Florida Havana, Cuba! The Association for the Study of Cuban Economics, based at the University of Miami, was kind enough to host me for a lecture on Sufficiency Economics, a Buddhist Economic Theory created by HM King Rama IX in the 1970s.
Young academics from all over the world get to meet and hobnob at The ASCE. Often friendships are made that last a lifetime. Dr Enrique Pumar organises a gathering of academics from all around the world at ASCE’s annual conference, with many being raised in or have connections directly to Cuba.
So, from the sandy beaches of Phuket, to the snarled traffic of Bangkok, to the permafrost of Siberia, to the coffeehouses of Moscow, to the kafanas of the Skadarlija-Bohemian old-quarter of Belgrade, to the hallowed halls of Longfellow Hall at Harvard, from the Versailles Restaurant in Miami, to Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana in Havana, Cuba, or simply in the history pages of The Daily Caller in America, AAB is slowly exceeding the borders of Thailand and raising awareness of Buddhism all over the world.
I wonder what Season #3 will bring? Hmm. Stay tuned!
All About Buddhism is a monthly column in The Phuket News where I take readers on my exotic journey into Thai Buddhism and debunk a number of myths about Buddhism. If you have any specific queries, or ideas for articles, please let us know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will do my best to accommodate your interests.