What the Buddha Never Taught: A Behind the Robes Account of Life in a Thai Forest Monastery

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The latter receive a lot of the book's more critical passages, though he does a good job of portraying both sides. Overall a really enjoya The story of the author's stay in a Thai forest monastery. Overall a really enjoyable read. This book was both inspiring and mind opening. I came into the book not knowing too much about Theravada Buddhism, but this book really brought a realistic life to the social practices and philosophical ideologies of Thailand Buddhist monks. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the many setbacks that Tim went through on his journey of enlightenment and discovering the intricacies of meditation.

There were a few people that I truly fell in love with while reading this book even though the monks would sa This book was both inspiring and mind opening. There were a few people that I truly fell in love with while reading this book even though the monks would say this type of attachment was only suffering. One of those people was Novice Monk Ruk, whose love and peace could be felt through the pages of the book, along with the gentleness and understanding of Tan Bodhipalo. The first is that I could not seem to get a handle on the passage of time throughout the book. There were moments when I had though that a few weeks had passed, but later discovered that it was only a day or two.

The second and main reason has to do with the Postscript of this book. It really ruined it for me - it felt more like a way of selling the author's newer books and did not add anything to the story that I had invested so much time and love towards. Overall a great read, and I would recommend it for anyone who is beginning to look at the world of meditation and the practices of Theravada Buddhism. Nov 21, Juergen rated it really liked it. Written in a bit of halting style, but a good memoir of the author's time as an ordained layman in one of Thai "Forest Master" Ajahn Chah's farang foreigner monasteries.

Anyone who has ever considered running away to meditate in the seclusion of a foreign cloister would be well served by reading this book. The anecdotes, encounters and ruminations of the author and his few close compadres ultimately reveal that the inspiration and reality of one's awakening can only come from within and are th Written in a bit of halting style, but a good memoir of the author's time as an ordained layman in one of Thai "Forest Master" Ajahn Chah's farang foreigner monasteries.

The anecdotes, encounters and ruminations of the author and his few close compadres ultimately reveal that the inspiration and reality of one's awakening can only come from within and are therefore never far away. Feb 08, Linda Tuplin rated it really liked it. I found this an engaging and easy to read account of time spent in a Thai Buddhist monastery by a western Christian. For me it highlighted how wise religious teaching, when surrounded by structures set out to preserve individual interpretations can lead to perversions of the teachings and often to hypocrisy and strivings for power.

The downfall of most organized religions, in my experience and opinion.

What the Buddha Never Taught : Tim Ward :

It deserves five stars. It isn't particularly funny or exciting but there were just a lot of times where I had to set the book aside and think, really think, about what I had just read. I gained so much perspective on death, complacency, my attachments, obedience, hypocrisy. I didn't find this humorous - and I heard it was supposed to be.

But it was interesting and kept my attention. This felt rather timeless, not like it was more than 20 years old. I liked hearing Ward's perspectives on the monestary and his journey through his time there. Funny account of what it might be like if you were to be a forest monk starting tomorrow. Raises some interesting questions about the meaning of being a monk. Probably a must read before you wanna "leave it all behind".


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The book probably deserves 4 stars for being well-written and holding my interest even while delivering uninspiring scenes. By the end, I didn't like the author very much, but I am interested to read something else by him to give him a chance to redeem himself. I learned so much about Buddhism. Very interesting book, learned a lot about the religion from a foreigners perspective and can't wait to study in a temple when I get to Thailand!

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Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. Tolle in this 'new age'. One day while in the library, I came across this slim volume and took it home. I found this thoughtful, humorous account to be one of the best books ever on the personal journey of spirit. I loved it so much, after returning it to the library, I down loaded a copy to my Kindle from Amazon.

A great read and a very thought provoking volume that should be on everyone's list who is sincerely looking for a well rounded view. I've ordered his other books as well and look forward to continuing sharing this journey with Tim. Thanks for this book! I've shared this book with at least a dozen people since someone first shared it with me nearly 15 years ago. An excellent, insightful, and entertaining read well worth the time spent with it. As with all teaching--take from it that which proves truthful and useful, and leave the rest. One person found this helpful. He recounts his experiences as a novice practitioner of the Thai forest monastery tradition with insight and honesty.

His candor is refreshing, especially given the mind numbing prose that characterizes so many books about Buddhism.

If you like candid books about Buddhist practice, you have to read this one. A semi interesting account of a month spend in a monastery. The author seemed to lack an understanding of Theravada Buddhism. His struggle to use the discipline of the monastery to his advantage was interesting. This book has been around for a long time, but its message is still pertinent, especially for newcomers to Buddhist thought and practice. Tim Ward describes his visit to a Thai jungle monastery in an engaging manner. Ward focuses on the excesses of hierarchy, regulations, and austerity -- none of which are central to the Buddha's basic teachings.

Ward relates his first-hand experiences with serenity and doubt, with temptation and laughter, and with suffering and insight. In many ways, it is an ideal book for readers who are just beginning their explorations of Buddhism, seasoned travelers will revel in it as well. This is a sweet book of self discovery on a path that many Westerners have taken over the past forty years using Asian ideas and practices to come to terms with an inner world they find uncomfortable. Ajaan Cha is the lineage head of the many monasteries Sumedho has help found in England, America, Australia, and elsewhere around the world.

By the time Tim arrived in Ajaan Cha had been disabled by water on the brain for more than five years. Tim's tale of the monastery is revealing of the outer flaws of monastic life and his own struggle to come to terms with them. Monks influenced by Ajaan Cha and his students often promote monastic life as the answer to life's problems.

The world Tim reveals is all too human. There are personalities, there is blind submission to Thai culture which treats monks almost as magical persons. Laypersons earn merit for themselves in this life and future lives by feeding and serving the monks, and the monks rationalize what they know to be a way too simple understanding of Buddhism because it maintains their lifestyle. Tim befriends another novice with whom he can talk about all these contradictions. The friend leaves and, although apparently not there much longer, Tim becomes really angry about what he feels are compromises.

The anger is palpable and the reader senses how out of proportion it is to the inconsistencies in monastic life. The book is redeemed and Tim begins to understand what he has been missing when the very monks he dumps his anger on respond to him with authentic compassion. Their monastic life has imbued in them both a love and equanimity so they are not at all hooked by what they recognize as clearly Tim's discontents whatever the actual problems of Thai monasteries may be. This is an engaging book. There are wonderful descriptions of the discomforts engendered by mosquitoes, ants, scorpions, and snakes of a countryside which had once been wild and was giving way to civilization.

The dialogue between Tim and his friend, his taunting of others in the monastery, his easy explanation of Buddhist ideas make for interesting reading. The book flows nicely and, as reader, I looked forward to what challenge would come next for Tim.

What the Buddha Never Taught: A 'Behind the Robes" Account of Life in a Thai Forest Monastery

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