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Buddhadharma : Fall 2007
buddhadharma| 67 |fall 2007 reviews Guy ArmstronG is A GuidinG teAcher with the insiGht meditAtion society And A member of spirit rock’s teAch- ers council. he hAs been A monk in both thAilAnd And burmA And now lives in woodAcre, cAliforniA. kamala Tiyavanich’s latest work, Sons of the Buddha, is the third in her series exploring Buddhism in Thai culture from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. This volume examines the early lives of three famous monks from the south of Thailand: Ajahns Buddhadasa (1906–93), Panya (short for Paññanada, b. 1911), and Jumnien (b. 1936). The author lovingly reconstructs their childhood and adolescent years as an evocation of the unique dharma strengths of each man. At the same time, she illumi- nates the culture of rural southern Thai- land in those years, which was grounded in both Buddhism and what today we would call environmental values. I found the book fascinating, in part because I have known all three men as teachers while understanding little of their backgrounds. Arriving at Wat Suan Mokkh in 1982 as a young monk, I found Before They were AjAhns (Clockwise from top left) Ajahn Buddhadasa, Ajahn Panya, Ajahn Jumnien SonS of the Buddha: the early Lives of three extraordinary thai Masters by Kamala tiyavanich Wisdom Publications, 2007 304 pages; $18.95 (paperback) Reviewed by Guy armstrong