Acknowledging spiritual realities-ecological knowledge, cultural connections, and spiritual agency in Dai Theravada Buddhism
Hecht, David M. 2011. Acknowledging spiritual realities-ecological knowledge, cultural connections, and spiritual agency in Dai Theravada Buddhism -- Lambda Alpha Journal, v.41, p.15-22
With the Tropic of Cancer separating temperate climate zones to the north and tropical climate zones to the south, Yunnan province, China is an area of tremendous ecological and cultural diversity. The tropical Xishuangbanna Prefecture in southern Yunnan is one of the most culturally and biologically complex places in the province and the whole of China. In studying local expressions of the relationships that exist between tropical plant ecology, ecological knowledge of Xishuangbanna’s Dai people, and Theravada Buddhist religious practices in Ganlanba, China, I aim to present an example of the complexities that exist between humans, human spirituality, and the natural world while acknowledging the spiritual realities within the Dai socio-cultural universe. As a representative case study of the way local ecology can help condition our human ecology (and vice versa) in manners of culture, practice, perception, and behavior I hope to provide insight into the impact of ecological knowledge on Dai spiritual agency.