An Ethnography: How does Buddhist Doctrine, A Local Wisdom, Affect Older Thai Villagers’ Well-being?

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Panicha Boonsawad
Hunsa Sethabouppha
Duangruedee Lasuka
Marjorie Muecke


                In line with global trends, Thailand has an increasingly aged society. Generally, Thai elderly from rural lowlands in the central area are committed to Buddhism. Accordingly, many use the wisdom of their understanding of Buddhist teachings about facing death to maintain their well-being. Thai local wisdom involves accumulated knowledge, skills, behavior, and beliefs integrated and absorbed from generation to generation. Thus, local wisdom is part of local culture.

               This article reports on an ethnographic study that aimed to gain understanding of the local wisdom of Buddhist doctrine with reference to facing death, and the relationship of that understanding to the elders’ maintenance of health among Central Thai villagers. Twenty elderly key informants and nineteen general informants were recruited by using snowball technique. Participant-observation began while the principal investigator (first author) was establishing rapport and trust with villagers and continued for two years of fieldwork. In-depth interviews were conducted after securing informed consent. Data were analyzed by thematic analysis. In the larger project of which this was a part, facing death as guided by Buddhist doctrine emerged as the central theme. The study reported here identifies two approaches to facing death peacefully were having deep awareness about death; and preparing for a peaceful death.

               Incorporating this local wisdom will help elderly face death peacefully. Health care providers can use this information to understand how wellbeing can be experienced by patients approaching death.

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Boonsawad P, Sethabouppha H, Lasuka D, Muecke M. An Ethnography: How does Buddhist Doctrine, A Local Wisdom, Affect Older Thai Villagers’ Well-being?. PRIJNR [Internet]. 2016 Jul. 11 [cited 2022 Jul. 4];20(3):252-65. Available from:
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