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Reading: Tree Ordination as Invented Tradition


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Tree Ordination as Invented Tradition


Avery Morrow

Graduate of Carleton College
About Avery
Avery Morrow graduated from Carleton College in 2010 with a degree in religion. His thesis, which reinterpreted early 20th century Japanology and Occupation policy in the framework of Timothy Fitzgerald's Ideology of Religious Studies, was published in the Wittenberg University East Asian Studies Journal. He is currently working as a schoolteacher in Japan.

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The symbolic ordination of trees as monks in Thailand is widely perceived in Western scholarship to be proof of the power of Buddhism to spur ecological thought. However, a closer analysis of tree ordination demonstrates that it is not primarily about Buddhist teaching, but rather is an invented tradition based on the sanctity of Thai Buddhist symbols as well as those of spirit worship and the monarchy. Tree ordinations performed by non-Buddhist minorities in Thailand do not demonstrate a religious commitment but rather a political one.
How to Cite: Morrow, A., 2012. Tree Ordination as Invented Tradition. ASIANetwork Exchange: A Journal for Asian Studies in the Liberal Arts, 19(1), pp.53–60. DOI:
Published on 19 Jan 2012.
Peer Reviewed


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