Setting the Stage

John Cannon

A careful reflection of the path I have followed while “shuffling my way along this mortal coil” brings into sharp relief some of the events that have moulded me as a person from youth onwards: founder, teacher and administrator of a cultural and language programme for Chinese immigrant children in Toronto; two solo trips to China in the mid-80s; teaching in Hong Kong for 28 years; doing field work for my first Master thesis on Thai and Burmese student movements and a daring clandestine visit to rebel camps inside Burma to interview student activists; my ordination into the Sangha in Thailand; experiencing the Kumbh Mela Hindu festival in India; participating in Ramadan while on a study tour in Turkey; working at Buddhistdoor after forced retirement; and my formative trips to Bangladesh and interacting with the Buddhist community in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. These experiences coupled with a child-like open-mindedness to the new and unknown sprinkled with an effervescent sense of humour have grounded me in the here and now.

Therefore it should be no surprise that my blogs will take on an eclectic approach wandering freely as my “spirit” takes me. I hope you will enjoy the ride. My broad brush strokes will cover 1) Buddhism in general: art, architecture, archaeology, history, film, music 2) personal interest stories of people I have met, relevant anecdotes from my travels and youth 3) comments on current events from a Buddhist perspective; and 4) my introduction and thoughts on Pali literature and texts.

There are two major themes in my blogs: Theravada Buddhism and Buddhism in Bangladesh (and Buddhist ethnic minorities in that country). Why Theravada? Because this tradition was my deliberate choice when becoming a Buddhist (it was also the tradition in which I was ordained) after extensive comparison with other traditions, which best serves my needs and answers my questions as I follow my spiritual path in this life. I will also comment on other traditions but those looking for extensive coverage of Mahayana, Vajrayana, or Tibetan Buddhism will need to look elsewhere. My offerings may not satisfy you.

My seminal visit to Bangladesh in 2014 revealed to me the richness of a still vibrant Buddhism, its history and the Buddhist communities within this predominantly Muslim country. It is a story that is not well known outside of Bangladesh and deserves a voice and recognition which I seek to provide. Buddhism in Bangladesh also is entwined with the indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts with whom I have had the good fortune to meet and interact. This aspect of my blog very well may be of the most value.

Having set the stage for you, here is an upcoming preview of what I am preparing: reflections on my third visit to Bangladesh in March and my experience of this year’s Songkran Festival in Thailand.

I hope you will join me on my journey and share it with others. I offer the humble scribblings of my blog with compassion to all sentient creatures. Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

2 Replies to “Setting the Stage”

  1. I’m very happy to see your journey in Bangladesh. It’s amazing will many great views. I hope I can be there some day

  2. As I was reading your article, it seemed that I traveled with you, it was a really nice article, thank you.

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