reserved space Biography of Fuengsin Trafford

An avid reader

It is only when one browses through all the religious books that Fuengsin left behind that one can realise the extent of her knowledge. In recent years I have become more acquainted with some of the plethora of Buddhist groups in the West, and invariably I find that Mum had read some work related to each one I investigate. In many volumes you will find a bookmark or sheet of notes, usually deep into the heart of the work! She was helped by being able to read quickly in English; in Thai she read much faster (scanning diagonally down each page!).

How about the following selection for a partial reading list!

  • Walpola Rahula: What the Buddha Taught
  • Narada: The Teachings of the Buddha
  • William Hart: The Art of Living Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S. N. Goenka
  • Samatha Association: Abhidhamma Papers
  • Subhuti: Sangharakshita - a new voice in the West [?] (which she had started to translate from English into Thai) plus Sangharakshita: A Survey of Buddhism, The Three Jewels
  • Various authors: Crystal Mirror V, journal of Dharma Press.
  • Sogyal Rinpoche: The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
  • S. Suzuki: Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
  • John Blofeld: Compassion Yoga
  • Jack Kornfield: Living Buddhist Masters
  • Ajahn Sumedo: The Way it Is
  • Thich Nhat Hanh: The Miracle of Being Awake
Plus many works in Thai, especially about Dhammakaya.

She also had other books on spirituality - Taoism, Carlos Castaneda, etc..

On top of all that, she received various magazines and newsletters, quite a lot delivered by friends from Thailand. The fusion of religion into Thai culture runs very deep and has a number of interesting manifestations. One of these is the fact that there are many magazines that have sections devoted to Buddhist practice and interesting tales about monks. Imagine ‘The Spectator’ running regular sections, not just columns, on the practices of monastic communities!

Thus, having finished watching Eastenders on BBC TV, within a minute she’d dive straight into one of these learned volumes, donning her black spectacles, looking every bit the intellectual (which she was, of course). She related how she found reading the Dhamma an energising activity.

No surprise then that she got on well with just about every Buddhist in town!

- Paul

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