Richard G. Condon Prize Toward a Cultural Psychology of Impermanence in Thailand


  • Julia Cassaniti


How do people in a northern Thai community think about the central Theravada Buddhist concept of anicca (a Pali term referring to impermanence)? Different interpretations and applications are explored through conversations with 27 monks and laypeople in the town of Mae Chaem, Chiang Mai Province. Authoritative dis-course, occupation, life experience, and personal concerns were all found to be involved in the ways that people in this community use the concept of impermanence in their everyday lives. I address a distinction between abstract and practiced culture, and make an argument for the significance of lived experience in the scholarly under-standing of Buddhism. [Buddhism, psychology, practice, Thailand, religion]