Koa Books


Koa Books

Books on Personal
Progressive Politics,
and Native Cultures

Voices of Dissent


The Wisdom of Sustainability by Sulak Sivaraksa

Sulak Sivaraksa

Sulak Sivaraksa, born in 1933, is a prominent and outspoken Thai intellectual and social critic. He is a, scholar, publisher, activist, founder of many organizations, and author of more than a hundred books and monographs in both Thai and English, including Seeds of Peace: A Buddhist Vision for Renewing Society and Conflict, Culture, Change: Engaged Buddhism in a Globalizing World.

Educated in England and Wales and in a Buddhist monastery in his native Siam, Sulak founded Sangkhomsaat Paritat (Social Science Review) in 1963, and it became his country’s foremost intellectual magazine, addressing the most important political and social issues during a time of military dictatorship. His work editing Sangkhomsaat Paritat led him to become engaged with grassroots organizations, where he learned the importance of staying in touch with the poor. Beginning in the late 1960s, he participated in a number of service-oriented, rural development projects, in association with Buddhist monks and student activists.

During the 1970s, Sulak became the central figure in a number of non-governmental organizations in Siam, including the Komol Keemthong foundation (named for a young teacher killed in 1971), the Pridi Banomyong Institute (named for the father of Thai democracy), the Slum Childcare foundation, the Coordinating Group for Religion and Society, the Thai Inter-Religious Commission for Development, and Santi Pracha Dhamma Institute. Through his involvement with these organizations, Sulak began to develop indigenous, sustainable, and spiritual models for change. Since then he has expanded his work to regional and international levels. He cofounded the Asian Cultural forum on Development, the International Network of engaged Buddhists, and the Spirit in education Movement.

In 1976, Siam experienced its bloodiest coup. Hundreds of students were killed and thousands were jailed. The military burned the entire stock of Sulak’s bookshop and issued an order for his arrest. Sulak was forced into exile and remained outside the country for two years. During that time, he served as a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley; Cornell University; the University of Toronto; and throughout europe; and was able to continue his activist work in the West.

In 1984, he was arrested in Bangkok on charges of criticizing the king (lèse majesté), but international protests led to his release. In 1991, another warrant was issued for his arrest, and Sulak was forced into political exile once again. He returned to fight the case in the court in 1992 and won in 1995. At the end of 1995, he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, known as Alternative Nobel Peace Prize.

Sulak Sivaraksa sees Buddhism as a questioning process—question everything including oneself, look deeply, and then act from that insight. He has been one of a handful of leaders worldwide working to revive the socially engaged aspects of spirituality. At the core of his work is the mission to build new leadership for change at all levels. Sulak offers a unique perspective on how to work for peaceful, sustainable social change using the principles and practices of Buddhism as a personal and political resource. He has demonstrated that a life of contemplation and a life of political action can illuminate, inform, and encourage each other, and in fact, in his view, both are essential if either is to change for the better. for information, news, and updates, visit www.sulak-sivaraksa.org.


About the Editors

Arnold Kotler is editor of Koa Books. He received an M.A. in political science from the university of California, Berkeley, and studied Buddhism at the San francisco Zen Center and with Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh. He founded Parallax Press in the mid-1980s and directed the press until 1999. He lives in Hawai‘i with his wife, Therese Fitzgerald.

Nicholas Bennett spent forty years living and working in some of the poorest, most remote parts of the world—twenty-five of these working for the United Nations and the World Bank. Throughout his career, he concentrated on community and educational development, struggling to improve human rights, tackling corruption, and creating more human-centered development strategies, in order to offer hope and the chance to improve their lives to some of the most marginalized and exploited people in the world. He started his forty-year odyssey walking around West Africa with no money, and has since lived and worked for many years in each of four African and two Asian countries. He implemented a Gandhian development program in the far west of Nepal in an area stretching from three-to-ten days walk from the nearest road. Throughout these years, he has been accompanied by his wife and raised four children. He has published over 100 articles and a dozen books, including Zigzag to Timbuktu in 1963, and All in the Cause of Duty in 2006. He has an M. A. in Politics, Philosophy, and economics from oxford university.


Other Books by Sulak Sivaraksa

  • Buddhist Perception for Desirable Societies in the Future (editor)
  • A Buddhist Vision for Renewing Society
  • Conflict, Culture, Change: Engaged Buddhism in a Globalizing World
  • Global Healing: Essays and Interviews on Structural Violence, Social
  • Development, and Spiritual Transformation
  • Loyalty Demands Dissent: Autobiography of an Engaged Buddhist Modern Thai Monarchy and Cultural Politics
  • Powers That Be: Pridi Banomyong Through the Rise and Fall of Thai
  • Democracy
  • Religion and Development
  • - Search for Asian Cultural Integrity (editor)
  • Seeds of Peace: A Buddhist Vision for Renewing Society
  • Siam in Crisis
  • Siamese Resurgence: A Thai Voice on Asia in a World of Change A Socially Engaged Buddhism
  • Trans Thai Buddhism & Envisioning Resistance
  • Rediscovering Spiritual Values: Alternative to Consumerism from a Siamese Buddhist Perspective
  • Other Publications



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