Esoteric interpretations of words, objects and myths that otherwise havea standard exoteric meaning or purpose in TheravBda Buddhism.
The necessity of initiation prior to the performance of a ritual or practice.
The application of the methodologies outlined above to bothsoteriological ends, i.e. the pursuit of Nibbaa, and worldly ends, suchas healing, longevity, protection, invincibility and, potentially, theharming of others.Other distinctive features of the
Foetal development and the spiritual recreation thereof,
The importance of Abhidhamma categories and the books of theAbhidhamma~i~aka.~
The importance of performing
although these are not interpreted as they are in Buddhaghosa's
Expertise in the
tradition is not restricted to monks. Laypeople, including women, may be practitioners, and may even be teachers tomonks.While most
material studied to date is fiom Cambodia, evidence ofthe tradition is widely dispersed, in Laos and northern Thailand, as well as centralThailand and Burma. It is even found in Sri Lanka to a limited extent. However,it is difficult to ascertain the true historical extent of the tradition,
its historyhas been obscured by the vagaries of the past few centuries.
pqicular, the riseto dominance of a reformed school of Buddhism from the
century (theDhammayutikanfiya) and, more recently, the devastation of Cambodian cultureby the Khmer Rouge have taken their toll. The current potential for the 'revival' ofBuddhism in the region, is, ironically, afkrther threat, since revival is taking placeunder the guidance of mainly foreign, rather than local, forms of TheravBda.Bizot's work is all the more important, since it bears witness to a form ofBuddhism that has been greatly damaged and largely lost as a living tradition. Wecan at least be gratefbl that Bizot began his study of this fading tradition (whileworking with the archaeological team at Angkor) a few years before theVietnamese invasion of Cambodia and the subsequent rise to power of the KhmerRouge, the final blows that changed the nature of Buddhism in Cambodia forever.
spite of the significance of Bizot's work, it is only within the last decade thatit
begun to influence more general TheravIda studies, and that influence hasby no means reached the spread or significance
What, then, is thereason behind the lack of attention paid to his work? The first answer is thatBizot's work is in French. While this may seem too simple and banal an obstacleto hold up the unflinching pursuit of academic progress, the fact is that there does