Sulak Sivaraksa
( 1995 , Thaïlande )

...for his vision, activism and spiritual commitment in the quest for a development process that is rooted in democracy, justice and cultural integrity.

Right Livelihood itself is a Buddhist term, a key element in the Noble Eightfold Path, or Middle way, the Buddha taught, as a way for all of us to transcend greed, hatred and delusion - or at least to lessen them.


Sulak Sivaraksa returned to Thailand after receiving an education in Great Britain and has since then played a leading role in the mobilisation of Thai civil society, thing that has repeatedly brought him into conflict with the local authorities. Some examples of his lifelong activism are the creation of a string of social welfare and development organisations; the proposal of alternatives to consumerism; his concern for democracy, human rights and accountable government; the support of Burmese refugees in Thailand – for example with the famous Jungle University for fleeing Burmese students. His work has been able to inspire people beyond the borders of Thailand and his concept of development has been of great influence worldwide.

Contact

The Sathirakoses-Nagapradeepa Foundation
666 Charoen Nakhon Road, Klongsan
Bangkok 10600
THAILAND

Biography

Sulak Sivaraksa was born in 1933 and educated in Britain before returning to Thailand in 1961 to be a lecturer at the Thammasat and Chulalongkorn universities. In 1963, he founded and for six years edited the Social Science Review, which soon became the most influential publication in Thailand. According to several testimonies, the Review played a crucial role in awakening the student awareness that led to the overthrow of the military regime in 1973.

Concern for democracy, human rights and accountable government, and the ability to inspire thousands of others in many different countries with such concern, have been a central strand in Sulak’s life-work. After the 1988 uprising in Birma, he was much involved in the support of Burmese refugees in Thailand – for example with the famous Jungle University for fleeing Burmese students.

Sulak has had a leading role in the mobilisation of Thai civil society. He is credited with starting the country’s indigenous NGO movement through his creation of a string of social welfare and development organisations rooted in different aspects of Thai society. Running through these organisations are two principal visions, reflected in (i) a rejection of Western consumerist models of development in favour of an approach growing out of Thai (or, more generally, indigenous) culture; and (ii) an emphasis on the importance of the spiritual and religious dimension of human life, rooted in his own deep Buddhist sensi …

Sulak Sivaraksa was born in 1933 and educated in Britain before returning to Thailand in 1961 to be a lecturer at the Thammasat and Chulalongkorn universities. In 1963, he founded and for six years edited the Social Science Review, which soon became the most influential publication in Thailand. According to several testimonies, the Review played a crucial role in awakening the student awareness that led to the overthrow of the military regime in 1973.

Concern for democracy, human rights and accountable government, and the ability to inspire thousands of others in many different countries with such concern, have been a central strand in Sulak’s life-work. After the 1988 uprising in Birma, he was much involved in the support of Burmese refugees in Thailand – for example with the famous Jungle University for fleeing Burmese students.

Sulak has had a leading role in the mobilisation of Thai civil society. He is credited with starting the country’s indigenous NGO movement through his creation of a string of social welfare and development organisations rooted in different aspects of Thai society. Running through these organisations are two principal visions, reflected in (i) a rejection of Western consumerist models of development in favour of an approach growing out of Thai (or, more generally, indigenous) culture; and (ii) an emphasis on the importance of the spiritual and religious dimension of human life, rooted in his own deep Buddhist sensibility, which he calls buddhism with a small, rejecting all flamboyant and shallow rituals and emphasis on titles. Through his prolific writings and speeches, at home and abroad, as well as through his activism and organisational initiatives, Sulak’s concept of development has been of great influence worldwide.

His social activism has repeatedly brought him into conflict with the authorities in Thailand. In 1976, when Sulka was visiting the United Kingdom, Thailand’s bloodiest coup took place and Sulak’s bookshop, being a hub for social discussions and activism, was burned down. Many of his friends and colleagues were killed and put in jail, and he was forced to stay out of the country for two years during which he travelled around the world and lectured at universities. In 1984, after the publishing of his book “Unmasking Thai Society”, he was charged of lèse majesté and ended up in prison. Due to heavy international protests and the King’s intervention, he was acquitted. In 1991, he had to flee the country after a speech he held at the university. He returned to Thailand in 1992 to face the charges in court. The charges were finally withdrawn in 1995.

In the meantime, Sulak developed new initiatives. One – an international network on ‘Alternatives to Consumerism’ – aiming to record sustainable alternatives to the Western consumer model with different spiritual motivations. The other – the Spirit in Education Movement – developing an alternative approach to mainstream education.

Sulak is also a publisher and the author of over a hundred books and monographs in both Thai and English. One of the most popular ones being ‘Seeds of Peace – a buddhist vision for renewing society’ (1992) where the foreword is written bij H.H. The Dalai Lama and the preface by Thich Nhat Hanh.

In 1998, Sulak received the UNPO Human Rights Award, in 2001 the Millenium Gandhi Award and in 2011 the Niwano Peace Prize.

 
 

Publications

  • Contemplative Traditions and Peacekeeping from the Perspective of a Socially Engaged BuddhistDownload (pdf)
  • Engaged Buddhism and the Spiritual Challenges in the 21st CenturyDownload (pdf)
    The Way of CompassionDownload (pdf)
  • The Wisdom of Sustainability: Buddhist Economics for the 21st Century.Koa Books, Hawai’i, 2009.

Links