Thai Buddhist Monks Struggle to Stay Relevant

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Thai Buddhist Monks Struggle to Stay Relevant

Postby Jeffrey » Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:36 am

Witness the spread of capitalism.

"...the local Buddhist monk has gone from being a moral authority, teacher and community leader fulfilling important spiritual and secular roles to someone whose job is often limited to presiding over periodic ceremonies."

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/19/world ... .html?_r=0
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Re: Thai Buddhist Monks Struggle to Stay Relevant

Postby gavesako » Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:27 am

“Consumerism is now the Thai religion,” said Phra Paisan Visalo, one of the country’s most respected monks. “In the past, people went to temple on every holy day. Now, they go to shopping malls.”

It is largely true as reported in the article. Many monasteries especially in the North of Thailand do not have a resident monk and sometimes have to invite monks just for the Rains Retreat from another province.

There are different ways that the current crisis can be solved, as proposed by Ven. Anil Sakya ("fast-food Buddhism") or Ven. Paisan Visalo ("return to nature and simplicity").
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Re: Thai Buddhist Monks Struggle to Stay Relevant

Postby gavesako » Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:34 am

Perhaps centers like this -- an oasis of spirituality and peace in the middle of Bangkok -- are an answer to the problem:


A Taste of Buddhism

Published on December 6th, 2012 | by Bangkok 101

On the edge of Chatuchak Park sits a state-of-the-art Buddhist centre filled with religious writings, talks, meditation classes and followers. Elizabeth Preger goes in search of enlightenment.

...

The Buddhadasa Indapanno Archives (BIA)

Vachirabenjatas Park (Suan Rot Fai), Nikom Rot Fai Sai 2 Rd | BTS Mo Chit/MRT Chatuchak Park | 02-936-2800 | on the first Sunday of each month between 9:30-11:30am | www.bia.or.th
www.facebook.com/buddhadasaarchives | 9am-6pm


http://www.bangkok101.com/2012/12/06/a- ... n-rot-fai/
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Monks Lose Relevance as Thailand Grows Richer

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:58 am

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Monks Lose Relevance as Thailand Grows Richer

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:14 am

NY Times wrote:Scandals surrounding some monks have contributed to the decline. Social media has helped spread videos of monks partying in monasteries, imbibing alcohol, watching pornographic videos and cavorting with women and men, all forbidden activities. There have also been controversies involving allegations of embezzlement of donations at temples.


My hope would be that although the number of monks might be declining, the quality would be better. I think it would be better to have a small number of very good monks who practice, teach, have good sila, provide a good example; rather than large numbers but of poor quality.
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Re: Monks Lose Relevance as Thailand Grows Richer

Postby Ben » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:30 am

Maybe its time for a reform movement in Thailand similar to the mass meditation movement that arose out of Burma following British occupation.
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Re: Monks Lose Relevance as Thailand Grows Richer

Postby plwk » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:38 am

See here
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

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Re: Monks Lose Relevance as Thailand Grows Richer

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:43 am

plwk wrote:See here
Thanks. I thought there was something familiar about that article. I'll merge them.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Thai Buddhist Monks Struggle to Stay Relevant

Postby ancientbuddhism » Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:27 pm

Like any social dynamic this one is more nuanced than simple materialism as culprit. Many younger Thais are discouraged with the superficial piety of monks who outside of ritual duties live just as they do … what to say of the saṅgha scandals that surface in the news from time to time.
Katamo ca bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo: samatho ca vipassanā ca. Ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the path leading to the unconditioned? Calm and insight. This, bhikkhus, is called the path leading to the unconditioned.” SN. 43.2 – Samathavipassanāsuttaṃ

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Re: Thai Buddhist Monks Struggle to Stay Relevant

Postby appicchato » Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:27 pm

Many younger Thais are discouraged with the superficial piety of monks who outside of ritual duties live just as they do … what to say of the saṅgha scandals that surface in the news from time to time.


Rubbish...
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Re: Thai Buddhist Monks Struggle to Stay Relevant

Postby polarbuddha101 » Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:31 pm

Welp, we all know the old saying, "nothing lasts forever." :sage:

Edit: And I agree with David. Sounds good to me.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Thai Buddhist Monks Struggle to Stay Relevant

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:45 pm

appicchato wrote:
Many younger Thais are discouraged with the superficial piety of monks who outside of ritual duties live just as they do … what to say of the saṅgha scandals that surface in the news from time to time.


Rubbish...
It might be rubbish, even balderdash, but I think AB's comment deserves a bit more respect and maybe a bit more of a comment than that, and I say that because you probably have better first hand insight into some of these things than most of us here, and it would be to our benifit if you would be kind enough to share your take on this, if you please.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Thai Buddhist Monks Struggle to Stay Relevant

Postby appicchato » Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:19 pm

Poor choice of words, I know...came back to change it and got bit...sorry...

'Tis true, while many young Thais are discouraged, there are myriad reasons why...superficial piety of monks isn't one of them...and monks most definitely do not 'live as they do'...

And what to say of Sangha scandals that surface in the news?...A. They're (monks) human, and B. They (monks) number in the hundreds of thousands... comparatively (with other 'religions') speaking, the number, and severity of offenses, pales...
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Re: Thai Buddhist Monks Struggle to Stay Relevant

Postby ancientbuddhism » Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:43 pm

appicchato wrote:
Many younger Thais are discouraged with the superficial piety of monks who outside of ritual duties live just as they do … what to say of the saṅgha scandals that surface in the news from time to time.


Rubbish...


Not sure what the context is for this reply. Although I suppose I can understand that the Thai religious, like mainstream Christians in the West, would find a more dignified fault for religious apathy to be found in 'consumerism' than in shortcomings of their religious institutions.

appicchato wrote:Tis true, while many young Thais are discouraged, there are myriad reasons why...superficial piety of monks isn't one of them...and monks most definitely do not 'live as they do'...


I can only go by the candid remarks I hear, and from what I experience. Although this is by no means equivalent to a proper study of the mater, neither was the article which I think glosses the issue.

appicchato wrote:And what to say of Sangha scandals that surface in the news?...A. They're (monks) human, and B. They (monks) number in the hundreds of thousands... comparatively (with other 'religions') speaking, the number, and severity of offenses, pales...


There are good monks. And there are problems, some significant. When these are mishandled or covered-up, an institution that once prided itself on discipline looses credibility. I have lived in wats and vihāras East & West where gross misdeeds and corruption has been covered up. I know this is my opinion, but it isn’t just my opinion.
Katamo ca bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo: samatho ca vipassanā ca. Ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the path leading to the unconditioned? Calm and insight. This, bhikkhus, is called the path leading to the unconditioned.” SN. 43.2 – Samathavipassanāsuttaṃ

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Re: Thai Buddhist Monks Struggle to Stay Relevant

Postby gavesako » Mon Dec 24, 2012 12:25 pm

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Thai Buddhist Monks Struggle to Stay Relevant

Postby GraemeR » Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:26 am

IMHO Thai society, especially urban society has changed massively over the past 30 years. People have become more affluent and have obtained chattels and technology that wasn't dreamed about by their parents.

People are also exposed to often the worst aspects of Western culture through cinema (movies) TV and the all too seedy tourists who can arrive in some areas here. They emulate this behaviour.

Two generations back there were fewer schools children were sometimes taught by monks how were educated and rightly respected by all. Now some people become monks if they cannot find a job.

Religion has severe problems as a result. I feel some temples are blatantly commercial, such as Dhamma Kaya.

Young monks want the use of technology, such as smart phones which their friends have. You can see them sending IMs to their friends outside their temples. Some have WiFi.

Thais love Temples to look big and colourful, the bigger, more golden statues the better. Personally I would rather give money for sanitation or education.

Forest Temples still maintain simple Buddhist teaching and practices, but I generally avoid urban temples because of the commercial aspects.

People are slowly loosing respect for monks who are seen behaving badly: smoking in Temples, asking for money etc plus the all too common scandals). Unfortunately as the urban monasteries seem to be the worst, they are seen the most. There are real gems, but rotten apples too.

Many people have little interest in or education about religion, they are more interested in ghosts and superstition, and this is regrettably reflected in many temples.

Thais need to decide how to keep temples relevant to society and how they can evolve with society, but at the moment, this mammoth task just doesn't seem to be happening.

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Re: Thai Buddhist Monks Struggle to Stay Relevant

Postby Mr. Grimnasty » Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:56 am

Considering the degeneracy of this age, wouldn't it be better if Thai monks struggled to become irrelevant?

But wouldn't it be better still if they simply made the Dhamma their sole concern and didn't worry their silly heads about their relevance or irrelevance?

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Re: Thai Buddhist Monks Struggle to Stay Relevant

Postby appicchato » Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:34 am

IMHO Thai society, especially urban society has changed massively over the past 30 years.


Forgive me for weighing in here but I'm compelled to take issue...as someone who's been here (Thailand) the last thirty-five, continuously...I haven't see any 'massive' changes...the instruments that catch, or occupy, our attention may have changed, but basically the mindset is pretty much what it's always been...'always' meaning relatively modern times...there is, has been, and always will be, the good, the bad, and the ugly...there's been no seismic shifts in human nature in any urban society, that I can think of...enlighten me if I'm wrong...we are just being (more or less, through the advent of the internet) exposed to more of what's going on in our ever shrinking planet...that's not to say that there will not be 'massive' changes in the near future, as anyone with even a little foresight can see that we, as a race, can actually see our own demise not that far down the pike, while not a lick is being done to address the ills that are creating that demise...

For all but a rarified few, we're all destined to live our lives in our own individual universes, with little to no influence on anyone, or anything except maybe, and not certainly, our families and close circle of friends...best, if I were asked, to concentrate solving the ills there (between our ears) instead of opining the ills of our present day (worldly) circumstances...which is circling the drain...but I digress...

Be well...
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Re: Thai Buddhist Monks Struggle to Stay Relevant

Postby GraemeR » Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:21 pm

appicchato wrote:Forgive me for weighing in here but I'm compelled to take issue...as someone who's been here (Thailand) the last thirty-five, continuously...I haven't see any 'massive' changes...
Be well...


Dear Appicchato,

I think we will have to agree to differ, maybe we have had quite different experiences.

I teach maths to teenagers and their attitudes and aspirations have completely evolved from my wife's generation, twenty or so years before them.

My father in law was taught by monks, there was no school, TV etc, he learned manners and discipline, so my wife got a quite strict upbringing. I can't say that for many of the kids I teach. It's society evolving.

Problems show in many other ways, for example diet has changed, my wife's generation didn't have the quantity or variety of junk foods that now proliferate. Consider the increases obesity, dental caries and diabetes due to these changes. Some people send their children away to study at 11. Kids live in their own accommodation or in dormitories. Without parents they have problems with drugs etc which. These are recent problems.

We live in a fairly outlying province and problems become more marked nearer to the major urban areas, especially Bkk.

With metta,

Graham
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Re: Thai Buddhist Monks Struggle to Stay Relevant

Postby BuddhaDave » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:40 am

I'd have to agree with Graham. I recently spent three months in Thailand along with my principal student, who is married to a Thai woman and speaks Thai. We spent most of our visit in Chiangmai.

We are not ordained but wear white and beads, and follow precepts and live like monks. Yet, just because we were Westerners, many people including monks assumed that we were there for sex tourism. Their attitude towards us was dismissive or worse. Meanwhile, they themselves were living lives of unmitigated materialism. We saw monks with smartphones shopping at the mall and playing video games. Frankly we were appalled at their hypocrisy.

Our intention in visiting Thailand was to offer fellowships to our world-class Spiritual Leadership course. But mainly because we could not penetrate this attitude problem, we could not find a single qualified person even among the monks. Even the groups supposedly based on teachers of integrity, like Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, we found to be rife with politics and petty status games. Ultimately we decided to withdraw our offer and move on to greener pastures.
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