Friday, October 01, 2010

Buddhist News

I've never thought to post commentary on news articles before, but it seems I'm getting a lot of interesting ones lately... here's one from the Bangkok Post that really touched me:

The system of the ecclesiastical administration in Thailand is surely responsible for this moral decadence. It is over-centralised and feudalistic. Besides, there is no room for lay people to file any accusation against any monk, except to report the wrongdoing to their senior authority, in the hope that they will receive justice.

In reality, the system is highly conservative, infested with nepotism and cronyism. There have been many cases of high-profile, charismatic monks getting away with their wrongdoing. Disappointed by bad news about their monks, many lay Buddhists do not give up, they simply go in search of a better field of merit for their own good. As a consequence, more good monks are faced with more worldly temptations.

Educated Buddhists in Thailand are therefore looking forward to a radical reformation of the ecclesiastical community, to put an end to this endless samsara of scandal. But their goal seems virtually remote and far-fetched. In reality, there is no political party or leader in the government who is brave and smart enough to solve the problem in Buddhism.

The samsara simply continues.


What strikes me most about this article is that I expected it to be an expose about the latest scandal to hit the Thai sangha. It, in fact is a terribly well-written explanation of why such scandals occur. He does slip up at one point, I think, though:

However, few Buddhists accept that the 227 rules are not up-to-date, and all Buddhist monks are just human beings who have desires and face temptations. The fact is that their temptation naturally increases with the amount of donations they receive. Consequentially, money brings further opportunity for power and social prestige. Being faced with more temptation, most of them give in to it.

What he's saying is that monks who try to follow the monastic rules eventually give into the temptation of the amount of money they receive. The problem is, and it is for this reason that, according to the monastic rules, monks are not allowed to touch money.

<rant>In my mind, there is nothing more damaging to the Thai sangha (and other Buddhist sanghas I can think of) right now than the fact that monks can and regularly do touch money. And I am fully aware that many wonderful and virtuous monks handle money on a regular basis. My venerable teacher and preceptor is one of them, and by far the most amazing human being I've ever met. But this is not about individuals, it is about a system gone wrong. My teacher was very clear with me that monks should not touch money; that's the ideal, and a very important part of the making of a successful religious tradition. The problem is that we are very far from the ideal, and the result is a far less than successful religious tradition.</rant>

So, there you are, commentary on news... sort of.

And now, for something completely different:

Mick Jagger took some time far out of the spotlight with a recent trip to Luang Prabang, Laos. According to a new report from Britain's The Sun, the Rolling Stones legend sequestered himself in a hotel for a period of deep meditation.


The source adds: "Mick used the trip to regenerate himself. He spent hours with monks in the temples and chanted with them. He practices Buddhism and meditation every day. He says it's the first thing he does when he gets up in the morning."


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