Monks accused of materialistic lifestyle

The National Office of Buddhism has received many complaints about monks riding in luxurious cars and using brand-name items even as they are supposed to live a life of restraint and simplicity.

Nopparat Benjawatananun, director-general of the National Office of Buddhism, said on Sunday that many people have complained about seeing monks living a lavish lifestyle, which is in contrast to the basic anti-materialistic teachings of the religion.

Recently, a video clip of three Buddhist monks riding in a private jet was uploaded to YouTube video-sharing website. In the video, the monks were wearing brand-name ear phones and sunglasses and a Louis Vuitton bag can be seen next to one of them.

"I've instructed officials to keep a close eye on the monks and if they're found to violate Buddhist teachings they'll be punished accordingly," Mr Nopparat said.

He said there were also complaints about monks in many renowned temples in Thailand collecting luxurious cars and using expensive items.

Even if the monks said the cars were given to them by their pupils, it was still not appropriate for them to own dozens of sports cars in their temples, he said.

"There are also monks who do not teach Buddhism correctly because they focus more on black magic and try to commercialise religious activities in order to build faith. The pupils of these monks are famous celebrities.

"I cannot tell you which temples or who the monks are but the National Office of Buddhism has verbally warned them," Mr Nopparat said.

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