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.

Share your thoughts

Discussion 1 : 30/06/2013 at 10:44 AM
This guys are living "la vida loca" while they are supposed to be helping people, making donations, parying... Where do i have to sign to become a monk?
Discussion 2 : 17/06/2013 at 11:15 PM
The sad truth in life is: When it comes to materialism, no matter which religious factions you belong, money is just hard to resist even it takes to compromise once belief.
Discussion 3 : 17/06/2013 at 02:45 PM
Buddhism in Thailand is a strange thing. A while ago the Bangkok post had an article with a picture showing a Buddhist monk blessing a military helicopter gunship. There I was, staring at that picture, naive in thinking that Buddhism is a religion that preaches non-violence.
Discussion 4 : 17/06/2013 at 02:33 PM
starting with the crash of 1999 there was an influx of so called monks to the temples and it has been going downhill since. the one temple that i have noticed that still lives the monastic life style is wat Pa Na Na Chat in Ubon Ratchathani.
Discussion 5 : 17/06/2013 at 02:33 PM
D16, True_facts, Or how about those monks siding with PAD/TPN in the conflict that almost led to war with Cambodia over Praeh Vihear?
Discussion 6 : 17/06/2013 at 01:23 PM
Thailand is no different to many developing countries, the fabric of society is changing with the communities moral compass broken or in danger of disintegration. Money, power, greed now much higher on the agenda with Love, kindness and spirituality a very distant second. Education starts at home in every country around the world regardless of rich or poor. Nothing Changes 'IF' Nothing Changes.
Discussion 7 : 17/06/2013 at 12:45 PM
don't worry too much - karma will catch up with them they will be reborn with a non-removable red shirt under a democrat government....
Discussion 8 : 17/06/2013 at 12:44 PM
Just a movie set.
Discussion 9 : 17/06/2013 at 11:34 AM
I think they were filming some Thai soap Oh, then with those sunglasses, they could blend in perfectly in a Sicilian Mafia movie.
Discussion 10 : 17/06/2013 at 10:47 AM
Whatever your beliefs are, Buddhist or something else, it is up to you as a true believer to follow the precepts which define those beliefs. If you can not or will not do so, then don't become a monk. It should not be necessary for some higher level authority to make you "toe the line". No one is perfect and we will all fail sometimes, but it is up to you as an individual not to make a sham of your beliefs, especially when you are supposed to be setting an example for others to follow.
Discussion 11 : 17/06/2013 at 10:36 AM
A little study of Thai history will reveal the Thai Songha was fabricated to provide the kingdom with a unified moral and educational system as dictated by appointed leaders has never been engaged with the original teachings of Lord Buddha or the guiding principles. The Songha has developed a system of self veneration and enrichment and is not concerned with teaching Buddhist principles. That is why I have returned to Mahayana teachings still found in parts of Thailand. I reject the monastic formation that is regulated by the state and formed to enrich the elite and hide criminals while providing little Buddhist guidance.
Discussion 12 : 17/06/2013 at 10:16 AM
If someone would check on monks, their backgrounds and were they come from there would be a big surprise by many of them.
Discussion 13 : 17/06/2013 at 10:11 AM
Even Buddhism is corrupt in Thailand. Anazing Thailand, indeed.
Discussion 14 : 17/06/2013 at 10:08 AM
Sadly, this is a reflection of all that is wrong in current Thai culture where shallow, tasteless materialism is worshipped by everyone, including the monks, who are expected to set a better example. To judge people by their wealth alone, prevalent in Thai society, is an indication of an intellectual black hole.
Discussion 15 : 17/06/2013 at 09:02 AM
I am not a Buddhist, and have never been one. But I do respect people's choice of religion. The Buddhism in Thailand has lost its value and gone with the wind. Most of, if not all monks don't care about the teachings any more. It's all about money and luxury.
Discussion 16 : 17/06/2013 at 08:39 AM
A monk lives in my area of town who is very well respected. A lot of the shops have his picture on the wall and he seems very liked. A few weeks ago,this same monk walked up to me, held out his hands and asked for money from me in English.. I scowled at him, told him that monks don't ask for money and walked away. Of course if I told this to anyone who knows him, I would be this horrible person trying to defame the poor monk's character.
Discussion 17 : 17/06/2013 at 08:39 AM
Not even God knows the true wealth of The Vatican.
Discussion 18 : 17/06/2013 at 08:18 AM
it's getting worse and worse with the image and reputation of Buddhism in Thailand. I am buddhist,myself and still keep following Lord Buddha's words as mush as i can in my daily life but i've given up going to temples in Thailand since a long time for fear that i might commit irreparable. I simply tell myself that those under the robes are also simple men with different natures and that's what our Lord Buddha compared human catagories with lotus flower. The real followers of Buddha aren't those who preach but ignore even the basic 5 rules of Buddhism.
Discussion 19 : 17/06/2013 at 07:36 AM
@dis 21 your referring to the abbot and fellows at wat dhammakaya in rangsit. this temple and its abbot have a huge following and deeeeeepppp pockets. not to mention the connection they make with everything spiritual to monetary.
Discussion 20 : 17/06/2013 at 05:07 AM
Thai Buddhism is one of the most corrupt versions of that religion to be found.Go to Wat Po and have your fortune told for money,have your palm read for money,etc,etc.What have these voodoo practices got to do with Buddhism?I have been opening my wife's eyes,who was always off to the Wat,for many years,about the corruption,lies and nonsense of ALL religions,that build monuments to themselves,receive vast amounts of money,run businesses and are run by charlatans.The power over the minds of others is a powerful tool and there are many examples of the abuse of that power in the "monk business", as I call it.
Discussion 21 : 17/06/2013 at 04:36 AM
Buddhism is just another guise for greed, corruption and personal wealth building. There are violators in ALL of the big name temples. You need to really go out of the way, deep into Isaan to find the temples so poor the monks still adhere to Buddhist principles. It is just another Thai concocted Scam that prays on poor people for a handful of ill acting monks seeking financial wealth. I have a photo of a monk in a robe in Nakhon Nayok driving a car by himself. That is exactly what Buddhism in Thailand has become.
Discussion 22 : 17/06/2013 at 01:36 AM
I wish whatever Buddhist authority there is would keep the Monks out of Pantip in Bangkok. I have great respect for most of them, but Pantip on a weekend afternoon does not seem like an appropriate place.
Discussion 23 : 17/06/2013 at 01:12 AM
@ Discussion 21 (abbub): For a Western observer, Thai Buddhism is indeed a mix of Buddhism, Hinduism and Animism. This is not so different from Indonesians, who claim to be Muslims (or Christians) and deep in their souls are Animists.
Discussion 24 : 17/06/2013 at 12:21 AM
Unfortunately certain monks are not observing the basic rules to live like a monk! They are moving closely to commercialization!!!
Discussion 25 : 16/06/2013 at 11:48 PM
Monkshood is not easy life as most people think, but since Thailand(and or government)uses Monk to be messenger of govern it is unavoidable to have more corrupted monks. Look at this Dynasty of Thailand history sometimes King used monks to be spy. I think Thai people smart enough to know that all monks are not the same, a lot of good one maybe some bad apple mix in. Phra Tevathat in Buddha's time was a rival of Buddha should be a good example.
Discussion 26 : 16/06/2013 at 11:18 PM
I recall when Steve Jobs died a high ranking monk claimed to have had a dream of Jobs living in a sort of mansion in heaven near his Apple headquarters, served by a group of angels. The monk suggested this was a very high position. Apparently the use of semi-slave labor and tax avoidance (for which Apple may soon have to account) is not taken into consideration. Buddhism in Thailand is a mix of Buddhism, Hinduism and Animism. It is rife with superstition and lust for material wealth. Prayer is almost always geared toward attainment of wealth or power. And the monks play along. Gambling was frowned upo by the Buddha; do people care?
Discussion 27 : 16/06/2013 at 11:14 PM
It doesn't help when they let crimminals become monks to avoid jail.
Discussion 28 : 16/06/2013 at 11:09 PM
Religion is the greatest scam in Human history.
Discussion 29 : 16/06/2013 at 10:51 PM
Does this mean a "Buddha Bar" like the one in Europe (Paris?) could open up here? Or would that be illegal? Just asking...
Discussion 30 : 16/06/2013 at 10:29 PM
Gaining material possessions/wealth via religion is nothing new; And I can't tell the difference between ABC News, Hill Street Blues And a preacher on the old time gospel hour Stealing money from the sick and the old Well the God I believe in isn't short of cash, mister!" U2
Discussion 31 : 16/06/2013 at 10:15 PM
As bad as monks taking part in the violent red shirt terror campaigns....
Discussion 32 : 16/06/2013 at 09:30 PM
Buddhism in Thailand is an odd thing. I can't imagine the Buddha wanting ornate temples and sports cars, but in Thailand it's all about status, whether that be a fake LV bag or a real one. Things have really changed over the years. I wonder if the people here think that Buddha is an Iphone or an Ipad. They seem to revere these things much more than the teachings of Buddha.
Discussion 33 : 16/06/2013 at 09:22 PM
For good karma and go to heaven, life-everlasting - give money. Do you believe?
Discussion 34 : 16/06/2013 at 09:19 PM
"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" How many sports cars is appropriate then?
Discussion 35 : 16/06/2013 at 08:54 PM
Like everything else in Thailand these days, even many monks are corrupted, giving Buddhism a bad name. Buddhism as practiced in Thailand is monk-centric because it is so visual and fits the image but sometimes lacks substance. Pick up a newspaper any day and there will be stories where even upper echelon Thais break the 5 basic Buddhist precepts routinely. Lie, steal, cheat, drugs/alcohol use, promiscuous sex and killings seems the norm. I doubt this is what the Buddha had in mind.
Discussion 36 : 16/06/2013 at 08:50 PM
The monk in the back seems to have more hair than some commoners!
Discussion 37 : 16/06/2013 at 08:38 PM
On this basis I will be leaving the Christian Brotherhood and getting my ass out to Thailand and heading to the funkiest Budhist Temple around. Recession, what recession????
Discussion 38 : 16/06/2013 at 08:37 PM
why want to make a mockery out of monks' luxuries life as they didn't ask, threaten, steal or taking bribes from anybody. Their pupils gave them with an open heart as maybe they prosper and found solace after being blessed by the monks not like somebody with power and money bribes all the way to get richer and worst still willing to terminate innocence life for that purpose.
Discussion 39 : 16/06/2013 at 08:06 PM
World class. Are they flying to London for an afternoon tea? or Macau for a round of poker?
Discussion 40 : 16/06/2013 at 08:04 PM
If monks are invited somewhere, and a jet is provided, there is no reason to refuse. If they owned the jet it would be different. I always get upgraded on Thai air to first class if there is a seat free - should I refuse? Are people judging me for being a Bhikkhu in first class, when it wasn't my idea? Some days I am provided feasts, and many days the food is so bad I skip a day. Sometimes I go in a Rolls, and other days as one of 20 in the back of an uncovered pick-up in the sun. Pandit Bhikkhu
Discussion 41 : 16/06/2013 at 07:41 PM
Welcome to the real world.
Discussion 42 : 16/06/2013 at 07:22 PM
Since Thai people spectacularly do not follow a single Buddhist precept, why should the monks be expected to do any better? And why is there even such a thing as a National Buddhism Office? Is the Thai version of Buddhism a tool of the Thai state, under the moral guidance and watch of Thai politicians, those renowned paragons of virtue and incorruptible anti-materialism? Perhaps a good start would be to abolish such a government office and allow Buddhism to be a personal religious practice as the Buddha intended, rather than a government office.
Discussion 43 : 16/06/2013 at 07:10 PM
nothing in the World makes money like religion..not even banks
Discussion 44 : 16/06/2013 at 07:10 PM
This reminds me of the two priests in a red Ferrari in the movie “The Cannonball Run”. They said they do the work of god and in a Ferrari they do it a little faster. So it seems these monks are very keen to do their jobs as soon as somehow possible. Apart from that I think this is not all the monks fault. As far as I know almost any pickup up country is blessed by a couple of monks – to name just one example. Maybe this time someone asks them to bless a private jet. Is that what true Buddhism is about? Would a real believer ask monks to do that? Would monks who follow the religion do that? I don’t think so (but I am no expert).
Discussion 45 : 16/06/2013 at 06:42 PM
Ban the lot of them ,teach self reliance and self dicipline rather than bending your kneee to these ppl
Discussion 46 : 16/06/2013 at 06:12 PM
Why do we see monks living in high life today is because of the way they are being treated. Thais regard them as being supreme beings and this is a BIG MISTAKE we have made all along!!!

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