Author Topic: 'Lotto monk' has become the rule not an exception  (Read 481 times)

Offline thaiga

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'Lotto monk' has become the rule not an exception
« on: December 02, 2012, 11:44:57 AM »
the more money you donate t, the higher up the heaven you'll go

'Lotto monk' has become the rule not an exception

BANGKOK: -- It's a familiar story of conspiracy, betrayal, temptation and above all - greed; Thai Buddhism is getting trapped in commercialism

Reading a front-page story on a monk hounded by "extortionists" after he won the first prize of the government lottery, one can't help but wonder how many Buddhist principles have been violated in this single real-life tale. The abbot of a well-known temple in Chon Buri, who won more than Bt50 million in prize money, may not bother to find out, however. He has been busy talking to the police and the press, deploring how his amazing stroke of luck drew so many "bad people" into his life.

According to Phra Khru Sunthorn Silawat, he bought the lottery from a seller he said had kept "pestering" him to buy it. After winning the first prize, the seller and some other people started asking the abbot to pay them money. He said they also accused him of not paying for the lottery tickets. As the plot thickened, almost a dozen people lodged complaints with the police demanding the monk pay a combined total of more than Bt400,000.

Behind every big lottery win lies similar claims of secret arrangements, betrayal or conspiracy. The monk's story stands out simply because he is not supposed to be involved. There is no need to say that Buddhism is all about detachment from materialism, worldly wealth to be exact. That he bought the lottery, took the winning money and then tried to hold on to it defied the reasons why he was in the monkhood in the first place. The "extortionists" may be "bad people", but, being laymen, they probably had the luxury of being consumed by greed.

That Phra Khru Sunthorn Silawat is by no means a junior monk and that his temple is a famous religious sanctuary in Chon Buri only add to the questions. Cynics, however, may not be surprised at all. Thailand is no stranger to controversies involving renowned temples or highly popular and senior-ranking monks. One may argue that the closer you seem to nirvana, the greater the temptation. If we are to believe that theory, we have to believe that Phra Khru Sunthorn Silawat did not mean to buy the lottery, but was persuaded to buy it, and that all wealthy temples started off with a pure intention to teach detachment, only to succumb to greed themselves.

We know something is seriously wrong when Phra Khru Sunthorn Silawat was not even asked the questions he should have been asked. And if the questions have been asked, they have not been asked loud enough. He featured in press stories more like a victim, which he would have been, without the saffron robe.

Perhaps it's unfair to say Thai society has turned a blind eye. To feel resigned may sound more like it. The abbot's case is not the "tip of the iceberg", a little white spot above the water's surface. The whole iceberg is already out there. The likes of him have become an elephant in our living room. With religious commercialism so rampant and virtually untouchable, an industry worth tens of billions of baht if not a lot more, who cares about a monk trying his worldly luck by buying a lottery? When one of the most famous Thai temples teaches that the more money you donate to it, the higher up the heaven you'll go after you die, detachment and selfishness get badly mixed up.

They say religion is flawed only because man is flawed. They say religion everywhere has been abused or exploited. They say worse than using religion to rake in cash is making people kill in the name of religion. They say Buddhism and fanaticism have never crossed paths and we, therefore, should feel lucky about that. These can be the excuses to make us feel a little better about the fact that commercialism has engaged Thai Buddhism without much mercy. The entanglement has killed nobody, but should we feel relieved about it, not knowing how many souls it has taken away?

The Nation

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

 



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