Scandal rocks Thailand's Buddhist Sangha once again | Bangkok Post: learning

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Scandal rocks Thailand's Buddhist Sangha once again

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Monastic rules are strict but high-profile, charismatic monks sometimes get away with wrongdoing. 

Bestselling Dharma book writer Thininart Na Phattalung has levelled a whole series of allegations against charismatic meditation master Phra Pramote Pamojjo including: "wrong methods of meditation technique, donation cheats, distortion of the teachings of the late master Luang Pu Dul, false claims of close relations with other meditation gurus, and public flaunting of spiritual enlightenment" (Read @Sanitsuda Ekachai's article Rugged Route to Nirvana).

In today's Bangkok Post Dr Mano Laohavanich, formerly a monk known by the name of Phra Mettanando and now a lay Buddhist and scholar of Buddhism writes on the scandal. An extract from the article follows (See full article here).

Photo below of a monk deep in meditation.

No moksha in Thai samsara of monastic scandals by Mano Mettanando Laohavanich


monk meditatingBuddhists in Thailand are usually proud of their faith - that the form of Buddhism they believe in, as one of the three cardinal national institutes, is the purest and most orthodox school of Buddhism directly passed down from the time of Lord Buddha over 2,500 years ago. It is also the land where Buddhist monks are following the strictest interpretation of monastic rules.

...According to the Thai monastic tradition, monks have to follow 227 rules of monastic code prescribed by the Lord Buddha, which have made them role models of social ethics, and traditional sources of wisdom and social leadership. Traditionally, the code of monastic conduct - so-called the Vinaya - prohibits monks from most immoral activities, such as telling lies (especially about their own spiritual achievement) and killing anything, human or animal.

The prohibition extends to worldly conduct, such as having sexual intercourse, being engaged in private or public investment, roaming the streets during the night hours, drinking intoxicants, or engaged in public arguments over politics, etc.

The monastic code is seen as the heart and soul of Buddhist spiritual practice in Theravada culture.

Moreover, Buddhist monks in Thailand are barred from any physical contact with any female (human or animal alike); the banned activities include even those seemingly most innocent acts such as shaking hands in social greeting, riding a bicycle, or taking physical exercise in a fitness gym. Monks who are engaged in these activities are frowned upon or criticised behind their backs.

On the one hand, the Vinaya has served its purpose in protecting Buddhist monastic community from heterodoxy and deviation from the path of spiritual purification described by the Lord Buddha, and has placed Buddhist monks at the pinnacle of the social hierarchy

…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...

…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…

Dr Mano Laohavanich has spent more than two decades in the Buddhist monkhood.

(Source: Bangkok Post, Opinion, No moksha in Thai samsara of monastic scandals, 30/09/2010, Mano Mettanando Laohavanich, link

scandal - shocking and immoral behaviour that the public learns about เรื่องอื้อฉาว (See Wikipedia)
rock- shake, upset, disturb, cause big problems 
Sangha - the community of all Buddhist monks or nuns in a country (See Wikipedia)
bestseller - a very popular book, one the books selling the most number of copies during a period of time (See Wikipedia)
dharma - the teachings of the Buddha which lead to enlightenment (See Wikipedia)
allegation - a statement that someone did something wrong and broke rules or the law without proving it yet, claim of wrongdoing
level allegations - claim that someone did something wrong
charismatic - (of a person) having a strong personal quality that makes other people like them and become attracted to them ผู้มีอำนาจ ผู้ที่ได้รับการเคารพยกย่อง
charismatic - having a strong personal quality that makes other people like them and be attracted to them ที่มีเสน่ห์ดึงดูด
meditation -
the form of concentration and mental self-control that forms the core of higher Theravadan Buddhist practice (See Wikipedia on Buddhist meditation)
master - a man who is very good at something ปรมาจารย์
distortion - changing something so that it is no longer true and accurate
flaunt - to make people notice your good points so that they think you are good (admire), show off, draw attention to yourself
lay - people who are not monks, who live outside the monastery

samsara -
a Pāli Buddhist word meaning the cycle of birth (jāti), decay and death (maraṇa), in which "all beings in the universe participate, and which can only be escaped through enlightenment. Saṃsāra is associated with suffering (or dukkha)" the opposite of nibbāna (Pali) (See Wikipedia)
moksha - release, letting loose, letting go, meaning the "liberation from samsara and the concomitant suffering involved in being subject to the cycle of repeated death and rebirth (reincarnation)" (See Wikipedia)
monastic (adjective) - relating to monks and monasteries 
national - for the whole country
cardinal - very important basic things, pillars หลัก
institutions, institutes - an important tradition that forms the basis or foundation for society สถาบัน 
three cardinal national institutes (or institutions) - the three pillars of the Thai state (สถาบันหลัก ): 1. Nation (ชาต)ิ, 2. Religion (ศาสนา), 3. Monarchy (พระมหากษัตริย์) 
orthodox - accepted by most people as the correct idea or practice
orthodox school of Buddhism -
the form of Buddhism accepted by most people in a country
interpretation - 
an explanation of the meaning of something
strictest interpretation - choosing the meaning of a rule with the highest level of control

code - rules of proper behaviour for a particular job, organisation, etc. มาตรการ, กฎเกณฑ์, ระเบียบ
monastic code - Same as "Patimokkha," see next item
Patimokkha - book of 227 rules that govern the lives of monks written in the Pali language (See Wikipedia)
prescribed - when a doctor writes out medicine for you to take, on an official piece of paper, when presented a pharmacy supplies you with the medicine สั่งยา
role model - a person who behaves in way that other people should follow, sets an example for other people ผู้ซึ่งมีลักษณะควรค่าแก่การเป็นแบบอย่างให้กับผู้อื่น
ethics - a set of principles people use to decide what is right and what is wrong จริยธรรม
traditional - things (clothes, music, customs, etc.) that have been part of a country or society for a long time
wisdom - knowledge gained over a long period of time from experience
conduct - to do something in an organised way; to carry out
Vinaya - one of the three main parts of the Theravadan Buddhist scriptures (Tripitaka) that deals with rules governing the lives of monks, includes the Patimokkha above (See Wikipedia)
prohibit - say that someone can't do something  ห้าม, ไม่อนุญาต
Tipitaka - the many books in the Pali language that are the sacred scriptures of Theravadan Buddhism (See Wikipedia)
immoral - breaking the rules of correct or right behaviour (usually harming other people or yourself in some way, example: stealing, killing, etc)
spiritual - religious
achievement - something very good and difficult that you have succeeded in doing การบรรลุผลสำเร็จ

prohibition - making rules to stop or prevent people from doing certain activities
worldly conduct -
the things people do in the world outside spiritual places like monasteries
sexual intercourse - having sex with another person
engaged - actively involved in doing some activity (not just watching)
investment - taking money and putting it into projects to make a profit or some future benefit
roaming - walking around without a goal or purpose, wandering
intoxicants - alcohol or drugs (things that change the way you think and behave, often in a bad way)
soul - the spiritual part of a person or thing วิญญาณ
the heart and soul of - the central most important part of something

barred - prevented from doing
physical - real things that can be touched and seen (not just an idea or legal right)
physical contact - touching a person or thing with your hand (or boddy or feet)
female (adjective) - of a woman สำหรับผู้หญิง
banned - officially not allowed to do something ถูกห้าม
innocent - harmless; not intended to hurt anyone ไม่มีพิษมีภัย, not having done anything wrong บริสุทธิ์
acts - actions การกระทำ
engaged in Y - doing activity Y
X frowned upon - people do not like X 
criticise - to say what you think is wrong or bad about something
behind their backs -
doing something that hurts another person without them knowing about it
heterodoxy - beliefs that don't agree with the general beliefs of a religion or society
deviation -
a difference from the expected or usual way of doing something
spiritual purification
- the process in a religion of making a person holy without evil
pinnacle - the highest level of  (like the top of a mountain)
social hierarchy  - a many level system for organizing people in a society from low to high "status"

ecclesiastical - belonging to or connected with the church (Christian, Buddhist, etc)
administration - the day to day activities of managing a company, government or other organization
moral - about what is right and wrong, about how people should behave
decadence - pleasure seeking behaviour that people consider wrong (immoral)
feudalistic - of a society where powerful people owned the land and ordinary people worked for them and had few rights ระบบศักดินา
file - to take official action like making a complaint ยื่นคำร้อง
accusation - a claim that someone has done something wrong or broken the law
wrongdoing - behaviour that is illegal or immoral
justice - when people are treated fairly and equally (See Wikipedia) ความยุติธรรม
reality - actually happening ความเป็นจริง
conservative - cautious, doesn't want to experiment, not willing to try new ideas
nepotism - when powerful people unfairly give positions to their family
crony - a powerful or rich friend and supporter (he helps you, you help him)
cronyism - a situation controlled by a group of rich and powerful friends (cronies)
high-profile - in a position where every can see (very public, well-known and famous)
charismatic - (of a person) having a strong personal quality that makes other people like them and become attracted to them ผู้มีอำนาจ ผู้ที่ได้รับการเคารพยกย่อง
charismatic - having a strong personal quality that makes other people like them and be attracted to them ที่มีเสน่ห์ดึงดูด
radical - new and very different
reformation (noun) - the process of reforming a system, removing problems, improving it and making it better
decades - period of ten years เป็นสิบๆปี

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