The Thai people have been dealing with Buddhist monk scandals for a while now. But scandals involving alcohol, drugs, sex, and these men of the orange cloth have been popping up with more frequency lately.
In the age of the internet and video, what was once confined to a local village issue is not being broadcast throughout the country and even the world. Most Thai’s are deeply embarrassed by these stories, but they are also beginning to question the motives of the ones who are looked at by many as the examples of morality and spirituality in the kingdom.
The two most recent stories coming out may have rocked the faith of many even further given the grievous nature of the incidents.
- The first incident involved a monk who was caught on video having sex with a woman at the local temple. As it was related to me, a local news channel set up a hidden camera and caught the monk on video. When confronted with the video, the monk still denied that it was him. Since coming to Thailand, I have heard stories personally related to me by friends who have known girls who have slept with monks. When asked how the monk could get around not keeping his vows, they told me that one monk in particular said, “Everything is an illusion and transitory anyway.”
- The second story happened just a few days ago in a village in Northern Thailand where a 67 year old monk was found unconscious in a field near the temple after having intercourse with a female dog. Villager found him after they heard the dog yelping as they were walking through the field searching for vegetables. The story was reported on many national and local news outlets along with pictures of the monk being hauled away unconscious on a stretcher. It was said that a cell phone video of the scene of the crime scene was also put on the internet. The monk was later found to have had a heart attack and died.
Other stories of monks caught on video by police doing drugs and heavily drinking alcohol have been recently reported. Many of these role models can be seen walking down the street enjoying a cigarette even as they are fasting all food after noontime.
I wonder what the effect of these ongoing revelations of the behavior of these “holy men”, who are revered and supported by most Thais, will do to the state of faith in the country?
I acknowledge that each faith has its own villains that could be pointed to as aberrations and not the norm, but as these stories continue to abound in the Thai media they are giving many concerned Thai Buddhists something to consider.