[Buddha-l] Thai Buddhism in crisis

Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 19 21:56:19 MST 2012

>From NYT

Monks Lose Relevance as Thailand Grows Richer

Commercial Buddhism in Thailand: Buddhism has been a way of life in Thailand 
for centuries, but inside the most popular temples is a trend that critics 
call “fast-food Buddhism.”
Published: December 18, 2012

BAAN PA CHI, Thailand — The monks of this northern Thai village no longer 
perform one of the defining rituals of Buddhism, the early-morning walk 
through the community to collect food. Instead, the temple’s abbot dials a 
local restaurant and has takeout delivered.


The gilded roofs of Buddhist temples are as much a part of Thailand’s 
landscape as rice paddies and palm trees. The temples were once the heart of 
village life, serving as meeting places, guesthouses and community centers. 
But many have become little more than ornaments of the past, marginalized by 
a shortage of monks and an increasingly secular society.

“Consumerism is now the Thai religion,” said Phra Paisan Visalo, one of 
the country’s most respected monks. “In the past, people went to temple on 
every holy day. Now, they go to shopping malls.”

The meditative lifestyle of the monkhood offers little allure to the iPhone 
generation. The number of monks and novices relative to the population has 
fallen by more than half over the last three decades. There are five monks 
and novices for every 1,000 people today, compared with 11 in 1980, when 
governments began keeping nationwide records.

Although it is still relatively rare for temples to close, many districts 
are so short on monks that abbots here in northern Thailand recruit across 
the border from impoverished Myanmar, where monasteries are overflowing with 

--rest of article at

Also, 3 1/2 minute video at


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