[Buddha-l] Thai Buddhism in crisis

Jo ugg-5 at spro.net
Thu Dec 20 22:35:32 MST 2012

Hi Erik,

Well, if you read what I wrote, you would see that I was responding to 'take-out Buddhism' from the standpoint of Thai laypeople about to desert Buddhism, en masse. 

As for the monastics, I doubt if they could adjust to the degree that laypeople there have taken on money and consumerism as the end goal. If all but the most famous temples, viharas and such are mostly deserted, it's the lay folk who are doing it, not the monastics. Even rural children no longer are getting educated in monasteries but in secular state-owned schools, a program that once served as recruitment to the monastic life. 
It's not over yet, but the future looks like a desertion to 'western' capitalistic love of money and the objects it buys. In fifty years (if the earth still supports human habitation) all those glittering monasteries may resemble the plain of Bagan..........dotted with crumbling remnants, where few of the remaining pagodas are still in religious action. 

One hopes that a dictatorship like that of Pol Pot never happens there.


-----Original Message-----
From: buddha-l-bounces at mailman.swcp.com [mailto:buddha-l-bounces at mailman.swcp.com] On Behalf Of Erik Hoogcarspel
Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2012 7:32 PM
To: Buddhist discussion forum
Subject: Re: [Buddha-l] Thai Buddhism in crisis

Hi Jo,
I do not agree with you here. If any organisation keeps up such a ridiculous tradition as the daily  alms collection it is just asking for trouble. Buddhism has to ajust.


Jo <ugg-5 at spro.net> schreef:

>It's a takeout world. People being taken out too-- by human not cosmic 
>Probably the Burmese monks on loan are sure happy to move out of Burma.
>I predict that a majority of ordinary Thai will dump Buddhism and go 
>for some version of Christianity--because you don't need to meditate, 
>you don't need to spend money and time making merit since doing that is 
>contrary to a lot of Protestant beliefs (i.e., God's grace is 
>unpredictable), if you sin you can be forgiven on a weekly basis 
>(Catholic), and you can show off if rich by building churches that have 
>many fewer mouths to feed/support by donations than the monasteries.
>Here Christianity goes right along with our other religion, 
>Not heartening thoughts for the world's future (although Thai Buddhism 
>was, and remains even abroad (except for a couple of outfits in UK), a 
>matter mostly of ethnic association, so any impact on the world was and 
>is probably moot.
>Western Buddhism still has a chance to impact the world beneficially, 
>if it doesn't continue to go bonkers over building wildly hyperbolic 
>pagodas, supporting the luxurious lifestyle of lamas and gurus, and 
>collecting tons of paraphernalia as advertised in Buddhist mags here.
>Western Buddhism might actually have a chance of responding, not 
>reacting, to climate change/global warming/overuse of resources.
>On Behalf Of Dan Lusthaus
>Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 9:56 PM
>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 
>“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 novices.
>--rest of article at
>Also, 3 1/2 minute video at
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