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Happy New year and a not so happy heart

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This weekend will see most Thais do what Thais do best, enjoying the materialistic lifestyle.  A lot of people will be spending their hard earned money on the loved ones  and sense of proportions and living within your means will be discarded as it’s time to show off to all how materialistically generous we can be.

Hedonistic and materialistic through and through. Some might say why not and why ever not indeed.

For those who don’t know we have Valentine and Chinese New Year roll into one weekend. So expect long queues everywhere.

.Xīnnián kuàilè; Happy New Year

Xīnnián kuàilè; Happy New Year

Opulence will be the theme this whole week as the Chinese families busily stocked up goodies to celebrate. This is just the right time to feel generous and also religious. For those living in Bangkok, you might notice something that makes me question our sense of generosity and proportions yet again. There are huge billboards and banners decorating streets of Bangkok asking for parents to send their sons on the spiritual path to be ordained and in return accumulating spiritual profits. The banners are slick, highly emotive and very inviting.

The same campaign technique as the poster on your left and some how reminisce of marketing school classroom!

A few years back we heard of  Wat Dhammakaya and the abbot was being trial for embezzlement but nothing came of it and this foundation as I prefer to call it rather than a monastery, is still actively accumulating wealth and teaching masses of people the new cult of material Buddhism. Let me remind you all again of what this cult is all about before you buy into their marketing machine to enlightenment.

This time Dhammakaya has come out and campaigned for 100,0000 ordinations nationwidee and it has won supports from other monasteries. The question I’m asking is for what benefit is this latest campaign.

Ask yourselves this, why go to such length, the answer if you visit their website is the same as ever, accruing money by selling  to Thais desire for instant spiritual comfort. It beats me telling you that there is no such thing or that money cannot buy you enlightenment though!

Let me remind you by sharing this fantastic piece from Journeyman Pictures.

Something to think of while you enjoy yourselves this Chinese New Year.

If 100,000 men ordain, each one has a family which has minimum numbers of relatives and friends of 10. Being Thais these friends will want to share in the merits and will donate money.  The norm in Bangkok is 500 – 1000 bahts per person. Though the web specifically say that no fee is charged for ordination but all donation goes to Dhammakaya account. Now get your calculator out and work the sum.

Let me remind you that a Buddhist monk, in theory,  has no need for money, no property and no bank account.

Being a practising Buddhist, I ask myself this question, did the Buddha ever campaigned like this or promise enlightenment via donation. I have to confess all that I can find from the teachings are based on understanding the traps that materials bring and how materials wealth bind you to this world of birth and death and not lead to nibbana, feel free to disagree.

If you have spiritual yearning to ordain, just visit your local monastery first and let me tell you, ordination is free anywhere.

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6 thoughts on “Happy New year and a not so happy heart

  1. Great advice, i recently came across your blog and have been reading along.. What you wrote is great advice any way that you look at it.

    Follow me on Twitter

  2. Well spoken. I have to research more on this as it seems quite interesting.

  3. Very good read. While I’m not really religious I find myself more and more drawn to Buddhism. In the west there are the weekly donations at Christian churches where they tell you all is going to help in their mission work but they also need new curtains, carpets and candles.

    I’ve never felt comfortable in a western church and have never donated but I have to say I have always felt very peaceful in all the Buddhist Wats I have visited in Thailand and have always made a donation.

    It’s highly unlikely I will ever become ordained but I do hope to take part in the ceremony in the future.

  4. Hi there, I just wanted to let you know That your post is interesting!

  5. I do occasionally read your site and enjoy your commentary. This is my first comment . . .

    In light of what you wrote, I remember reading several Thai-farang wedding reports in online forums. A large group of monks would be “hired” to officiate. The families frequently “paid” the monks 20,000 to 30,000 baht. I was shocked, 1) at the fee, and 2) I would have thought the families would “donate” what they could. But I guess when a hi-so Thai or farang is involved, monks are seduced by materialism and set fees accordingly. Shameful.

    They’re just like you and me, and unlike the Lord Buddha.

  6. chad – i saw the posters for this. Buddhism in Thailand has revered to Catholicism in the middle ages… truly depressing. thai psyche is a connundrum…i left thailand with a feeling of dissonance that i can’t reconcile. Might ask Aj V about his perspective…

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