A viral video showing Buddhist monks in a private jet, enjoying extravagance like a monogram-print Louis Vuitton tote and stylish sunglasses, has Thailand’s Buddhists in uproar over youth, greed, the decline of asceticism. (Who do these monks think they are, Drake?) The director-general of Thailand’s Office of National Buddhism has reprimanded the monks for acting “inappropriately, not composed, and not adhering to Buddha’s teachings of simplicity and self-restraint,” the Associated Press reports.
The monks in question live at a Khantitham Temple in Thailand’s northeastern Sisaket province. Khantitham Temple’s abbot released a statement noting that “the true core of those who preach Buddha’s teachings is not to own any objects at all.” The director-general noted that the temptations of a modern monk can be complicated:
“When Lord Buddha was alive, there wasn’t anything like this. There were no cars, smartphones or cameras, so the rules were much simpler,” said Nopparat [Benjawatananun]. “While the monks need to keep themselves abreast of new knowledge, current events and technology, they are restrained to choose the appropriate tools.”
He said one way to prevent the monks from misbehaving is for followers not to spoil them with valuable objects or vices. “In many cases, it was the followers who gave the monks the luxury. Some bought them sports cars. This is by no means necessary.”
Thailand is home to the world’s largest Buddhist population, including 61,000 monks and novices. Quartz notes that Thailand’s growing affluence and consumer economy has complicated the plight of monks. The AP notes that about 300 monks were chastised last year for indulging in sex, alcohol, and other transgressions. For more, read the New York Times’ 2012 report on monasticism among Thailand’s iPhone generation.