Wednesday, 28 January 2009

School fights a drop in monks

The country's first Buddhist missionary school has taken up the task of arresting the sharp decline in men entering the monkhood.

The number of men becoming monks has plummeted from five million a few years ago to just 1.5 million, said Phra Maha Wutthichai Wachiramethee, the school's founder.

The Triam Sammanen school, under the royal patronage of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, trains novices to become good monks, Phra Maha Wutthichai said.
"Buddhism is at a critical stage worldwide," the monk said. "In the United States a number of Buddhist temples are facing closure, while monks in Japan have to work hard to earn money to support the temples.
"For Thailand, if things remain unchanged, temples will soon become a place where people come only to perform rituals."

A belief that every Thai man should enter the monkhood as an expression of gratitude to his parents no longer holds, he said. These days, monks are generally from families who use the monkhood as an escape from economic hardship.

A shortage of clerics is not the only problem facing Buddhism. The failure of monks to spread the Buddha's teachings is also troubling, the monk quoted Princess Sirindhorn as saying.

Phra Maha Wutthichai, who has written a number of religious books under his pen name Wor Wachiramethee, said many monks today cannot read the Pali language, which is a requirement if you want to become a Buddhist preacher.

All they do is learn how to chant prayers from senior monks, which is not enough, he said. Some are even ordained to use their position to amass wealth by seeking cash donations.
These fake monks have tarnished the Sangha's image and that is one reason men are now reluctant to enter the monkhood, he said.

Phra Maha Wutthichai, abbot of Krung Tai temple in Chiang Rai's Chiang Khong district, said the preparatory school's job would be to persuade children to learn dhamma deeply, to produce more monks and to raise their knowledge base.

The school inside the Krung Tai temple compound is open to novices of all ages and nationality. It offers three levels of dhamma study.

There are also courses in the English, French, Chinese and Japanese languages for lay-people, both male and female, with the cooperation of the Chiang Rai Rajabhat University.
The school currently has 120 novices and 60 lay-people, of whom more than 90% are hilltribe people.

Source- Bangkok Post

No comments:

eckhart tolle