Fwd: The Future of Buddhism in Thailand
Vayagool Ratha <vayagool@...> wrote:
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002 03:11:33 -0700 (PDT)
From: Vayagool Ratha
Subject: The Future of Buddhism in Thailand
To: Santi Pracha Dhamma spd ,
Phra Paisal Visalo ,
Vinaya Ariya ,
International Network of Engaged Buddhist INEB ,
Office INEB ,
Youth Interbuddy , David Reid
25 June 2002 (1700 hours Bkk time)
Dear Friends in the Dhamma,
Please kindly find enclosed herewith a small opinion on the future of Buddhism in Thailand. I hope you will appreciate its conclusions.
Phra Ratha Mahaviriyo
The future of Buddhism in Thailand
If with an eye to the future of Buddhism we consider the present state, the conviction is forced upon us that it is not in as much favor as at many former periods in Thai history; or, perhaps, I should rather say that the thoughts of men within the mainstream Sangha in Thailand are now being strongly attracted to more worldly ideals.
The current globalisation with its bias towards material improvements, its encouragement of trade, and the facilities it affords for cheap transportation and hence emigration, has opened up a variety of careers, and official and other, and also many new ways to the acquirement of riches, whilst its stability guarantees the safe possession of wealth by privileged members of the mainstream Buddhist Sangha alike. However enamoured of Buddhism in Thailand may have been, there are, of course, at all times Buddhist monks in the mainstream who fully appreciated the advantages of world possessions. The accumulation of riches was not an easy matter, and certainly their display would have been dangerous. However, the current mainstream Buddhist monks are now not as fearful at displaying accumulated wealth as before. The ever-present proportion of wealth seekers amongst the mainstream Buddhist monk has its opportunity now, and is reinforced by crowds allured away from their old ideals of renunciation and by the special attractions of the new age. In Thailand today, the possessors of worldly goods, however their treasures may have been acquired, are objects of popular respects, and received marked consideration from the ruling powers, sharing with favored officials to an appreciable extent the honors which the State has to bestow. Hence the desire for affluence and for the ostentatious parade of wealth by the privileged members of the mainstream Buddhist Sangha has become very pronounced.
I feel no particular admiration for the globalization , with its vulgar aggressiveness, its eternal competition, and it sordid, unscrupulous, unremitting, and cruel struggle for wealth as the supreme object of human effort. But, whatever, may the merits and demerits between a a life of renunciation and a life of accumulation of wealth, they are essentially antagonistic, since the economic ideal of life, being frankly worldly and severely practical, excludes imagination, emotionalism and sentimentalism. Hence, a momentous struggle within the Buddhism in Thailand is inevitable under new conditions between the forces which make for the renunciation of the world on the one hand and for the accumulation of wealth on the other; and there is no doubt, as a consequence, Buddhism in Thailand will undergo change, both in spirit and practice under the stimulus of the potent globalization forces to which it is now exposed. Yet, I cannot help but hope that the members of the Thai Sangha will long retain enough of the spirit of Buddhism to enable them to hold steadfast to the simple, frugal, humble life of their forefathers, for which their own past history so well fitted them, always bearing in mind the lesson thought by the sages, that real wealth and true freedom depend not so much upon the possessions of money, or a great store of goods, as upon the reasonable regulation and limitation of the desires.
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