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Thailand: Superstition has no place in Buddhism



With more temples shunning belief in amulets and the like, hope grows for an end to wayward monks.

A Buddhist temple in the province of Kamphaeng Phet has erected signs advising visitors to look elsewhere if they seek "superstitious" help from its monks - amulets for sale, the anointing of cars, even the distribution of holy water. The abbot has said the monks are there to discuss religious matters with the faithful, not offer voodoo guarantees of good fortune.

There is a welcome trend of late for Thai temples to shun practices that stray from the teachings of the Lord Buddha - or had nothing to do with his philosophy in the first place. The trend provides a glimmer of hope for Buddhists left dismayed by the commercialisation of the religion and the incessant imploring for donations.

Lay people who believe in the supernatural are largely to blame for this monetising of Buddhism. Their superstition feeds greedy monks, rendering them powerful, at least in the material sense. Adding to the problem are the monks who believe in such nonsense themselves as a likely result of their own upbringing.

Thailand's predominant Theravada Buddhism has gained a following in the West, where numerous temples have been built. It's not uncommon for Westerners to be ordained as monks in accordance with Thai Buddhist tradition. Yet here in the heartland of Theravada practice, devotees are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the behaviour of some monks, and even alarmed.

Source: The Nation

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