There has been a lot written in the press recently about the behaviour of Buddhist monks. They have been killing Muslims, raping children, lying and even stealing from local communities. All these things Gautama Buddha advised us to refrain from doing in the five precepts. So why are the monks not following these precepts?

923071_304369056360703_1177254359_nThere are many different reasons, but the main one is they are not taught them. In monasteries it is more important for the monks to memorise the texts and then read them at break neck speed. If they can do this they are look upon as a good monk.

Unless monks go to a Buddhist college they are not even taught the basic Buddhist principles. Ritual practice and ceremonies are taught, but no explanation of what you are doing is ever given. If the monks ask why they have to do or say anything, no one can answer, or if they can they cannot be bothered. Monks are told that these practices are their identity, which strips them of any individualism. Actually, individualism is not allowed. You do not have to think for yourselves because I will tell you what to think – this is what the hierarchy of the monasteries teach the monks. Unfortunately, the hierarchy these days are just about power, control and wealth. It seems strange that the hierarchy have forgotten that a monastery without monks is just a building.

It is no wonder the monks do not know how to act in accordance with Buddhist ethics – they do not know what these ethics are. If monasteries are to survive they have to change and stop living in the past. This will mean teaching basic Buddhism to monks. Letting them think for themselves. Do not quash their doubts, but discuss them openly. I am not sure this will happen any time soon, because the hierarchy will see it as a threat to their power and control.

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