Thai Buddhism

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It is to be noted that all programs and initiatives associated with Thai Buddhism are owing to the efforts of the private sector. Generally, since the latter part of the modern period, almost all activities related to Thai Buddhism can be credited to private organizations and personalities.

The Thai Sangha administration does not either show active opposition or active support to any Thai Buddhism activities or initiatives taken by the private sector. It is very rare to see a strong conflict rise visibly and rarer still are there any violent opposition. This is the one way that the Sangha has maintained its status quo and power.

The traditional Thai Sangha has actually always had a strong tie with politics and relies heavily on a largely secular government. This is probably why it mostly willingly joins and cooperates with any initiatives and programs of governmental agencies regarding Thai Buddhism. This is evident in projects like the Dhamma-duta, Dhamma-carik, Dharma Messengers and the Dharma wanderers; we also cannot overlook the stressful training of the monks in the diffusion of the Four Virtues according to the King’s advice to the Thai people during the Rattanakosin Bicentennial and the 5 fundamental values announced by the Prime Minister at the same time. In today’s time, after getting familiar with new ideas from these government supported programs, the Thai Sangha has incorporated new programs as well. Some of these are the project for training monks in basic health care and the commune unit for public instruction project.

Even though the Thai Sangha is structurally and practically weak, it draws its strength from the fact that it remains indifferent and strictly traditional. This makes it easy to begin an endeavor without fear of opposition or conflict with the Sangha. Even though there are no visible oppositions or challenges to new Thai Buddhism projects from the Sangha, there may be undesirable consequences in the form of inharmonious developments. It is possible that these neglected problems may increase in intensity as they pile up when left unsolved. Though not visible, there may be a passive conflict which could be worse than a violent outburst leading to troubles for Thai Buddhism in the long run. This can be seen in the issues with ecclesiastical education which presents a fundamental problem.

Due to the indifferent attitude of the Sangha, there are several new systems of ecclesiastical education that have come up and coexist with the traditional system without gaining recognition from it. No doubt then there is a lot of confusion with the education system of Thai Buddhism making the ecclesiastical system in Thailand one full of complication and a jumble of systemless systems. This has resulted in confusion in the minds of the monk and also conflict among the new systems themselves! Though conflict or opposition remains passive, it is an unsolved issue. These issues with Thai Buddhism keep piling up adding to an undependable, stagnate, uncertain and insecure state of affairs. This has also riddled Thai Buddhism with an attitude of remaining inactive, idle, unconcerned, non-participative, non-committal and promotes habitual withdrawal and defeat. No doubt then this could soon lead to the decay and death of Thai Buddhism.


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