Saturday, 2 January 2010

Wat Pah Pong's response to article on “Monks Target Western Clergy”

Wat Nong Pah Pong has issued a press statement, to the Thai media, to "clear-up any mis-understandings" of it's position on "disobedient Western monks."

Although this matter has been cleared up within the Thai press, it seems that the article in English has stirred up and agitated Western readers. This has been caused by some misrepresentations of the events of the press conference and the editorial language used in the article. Wat Nong Pah Pong feels that it is best to clear up these misunderstandings.

The article says that the Thai Sangha “want the properties of Thai temples in the West to come under the ownership of the Thai Sangha to ensure complete control.” In reality, Wat Nong Pah Pong stated in the press conference that it had no power in which to retake ownership of Bodhinyana Monastery, even if the land on which it was built on was initially offered to Ajahn Chah (Bodhinyana Thera) and Wat Nong Pah Pong. Wat Nong Pah Pong requested the Office of National Buddhism to reevaluate the way that monasteries in the West are governed so that confusion and division such as with the present situation would be avoided in the future.

The most misleading section is where it is written that “If action is not taken, the council fears that more women could be ordained in the West,” and quotes Phra Kru Opaswuthikorn saying that "Sooner or later, we'll see female monks everywhere."

Although this is a sensational statement in the eyes of a Western reader, a more accurate translation would be, “If we (Wat Nong Pah Pong) had not taken any action, it would open the doors in the future for women to ordain as bhikkhunis within the Wat Nong Pah Pong western sangha, running into the same problem we have at the moment (breaking Thai law)”. The issue is not that Wat Nong Pah Pong is against women ordaining, but rather due to Wat Nong Pah Pong’s status as a member of the Thai Sangha and its obligation to follow Thai Sangha Laws.

Further, this article’s portrayal of facts is to be questioned. It cites that “two women” were ordained, instead of the four women which were actually ordained.

In conclusion, we would like readers of this article to be wary of the editorial sensationalism and misrepresentations that have been given to this press release. It was originally intended to reply to the questions the Thai media had on Wat Nong Pah Pong’s stance in relation to the present situation with Ajahn Brahmavamso and Bodhinyana Monastery’s status, not a gender equality and power-seizing issue that it has been made into.

But while we're at it, lets have a look at some of the statements made during the meeting to expel Ajahn Brahm, one Thera stated, "If I go and do this, and you go and do that, and everybody does what they want, then what will happen? This plot [of yours] was a ten year plan; a plan to destroy the Buddhist religion. I have been to many spots (plots?) and I can tell one from another. And I can tell what you are doing fits right into the plot. You have been roused through many different methods to destroy Buddhism."

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