Thai Buddhist Monks Traveling by Private Jet Cause Uproar

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When you see Louis Vuitton luggage packed into a private jet, you tend to think about Jay Z more than Buddhist monks. Yet a new video making the rounds on YouTube shows Buddhist monks dressed in their traditional attire accessorized with aviator glasses and sporting wireless headphones aboard a private jet with designer luggage stowed on the seat next to them.

The video is raising more than a few eyebrows around the globe, especially among Buddhist communities who adhere to the idea that to adhere to Buddha’s teachings means not to own any objects at all. The video, which has been viewed more than 500,000 times on YouTube, has prompted an investigation by Thailand’s National Office of Buddhism.

The monks, who are reportedly based out of the Khantitham Temple in the northeast corner of Thailand, have been warned by the director-general of the Office of National Buddhism, Nopparat Benjawatananun, not to repeat the lavish behavior, according to the Associated Press. Nopparat said the Buddhist monks in the video were acting “inappropriately, not composed and not adhering to Buddha’s teachings of simplicity and self-restraint.”

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Benjawatananun added, “When Lord Buddha was alive, there wasn’t anything like this. There were no cars, smartphones or cameras, so the rules were much simpler.” According to one of the monks in the video, the jet was chartered on their behalf by a devotee to fly them home from Bangkok after performing duties, the Bangkok Post reports. Benjawatananun suggested that followers of Buddhism avoid giving valuable gifts to monks.

Thailand, home to the world’s largest Buddhist population, has experienced similar monk scandals in the past. In 2012, 300 out of 61,416 Buddhist monks and novices in Thailand were admonished for their misconduct—ranging from alcohol consumption to engaging in sexual activities, according the Associated Press. “To be in the monkhood one should be isolated and content with what one has,” said Pra Khru Vinaithorn Teerawit, of the Buddhism Protection Center of Thailand to the Bangkok Post, adding that complaints are most commonly made against newly ordained monks. He did note, however, that, “If monks chose to travel by jet then it’s not suitable.”

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