Satellite TV to train 100,000 Buddhist monks

Bangkok, Thailand – In a campaign sponsored by the Government of Thailand and Buddhist religious leaders, more than 100,000 monks have been ordained in order to promote a better role model of ethical conduct and solidarity. The initiative involves some 80,000 villages spread across the country. Starting today until 8 March, the new monks will follow a special 49-day training programme under the guidance of elderly monks. The programme includes meditations and lessons and will be broadcast by satellite TV.

“The idea comes from the fact that at present people are busier and material temptation is increasing. They do not have enough time for dharma (religion),” said PhraMaha Dr Somchai Tanawutdho, chairman of the Committee organising the 100,000 ordinations. “They forgot the significance of their spirituality.”

“Buddhism is a refuge, especially for those in remote communities,” he added. Monks in villages and cities can help the population improve and return to the path of righteousness, especially during the current economic crisis, he believes.

Thailand’s Buddhists represents 85 per cent of population and monks have a lot of political and social influence. Until the 1980s, each family destined one son to the monastic life. Since then, Buddhism has gone into decline and few boys choose to enter monasteries. As of June 2009, 5,937 monasteries have been left deserted.

“At the temple of Chaleakmogkol, there have been no monks for some years and the residents of my village have not had a spiritual leader,” said Sompong Luamsai, a villager from Surin province.

As a result of the government’s initiative, monks have come back and are taking care of the community. “Each day, we hear the monks praying and the faithful join in again to pray,” he said.

In his opinion, since the monks came there have been fewer problems in the village and a greater interest in religion.