Excellent piece here from the Bangkok Post on the need for the sangha in Thailand to show a bit of leadership given the current difficulties. The movement to establish Buddhism as Thailand’s “national religion” smacks of what Stanley Tambiah called “a majority with a minority complex” in Sri Lanka’s Sinhala Buddhists. I’ve yet to see any clear articulation of the real need for this purely symbolic step. Buddhism needs to be made the state religion in order to protect it? From who or what? The Muslim minority in the south that wants primarily to be left along? Western tourists who want to snap photos of temples? Hindu and animist beliefs that have lived peacefully alongside Buddhism in Thailand for hundreds of years? Establishing Buddhism as a state religion will do absolutely nothing to address the real problems facing Buddhism in Thailand- the situation of women and the bhikkhuni lineage, the role of the sangha in the face of a more literate and educated laity, corruption and abuse within the sangha, etc.
From the article:
…we don’t as much need monks who tell us what the Buddha says. We need monks who live the Buddha’s way.