Buddhist monks in Thailand are under heavy criticism for allegedly living a lavish life that their religion prohibits. The complaint stems from a recent YouTube video that shows monks flying in a private jet.
The country’s National Office of Buddhism says they will be monitoring the monks to make sure they live the simple life they committed to, the Bangkok Post reports.
"I've instructed officials to keep a close eye on the monks and if they're found to violate Buddhist teachings they'll be punished accordingly," Nopparat Benjawatananun, director-general of the National Office of Buddhism, told the Bangkok Post.
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A video uploaded to YouTube on May 22, shows at least two Buddhist monks on a private plane. Dressed in traditional attire and wearing aviator sunglasses, the camera pans the airplane’s cabin on the tarmac. One of the men appears to be listening to music with white headphones. Another is seated next to what appears to be a Louis Vuitton bag.
The monks were “inappropriately, not composed and not adhering to Buddha's teachings of simplicity and self-restraint," Benjawatananun said.
This isn't the first incident of monks behaving badly. Last year, about 300 out of 61,416 Buddhist monks and novices in Thailand were punished for consuming alcohol, having sex with women and extortion, AP reports. The Office has also received complaints about monks driving cars, scams and using black magic.
"When Lord Buddha was alive, there wasn't anything like this. There were no cars, smart phones or cameras, so the rules were much simpler," Benjawatananun said. "While the monks need to keep themselves abreast of new knowledge, current events and technology, they are restrained to choose the appropriate tools."
Thailand houses the world’s largest Buddhist population. In order to keep Buddha's 2,600-year-old doctrine alive, their governing body has implemented bans including one of the sale of alcohol on religious holidays, AP reports.
The monks in the video live in Khantitham Temple in Sisaket province, AP reports. Monruedee Bantoengsuk, an administrative officer at the temple refused to give details about the trip. She said the temple’s abbot, who is currently on a religious tour in France, appeared in the video.
"We can explain this, but not now," she said about the video.