In contrast with the commercialization of many Buddhist temples in Thailand, those attracting monks born in the Western world tend on average to retain traditional forms of Buddhist monastic life, reports journalist Max Constant in Asie Info (June 24).
He contrasts the strict discipline respected by residents of the International Forest Monastery (Wat Pah Nanachat) in the Ubon Ratchathami province of north-east Thailand, which has affiliated temples in several countries of the world, with the commercialism of a number of noisy Thai temples, where a variety of products and cures are advertised. According to Constant, this goes along with a decline in the prestige of monks in Thai society: between 2000 and 2010, the number of Thai men becoming monks has gone down by 70 percent.
Nearly all the respected, famous monks were born before World War II. Consumerism is said to have a strong impact on Buddhist practice and morality in Thailand.
(Asie Info, http://asie-info.fr; International Forest Monastery, http://www.watpahnanachat.org)