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What is at the heart of all this nastiness?

by VISAKHA KAWASAKI, Flint, Michigan (from the Bangkok Post, March 7, 2005)

One wonders why Mettananda Bhikkhu ("Monastic feud could lead to a schism", Bangkok Post, March 5) is throwing fuel on the coals of a raging debate and bantering about words like "schism".

To create a schism in the order of monks is one of the most serious of possible offensives according to Theravada Vinaya. Phra Mettananda might be well-advised to choose his words more carefully.

As I understand it, it is a time-honoured Thai tradition to alternate the position of sangha raja (supreme patriarch) between Maha Nikaya and Dhammayuta orders. Why have there been no complaints from the Dhammayuta sect about the Ecclesiastical Bill for the past 40 years? Only now that a Maha Nikaya monk is expected to assume the office do we read about this "huge setback for the progress of Buddhism" and its fossilising of "the archaic Thai feudal system" from Mettananda Bhikkhu.

If the process is to be made more democratic, how might we expect the majority of monks in Thailand to vote?

It seems difficult to dispute that it was the Venerable Maha Bua who has initiated the conflict within the Thai sangha. As Mettananda Bhikkhu put it, the Ven Maha Bua "converted his fund-raising network into a public rally to demote his arch-rival Somdej Kiaw and Visanu Krue-ngarm, the deputy prime minister who supports the Somdej to act in place of the Supreme Patriarch who is critically ill".

Isn't he being partisan, though, when he writes that the Ven Maha Bua "is right in his claim to having started his campaign, as he sees no one capable of doing this other than himself".

Perhaps Mettananda Bhikkhu can clarify something that has long puzzled me, viz how is it the work of a Buddhist monk to launch "a massive fund-raising drive to pay off the loan from the International Monetary Fund"? Furthermore, how does one revered monk dare to cast aspersions on another, saying he "is also not qualified to wear the yellow robe"?

Since all the nastiness and aggression seem to be coming from the Ven Maha Bua's side, I wonder why Mettananda Bhikkhu writes that "they" don't know forgiveness. What would it take to satisfy the Ven Maha Bua? What else but to be sangha raja himself?

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