It may come as something of a relief to beleaguered Christians and Muslims that they’re not the only ones whose religions get tarred by association with crazies who happen to share that same religion. Now I’m just your run of the mill heathen who doesn’t know or care much about otherworldly things but I’m 87% certain this isn’t supposed to be going on: Buddhist Monk Stashes Millions Of Meth Pills In Monastery . A monk who has not been named was caught in a major drug sting in Myanmar.
I don’t know why this story caught my eye or why I’m getting such a giggle out of it because it really is a pretty serious situation. This guy had 4.6 million meth pills stashed on him and around the monastery. That’s over $4 million dollars worth of drugs he was going to deal to someone, probably kids. He was on his way to Bangladesh when he was caught. Given the size of the operation, I doubt it was his first time. On top of it he also had weapons, ammo and a grenade so clearly he had at least considered violence being an option in this whole sordid mess. Still, it seems so counter-intuitive to everything we see and hear about Buddhism that it’s almost comical to me in a way I know it wouldn’t be if this were a priest, an imam or a rabbi. (Yeah, yeah I know that sounds like the start of a bad joke.)
It got me wondering if this was an isolated case or if there had been other Buddhist monks behaving badly. Don’t ask why I need to know. None of us will be better off for it. Anywho, a little Google digging did actually turn up a few similar cases. Let me just say that while I have the greatest respect for Buddhism and monks in general, it seems a few of these lads are up to some pretty un-Buddha like shenanigans.
In 2015 a Bulgarian man named Alexandre Dimov spent three years meditating and fasting in his quest to join a Buddhist monastery. The hitch: he was in a US jail having been found guilty of dealing spice and bath salts. Spice is particularly bad because it is a very dangerous form of synthetic cannabis disguised to look like natural cannabis, which is far less potent. Apparently Dimov missed the part where Buddha taught right thought and right action. On the bright side, there’s lots of time for contemplation in jail.
On a slightly less serious note, since at least 2013 Thailand’s main Buddhism organization has had an ongoing issue with Buddhist monks turning up looking like full time swaganistas. Private jets, aviator glasses and Gucci bags aren’t really what springs to mind when one envisions the primary purveyors of detachment.
In 2015 the problems with unscrupulous behavior by some monks in Thailand became so severe that stories of drunk monks crashing cars while out with their girlfriends, sporting Louis Vuitton swag and embezzling temple funds made it into the newspapers. I know it seems tame by Western standards where everything makes it into the papers, but this was pretty shocking in Thailand.
If there’s a moral to this story I guess it’s “Hey I suck but at least I’m not dealing meth out of a Buddhist temple”. I mean, think about it. If the most enlightened people in the world can’t stop getting blasted and driving their cars into walls does that mean we should give ourselves a break when we mess up too? Maybe it isn’t that bad. Or maybe the moral is that, while most of the people in any religion take religious vows for the right reasons, there are always going to be those few bad apples. You shouldn’t judge an entire group of people by the actions of a few. Or maybe the moral of the story is that suddenly I feel like hanging out with some Buddhist monks.