Rethinking the Meaning of Being Buddhists in Cambodia

By

Chanroeun Pa

(a letter to a Cambodian Newspaper)

Dear Editor,

I am quite interested in your articles on the scandal of a defrocked monk, Neth Khai who allegedly recorded videos of naked women in public shower of a pagoda in Phnom Penh.

I often see this kind of scandal of the ordinary, high ranking and famous Cambodian Buddhist monks in the newspapers and magazines. However, it seems to me that such case has been increased and there is no appropriate solution to this crisis.

A case of defrocked Neth Kai represents the lack of a proper education and the decline of the value and practice of Buddhism amongst the Buddhist leaders themselves. It is quite obvious that we cannot generalize things as a Khmer proverb, “A spoiled fish will ruin all the other fish in the basket”. However, Neth Kai is an example of how a Buddhist monk challenges himself with materialism, desire and technology. There are many discussions on Buddhist monk, modernization and technology in Cambodia. And many questions are still unexplained.

In fact, technology and modernization are neither good nor bad for the monks. It depends on how these stuff are used for. In stead of using technology such as mobile phone, internet, Email, computer and so forth to flirt woman or commit other unwholesome acts, Buddhist monks should take advantage from technology as means to upgrade own education. They should also use technology to promote the teaching of Dharma to lead and direct the public to the right direction.  The precious seed of Dharma will grow beautifully on the soil of high technology and it should be planted in a more relevant way. Surely, it will be more fruitful to fulfill the spiritual hunger of this broken world.

It is remarkable to note that there is a new trend that more and more Westerners are more interested in Buddhism and taking up it as their religion because they have found its practical values as a way of life and a suitable mean to deal with many life crisis. Sadly, on the contrary more and more Cambodians both inside and outside Cambodia seems don’t really value and embrace Buddhist ethics and principles and get themselves diluted and are taking up other cultures as their new way of life.

Socrates said, ‘Unexamined life is not worth living’. And there is a call for proper education and disciplines, self-realization and self-reformation in day-to-day life. And there is also a need to rethink about the meaning of being Buddhists in Cambodian society. As matter of fact, Buddhism or the Dharma does not corrupt, only individual Buddhist followers do. And no one can destroy Buddhism besides the Buddhists themselves. The lack of a good role model and the corruption of the spiritual leadership will lead to the corruption of the future of the nation.

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