More to commercialization of Buddhism in Singapore
The Buddhist Channel, Singapore, March 17, 2014
We are also regular readers ot Buddhist Channel, and we read with full agreement about "Commercialization of Buddhism in Singapore" written by one of your reader.
Reading the response from KONG MENG SAN MONASTERY, I quote the paragraph as follows :
"All prayers at all halls, except the Inner Shrine (which are NOT FREE) of The Grand Puja that Blesses All Beings conducted annually by the monastery are also open to public to participate freely."
Based on their reply, it is admitted that these Dharma based activities are not free.
Few years ago, many of my friends and myself were turned away at the temple when we attempted to attend this Puja. We were told that we needed to pay to enter the shrines. Paid members get special passes, by class categories before admission.
Why the exhorbitant charges to enter the Inner Shrine if one wants to earnestly join the Puja? What is this rationale?
Did Amitahba and Other Buddhas of the past, Boddhisattvas, charge a fee to listen to the Dharma or attend morning Puja's ?
If someone do not have money, can she join in the Puja? Or will she be turned away? Clearly the temple do not know much about a Jataka story where a devotee cut her hair so that she could buy oil to light a lamp. It was her oil lamp that burnt the brightest.
Practice from the heart that costs nothing. Taking advantage of wealthy Singaporeans, I suppose, is the only rationale for such charges.
And why the need to define "Inner Shrine"? I do no know much about Mahayana Buddhism, but can any reader enlightment us, on these charges for Pujas? May be the Abbot have a clear answer for these?
How much are being charged to enter the Inner Shrines? We hear that its from as low as $ 1,000 per person, up to as much as hundreds of thousands. And what about the status of category for Dharma chanting listed by color codes? Are they indicator of how much a person has paid?
So if my family of 8 (wife, 2 kids and my 2 parents ) were to join the such pujas at $1000 per person, I would have to fork out $ 8000 minimum to join such puja. If this is not commercialisation, then may we ask what is?
Did Buddha teaches based on "Class of Category" in offering of Pujas? Buddha taught us give give up everything, be selfless. How ironic.
Also with the increased entry fees to join PUJAs, there are limits to entry pass was reduced by half to such prayer events ?
Can the KONG MEN SANG Monastery show a record history of how fees are charged by number of times over the past years and also restricting devotees allocation to puja?
In addition, the monastery also produces various quality Dharma publications that are distributed freely to members of the public to read and learn more about the Dharma. Many of these, we understand, are often paid via donations of devotees, inviting devotees.
It is also open secret the monks in monastery in ther annual alms day are given the best as offering, for examples robes costing more that $ 120 and give Tee shirts costing like $ 20 or more each, totalling each few hundreds.
Why are such necesscities becoming a branded items an issue in alms giving? Giving the novice monks the bests in brands, branded bands, branded clothing, and branded food stuff?
Are we leading them in the wrong directions or worldly materialisation and greeds?
Didn't Buddha teach us to dress in robes, made from dye of tree barks, and accept non-monetary alms?
Even engaging services of private companies for traffic directions of festivals? Certainly this can do good with volunteers right?
Other Singapore Buddhists organisations garner 2,000 to 100,000 participants open fully to public at Singapore Expo, without a single cent to participate too. Bring your heart and mind is all it takes.
We may laugh at Christians churches scamming and skimming from their church members, but unfortunately so is Buddhism in Singapore.
My wife is a christian, and always I have tried to invite her to Buddhist temples and often we debate over such commercialisation of both Churches and Temples. She said at least the bible indicate 10% of tithes are to be given back to Church.
Monkey see monkey do. No wonder many temples are equating money with faith.
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