An Appeal to Drop the Appeal
by Jianxie, Singapore, The Buddhist Channel, Nov 25, 2009
The once most famous Buddhist monk in a small country is now its most infamous. Then again, he doesn’t seem very fit to be called a monk now.
Here is a summary of his misdeeds, as gathered from press articles, in no particular order, with commentary. For the background story, please see http://buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=57,8720,0,0,1,0
Told press wrongly during period of opinion-gathering on stem-cell research that according to Buddhism, life is conceived only seven days after sperm and egg meet. This misinformation that was not retracted can lead to Buddhists thinking it is okay to have abortions within seven days. Consciousness, sperm and egg meet at the same time to conceive life in the womb – according to all Buddhist traditions.
- Told press wrongly during SARS period that Buddhist funerals can be conducted up to 100 days after a person dies. The most crucial period is the first 7 to 49 days, for guiding the consciousness to a good rebirth, after which the consciousness is usually reborn. This misinformation that was not retracted can lead to Buddhists having less fortunate rebirths.
- Keeps going on bails spending much money (e.g. $450,000 for latest bail), that should be donated for the charity he ran, that is short of funds now due to his misdeeds.
- Has a degree from a degree mill, which his high pay was probably based on.
- Continually lied to cover up his misdeeds.
- Faked documents to obstruct justice.
- Wasted much taxpayer money and time.
- Created loss of trust of local charities.
- Stayed in at least one lavish hotel and visited lavish restaurants. This is unseeming for a monk who is supposed to live frugally.
- Increased his own pay to pay someone who could not work for him legally.
- ‘Funded’ him with an unlawful $50,000 so-called ‘loan’ from the reserves of the charity he ran, that was made to not look like a loan. Being rich personally, he needn’t have use the reserves.
- ‘Funded’ this credit-card over-swiping spendthrift with no deadline for repayment, who could not pay back swiftly.
- ‘Funded’ him to buy branded bag goods (most likely including leather) and wine – both items are not encouraged for consumption in Buddhism.
- Had multiple credit cards, some of which were ’supplemented’ to this person.
- Owns country club membership, condominium, multiple property and cars. This is unseeming for a monk who is supposed to live frugally. All his excesses should go to charity.
- Bought a horse as a pet to ride. It is against the Bodhisattva precepts to enslave and exploit animals. He later sold it off. It is against the Bodhisattva precepts to trade in animals.
- Used petitions gathered in support of him when some signing supporters were then not clear of his misdeeds yet.
- Used fear tactics to raise funds when all his stunts were not truly dangerous, as they had full safety measures in place.
- If it is impossible for anyone to hold a single cube of ice in one’s closed palm, how is it possible to be immersed in 1000 kg of ice?
- Should not had brought other Buddhist organisations he was involved in into the picture to avoid jail. This tarnishes these organisations’ reputations.
- Said he slept well the night before the verdict was out. Does this mean he was unrepentant till then? He expressed apology only on the day of the verdict, via his lawyer – to appeal for no jail.
- His close relationship with the person he ‘loaned’ the money to has made many suspicious of an unusual relationship – which is unseeming for a monk.
So what if this monk had done much good in the past for charity? Of course, any good done is still good. But the damage he has caused by doing the above has made is arguably as great, if not greater than his good done in the eyes of the public.
The damage done to the name of Buddhism is horrendous too. If he is truly repentant, he should not appeal against his jail sentence. He should graciously disrobe to serve his jail term, so as to do justice to the right image of how Buddhist monks should be, and consider becoming a monk again only after exiting.
The very late apology issued suggests that he kept thinking he could get away lightly. A monk is supposed to be someone with very unusually high moral integrity, and he seems to be a monk with very unusual integrity indeed. It is much easier for the world to forgive him if he stops appealing against his charges. As a concerned Buddhist to another , this is an appeal to him to drop his appeal.
It was not pleasant writing this, but this will be sent to him for his reflection, while letting him know this article is out in the public domain.