Author Topic: Buddhist monks filmed smoking, drinking, playing poker  (Read 9612 times)


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Buddhist monks filmed smoking, drinking, playing poker
« on: May 13, 2012, 03:00:38 PM »
Age of degeneration. During Buddha's time, when Mara failed to destroy Buddha then, Mara told Buddha that in the future, he will wear Buddha's disciples' clothes (meaning monks and nuns) and destroy Buddhism from within, so this is exactly what is happening now:

By John Thomas Didymus, Digital Journal, May 12, 2012

Seoul, South Korea -- Eight monks of the Korean Buddhist Jogye sect were secretly filmed drinking, smoking and gambling in their hotel suite. The hidden surveillance camera recorded them playing a game of high stakes poker in which $875,000 was won.

According to Reuters, the scandal erupted a few days before Korea's national holiday to celebrate the birth of Buddha, the holiest day of the religious calender.

According to the Daily Mail, six of the monks, leaders of the Korean Jogye Order, have quit.

Korea Bang reports the incident was allegedly filmed April 23. The eight monks spent the night gambling, smoking and drinking at a hotel suite in Yaksu-ri Buka-myeon Jangseong District in South Jeolla Province, close to the Baegyang Temple.

South Korean television showed footage of the monks who were at the luxury lakeside hotel for a colleague's memorial service. According to Herald Sun, the dead colleague was the Zen Master at Baekyang Temple.

The monks gambled all night and continued playing until well after eight in the morning. Korea Bang reports that among the gambling monks were high-profile members of the Jogye Order, including a member of the Jogye committee, a former member of the memorial service committee, and a chief monk of a temple branch.

Seoul District Public Prosecutor's Office said that Seong-ho, a former member of the order, lodged a complaint and accused eight monks of gambling $875,0000 from 8 p.m. on April 23 to 9 a.m. the next day. The monk wrote: "They have violated good customs and social order, and I therefore request them to be punished severely." The monk handed over the videos showing the monks gambling to the authorities. According to Daily Mail, Seongho said he obtained a USB drive containing a video clip taken by a camera hidden in the hotel room, but did not give information about the source of the clip.

The Daily Mail reports that gambling outside of licensed casinos and horse racing tracks is illegal in South Korea and is a social taboo even for those who are not of the religious order. According to Daily Mail, Seongho said: "Basically, Buddhist rules say don't steal. Look at what they did, they abused money from Buddhists for gambling."

Korea Bang reports Monk Jin-je, the highest ranking monk of the Jogye Order, said, "any monk who gambles does not deserve to eat the offering meal or wear Indian ink clothes [the grey clothes that Korean Buddhist monks wear]. Someone who has left home and joined the Buddhist priesthood should not commit an unscrupulous act."

Herald Sun reports that Jin-je made a public apology vowing "self-repentance." He said "Basically, Buddhist rules say don’t steal... they abused money from Buddhists for gambling."

Jin-je also announced an investigation into the installation of the camera, which he said violated the law.

Daily Mail reports the episode has led to speculation of a power split within the order with observers saying the camera was installed by opponents to bring down the monks.

Reuters reports the civic group, Buddhist Solidarity for Reform, said:" A group of monks who gamble, drink and smoke in a hotel room is tainted in the eyes of all people in the nation."

There are about 25 Buddhist orders in South Korea, and the Jogye Order is the largest with about ten million followers, about a fifth of South Korea's population.


South Korean monks secretly filmed gambling


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Re: Buddhist monks filmed smoking, drinking, playing poker
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2012, 05:13:37 PM »
This is quite disturbing although I should not be shocked. It would be naive to think that there are no "fallen ones" within any religious organizations. Jesus ate his last supper with Judas on the same table. Judas, who up to the point of the kiss of betrayal was deemed one the closest to the Messiah.

I guess the practice of Buddhism or any other good religion is not so much about thinking that we can eradicate desire, greed and all those other negative habits but to be acutely aware that we have them and to undertake exercises and trainings that translate into constant vigilance over them. The  moment we take spirituality for granted is when we slip.

Two other points. One, I am actually more disturbed that there are people within the order who are political ambitious enough and scheming enough to plot other monks downfall. Second: I used to wonder somewhat why there are monasteries who make it nigh impossible for people to be ordained as monks. Now I understand better.

Big Uncle

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Re: Buddhist monks filmed smoking, drinking, playing poker
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2012, 06:31:04 PM »
This is sad for Korean Buddhism because people already have very little faith left in Buddhism. On top of that, monastics who should have the right motivation and act in accordance with the Vinaya but instead act like petty vagrants is a disgrace for Buddhism. It is very sad indeed.

The monasteries should ensure that their monastics study and contemplate the Dharma more and discourage people from seeking ordination unless they are serious and sincere with their motivation. I think for most Buddhist, they would say that such things are a sign that the degeneration in the Buddha's teachings are happening.


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Re: Buddhist monks filmed smoking, drinking, playing poker
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2012, 10:40:36 PM »
Such behaviors of the sangha certainly should not be condoned. As my Lama said, religion does not degenerate, it is the people that degenerate religion by not following closely and accurately the teachings propounded by its founder. We follow the vows and commitments selectively according to our own likes and convenience.

When Buddha saw this danger,  he had the Vinaya rules laid out to protect the monastic communities. In monasteries , after the abbot , the disciplinarian is the next person in line of authority. Implementation of the Vinaya rules should be enforced without any lax or favoritism.

The sangha is considered as one of the 3 jewels that lay people look up to for guidance and support. I was told the influence of Buddhism in Korea has reduced alarmingly in recent years. Could such degenerated code of conducts by the Korean monks resulted in this or vice versa ?


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Re: Buddhist monks filmed smoking, drinking, playing poker
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2012, 08:15:15 AM »
The shocking thing about this is not just the fact of these monks, gambling and "stealing" but that there are people filming it and "exposing" it. It shows politics within the order and that is really sad.
Generally, religions as a whole is showing signs of degeneration. I remember, years back there is a big scandal in the US about priests raping boys for years. And it was quite wide spread.
The saddest think about this is that it will cause the public to lose faith in the Korean Jogye Order in particular and Buddhism in general. I understand monks who broke the monks' vows generate very heavy negative karma and yet this seems very ordinary behavior to them. I am sure, if someone can plan to film them, then this most likely are not the first time that the gambling session is organized. Breaking vows, without repairing it is most dangerous.
If these monks, instead of quitting, can repent and go on record to show remorse and promise not to do it again, say sorry for all the negative feelings they caused and go on a retreat,  basically whatever remedial actions prescribe by their Order; then at least some positives can be salvage from the situation and more important for their members, the Order and themselves.


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Re: Buddhist monks filmed smoking, drinking, playing poker
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2012, 04:48:22 PM »
I must admit that this is really sad to hear/read... that ordained individuals actually indulge in samsaric activities. I would very much like to think this is some form of 'crazy wisdom', but I can't see how their actions of drinking, gambling, smoking etc will bring any good out of it... especially when (as far as I know) the Koreans are actually quite conservative people.

However, I'm not surprised to see such things happen during our time. Its true, we're living in the age of degeneration... it has been happening for centuries.
Or perhaps (although it's not nice to say and I don't mean any offence) due to the Korean's collective karma has lead this to happen... that even ordained individuals do not practice in accordance to the Dharma.

At the same time, I can't help thinking that perhaps this is also a fortunate time for all Dharmic practitioners... whenever such things happen in the past, great masters would rise to restore order and peace in the Buddha's teachings, just like how we can see in Atisha's biography. Who knows... events such as this is an indication that a Great Buddhist Master of our generation is about to rise...


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Re: Buddhist monks filmed smoking, drinking, playing poker
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2012, 02:17:40 PM »
This is sad. It is a very bad image for Buddhism and is a sign of degeneration. But the shocking thing is not these monks gambling but there are people out there who filmed and exposed to the public what the monks have been doing. It must have been going on for a while for people to track  their illegal activities.

Monks and nuns should not be ordained easily. The monasteries should check out the individuals to make sure they understand their monastics studies and vows, have the right motivation and are qualified before granting ordination. As for these monks who have broken their vows, they have created very negative karma for themselves.


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Re: Buddhist monks filmed smoking, drinking, playing poker
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2012, 09:04:54 PM »
I wonder what these monks were thinking when they indulged in drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes & playing poker?  Do they not have any sense of guilt or regret that they have broken their monks’ vows?  Are they not afraid of the negative karma that they have created?

So much media reporting about this news in Korea!  If it is proven that the monks in the video are real monks and they had actually committed the sins, then it is really unfortunate for Buddhism in Korea and the World.  These monks had caused disrepute to not only themselves but Buddhism.


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Re: Buddhist monks filmed smoking, drinking, playing poker
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2012, 04:32:14 AM »
This is indeed shocking and sad to know as it shows the level of degeneration. I do not see it as bad when the person who reported the incident to the authorities. I see it as a blessing as this person STOPPED the monks from committing more negative actions when clearly those monks have vows to uphold. I pray that the said monks repent and purify their negative actions with more virtuous deeds from now on.

Lord Tsongkhapa restored degeneration in His time when the monasteries were also degenerating.

"It is traditionally said that he did four great deeds during his life: the renovation of the Maitreya statue at Dzingji monastery and the great prayer festival that accompanied its completion (1400); his extensive work on the vinaya (code of monastic discipline) which is said to have revitalized the tradition of monasticism in Tibet; the establishment of the annual Great Prayer festival—monlam—(still going on today in Tibetan monasteries); and the founding of Ganden monastery."

Jessie Fong

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Re: Buddhist monks filmed smoking, drinking, playing poker
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2012, 04:44:23 AM »
This is shocking to know that sangha are involved. It not only brings a bad image to Buddhism in Korea, it is shameful for all religious people to know that these monks were smoking, gambling and drinking!

For someone to have secretly filmed it also suggests that this was definitely not the first time that they indulged in this.  Were they not thinking of their vows or did they not take their vows sacredly, just joining the 'monk order' without a thought of the vows and the consequence of breaking them?


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Re: Buddhist monks filmed smoking, drinking, playing poker
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2012, 04:21:52 PM »
It quite shock to see this VDO of the monk who suppose to avoid from these non-virtue actions, enjoy in doing them.

Like what buddha had mentioned that people will be degenerated more and more and eventually will be only talking and discuss about Buddhism but no practice and action.

Coin have two side, so teacher, police, monk etc not in exception either.. All of this will b a good reminder for us to not fall on in the same situation of delusion and ignorant. 


DS Star

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Re: Buddhist monks filmed smoking, drinking, playing poker
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2012, 11:42:22 PM »
This news is most sad and disturbing...

If we look at the meaning of Buddhist monks i.e. Bhikkhu (pali) or Bhikshu (Sanskrit);

"Bhikkhu may be literally translated as "beggar" or more broadly as "one who lives by alms". It is philologically analysed in the P?li commentary of Buddhaghosa as "the person who sees danger (in samsara or cycle of rebirth)". He therefore seeks ordination to release from it[/b]."

It is to say that the community of Sangha or ordained monks/ nuns is the ones who already 'renounced' the normal lives of householders and they saw beyond the enjoyment of indulging in the samsaric pleasures. They are living their lives in accordance with a set of rules i.e. the Pratikmosha. If we were to see that these so-called monks to be senior in their positions, this is to mean they are already fully ordained monks who supposedly holding 253 vows...

"Monks and nuns are considered to be responsible for preserving and teaching Buddhist teachings and guiding Buddhist lay followers."

They are supposedly the 'vessel' who hold the pure Dharma of Buddha and the 'leaders' to help lay followers to live virtuous lives that are free of attachments, aversions, etc. They are of Mahayana tradition, so supposedly practicing Bodhisattva path of putting others' welfare above themselves... so the inner struggles and politics among the community is also uncalled for...

No wonder we are in the 'degeneration age', even the 'holy' community is treating their supposedly virtuous spiritual livings as merely careers... sad  :(  :'(

The Dhammapada states:
  He is not thereby a Bhikkhu
 merely because he seeks alms from others;
 by following the whole code (of morality)
 one certainly becomes a Bhikkhu and not (merely) by seeking alms.
 Herein he who has transcended both good and evil,
 whose conduct is sublime,
 who lives with understanding in this world,
 he, indeed, is called a Bhikkhu