The high life: Private-jet flying, aviator-wearing Buddhist monks captured on video


A group of Buddhist monks have become the subject of complaints after videos of them on a private jet, wearing aviators and listening to personal headphones emerged on Youtube.

The video shows the monks listening to headsets, carrying luxury travel bags and wearing sunglasses as the private jet they are occupying prepares to land. Thailand's national Buddhism body said it will now be monitoring monks nationwide, who are expected to live simple lives according to the teachings of Buddha. This includes possessing unnecessary valuable items or living lavish lifestyles.

Nopparat Benjawatananun, the director general of the National Office of Buddhism, said on Monday that the agency had warned the monks from a monastery in Thailand's north-east not to repeat the behaviour witnessed in the video.

This is not the first time in recent months that the actions of Buddhist monks have come into question. Last year, approximately 300 monks and novices in Thailand were reprimanded over their misconduct, which ranged from alcohol consumption to having sex with women and extortion. The agency also received complaints about monks driving cars, as well as scams and false claims of black magic by monks.

Nopparat said the monks in the video were acting "inappropriately, not composed and not adhering to Buddha's teachings of simplicity and self-restraint".

Monruedee Bantoengsuk, an administrative officer at Khantitham temple in Sisaket province, confirmed that the monks on the private plane lived at the temple but refused to give details about the trip.

"We can explain this, but not now," she said, adding that the abbot who appeared in the video is currently on a religious tour in France.

Nopparat said: "When Lord Buddha was alive, there wasn't anything like this. There were no cars, smartphones or cameras, so the rules were much simpler.

"While the monks need to keep themselves abreast of new knowledge, current events and technology, they are restrained to choose the appropriate tools."

He said one way to prevent the monks from misbehaving was for followers not to spoil them with valuable objects or vices. "In many cases, it was the followers who gave the monks the luxury. Some bought them sports cars. This is by no means necessary."

Additional reporting: AP