We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Decline: It's Not Only Western Christianity

The following PBS news video reports on the decline of  Buddhism as an organized religion in Thailand.  Having lived for 25 years in Thailand myself, I can attest to the wide concern in Buddhist circles concerning such things as the decline in attendance of ceremonies and religious events at local temples.  Religious reformers in Thailand itself also frequently allude to the fact that the deeper aspects of Buddhism and its teachings have always rested lightly on Thailand—always been strongly tinged with cultural elements that have nothing to do with meditation and the practice of Buddhist ethics.

In spite of the doubts of the U.S. based scholar voiced in the video, Thailand is very much becoming a more secular society.  Organized religion is playing less of a role in peoples' lives.  It is not that people are somehow becoming more anti-religious, a phenomenon we see here in the U.S.  They simply are not all that interested in religion, esp. in a nation where one religion so thoroughly dominates the religious landscape as Buddhism does in Thailand.  There was already less religious competition and fewer viable choices.

This clip is worth a watch.  It runs for about 8 minutes.  Enjoy.