The entire congregation of Buddhist monks at a monastery in central Thailand have been removed from their positions and sent to a rehab facility after testing positive for methamphetamine.
The four monks had been serving in a monastery in the Bueng Sam Phan district of the country’s Phetchabun province, a hilly region in a north-central inland part of the southeast Asian nation.
According to Agence France-Presse, which first reported the shocking story this week, the four monks — including the temple’s abbot — were outed by officials after failing drug tests on Monday. Wait, why were the monks being drug-tested in the first place? Surely that isn’t common practice, they aren’t a high school football team. Did a visitor notice something strange? Were there previous issues?
Well, it turns out methamphetamines are becoming an issue all over the country. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Thai leaders have observed an influx of meth in the country in recent years. The UN believes the substance is produced in neighboring Myanmar and smuggled across the border.
AFP reports that local police raided the property amid a province-wide crackdown on drug trafficking. There is no report that any drugs were found within the Buddhist temple itself — apart from the traces within the monks themselves, that is. After the monks’ urine tests came back positive, officials took action.
Now, the monks have been defrocked from their positions and sent to a rehab clinic to combat meth addiction. In the meantime, the temple has been left without any holy men. And the surrounding community in Bueng Sam Phan is seeking solace without their local faith guides.
One Thai official identified by AFP as Boonlert Thintapthai spoke about the issue:
“The temple is now empty of monks and nearby villagers are concerned they cannot do any merit-making.”
Merit-making is a Buddhist practice common in Thailand, China, and India, in which practitioners make food, offer supplies, maintain temples, and perform various other good deeds for monks in their communities. The hope is that the karmic value of those generous acts will be transferred to the giver and their families in time. But now, without monks in the district, locals are concerned that their merit-making practice has been upended.
Thankfully, Thintapthai did confirm to AFP that replacement monks have been ordered to travel in from other temples. Soon, he indicated, local villagers can continue to practice their religious obligations as before.
We wonder if the new monks will be automatically drug-tested — and it will become common practice here! Monks on meth. Jeez!!!
What do U make of this shocking story, Perezcious readers? Share your takes on these Thai troubles in the comments (below)…
[Image via WENN/Avalon]
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