The Floating Monastery and the Work to Stop Disrespectful Acts Towards the Buddha
The work of Knowing Buddha Organization to stop disrespectful acts towards the Buddha is not well understood among Thai people because they live in the land where only few heartbreaking cases emerged.
In foreign countries, a lot of people used the Buddha’s symbol in improper ways which result to great sadness to us. The Buddha image has been printed on shoes, underwear and even toilet seat cover. This is because of lacking of awareness and heedfulness. Therefore, the disrespectful acts towards the Buddha has been spreading out around the world and no one dares to earnestly rectify it.
Knowing Buddha Organization’s work is so tough since it is to correct the morality of people. In addition, the organization has to confront wrong doers who act with intention and heedlessness and is threatened to be sued by some influential companies. We have also been insulted by some Buddhists who do not profoundly understand the Buddha’s teaching. They criticized us on the issue of detachment. But they actually cannot distinguish between letting go of emotional attachment which is impurity and the negligence to rectify wrong doing.
Knowing Buddha approaches the 7th year in this year. At the beginning of last year, I was hit by false news. There was defamation, distorting the truth in all kinds of means. The scandal indicated that we asked donation to make billboards. That news came from some people who were actually aware of the truth as they used to work with us. They realized how the Buddha has been treated in disrespectful manner as well as the purpose of KBO’s fundraising. The mega billboards are the clear witness that can describe better than any other evidences. The cost of 9 mega billboards in Bangkok, Phuket and Chiangmai to awaken morality of mankind and stop disrespecting the Buddha throughout the year 2018 was 13,450,819 baht. However, this doesn’t include the cost for exhibitions and Dhamma banner stands in the temples, airports and etc.
At that time, when I talked to the reporters in the press conference, showing them the pictures of worldwide disrespectful acts towards the Buddha. They had learned the truth. Whatever information they tried to dig out, two aspects of truth and shame were revealed. One aspect unveiled that the Buddha is the great prophet who has been receiving the most detraction in the world. The other one showed that those who stand out to protect and rectify these disparaging acts had been utterly defamed and insulted.
I decided to hold the press conference because I din't want people to misunderstand and because I worried that they would commit a sin. For those who were so blind, I had to let them go according to their karmic act. But for the innocent people who were misled by a few sentences of news without consideration, they would be the victim of bad karma.
The mega billboards of Knowing Buddha Organization are comparable to floating monastery because when people see them, they will immediately realize and become aware that Buddha is not for Decoration. Respect is common sense.
From these two sentences, people can know the principles of conduct that should be done and the consciousness or good common sense in their heart will be stimulated. Anything or anywhere that can give Dhamma knowledge is comparable to the temple, even without the gable apex. As the world poured into our country for traveling, in these 7 years, how many hundred million eyes have seen this message? They would have more or less received understanding and have good common sense. These billboards are the stream of great merits for those who involve in protecting Buddhism. Phra Khun Chao Torsak of Wat Arun Ratchawararam said from an angle that I didn't think of, that when foreigners enter the country from Suvarnabhumi airport, they will first see the mega billboards of Knowing Buddha Organization, which are so dominant make them know this is the land of Buddhism.
Although Thai people don’t see our determination but foreigners value our work. We are therefore in the eyes of foreign media; CNN, New York Times and Aljazeera had interviewed us about our work. Lately, the Chinese TV media, CGTN or China Global Television Network, has asked for an interview with Knowing Buddha Organization on the issue of Buddhist beliefs and tattooing. I have assigned my student, Khun Pattana who has always been volunteering actively in protecting work and has expertise in language to represent me for the interview. CGTN from China broadcasts to audiences in over 100 countries .. Who will know that at this moment, the eyes from the world are focusing on Knowing Buddha, and are interested to know who we are? Here’s part of the interview that I would like to share with you.
“Although this is not the first time that the team gives interview to foreign media .. but we have prepared the information to the fullest ..
In the morning of January 24, the CGTV team arrived at the School of Life at Thai House, Soi Sukhumvit 67. Before the host started to ask the question, I took the opportunity to ask how do they know Knowing Buddha Organization and why are they interested in our opinions? The host who grew up in Australia answered clearly that ..
“The billboards at the airport entrance are so prominent that no one will miss. Not only one but three billboards. Why would we not be interested in you?”
As I heard, I was so deeply moved that I had to hold back the tears inside.. What my Master and all the volunteers have been striving for, the result is right in front of us today. The billboards are important messages relayed to tourists and the communities. These signs are bridges linking the whole world to us.
The interview continued with all of the conversation in English. There was a question, “As your neighboring countries are driving out a tourist with a tattoo of Buddha, do you think it is too ferocious?”
“Too ferocious or not, is not important as considering what is appropriate and respectful. When someone enters any country, it’s like entering the home of others. Each home has different practices and rules. Those who ask to enter should at least be open minded, study how to behave with good manners, not just only think about their own interests and desires. If the actions of a person are affecting mental state and causing negative effects on social as the whole, then it is strongly advised to have rules to control and correct those actions and should not be a precedent in any way”...
As for tattooing the Buddha image on the body, some people want to show love and venerate him but do not know how. Some people want to be as closest to him as possible, that may lead to the decision to tattoo the Buddha image on the body. That is because of ignorance and the lack of understanding of proper respect. (Tattooing the images of Buddha on the body is not appropriate because the human body is dirty, as human still have sexual activities.)
As the organization, Knowing Buddha has always been trying to provide knowledge and understanding of this matter because these misunderstandings brought about the result of a heart-stabbing to Buddhists. That is to apply the Buddha image and symbol to be used as appliances and everything else, but not what they should really be that is to bring our heart to be a remembrance of his goodness and his sacrifice and this is the truth that is happening all over the world..”
Then, I opened the album of the disrespectful cases for the interview team to see.
The face of the Buddha was tattooed on top of the feet, the image of the Buddha becomes a pattern for woman underwear, and even toilet seat cover.
The host’s jaw dropped and the cameraman’s hand plummeted from the camera lens. After their consciousness returned, she requested permission to take the pictures from the album as the references.
“This is the truth that is happening around the world. Buddha images have been used for all kind of merchandises. We have been in great tolerance and in silent for so long, but not anymore. It is time to stop these disrespectful actions and speak out, speak with compassion to provide correct knowledge about who Buddha is, to tell about his contribution to mankind and the very reason why he deserves the respect.”
At the end of the interview, the interview team left with peace and blissful mind and is ready to tell the world the truth in a different perspective. The host thanked us and told me,
“I will present this truth to cover all the aspects and I hope you will achieve your aspirations.. Thank you, Knowing Buddha.”
All these events happened because of something that Master has laid out from the beginning. The large opening that connects the whole world through billboard which whom will know the real value, and have clear vision in every angle like Master.
“The Floating Monastery” that poses as the door in people’s hearts, today is the proof of the important and power of these leading signs.. The signs to allow the chance for the world population to feel the good deeds. The signs that direct to happiness and freedom.
Not everybody could do that, but everybody is not us. "
Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara, the late Supreme Buddhist Patriarch (Sangharaja) of Thailand once said, “Protecting Buddhism is the highest merit. Our work has expanded so much both in and outside of the country."
The work to stop disrespectful acts in the country is clearly achieved, especially at Chatuchak Weekend Market. The pitiful sights such as putting Buddha heads for sales on the floor, or even the modification to be used as flower pots, are no longer seen anymore.
We will try to sustain the “Floating Monastery” as long as possible even though the Organization is in the budget deficit because the work load increases, but the donation is in a small circle. Moreover, people still do not see the exalted value in this protection campaign but only familiar with donation to build the holy places in the old traditional way.
Whether someone understands what we are doing or not we will let it go as the ordinary world would be since an ordinary mind chooses to do ordinary things but an extraordinary mind always chooses to do extraordinary things.
Master Archaravadee Wongsakon
26 January 2019