11 July 2024

Two well-known monks reported to the parliamentary committee on religious, art and cultural affairs today (Thursday), to defend themselves over their controversial Facebook livestream talk show last weekend, which was described by critics as improper, indiscreet and unbecoming of Buddhist monks.

The live Buddhism preaching session, by Phra Maha Sompong Talaputto and Phra Maha Praiwan Worawano, which attracted a huge audience, was peppered with teenage slang, giggles and laughter as they poked fun at current and political affairs.

Before meeting with members of the House committee, led by Mr. Suchart Usaha, Phra Maha Sompong told the media that he was not stressed out, slept well last night and did not have to prepare specially to be grilled by the committee.

He likened his first live session to the experience of a teacher coming face-to-face with students in a classroom for the first time, when he has to say “hello” to get their attention before proceeding to teach, adding, however, that when a teacher’s first encounter with the students draws a reprimand from the school director, the teacher has to make changes.

The monk asked members of the public not to be too attached to the past, but to look into the future, as he cited some critics who reused some of their old talk show clips when the audience numbered just a few hundred.

“The eyes, by nature, are located below the brain. Do not judge from what you see and forget to use your brain,” said Phra Maha Sompong as he complained about their critics whom, he said, are attacking both of them at the first viewing of their livestreamed presentation, without watching the whole session.

Phra Maha Praiwan, meanwhile, told the media that that both of them had talked with several other people about their livestream talk show and they feel that it is not a serious issue and the laughter should not be blown out of proportion into a national problem.

He admitted, however, that some senior people in this country might be concerned with the possible repercussions of their talk and would like them to explain themselves, for instance, to the House committee.

Asked whether he would livestream again, he said he had already recorded a new session, with some adjustments to the format, to be released soon on social media.

“Trust me, I have had more than 20 years of experience in teaching Dharma. I know what the audience likes to hear. We have our own pace,” said the preacher.