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Buddhist Monk slaps English Teacher in Thailand

Monk slaps TeacherA Buddhist monk has slapped an English teacher across the face on a train in Thailand leading to questions about the spirituality of some monks.

The event was recorded on video and was posted online.

The facts are these. Jeff [last name not given] was traveling on a train between Bangkok and Phitsanulok in Thailand a few days ago when he was approached by two women who asked him to give up his seat for them and go and sit next to a sleeping Buddhist monk nearby. Monks are not allowed to touch women and so it would have been in appropriate for the women to sit so close to him.

Jeff agreed and sat by the sleeping monk. When he awoke, Jeff tried to explain to the monk in English who replied, in Thai, that he did not understand. Jeff reportedly said, “Fine, fine,” which the Monk appears to have heard as “Fai, fai,” which means buffalo in colloquial Thai.

At that point the monk stood up and slapped Jeff; an event which was caught on camera and later posted online.

A railway official came over and the monk wandered off leaving Jeff stunned and somewhat shaken.

In a videoed interview, Jeff later forgave the monk saying he still loved Thailand.

However, in Thailand a number of commentators have raised the issue of the lack of spirituality amongst some of the many Buddhist monks who live amongst the general public. It is sometimes seen as a necessary chore to be a monk rather than a vocation and all agree, however, that a true Buddhist monk would not have raised his hands to anyone, regardless of what was said to him.

In recent years various scandals have come to light with fake monks living the high life as well as the National Office of Buddhism having to set up a hotline to report bad behavior of monks following scandals of drinking, drug taking and sexual abuse of young boys.

This latest incident seems to be just another such example of bad behavior but the fact that it was aimed towards an innocent foreigner has made it newsworthy outside the country and led to calls for the religious authorities to clean up the situation.

Editor’s Comment

Although misunderstandings like this do happen from time to time, they rarely, if ever, lead to this kind of violence. In fact, Thailand as a far safer country than the United States of the UK to live and work in.

  • you are 18 times more likely to be the victim of violent crime in the US than Thailand
  • you are 20 times more likely to be the victim of assault in the US than Thailand

* stats from NationMaster

It sounds like this was simply a case of an unfortunate misunderstanding allied with a rogue monk.

Useful Links

Teaching English in Thailand – general info about living and working in Thailand

Monk Slaps English Teacher – from the Bangkok Post

Monks’ Bad Behaviour Hotline Launched – article in the Guardian newspaper

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