People in the west tend to think of Buddhism as a somewhat austere and ascetic religion and its monks as people living a simple life. Those of us who grew up in predominantly Buddhist countries know otherwise. While there are undoubtedly many monks who fit that description, there are also many who enjoy the pleasures of the material life, living and eating well, driving around in luxury cars, and getting involved in politics in a big way, often to advance reactionary agendas.
Now comes this story from Thailand and Sri Lanka that confirms this idea of decadence among Buddhist monks.
Nearly half of the country’s 300,000 holy men are believed to be obese and suffering from chronic diseases, a study has found.
A study involving an unspecified number of the religious men found 48 percent were obese, 42 percent had high cholesterol, 23 percent had high blood pressure and more than 10 percent were diabetic, Jongjit told the newspaper.
In 2012, Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry, responding to the expanding waistlines and associated health problems of the country’s clergy, drew up special menus for Buddhist devotees wanting to donate food.
“Because of their great affinity towards religious observances, most devotees offer food with high cholesterol content and the Buddhist monks have no choice but to partake of these foods all year round,” Sri Lanka’s then health minister and now president, Maithripala Sirisena, said at the time.