Stickman Readers' Submissions March 25th, 2009

Temples Charity and Money

This weekend my wife and I went to a temple in Lat Buri. It’s a temple she has been visiting for many years. I have been with her many times and enjoy the trips especially as there are some falang monks whom I can talk with.

However this latest trip turned into a complete disaster because I asked too many questions.

He Clinic Bangkok

It all started on Saturday evening. We drove from our home in Jomtien all the way to Lat Buri via several of my wife’s friends in Bangkok collecting large bundles of envelopes from various locations. I am sure many of you know the routine. Your other halves get given wads of envelopes to distribute in aid of various temples expecting them all to come back with 20 and 100 baht notes in side with the giver's name carefully written on the outside.

Anyway as we arrived late we decided to stop at a resort close to the temple. I promptly went to shower and upon my return found my wife ripping open all the envelopes and counting up the money. This was the start of my down fall.

Very foolishly I asked her what she was doing. The reply obviously, counting the money. I then very stupidly went on and asked what was to happen with all the envelopes with the names on. Oh, we can throw those away. Remembering that my wife ALWAYS insists on writing on every envelope with every single 100 baht we have ever sent to a temple I very stupidly asked why everyone bothers writing on them if the temple never saw them – BOOM. Not important was the reply. If we give all those envelopes to the temple they will give them back and ask me to open them. It’s only the amount from “the group” that matters!

CBD bangkok

By this point I already had steam coming out of my ears, but I wasn’t going to let this go so easily.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against giving to temples in moderation and for a good cause. So in I plunged with my next question. What will all this money be used for? I should explain at this point that we also had my son-in-law with us who had been a monk at this very temple for 3 months last year. So while my wife at this point completely clammed up (knowing better) my son-in-law proceeded to pick up the conversation, much to my delight.

Oh! he says. Well they have lots of bills to pay and they are building a lovely new temple (which I agree is spectacular). I proceeded to push the point about how they helped others; we went through lots of answers. Yes they help other temples that are not so well off, yes they help sick monks. And so it went on. Eventually we got the point I was eluding to. What charity work do they do! This drew a very blank expression from the poor boy. What do you mean he asked? Well for instance, do they support any orphanages or poor people or hospitals. The answer, why would they do that, the government does that!

Now In all fairness I am aware that some temples do wonderful work with orphanages and hospitals but I still found it quite amazing that I was given this answer from someone that had just finished 3 months in orange!

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By now I could see my wife had steam coming out of her ears and was turning purple as I had dared to ask too many questions. Not being put off, I though I would change tack slightly while carrying on the general topic.

This February in Pattaya the local media was promoting the first ever charity bed race on Beach Road. All proceeds to local orphanages etc. You know the score, the sort of thing that happens everywhere in the Western world. Now having a business in Pattaya, I thought great free publicity and for a good cause, so why don’t we join in I dared to ask. Well my wife didn’t make the connection at first. There was just this puzzled look on her face and eventually the questions I was waiting for.

Why would anyone do that, and then the second question, are there some envelopes and from which temple!

Yes, got her!

No, I explained the money goes directly to support a charity.

The answer, well nobody will give money as there are no envelopes from a temple and it sounds like really hard work pushing a bed!

At his point I smiled gently to myself and retired to bed having put another piece of this wonderful country in to place.

Stickman's thoughts:

Good on you for asking the questions that, quite frankly, need to be asked!

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