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Laughing Monk ‘ told to keep teaching

Former activist monk Buddha Isara on Monday offered advice for Phra Maha Sompong Talaputto, after the giggling monk told followers of his live Facebook show he was under pressure to leave the monkhood because of his unconventional teaching of dhamma.

“Laugh. Don’t cry. Keep fighting,” the former abbot of Wat Or Noi in Nakhon Pathom, now a layman named Suwit Thongprasert, posted on his Facebook page.

He advised the monk to apply his knowledge gained from the study of Bhuddism to solve his problem, instead of some dramatic action to gain public sympathy.

An emotional Phra Maha Sompong, of Wat Soi Thong in Bangkok, said during his live Facebook programme on Sunday that he was under immense pressure to cease his unconventional way of teaching dhamma, and even to leave monkhood.

“I do not want any position. I am just an ordinary monk working to bring happiness to people,” he said, struggling to hold back tears during a lengthy statement.

“I never stand in the way of anybody.

“If it comes time for me to go, then I will,” he said.

Phra Maha Sompong partnered with Phra Maha Praiwan Worawano of the same temple in a live-streaming talk show that sprinkled the conventional serious tone of dhamma instruction with comical exchanges, and a lot of giggling, that drew a large following.

It also angered ultra-conservatives who accused them of damaging Bhuddism with their light-hearted banter, which they viewed as highly inappropriate. 

As the controvery swirled around them, the two monks were sommonsed to appear before the House committee on religion, art and culture on Sept 9. They agreed to tone down their show, with less giggling and more strainght talk.

The National Office of Buddhism last month said it was satisfied with their promise.

NOB deputy director Sippaboworn Kaewngam was reported as saying by media outlets on Monday that his office was not aware of any pressure on Phra Maha Somgpong.

Neither the NOB nor other monks had no authority to expel him from the monkhood, the official added.

Co-host Phra Maha Priwan said during the same show on Sunday that Phra Maha Sompong should not give up. He believed their playful style was successful in teaching the precepts of dhamma and drawing people to Buddhism.

“If it is not entertaining, nobody will listen to dhamma. And you cannot talk them into having an interest in the religion,” he said.

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