Buddhism as a peaceful religion that is atheist resulted in its growing popularity in the secular western society. Naturally, scammers recognise a golden opportunity to scam unsuspecting people with plenty of goodwill.
Here’s some video exposing fake buddhist monk in public.
While some people condemned the scams, others felt sorry and sympathize with the scammers.
One thing is for sure, Buddha does not encourage scamming.
In case you are wondering what is the big deal about scammers asking for a couple of dollars. Here’s a link to a newspaper article in Singapore. They can get S$2,000 a day!
Scammers are not new and they already existed during the Buddha’s time. Mutiple rules were established by Buddha so that real monks can lead an exemplary life that is praise worthy by all.
Likewise, we should not encourage scams. To counter such scams, education is important.
Knowledge is foremost.
- Do not be deceived by a shaven head and a Buddhist robe. They are mere symbols.
Real monks and nuns do not beg for money.
- The monastic rule forbids monks and nuns from begging money in public or from general public. This includes soliciting funds for temple construction or repair or printing books etc. Most scammers will pretend to be monks or nuns from an overseas Temple and they are raising funds for repair or construction. Do not give or believe. Temples and monastery may raise funds, but they do not send the monks out into the street to beg for money.
Real monks and nuns do not engage in commerce
- Generally, monks and nuns do not sell things to you. The scammers usually carry a bag of lucky charms, prayer beads, talisman or whatever. They ask for “donation” in specific sum and in return they give you a “lucky” item. Unless you really like the over priced stuff that the scammers are trying selling, do not believe you are doing a good deed by purchasing out of obligation.
Real monks and nuns may beg for food only
- If you see a monk or nun carrying a bowl and standing quietly in public, you may only put food into that bowl (not money) These monks and nuns are practising alms collection. If you put money into their alms bowl, you are actually being a nuisance. If they are scammers, then naturally, they would prefer money instead of a burger or fries.
Real monks and nuns are entitled to free food and accomodation in any Buddhist monastery.
- The scammer will tell you a pitiful story that they are foreigners lost in your country. Or when you visit China, they claim to be from another province and had lost touch with their disciples with no place to stay. They are begging money for food and accommodation. Don’t believe them. The Buddha had already laid down Buddhistthe rules explicitly for travelling monks and nuns. The trees are their home (ok it may sound a bit harsh.) But that was how the Buddha and his disciples lived. Some monks in Thailand still follow this lifestyle by sleeping in cave and under a tree. In reality, monks and nuns may seek accommodation in any Buddhist temple. If all the rooms in the monastery had been taken, they can share room, and if there is no more space, they sleep by the threshold. (at least they don’t freeze to death) In China, it’s call Gua Dan (挂单)
The monastic rules for monks are 227 in total and 311 for nuns. Imagine living a life full of rules. It is not something that is suitable for everyone.(definitely not for scammers)
Hope the above is useful.
The scams will die out if everyone is educated.