Monkmobiles and bulletproof robes

Separatists in southern Thailand—a region that up until Thailand's annexation in 1902 was semi-autonomous, Malay, and largely Muslim—have increased violence against the Thai Buddhist majority in recent years, targeting more and more Buddhist monks and teachers. A recent terror tactic, writes the Observer Research Foundation, is "for two terrorists to travel in a two-wheeler and for the one in the rear to take out a weapon and kill the target. This helps in rapid get-away after the killing without being captured by the bystanders or the police." As a result, new products are being developed to protect Buddhist monks, from bulletproof vests in the traditional saffron hue to motorcycle sidecars—dubbed "monkmobiles"— encased in protective glass and outfitted with a small window for receiving alms.

Many of the products are devised by "Thailand's Q" (a reference to James Bond's gadget guy), Major Songphon Eiamboonyarith, a defense contractor who has also invented bulletproof tuk-tuks (motorcycle taxis), "umbrellas that shoot rubber bullets, bullet-proof baseball caps and a hand-held device to fire a man-sized net 30 feet (10 m) to stop a villain in his tracks."

And for the non-monk: Wired reports on Colombian designer Miguel Caballero's ready-to-wear clothing--trench coats, suits, denim jackets, t-shirts--that can stop a 9mm slug.


DeViant said...

what has the world become when violence hating monks have to wear bullet-proof vests... fuck this shit dude.. extreme anything should just be tied up and burnt at the stake!

Anonymous said...

That's exactly the kind of extreme thinking that needs to be stopped, DeViant.

POVevolving said...

well said mr. anonymous.

DeViant said...

oh oh......... am i being extreme? hahahAHhaha, so anon, tell me, how would you go about solving the problems of extremists?

Anonymous said...

I think all the intolerant people should be rounded up at gunpoint and put in a camp where high walls with razor wire will keep them far away from those of us who are

Anonymous said...

The best defense against extremists is to do the one thing that actually gets to them.

Ignore them.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

fighting extremism with extremism


Anonymous said...

fighting extremism with extremism


Anonymous said...

why does everyone like get sooo down on x-treme sports? x-tremism is like totally rad !!!! these monks are just playing along.

El Bizarro said...

Although I've never been to Thailand, I have spent quite some time in Sri Lanka, where the biggest terrorists of the civil war were... the buddhist monks. The Sri Lankan clergy has so much blood on its hands that it makes you wonder how they can preach non violence while condemning to death thousands of Moslems and Tamils.

My overwhelming impression of Buddhist monks was that they were mendicants, loafers, arrogant and, by and large, as stupid and hypocrtical as the clergies of all the other major religions. In this sense, they are staying true to the original history of the Buddha, who was nothing but an indolent rich kid and probably the worlds first recorded backpacker.

It's worth bearing in mind that of all the countries in the asian region with the most ethnic violence, the worst offenders are Buddhist states, such as Sri Lanka (20+ years of brutal civil war), Burma (enslavement and brutal oppresion of the non-buddhist minority), Thailand (ditto), Nepal (just check out those crazy Buddhist royals) and Tibet (now that's a doozy of a discussion).

I would suggest that those with little knowledge of the true principles of Buddhism, such as its appalingly misogynist attitudes and relaxed attitude to ethnic cleansing do a little bit more research.

After all, one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter...

Anonymous said...

So no one's going to make any Bulletproof Monk references, right?

Anonymous said...

Misogyny and a blasé approach to ethnic cleansing have as much to do with the "true principles of Buddhism" as homophobia, pedophilia, and blindness to the poor have to do with the "true principles of Christianity." Buddhism at its radical core, just like real Christ-ian values, isn't as empty as your know-it-all opinions suggest, el-Bizarro.

Anonymous said...

el bizaro, let's get a few things straight. First, if you are going to say that the countries in Asia with the most blood on their hands are Buddhist, you'd better open your eyes and shut your mouth. Japan (WW2, invasion of China), China (Human rights anyone?), N. Korea (Korean war, starves own people), Singapore (Police state), Indonesia (Second only to china in asia for judicious use of the death penalty). And that's only to name a few. No country is free of violence but to say that BUddhist countries are worse is foolish. CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIM nations are by far more violent and more aggressive to their neighbors now and in the past.

You go on to trash buddhism in general, which is infantile and obnoxious, but you also say a lot of wrong nonsense. Where does buddhism have a relaxed attitude to ethnic cleansing? The buddha's whole philosophy is to never engage in violence of judgement of others, EVER.

Do some idiots choose to ignore the spirit of the religion and philosophical doctrine to justify their violent and wrong actions? YES. But isn't that true of all religions? I mean, this new pope was a member of the Hitler youth. President bush talks directly to god. Bin Laden is on a holy war.

Is all that the fault of the religions? no.

Paul Schmelzer said...

Right on, Anonymouses.

El Bizarro said...

Actually, anonymous, I didn't say they were the asian countries with the most blood on their hands, I said they had some of the worst ethnic violence, which they do. I'm also refering to the present day, you can go back centuries if you like and you'll still turn up loads of Buddhist violence, probably just as much as all the other religions.

I suggest you all read the Buddhist scriptures more closely than you do other peoples posts...

Oh yeah, and what is one of the predominant Japanese religions? Buddhism. And Singapore? And China?

Etc etc

Perhaps, just perhaps, Buddhism is just another shite religion like Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Flying Spaghetti Monsterism.

Perhaps they're all just Santa Claus fairy tales used by hegemonistic powers to control the masses and keep them in their place.

And for the other anonymouse, having grown up a catholic and in light of the most recent admissions by the church, it would seem that homophobia, pedophilia, and blindness to the poor have at least a lot to do with the way that christianity is being practised. Theories don't count buddy, if they did we'd all be communists.

What I really object to is this mypoic assumptions by many people that somehow Buddhism is a "good" religion. It isn't and there aren't any. Punto.

Anonymous said...

That's exactly the kind of extreme thinking that needs to be stopped, DeViant.

Is it wrong to be intolerant towards people who are intolerant? Or should we tolerate people who kill people?

After all, one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter...

So, if I were to threaten you and your family with a slow painful death, you can't call me a terrorist because "one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter". That's how stupid that quote sounds to me.

Anonymous said...

Everyone gets so fearful and confused when they don't have anyone to blame.

El Bizarro said...

Was the Boston Tea Party an act of defiance or a terrorist attack?

I repeat, for the slow amongst us, one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter.

If you were to threaten my family with a slow and painful death, I would consider you a criminal or just a big mouth. But if my family were enslaving other people and stealing their lands on the basis that they were moslems or tamils and not buddhists, than perhaps there might be a few thousand oppressed people who would consider you a freedom fighter.

Oh yeah, perhaps you should buy a dictionary and look up the meaning of terrorist.

Anonymous said...

Everyone should stop thinking they know everything on every issue and start talking about facts, about what is. Stop arguing with opinions, start arguing with facts.

Anonymous said...

most people on here are just completely missing the point of what some others are saying...

can no one sense sarcasm?

as far as the "one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter" thing, its totally true. i mean, does anyoen remember the revolutionary war? sure we had our reasons, but we basically started commiting a series of terrorist actions. people in other countries are tired fo us playing policeman and big brother, and trying to enforce our values and ideals on the whole world all the damn time, and are fighting back the only way you can fight the worlds biggest superpower.

Paul Schmelzer said...

Awhile back I posted a link to a contest to come up with your own Fox News alert. Jesus' General showed a screengrab of musket-toting American revolutionaries with the superscript "The Colonies: Last Throes" (see it here). My lone commenter, missing the point some of you are making here, wrote: "Nothing says relativism like making an equivalence between the Minutemen and the Sadr loyalists/jihadists."

Anonymous said...

El Bizarro, it's a mistake to infer the core values of a religion from temporal atrocities committed by its purported adherents. All organizations have a tendency to veer from their original values towards self preservation and materialist consolidation, and organized religions are no exception. But this reflects a failing of human nature, not of organizations' original values.

If you can show us the passages from the Buddhist canon which have led you to conclude that the atrocities you list arise from the Buddha's teachings per se, rather than from the materialism of misguided practioners, I think that'd be very interesting.

Anonymous said...

el bizarro, its exactly your kind of intolerance in people that makes religions fail. buddhist teachings are all about non-violence, and how to help end suffering, christian teachings are about how to lead virtous lives and devote your life to serving god (in a good way). the problem forms when idiot individuals like you come and generalize, and say that all those in that other religion are wrong and stupid and they all have malicious intent so we should either try to convert them or destroy them. its stupid, and it has nothing to do with the religion in question, but rather the individual in question. while it is true that religion is all too easy to throw up as an "excuse", like other people are saying its not the religion itself thats a fault, its not the teachings that make people do shit like this, its the individuals who obviously dont get the real point of their own religion, but probably know how to twist the principles around to make it seem like they do.


Vayira said...

Er hello.
I'm a buddhist.

I think we have to be carefull talking about so-called "buddhist countries". Buddhism is a tolerant religion & basically there isn't quite such a thing as a buddhist country because it has never wipped out the indigenous religion in the countries where it has arrived.

Tibet :: Bonpo
Japan :: Shinto
China :: Taoism & Confucianism

Actually I don't like the world "Religion" to describe the Dharma (as we call our... well what is it? philosophy? system of psycology? school of humanistic ethics? religion? there isn't a western word that describes the teaching of that man know know as the Buddha).

Anyway, "Buddhism" is the socio-cultural trappings that surround the historical continuance for a profound spiritual teaching that is non-dogmatic & experincially based. That would be my definition. Those monks are part of that defination of buddhism.

Hope that makes sense!

love to all


Paul Schmelzer said...

Thanks, Vayira.

Vayira said...

sorry about the typos. i've just re-read what i wrote. it is a bit late in europe!

Vayira said...

by the way, about the monks in sri lanka...

buddhism basically died out there an was resurectated my an american retired military man (of the top of head called Coronel Olcot?) He was a theosophist & reinvented Sri Lankan Buddhism acording to his own ideas.

I lived there for 3 months.

There is very little of the buddha's teachings to be seen, they can be very beautiful people, but the anti-tamil attitudes are as horrifing as any kind of racism.

There are no paradises on earth. A buddhist monk should be helping to create societies that are better than usual, so it is particulary sad to discover that they are capable of supporting violence.

There are other monks who go alone into the jungle risking being eaten by tigers. no bullet proof vests for them!

acb said...

Apparently the peace-and-love message the Dalai Lama preaches to Westerners with chequebooks has little to do with what he actually teaches to Tibetans; the former is mostly riffing off Californian New Age hot-tub philosophy and John Lennon, whereas the latter is a lot more prescriptive and less "cool" with everything. (I believe he categorically condemns homosexuality, for one; something that just wouldn't wash among Hollywood liberals.)

snipe said...

In my experience, the purview or religion seems to fall in between one of the poles of extreme philosophy. What is often revered the most is proactive non-involvement. What is criticized the most is detached involvement. As a clichéd example: the United States seems to have a worldly involvement in terms to governance of international policies, but is not conscious of what was listed as being “proactive.” Being non-involved would go along the lines of ‘being silent and thought a genius,’ which is a position very akin to many Buddhists. With most of the concerns posted with respect to violence and such from other countries, it should be noted that through any action – there is a hidden agenda of someone. Anyone. That is why I do not believe [yes, personal associated noted] the Buddhists should be regarded as being as innocent as they are, nor do I wish to take away from the worldly criticism the [dominantly] fundamentalist-Christian United States is enduring through their more extremist approaches to economic crises. These slimy schools of thought are only the result of the residual output patterns of human beings once placed in a position of power. The only principle that remains that seems to put itself in a neutral, violent, pacifist yet enlightened state: is Zen.

Gaijin Biker said...

Actually, before I saw it mentioned earlier in this comment thread, I made a Bulletproof Monk reference here.

snipe said...

Why do Buddhist monks wear orange? Because they're jerks.

Anonymous said...

The only principle that remains that seems to put itself in a neutral, violent, pacifist yet enlightened state: is Zen.

snipe, not even Zen is immune, unfortunately--do a web search for Brian Victoria's book Zen at War. Even Buddhists fall prey to greed, hatred and delusion.

It's interesting that Islam isn't coming in for more criticism here. Say what you like about Christianity and Buddhism, but at least violence against non-believers flies against their core principles. Islam is unique in that it specifically enjoins Muslims to violence against infidels (a recent example), and death to people who leave Islam.

Anonymous said...

No metter what..But the Monks is also human being like you!! just differences life style.

snipe said...

Fair enough, but Islam is very much a flawed religion in itself. It has sects and denominations that have, really, given it its fame. This fame has come out of the more commonly labeled 'terrorist from the east' title. Oh, and by the way: there is a world of difference between Buddhists and followers of Zen. With Zen - there simply is. It is everything and nothing. Buddhists are more like Catholics - what with the image and facade of a religion.

Anonymous said...

your rigid definitions and pompous surety is really annoying. are you now some definitive source on Catholicism and Buddhism and Zen (which is often called Zen Buddhism). I know Buddhists who practice Zen, one form; I know Buddhists who are also Christian or Taoist (mostly Chinese friends); I know secular Buddhists who consider the Dharma a practice and not an ideology. For a person with so many rigid-seeming definitions and such judgement, you don't seem like a credible voice on the topic. unless you care to enlighten me. where do you get your authority, through your experience as a Buddhist, through study, or through simply forming (and vociferously expressing) opinions?

nick said...

why is everyone so angry? isn't that the cause of all this to begin with? would those monks have to wear protective vests if there was no one who was angry about something?

why don't we investigate why we ourselves are so revved up about this topic? perhaps it could illuminate the causes of the situation to begin with. we are all the same, after all.

Anonymous said...

Mr Nick, we are not "all the same." The only situation is that there are far too many human frequencies to level with anyone on. The minute we start to yield is the minute that impending threats take action.

Anonymous said...

el bizarro is a true moron.

Freedom fighters do not target innocent civilians, especially women and children. Freedom fighters fight to create a free country by fighting the police/military that supports the dictatorship. How is the killing of Monks helping to create a free state in Thailand?

Secondly, the actions of individuals do not represent a religion anymore than the actions of Hitler or Stalin represent all white people. The existence of the KKK does not mean that all whites are bad. The existence of the Bloods and Crips does not mean all blacks are murderous drug dealers. How can the existence of some bad Monks mean that Buddhism is a bad religion? Idiots like you who generalize are the true morons of the world

El Bizarro said...

And it could be said that people who use ad hominum as the central theme of their posts are the real morons. Or perhaps those who respond to it are worse?

I do object to being called ignorant and a moron, however, especially since I have come to my conclusions about Buddhism by actually living amongst them, reading the canons and seeing first-hand what this doctrine of "peace" and "love" had done to others.

I tired man, I tried real hard to see the good side but I just couldn't. When the canons talk about Women being the waterfall that dashes mens lives against the rocks, when the oh-so-cool-and-groovy Buddha himself said that women could not achieve nirvana because of their "uncleanliness" and the enshrined intolerance towards other religions and beliefs, I couldn't reconcile it with the groovy Beastie Boys/John Lennon propaganda I'd grown up with.

I never suggested that I would consider someone who killed women and children a freedom fighter, that doesn't gel with my philosophies. I also wouldn't consider someone who told women and children to shelter in the schools and temples fullwell knowing that they would be deliberately targeted by the bombing to be any sort of holy man worthy of respect. The latter is, however, what many of the buddhist clergy in Sri Lanka did.

In Ampara a city in eastern Sri Lanka far from the tourist trail and of little signifigance to the thousands of wannabe buddhist backpackers who flip flop all over the western side in search of elightenment that they couldn't possibly find at home, there stands a particularly poignant monument.

It is a monument to the brutal and devestating civil war that set back the country a hundred years, as if it is something to be celebrated. It consists of 3 statues of the 3 most important players in the war. In the centre is one of the presidents, on his left hand side a military general and on the right, a Buddhist monk. For me, it succinctly sums up Sri Lankas bloody and pointless war.

When I was first interested many many years ago in Buddhism and spent may long nights discussing the issue with several friends born into the religion I was surprised to discover that it was actually quite represive and rascist. According to them, I couldn't actually convert to buddhism if I wanted to, I had to be born into it. The actual discussion was more complicated and involved but suffice it to say I could convert but I couldn't expect more from it then to be reincarnated as a Buddhist in my next life, then I would start the wheel. Besides, they didn't really "trust" those who were converts and the majority were just dickhead whiteys who couldn't figure out shit from clay and were tolerated only because they brought a lot of loot to the party.

They told me this because we were friends and didn't want me to be dissappointed...

Sure, Buddhist "ideals" are laudible but then so are Christ's, but it's fair to say, as H.L. Mencken said better than I ever could, that:

I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind - that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.

In summary, I didn't really intend my original discourse to be an attack against buddhism, but pressed for time and my head still full of the bad memories of Sri Lanka, it was all too easy to just let it flow out. What I really wanted to point out and has been lost in much of the to and fro, is that when people start killing other people, it's not usually for "no good reason". Just like the people who flew the planes into the World Trade Centre didn't just do it because they hate your "freedom" or whatever the drivel was the came out of W's mouth.

They usually do it because someone is shitting on them from a great height and they want to even the score. When you can't get at the mofos who did the killing in the first place, you go for soft targets, civilians, aid workers and buddhist monks. You don't just top them for their own sake though, you do it because you've convinved yourself that they're part of the problem. Civilians vote for, support or stand by and let their governments oppress you. Aid workers are "force mulitpliers" conscripted by the government to mask what they are doing. Buddhist monks give the governments who shit on you religious succor or at the very least, fail to condemn their brutal actions.

I'm not saying that these reasons are valid, I'm just trying to understand why someone would want to kill Buddhist monks. I'm not saying that they deserve it, nobody does.

What I am saying is that perhaps it's not just simply a case of pure-as-the-driven-snow Buddhist Monks and evil-mother-fucker-satanic Moslem terrorists.

Snipe said...

That's what I've been TRYING to tell them!

Zwack said...

There are many sects of Buddhism, just as there are many sects of Christianity or Judaism, or Islam or...

While some sects or followers may believe that you have to be born a buddhist that could not be a teaching from Buddha... After all, he isn't likely to have founded a religion or philosophy that could only recruit people by saying "maybe next time through you'll be lucky, but this time... Too late"

The core beliefs may be pacifist, but so are those of Christianity "Thou shalt not kill" is one of the commandments. It doesn't seem to be followed by the majority of Christians.

Given that I have never seen a socio-political problem that has had an easy "it's the fault of X" answer I would say that blaming all of the monks or none of the monks are likely to be equally wrong.

One of my favourite examples is the "Irish Question" which is much more complicated than it first appears to be. On the face of it, it is currently sectarian violence between the Catholics and the Protestants in Northern Ireland. But that stems partly from British immigrants (the Protestant Orange men) who in turn moved in because British laws gave Protestants in Ireland rights while attempting to starve, dumb down and eradicate Catholics. But the antagonism between Ulster and the rest of Ireland goes back much further to Legends of Cuchulain (a 1st century legend, revived in the 7th century) which pits Ulster against the rest of Ireland (or vice versa)... With a history that long, how can you claim it has a single simple cause?


Anonymous said...

The idea that you have to be born into Buddhism is complete bullshit...a distortion of the teachings. You have to realize that mainstream Buddhism and the actual teachings are radically different. Even the Buddha was aware that only a few people at any given time would understand his teachings. Here are some articles on "real" Buddhism:



Anonymous said...

"although someone may say there is Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, etc., when he has penetrated to the essential nature of his religion, he will regard all religions as being the same."

Venerable Buddhadäsa (Thailand)

"in the past centuries there have been many learned Teachers who have laid down various paths to show the Truht. Among these, Buddhism is one, and according to it my opinion is that exept for the differences in the names and forms of the various religions the Ultimate Truth is the same"

The Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso (Tibet)

Written by myself:

Many religions are created bij many intelligent people troughout the centuries. The all the same in the end. but still.. most people are to ignorant,... to foolish to see the truth of life. Some people here
confirm it once again with stupid text that they now everything about the world an about all religions. If you really did now. you weren't so foolish.

People are so blind, they can not see what is what. The cannot see the true meanings of life. That's the reason why they argue and fight.

If you are a very religious person, no matter what religion, if you keep to the essence of your religion you will defeat all greed and hate in your mind. and then your blindness will slowly dissapear.

Thank you.

The Netherlands

Snipe said...

It is still a product of established and flawed human beliefs put into some form of proactive application. You can't win.

Anonymous said...

Well I don't usually comment on internet discussions but I simply cannot stand idly by and allow someone to trash Spaghetti Monsterism by lumping it in with all the other utter rubbish. Name me one violent or cruel act done in the name of the Spaghetti Monster and I'll never eat another Bolognaise again!