Should monks be fit? Pics of monks in gym stir online anger

PHOTO: Photos of Buddhist monks working out stirs online anger. (via Nation)

Some buff Buddhist monks doing reps in robes have gone viral as images of them working out in a gym caused an uproar on the Internet. The photos were posted yesterday on the Buddhist News Facebook page by a man who refers to himself as an abbott and claimed he invited residents of his temple to get some exercise.

“I understand that monks are prone to becoming overweight and developing NCDs [non-communicable diseases], so I invited health professionals to help the monks at my temple get in shape and take better care of themselves.”

The original post did not give a lot of information and caused a flurry of Internet commenters, many of which express the opinion that showing these religious men pumping iron was unseemly and unfitting to the notion of monks, and the duties and qualities they are expected to uphold.

The negative backlash said that monks must uphold the reputation of being collected and calm at all times, and straining to lift weights and do exercises that get their blood pumping creates an optic opposite to that expected calm demeanor. Others who were offended by the images said that exercise is not within the realm of the duties that monks are required to perform.

Still, a few commenters did agree with the original Facebook poster that Buddhist monks live a sedentary lifestyle due to that requirement of calm composer and, as a result, there’s a growing obesity problem in the monkhood. A bit of exercise in temples around Thailand may offer a chance for the temple residents to be healthier and take better care of themselves.

Today the man who originally posted the viral pictures to Facebook shed more light on the backstory behind them. He said the photos were taken in Chiang Rai at Wat Huay Pla Kang. The monks had not gone down to the local gym to flex and take Instagram selfies but rather had received a donation of fitment equipment from those who worship at the temple. Public health officials then came to the temple to act as trainers and ensure the monks knew how to use the equipment safely and properly.

While no one was flaunting their muscular gym bods under their robes, many online still took offense to the Buddhist monks taking the opportunity to learn about better health and fitness.

SOURCE: The Nation

Northern Thailand News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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