The Buddhist Monk Bubble World




Translation: May veneration be presented to the exalted one who is a Buddha and has achieved enlightenment by himself righteously.


This piece that I now write is about the abuse that many Farang (a word that means foreigner but is usually taken to mean Westerner) Buddhist monks have to put up with. The moment some people set eyes on a Farang monk they A. know that we probably speak English, and B. therefore see us as a soft target for whatever outlandish abuse they feel like handing out. There are many very distraught and outright social unfortunates traveling S.E. Asia now a days and when they see a Farang Buddhist monk it’s their opportunity to start dishing it. After all, isn’t the Buddhist suppose to be submissive and docile and willing to take any and all abuse? Am I not just suppose to just bend over and lick it up? I’m a  Buddhist monks aren’t I? What is really interesting is that much of the time they will seek to bait someone such as myself for a negative reaction by claiming that I’m not a “real” Buddhist monk, or with what ever other abuse they have to offer, but then if they get some response that can be at least interpreted as disagreeable, they’ll want to hold us to their perceived, at their convenience standard of a real Buddhist monk by claiming that we’re not behaving as we should!

The situation that I will discuss is a classic example of this type of sick minded and abusive behavior. About 3 years ago I met a man who told me that his name was Steve while staying in a Chulia St. Guest house in Georgetown Penang, Malaysia. The reason why I have often stayed at a guest house is because with a situation like Malaysia there just aren’t many temples to stay at considering that a traveling monk is usually given about 3 to 7 days per temple, and not allowed to stay as long as they wish or may have a need to do so. At this rate I wouldn’t last very long in Penang if I wanted to stay longer for any reason, other than to get a guest house room or sleep on the street. There are other reasons why I might not want to stay at a temple, but because I don’t consider it necessary to to air any dirty monastic laundry I’ll mention only what I have.
Myself and Steve had a conversation where he didn’t seem to like my point of view. As an example, I’m not a Jew hater who denies the holocaust and who thinks that the Jewish bankers are plotting to take over the world, and come to think of it, nor do I believe for that matter that Asian’s should be called “Gooks” (you’ll see that in the photo before the “Hey Whitey” poster photo, as well as the photo before that, of a letter that he once left at the front desk for me), and I doubt that the Chinese individual or individuals helping him with the Chinese translation on any of  this know that Steve considers them “gooks”. It’s true that I don’t warm kindly to Islam, but I’ll note here that I certainly do see a difference between the scriptural Islam on the one hand and those who consider themselves “Muslim” on the other, the same way that I have had people tell me that they don’t like the the Canadian Government or the U.S. Government or the British Government etc. but would not confuse that with the citizens of Canada or America or Great Britain.

Having said that, it was about 3 year’s later now that he shows up and still apparently with a resentment for the conversation that took place 3 years earlier! Pretty sane and mature behavior, don’t you think? He leaves me an 8 page long ranting diatribe against Buddhism that showed no coherent thought whatsoever with the desk clerk as I was outside occupied with a conversation with someone else, and gave the instructions “Don’t give it to him until 60 seconds after I leave”. I was concerned. Who would leave this and do it in such a cowardly and sneaky manner? When I found out who it was I approached him in the lobby and told him just what I thought of his behavior, and yes, I mentioned that I thought that some sort of medication would probably do him some good and asked him to please not hurt anybody. Could I have behaved in more of a tolerant manner? Perhaps, although then there would always be someone who would want to consider me “condescending” for doing so. It’s difficult to please everybody’s expectation of how you should behave in a situation like this. I talked to him honestly, and didn’t use any vulgarity, nor did I lose my temper and raise my voice at him.  As it turns out, some people can handle an adult conversation, and some just can’t.

His childish and malicious response to our last conversation has been to go on a silly poster campaign. To compare the different versions he can’t decide whether I’m an American or a Canadian. He claims that I’m a fraudulent monk (which is a common accusation if you’re a monk and someone doesn’t like you, this is aided by the fact that there are many “monks” who are simply people playing the role), that I’m staying in “luxury tourist hotels” and that I’m a homosexual who look’s “tall, fat, and stupid”. He mentions in his letter to me his resentment that I converted from Christianity to Buddhism. He does this by claiming in a letter to me (see the bottom of the letter after the “Hey Whitey” poster photo below) that I have betrayed my “race, culture, creed, and Christ”. He writes as well among other such things that I am “steering young impressionable Westerners whenever possible to lay waste to their own more Noble Creed and culture”…..(on the lower left page next to last photo).

I know that there are many white Christians who have a hard time with a white Buddhist monk. When they see a Christian Pastor of some sort who is Asian, of course they have no such problems, it’s all good then! Obviously this is not a rational and thoughtful sort of fellow we’re dealing with here, he might just as well say that he thinks that my nose is crooked or that my hair looks too short. I even once apologised for anything that I may have said to offend him (regarding his hateful and racist behavior), and of course that did no good at all. I think we should all feel very sorry for him, they say misery loves company, and I know this man must be in a lot of personal misery. The very first time I saw him several year’s ago he was intoxicated in front of a place called the Banana Guest House on Chulia St. wearing a home made pirate costume while brandishing a cardboard and aluminum pirates sword. Quite frankly, I believe that a Batman costume would suit him much better. Having said that, don’t expect me to publish the photo that I have of Steve, I don’t believe that it would be productive in any way that he should be publicly humiliated for what would seem to be his rather sad and pitiful state of affairs.

All he does with this type of behavior is demonstrate to the world what a sad and truly miserable man he must be.

This is why his nick name in Penang is “Wack Job” Steve!

“Wack Job” Steve the mentally ill wack job.

As I now edit this article to update it a little, most recently as of October 2018, after coming back from Cambodia where I was living in a temple for about five years, he walks up to a woman I was having a conversation with over at Penang mall and hands her a note telling her that she’s being romanced by a fake monk who masturbates about her at night! He then quickly walks off! Her response was basically, “Who was that wack job?” …..and who could blame her?

So then I got to tell her all about “Wack Job” Steve.

Now he’s posting his posters again, most notably on Chulia Street and some of the side streets. This is the same man who used to live at the Stardust guest house on Chulia Street until he had an argument with the owner Mr. Lim, and then proceeded to vandalise the property all over the place in George Town, Penang with the same type of poster campaign.

For even the most psychotic and utterly sick minded of people, this would be really quite a bit of overkill by now, but not for “Wack Job” Steve!

Ironically, he takes advantage of the fact that I am a Buddhist monk while claiming that I’m not, because he knows that as a Buddhist monk there is a line for me not to cross. As an example, do any of you really think that if I were a Malaysian gangster or for that matter, most anyone else that would have kicked his silly ass all over town by now for his insane campaign of harassment, that he would behave like this toward me? Of course not. 

This is very typical of such people, to claim that I am a “fake” monk, while making sure to hold me to the standard of a real monk! 

I have been so patient over the years with this man that he now thinks it’s allowable for him to violate the personable space of a woman that I’m having a conversation with to harrass both her and me with his childish and psychotic note writing!

So what are we to make of all of this?

Nothing more than the fact that Steve is a malicious sort of racist and very overall hateful white supremacist sort of man, and that if anything, we should all feel very sorry for him. If his intention is to make me angry or to socially damage me in some way, he accomplishes nothing of the sort.
He only demonstrates what a sorry man he is and that he is well deserving of our pity.

This sad man is so mentally ill, we should all feel sorry for his sad and pitiful self. Perhaps if he went back to Australia and had his medication adjusted a bit that might help him.

If anything, perhaps I should feel grateful that I can put a bit more purpose in this man’s life and that he has served the purpose of helping me to better my practice.

This is just one example of the type of silliness that many of us have to put up with, because when you expose yourself to all that the world has to offer, it’s not always going to be good. I have had people spit on the ground at me and tell me that as a Buddhist monk I’m a traitor to the Anglo Saxon race. Where do you even begin to try to reach someone with such an out the back door dirty fanny scratching ignorance? Then there’s the guy who told me that his name was Bill, who spot’s me on Love Lane about a month ago, and his eye’s light up! A Farang Buddhist monk! Why, Just what he was looking for! He invites me for some conversation, but when I don’t show the same enthusiasm for the writings of Mr. Jack Kornfield that he has, he starts freaking out. “You f*cking a$$hole!, you should take your robe and burn it! He go’s on and on, freaking out, but this mind you, was after he tells me that he has been studying under the most well known Buddhist masters for the past 30 years! The next day when we happen to met in the street, he explains that this is what is called “Zen Buddhism”! He then tells me that the great Zen masters would kick the crap out of their students when they didn’t “get it”! You see folks, this is a good reason why many S.E. Asian monk’s who speak English, pretend that they don’t, they simply don’t need the ignorant silliness. Most live in a bubble world that is for the most part socially insulated from the rest of this, where their own society would never disrespect them, and this in turn is where the Buddhist monk image is born, of the always submissive, docile and polite Buddhist monk who would never show the slightest disagreement about anything! They are then led to believe that someone who follows a spiritual path in life should just bend over and lick up whatever it is that is being served to them, and if they don’t then it should be construed as a mark against the credibility of their spiritual character!

I believe that the reason for this is that not only do they live in a sort of bubble world, but that they are used to living in societies where they had better behave like good cowtowed monks or they’ll be disrobed by the relevant authorities or perhaps far worse. The politicians, the royalties and military junta’s in Asia and S.E. Asia have made it known on more than one occasion that they want the people to listen more to them, except in very limited circumstances, not to the monastics.

This of course, is not actually the teaching or example given to us by the Venerable Gotama in our Pali Canon Tipitaka.

In their insulated little bubble world most Theravada  monks never have to navigate this type of silliness.  Thank goodness it’s not all like this!

Pali Canon Tipitaka, Sutta Pitaka
M.N.#58 Abhaya Sutta: To Prince Abhaya
(On Right Speech)
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

[1] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial (or: not connected with the goal), unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

[2] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

[3] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing & disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.

[4] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.

[5] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.

[6] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, and endearing & agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. Why is that? Because the Tathagata has sympathy for living beings.”

Sadly for some people, never is the right time, but that doesn’t mean that some things still aren’t needed to be said or done.

This is only one scriptural example of many that can be given for this topic, although I don’t see any good reason not to leave it at that.

In the following collection of photo’s you’ve got the different versions of a temper tantrum poster that “Wack Job” Steve has posted, the first of the three of these versions is the original one posted about three months ago (the one that he has started posting again), the following two which were more recent, a letter that this very sad man left for me at the front desk lately as well as a close up of the lower portion of that letter.  Then we have the most recent endevior of his as of the original posting of this article, along with a letter left for me. I sincerely wish my friend Steve sincerely the very best, and hope that he someday finds whatever it takes to help him ease his incredibly distraught misery.

The other day when I got on the bus, a man got up and while bowing a little lower, offered me his seat. It is no exaggeration to say that contrary to being arrogant about it, I felt very humbled by it, like a humble little boy. I can say sincerely, that although I am by no means at the moment absolutely perfect at any of this, I earnestly strive on a daily basis to be someone who qualifies for such loving kindness from a total stranger. I do not take such loving kindness for granted. My efforts regarding my practice as a Buddhist monk, center around spiritually developing myself well enough to be able to give something better to others, including people such as Steve something better than they have now to help ease their suffering and to offer them better than what they have now for a brighter future. That may sound too idealistic for some, but not to me. You can’t give it if you don’t have it.  Peace of mind is priceless. 

I wish you all a peaceful and spiritually blessed day!

Bhikkhu Aggacitto a.k.a. Brother Mark:)

Double clicking any photo should enable give a better view of the photo taken if you have any photograph software installed.

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