You know, throughout the whole Ming Yi saga, Buddhists and non-Buddhists have continuously pointed fingers at the man and accusing him of everything including bringing horrendous damage to Buddhism.
Although, I don’t know him at all (only met him once), I believe that he is not a bad person at heart, just silly and someone who despite being a monk have not looked beyond material and personal desires. Sometimes when you become popular and no one questions your decisions, it can make you feel a bit godly. Anyone in those position can make such mistakes. Personally, I continue to believe that he has genuine care for the things that he do, maybe some people don’t like him (this is common in the Buddhist circle, I like you, I don’t like you, etc), just maybe he should not be a monk but a business man.
For me, a monk is a home leaver. A person who has made the resolve to leave behind his desires for worldly attachments and to cultivate an unmovable mind in order to save himself and perhaps advice others how to save themselves later. When a monk is constantly engaged as part of a worldly organization, involved in managing assets and are constantly distracted from that goal, then I prefer that person to not to become a monk, but just someone aspiring to be one but have not enough resolve to give up worldly needs yet. That is why I don’t buy in to the western media portrayal of the safron revolution nor care too much about Tibetan monks and their politics. Monks should not be involved in politics. PERIOD.
Too much attention has been given to Ming Yi’s problem, but I find that the focus is wrong.
Ming Yi’s problem arises from his followers, yes Buddhist lay persons. Without the blind obedience and faith of his followers and their support, how could a monk like Ming Yi be able to commit such mistakes?
One of the biggest problem here in Singapore is that too many Buddhist lay persons sees a monk or nun as a god-like person, to be worship, to blindly follow and to be pampered. There are countless examples of Buddhists give Mercedes Benz as gifts to the monastics, rolex watches, beautiful house and many other expensive and luxurious material gifts. Why does a monk need a rolex watch when a $12 casio is good enough?
It is the lay Buddhists who does not question the behaviours of their monastics nor encourages them to perform the role the monastics should do; providing Buddhist teachings, give up the desire for worldly affairs and wants and needs and most of focus on their own spiritual development.
We all know how difficult it is to unwind at the end of a hectic work day, so too it will be difficult of monks/nuns to unwind if they need to constantly tend to worldly affairs in the office or money matters. So when monks/nuns are engaged in daily worldly affairs, how can they get time to focus on their own spiritual development and continue to let go of their worldly desires and attachments?
I can only say that the Ming Yi disaster is a disaster waiting to happen because it was supported by silly lay persons and somewhere out there other similar disasters are just waiting to happen…