May 16, 2012
Poker playing Buddhist Monks ignite controversy
By RTR Dennis
The typical Buddhist monk lifestyle involves lots of praying, meditating, and seeking enlightenment. In this rigid routine, there’s little room for playing high stakes poker, drinking alcohol and smoking. That being the case, it’s no wonder Buddhist followers around the world are questioning the actions of eight monks from the South Korean “Jogye” sect.
The story began when the eight monks traveled to a lakeside luxury hotel for a memorial service. They started drinking, smoking and playing poker around 9pm, all the while being secretly filmed. Their night of debauchery didn’t end until 8am – 13 hours after the party began! When it was all over, the Buddhist monks had wagered a collective USD $875,300 on the poker tables.
Now your first thought might be that it’s the monks’ money, so they should be able to spend it how they want. But the thing is that it wasn't even their money! Instead, it came from donations made by the religion’s followers. As if that wasn't bad enough, the monks were playing poker in their hotel room, which means they didn’t even get rakeback on their $875,300 in bets – talk about a travesty! Had they played online poker, not only would they have stood far less chance of being caught, but if - for instance - they had played with the 40% Minted Poker rakeback deal and 5% was taken out of each pot ($43,765 total rake), they would have received $17,506 in rakeback!
Getting back to the subject, an expelled Jogye senior monk named Seong-ho was quick to point out the wrongdoings of the eight poker playing monks. He said, “Basically, Buddhist rules say don’t steal. Look at what they did… they abused money from Buddhists for gambling.” While Seong-ho may have lacked credibility before in criticizing his former sect, there seems to be a lot more people listening to him following the high stakes poker scandal.
Since this time, six senior monks have resigned, while Jogye leader Ven. Jaseung vows that the rest of his sect will undertake numerous rituals and bows to try and make up for their order’s mistakes.