"Monks force rock opera off air
Monks demand apology because they feel country's first rock opera insults Buddhism. -Fri, Jan 02, 2009 AFP
PHNOM PENH - CAMBODIAN monks have persuaded authorities to ban the country's first rock opera, which features actors dressed as clergy who break into song and dance, saying it insults Buddhism.
In a letter sent to the ministry of cults and religion, as well as to the media, the Supreme Sangha Council of Buddhist Monks also demanded an apology from the show's director, writer and actors.
'Where Elephants Weep,' a modern take on a traditional Cambodian love story that merges pop and rock music with more traditional and historical Cambodian tunes, played in Phnom Penh from late November through early December.
It tells the story a Cambodian-American man who returns after the demise of the 1970s Khmer Rouge regime to reconnect with his roots. While he is a monk, he falls into a doomed love affair with a pop singer.
Cambodia is predominantly Buddhist and monks are expected to be austere and eschew worldly pleasures such as entertainment.
'Some scenes in the story insult Buddhism,' the letter said in asking the ministry to 'ban the performance and airing of the opera.'
The council objected to many scenes, including one in which the actor 'left the monkhood and slept with a woman, but a moment later (he) put the robe back on to be a monk again...' said the letter, dated December 30.
The show 'oppresses Cambodian Buddhist monks, causes more than 50,000 monks to loss their honour, value and to express frustration,' it added.
Religions minister Min Khin duly stepped in and the television station was ordered not to go ahead with a second broadcast planned for New Year's Day."
Lessons for me:
1. Monks are not practising Buddhism very well in my opinion! Why? Buddhism is about individual character building to be at Buddha's level eventually where one does not see or hear or speak evils! Where nothing matters except doing good!;
2. Monks are too serious as any Asian entertainment show that is well accepted by the Western world normally contained something that ordinary Asians find offensive! e.g. free sex, homosexuality, cruelty, brutality, etc. Come to think of it, these are also what sell a show in the West too!!;
3. Monks are tolerant of local production to limited audiences but when it is aired on TV in a country where TV is a relatively luxury still and a good mean to reach a much broader audiences the tolerance limit is lower. This is understandable as the true Buddhism must not be misunderstood even in an entertainment show. The saving grace is that at least the monks protested using the proper channel instead of instigating the followers into a frenzy and protested loudly and sometimes violently like some radical Muslims did with the miniature sketches of Prophet Mohamed first being printed in Denmark in 2008!!
As leaders we need to exercise constraint to allow freedom of diverse expression of ideas and opinions while tightening the range when something fundamental has clearly being breached! This ability to 'self-regulate' when to step back and when to push is critical to a successful 7e leader!