How to tell a real monk from a fake one

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Men of the robe are not spared too. There are con men prowling around, taking advantage of generous people to get donations. Worst – these con men are posing as Buddhist monks — some bald headed in saffron robes, walking barefooted and soliciting for donations from the public.

Do not be fooled by these “men in robes.” They are pulling their robes over your eyes to get you to part with your money. Not only that – these con men are giving REAL Buddhist monks a bad name.

Holy man or con man? Can you tell?
What a load of crap!

These pictures were taken in the famous Chinatown in Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Look at this “monk” making monkeys of the public. Do you think this fella is a real monk?

Another fella soliciting for donations from kind hearted souls. Chinatown in Petaling Street is frequented by many foreign tourists and this “monk” is definitely a foreigner.

Don't be fooled by outward appearances!

What do you think? Real deal or a load of crap? Here’s how you can tell!

1) Real monks are prohibited from begging for money
In fact – real monks are prohibited from even touching money, what more begging for money. Alms to Buddhist monks mean food, not money!

2) Real monks are prohibited from public places
Yes – especially from making a spectacle of themselves with all those “holy” talismans, flower garlands and other ‘holy’ objects.

3) Reals monks are supposed to only beg for food
In Malaysia, real monks don’t really go to the streets to beg for food. Being an Islamic country, this is not the norm. So, devout Buddhists instead go to the Buddhist temples to offer alms food. One more thing – monks only eat BEFORE noon (12:00 noon). Anything after that is strictly prohibited. This is according to the Theravadan Buddhist ideology.   In Thailand – a Buddhist country, monks do take to the streets to beg for alms food. Not in Malaysia. And if monks do beg for alms food – it is certainly not after 12:00 noon!

When you encounter a Buddhist ‘monk’ coming up to you to solicit for ‘donations’ or alms money, you do the following:

1) Ask the monk to chant “salutation to the Buddha” followed by another Sutta

Salutation to the Buddha means:
Namo tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambudhhasa (three times)

Then, you ask the “monk” to chant another Sutta like the ‘loving kindness’ or Metta Sutta. If he cannot or mumbles incoherently – you have a fake on your hands. Politely tell him to get lost!

2) If the “monk” approaches you while you are dining, offer him food instead
See his reaction. Look at his face. If he gets angry, shoo him away. Once again – monks are supposed to only beg for alms food. Not money. And if he accepts food – it’s NOT after midday!

If you really want to give a donation, go to a real Buddhist temple instead. Don’t encourage these shams from giving Buddhism a bad name.


3 thoughts on “How to tell a real monk from a fake one

  1. No doubt I am a Catholic. I donate directly to the monks who comes from Sakya Monestary in Tibet,Darjeeling or Qinghai. These monks will lock up themselves for a year or more when they travel around Asia. I never donate to any monks on d street. I always have the feelings,they are fake.

  2. I agreed with the writer. The final advice Buddha gave in his Nirvina sutra was “Follow the dharma(Law/teachings) not persons.

    In other words, we follow the true meaningful words of the Buddha in his sutras, especially Buddha himself declared his final and highest sutra-Saddharma Pundarika Sutra (Wonderful Law of Lotus Sutra) in our current evil & chaotic latter day of the Law. All true seekers of Buddha’s pure flow of the Law, pls visit and and practice Buddha’s last and complete sutra as taught by true Buddhist reformer Nichiren (1222-1282).

    Giving money or food to fake priests or monks will only create bad karma for giver and receiver. These alms give them more power to distort true Buddhism, leading more people to ignorant paths and creating bad karma for everyone on the society as it permits more direct and indirect slandering of the true Law. True priest Nichiren wrote 800 years ago, true priests do not get married, do not kill, do not take meat, follow the 250 precepts for the male monks. However, in our current evil Latter Day of the Law, fake priests get married in the temples and procreate and pass down the “Heritage of the Law” /honorable chief priest titles to their own children as if it this is a family business. Fake priests will claim they are so-and-so Bodhisattva or Buddhas reborn. All these claims are complete lies without proof from the sutras or modern science. These cunning lies by fake priests and monks are used to con more ignorant people for alms for their own livelihood of spreading distorted/ partial truths of Buddhism.

    Wake up and directly read the Wonderful Law of Lotus Sutra, king of all sutras, which has the direct power to awaken every ordinary man and woman to the same equality of true Buddha nature in themselves. Stop stop following the intermediaries in orange/red/grey/purple/etc robes(monks and priests) who pretend to know Buddhism exclusively from the masses.

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