"Why do I, being subject to birth, decay, disease, death, sorrow and impurities, thus search after things of like nature. How, if I, who am subject to things of such nature, realize their disadvantages and seek after the unattained unsurpassed, perfect security which is Nibbana!"
"Cramped and confined is household life, a den of dust, but the life of the homeless one is as the open air of heaven! Hard is it for him who bides at home to live out as it should be lived the Holy Life in all its perfection, in all its purity."
Prince Siddhattha was a person with everything; wealth, power, women, palaces, chariots, armies, servants etc - the whole kingdom of Kapilavatthu belonged to him. Yet he saw the uncertainty of all material possessions and chose to gave up everything to pursue a holy life instead. What good does all those possessions do, since you cannot take any of it with you when you die? The Buddha had set the best example for his followers and future generations. By renouncing all that is dear to the world, he showed us that true happiness cannot be attained by gathering more and more; it can only be attained by giving up. The path of a Samana or Bhikkhu is one of simplicity, contemplation and contentment with the bare necessities in life. Even after his enlightenment, the Buddha still refused to "own" anything. Scores of wealthy and powerful donors presented large pieces of land for he and his disciples to reside in, but did the Buddha ever taken those properties to be his? Never, he merely used them as a tenant for as long as he saw fit, giving any form of ownership back to the donors themselves. When it was time to leave, the Buddha could leave without any trouble or attachment. In this we can see the Buddha's profound wisdom when conducting himself in the ways of the world. However, things appeared to have changed a lot today for some of his "followers".
Which bring us to a monk in the news recently - Ven Shi Miaoyi, abbot of Long Hua Chan Si temple. Ven Miaoyi is a "millionaire monk". The papers report that his assets include 35% shares in a coffee shop in Yangon Road worth 3.5 million, a condo and flat worth a million, a Mercedes Benz, past dealings with up to 10 businesses and shares in 4 companies under his secular name Chia Eng Soon. He also had annual income of up to $600,000 in 1999 and $660,000 in 2001. All these were revealed in court as he is one of the parties sued by Poh Lian Development for a failed venture. In his own words to the Judge's query, he said he was a "hardworking man". A hardworking businessman - excellent trait for a householder, but worthless for a monk. Besides shaving his head, sporting a fancy Buddhist name and working in a temple, there is nothing else to differentiate him from any other layman. He lives in a big house, drives a big car and makes loads of money from religious and secular businesses alike; does he even understand the meaning of "renunciation"? Does he still consider himself a disciple of the Buddha?