You know that photo of “100,000 monks praying for world peace”?

You may have seen this photo (or others like it) going around, with a note that it depicts 100,000 Burmese — or, 100,000 Nepali — monks praying for world peace.

Rod Meade Sperry
29 April 2015
(Photo: www.foreignpolicy.com)

You may have seen this photo (or others like it) going around, posted on Facebook, etc, with a note that it depicts 100,000 Burmese monks praying for world peace, or something along those lines. After the earthquake in Nepal, it’s now circulating again, described as “100,000 monks in Napal [sic] in prayer after the Nepal earthquake as a necessary gesture of power.” So: who’s in it?

The photo is from a photoset of what some call a cult, based out of Thailand, whose “mass ceremonies,” we are told, “are inspired by the head abbot’s fascination with the Muslim hajj gatherings and Nazi parades…” That description and the photoset itself — called “Close Encounters of the Buddhist Kind” — come by way Foreign Policy, which hosts the photoset here. These photos do deserve to be seen — but we thought you might want to know more of the context.

Rod Meade Sperry. Photo by Megumi Yoshida, 2024

Rod Meade Sperry

Rod Meade Sperry is the editor of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Guide (published by Lion’s Roar), and the book A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation: Practical Advice and Inspiration from Contemporary Buddhist Teachers. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with his partner and their tiny pup, Sid.