If Thai Buddhism vanished tomorrow or Dharamsala Buddhism vanished tomorrow - if there were no longer any ordained monks (assume all ordained monks were abducted by aliens tonight) will our search for Dhamma end or slow down ?
Sure would have for me. In my experience, Buddha-Dhamma isn't just some intellectual pursuit based on analysing ancient texts. [In my day job I do intellectual analysis, so I do actually tend to do a lot of it when it comes to Dhamma, but I don't think it's as important as many modern Buddhists think...]
I've not been a monk, but, like anyone who hangs around a monastery for a while, it becomes obvious that there is more to Buddhism than intellect, and that many of the lay people who get up early to feed the monks are actually much more developed than I am, though they probably can't quote all the suttas that I can... Without the focus of our monastery, developing a long-term approach to Dhamma would be very difficult for m.
As I said, I haven't been a monk, but I have had some retreat experience that has some relevance to the topic of discussion. On retreats I'm treated roughly as a novice monk, eating at the same time as the monks (at a different table), and having lay people almost tripping over each other to put the food they cooked on my tray. The food is usually amazing, and generally 3-4 times what I could usefully eat. Occasionally it's not so amazing. After a few days of this routine, it's interesting to see how the mind is working with it: The hope that I'll get one of my favourite dishes; the disappointment when I don't; sometimes the realisation that this whole eating thing is a bit of a waste of time, getting in the way of my practice by both taking up time and making me sleepy for the next couple of hours.
My impression is that a large part of the monastic training is to deal with such feelings in the long term. Sometimes having wonderful food, sometimes not, sometimes being taken somewhere, sometimes not.
I could easily find things to criticise about monastics I've observed, here or in Thailand. However I would question the usefulness of that (apart from the truly outrageous, of course). The monastic training is like the precepts - it's a training. Some are doing well with it, some not.
Overall, the whole system has given me an enormous amount of help in understanding Dhamma. I personally wouldn't have any understanding if I had only had ancient books to rely on. Of course, others may have different experiences.