My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

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Vakkali
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Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Postby Vakkali » Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:11 am

Is it possible that different Theravadin countries have developed slightly different dāna cultures? I wonder if Sri Lankans have a different attitude towards the perceived quality of food offerings than, say, Thai forest monks do.

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Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:39 am

It is a result of the decline in the monastic traditions. Monks who accept and use money, and who are spoiled by donors, forget that their very life depends on the gifts of others. Some monks look down on vegetarian meals as being inferior, and expect a car to be sent to bring them to the house for alms, or they expect donors to bring almsfood to the temple every day. The almsbowl is rarely even used for taking meals in the monasteries that I have stayed at, except for the Thai Forest monasteries.

When I first stayed at the Burmese Vihāra in Wembley with Myaung Mya Sayādaw U Nyanika, we used to eat from the bowl with our hands, sitting on the floor. Nowadays, the monks sit at a dining table eating from plates, with cutlery, and guess who does the washing up?

Very few monks walk for alms in the West, but in Burma it is the duty of every young monk. The Buddha walked for alms even when he was 80 years of age.

The ordination procedure makes it clear what the four basic requisites are for monks: alms collected from door to door, rags collected from a rubbish heap, the root of a tree for shelter, and fermented cow's urine with gall nuts for medicine.

If donors offer luxurious meals in their home or in the Vihāra, it can be accepted, but it should not be expected.
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Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Postby Dr. Dukkha » Fri Aug 08, 2014 6:30 am

Some more info about these monks. I don't know what to think about this, but my monk guarenteed me that I wouldn't reach enlightenment in this lifetime. Should I be offended or humbled?

Also, how long and how often are dhamma talks supposed to be given? There's one every week after meditation class that the monks give but it's only five minutes. And I never get invited to anything on uposatha (I don't know if there are gathering on the full moon with the sangha like there used to be around the Buddha's time). The monks are always busy with something so I feel like they are spending more time with the Sri Lankans than us Americans because I don't get invited to any dhamma talks. I don't feel like the monks are racist because they sometimes call to say they miss me and my other American friend when we don't attend meditation. But are there supposed to be more dhamma talks and I'm just not invited? I'd go every off day to learn the dhamma with the sangha if I could.
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Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Aug 08, 2014 11:14 am

Dr. Dukkha wrote:Some more info about these monks. I don't know what to think about this, but my monk guaranteed me that I wouldn't reach enlightenment in this lifetime. Should I be offended or humbled?

Your monk has no way to guarantee any such thing, unless you confessed to murdering your mother or father.

It may be very difficult to reach enlightenment in this lifetime, even to gain the first stage of Stream-winning, and for someone with mental health issues, it would be especially difficult. However, if you keep practising, any mental health issues that you might have may be resolved, and you will then be able to practise with full faith and effort.

I think your monk is not well trained — it's hard to find any really good monks these days. When you get a chance, go to attend a vipassanā course with Bhante Gunaratna or any other well known teacher with a good reputation. Learn what you can from your monk, but don't take to heart what he says.

The only person who is truly hopeless of attaining deep insight or the path and its fruition is the lazy person.
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Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Postby waterchan » Fri Aug 08, 2014 12:00 pm

dagon wrote:Thank you Bhante; as always to the point - even if some times we have too much dust in our eyes to see it.

Ajahn Brahm in the talk linked below discusses fault finding - along with many other things.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHXkwj_0MIU

You could start listening at 24:53 min but the whole talk is well worth listening to.

metta
paul


Ajahn Brahm also publicly encourages laypeople to report unscrupulous monks. So the "fault-finding" in this topic is one he would clearly approve of. Indeed, according to the origin stories in the Vinaya, "fault-finding" by laypeople is precisely why the Buddha laid down many Vinaya rules.
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Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Postby A fool from HK » Fri Aug 08, 2014 12:22 pm

How difficult it is to gain stream enterer?

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Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Aug 08, 2014 1:34 pm

A fool from HK wrote:How difficult it is to gain stream enterer?

How could one measure such a thing? What is easy for a few would be hard for others, and what is hard for many might be impossible for most.

Over the years, I met only a few who I think may have attained Stream-winning or higher stages of the path, but I have no way of knowing about anyone's actual attainment. One monk, who I believe did attain the Path while practising at Mahasi Yeiktha, practised relentlessly for six months. He was the last to leave the meditation hall at night, and the last to finish his meals, due to eating slowly and mindfully at all times. He didn't waste his time talking to others, but just got on with his practice.

There are some who say that realising nibbāna is easy — all you have to do is listen to their teachings. Others say that it is impossible in this day and age so why bother meditating — just make merit. However hard or easy it may be for any individual, what is certain is that nothing worthwhile can be achieved without effort. Mostly, people strive for worldly gains, such as the wealth or fame that can be gained by excelling in sports, whilst very few apply their energies to spiritual practices to remove the desire for fame and wealth.

If you study carefully, and practice meditation diligently, ideally with the help of a skilled teacher, you will definitely make worthwhile progress. If you merely sit down by the roadside and try to figure out how much further it is to your destination, you will never arrive.
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Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Postby Anagarika » Fri Aug 08, 2014 1:37 pm

:goodpost:

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Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Postby meindzai » Fri Aug 08, 2014 5:40 pm

Dr. Dukkha wrote:Some more info about these monks. I don't know what to think about this, but my monk guarenteed me that I wouldn't reach enlightenment in this lifetime. Should I be offended or humbled?

Also, how long and how often are dhamma talks supposed to be given? There's one every week after meditation class that the monks give but it's only five minutes. And I never get invited to anything on uposatha (I don't know if there are gathering on the full moon with the sangha like there used to be around the Buddha's time). The monks are always busy with something so I feel like they are spending more time with the Sri Lankans than us Americans because I don't get invited to any dhamma talks. I don't feel like the monks are racist because they sometimes call to say they miss me and my other American friend when we don't attend meditation. But are there supposed to be more dhamma talks and I'm just not invited? I'd go every off day to learn the dhamma with the sangha if I could.


I think I may know what you are experiencing here.

The place you are going to may be serving more as a cultural or community center for the local Sri Lankan population, and not so much as a retreat or Buddhist center for people to come practice. It's not that that isn't allowed or you're not welcome, it's just that they may be tied up with being a pillar for that particular community, doing services, weddings, etc. One of the temples I go to is like this. It is very much like the way certain churches become centers of certain ethnic communities (some churches have a predominantly black or hispanic audience, though they don't necessarily exclude others).

So their relationship to the dharma might be more cultural than canonical. These are not the mythical figures you know and love from the Pali Canon, but very real human beings who have come from another country and have brought a lot of their culture with them. You should regard them with the utmost cultural sensitivity in this regard.

I haven't visited mine for awhile, but I met the monks there at an event they were having with my college's sri lankan club. My math club (I was president) was having a picnic the same day in another pavilion. One minute I'm talking about vector spaces, the next minute I hear Pali being recited over a loudspeaker. You can imagine my surprise!

When I get teachings from such monks they are not the super-analytical stuff I get online. Usually the talks are very simple. (Also keep in mind their english may be limited, so they have to keep it simple. However, their Pali is excellent!)

What I love the most about the Sri Lankan Buddhists I have met is their nature and their devotion. If anything, just let that rub off on you. If the teachings are short, then don't worry about teachings so much. When I visit them it just leaves me wanting to be just a little bit gentler and more devoted to my practice in a very basic, harmless kind of way.

-Dave K

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Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Postby Mkoll » Fri Aug 08, 2014 9:02 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
A fool from HK wrote:How difficult it is to gain stream enterer?

How could one measure such a thing? What is easy for a few would be hard for others, and what is hard for many might be impossible for most.

Over the years, I met only a few who I think may have attained Stream-winning or higher stages of the path, but I have no way of knowing about anyone's actual attainment. One monk, who I believe did attain the Path while practising at Mahasi Yeiktha, practised relentlessly for six months. He was the last to leave the meditation hall at night, and the last to finish his meals, due to eating slowly and mindfully at all times. He didn't waste his time talking to others, but just got on with his practice.

There are some who say that realising nibbāna is easy — all you have to do is listen to their teachings. Others say that it is impossible in this day and age so why bother meditating — just make merit. However hard or easy it may be for any individual, what is certain is that nothing worthwhile can be achieved without effort. Mostly, people strive for worldly gains, such as the wealth or fame that can be gained by excelling in sports, whilst very few apply their energies to spiritual practices to remove the desire for fame and wealth.

If you study carefully, and practice meditation diligently, ideally with the help of a skilled teacher, you will definitely make worthwhile progress. If you merely sit down by the roadside and try to figure out how much further it is to your destination, you will never arrive.


:goodpost:

What happened to the monk after six months?
Peace,
James

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Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Postby A fool from HK » Sat Aug 09, 2014 12:08 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
A fool from HK wrote:How difficult it is to gain stream enterer?

How could one measure such a thing? What is easy for a few would be hard for others, and what is hard for many might be impossible for most.

Over the years, I met only a few who I think may have attained Stream-winning or higher stages of the path, but I have no way of knowing about anyone's actual attainment. One monk, who I believe did attain the Path while practising at Mahasi Yeiktha, practised relentlessly for six months. He was the last to leave the meditation hall at night, and the last to finish his meals, due to eating slowly and mindfully at all times. He didn't waste his time talking to others, but just got on with his practice.

There are some who say that realising nibbāna is easy — all you have to do is listen to their teachings. Others say that it is impossible in this day and age so why bother meditating — just make merit. However hard or easy it may be for any individual, what is certain is that nothing worthwhile can be achieved without effort. Mostly, people strive for worldly gains, such as the wealth or fame that can be gained by excelling in sports, whilst very few apply their energies to spiritual practices to remove the desire for fame and wealth.

If you study carefully, and practice meditation diligently, ideally with the help of a skilled teacher, you will definitely make worthwhile progress. If you merely sit down by the roadside and try to figure out how much further it is to your destination, you will never arrive.

Thanks! :bow: :bow: :bow:

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Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Postby Alobha » Sun Aug 10, 2014 7:13 am

Dr. Dukkha wrote:So I talked to the monk that refused the food.
He told me that food that you give to monk has to be special.
So he doesn't always accept leftovers.
And that he would prefer for me to give the leftovers to homeless people around the area.
Then he told me that he had nothing to eat tomorrow but still didn't regret his decision.

What do you guys think about this?


I remember that Luang Por Khemadhammo (one of Ajahn Chah's disciples) once told how living as a Bhikkhu was back in the day when he first got back to England. Quite often there were days where laypeople were not able to come and offer almsfood before noon. The monks were allowed to take the old food thrown into the garbage by the local bakery so that is what they did. I don't think he ever rejected food because it was not "special" enough.

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Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Postby Dr. Dukkha » Mon Sep 01, 2014 1:22 am

Alobha wrote:
Dr. Dukkha wrote:So I talked to the monk that refused the food.
He told me that food that you give to monk has to be special.
So he doesn't always accept leftovers.
And that he would prefer for me to give the leftovers to homeless people around the area.
Then he told me that he had nothing to eat tomorrow but still didn't regret his decision.

What do you guys think about this?


I remember that Luang Por Khemadhammo (one of Ajahn Chah's disciples) once told how living as a Bhikkhu was back in the day when he first got back to England. Quite often there were days where laypeople were not able to come and offer almsfood before noon. The monks were allowed to take the old food thrown into the garbage by the local bakery so that is what they did. I don't think he ever rejected food because it was not "special" enough.


I don't mean to negate what you say; it is possible he could've meant more than what he said, but the word "special" is a direct quotation.
"There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting."

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Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Postby GengisAmon » Mon Sep 01, 2014 1:50 pm

I think patimokkha is very clear: " monks are not allowed to receive money" .He´s breaking the rules.

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Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Postby martinfrank » Mon Sep 01, 2014 7:34 pm

Please don't judge quickly! We Western Buddhists believe that we are the owners of the Truth because - following the Christian / Protestant tradition - we read the Suttas ourselves and we don't need anybody to tell us what "he accepts no money" means. I thought like this too until I met monks who did accept money and who nevertheless were miles ahead of me in learning and in practice.

For me touching money, accepting money, owning money, accounting for money, organizing income and expenses all come to the same. The monk's mind is no more free from householder worries. Tricks, ruses, subterfuges don't change anything. If a monk has money at his disposal, he has accepted money.

Most Thai, SriLankan, Lao, Myanmar monks live according to their countries' traditions which may not correspond to what we Western Buddhists believe to be correct. But please don't forget that the monks of these traditions have preserved Lord Buddha's Teachings for us. We didn't bring them Buddhism; they gave us Buddhism. For them we Western Buddhists have no clue of (their South-East Asian) Buddhism. (Most Western Buddhists have in fact no clue of South-East Asian Buddhism. See Justin McDaniel's "The Lovelorn Ghost & the Magical Monk".)

Many South-East Asian monks run monasteries with schools and/or orphanages. They provide social and even medical services and there is nobody else to take care of the money because they are the most educated persons in the community. They are socially and ecologically engaged, working monks and have no time "to make wini" (vinaya). We should respect them and judge them according to their own standards.

For all the others, read Bhante Dhammika's "Broken Buddha"!
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