How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby forestmat » Sat May 02, 2009 12:49 pm

It's one of several special food allowances that apply in times of famine. They are all from the Mahavagga of the Vinaya Pitaka. Translations of the relevant passages can be found in Book II ch. 4 of Ven. Thanissaro's Monastic Code.


Many thanks Tahn Ajahn Dhammanando.

Hope you are well in the holy life.

with best wishes

Metta

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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby fijiNut » Sun May 03, 2009 6:15 am

Chris wrote:Hello all,

Most of the lay supporters at Dhammagiri are of Sri Lankan background. They are fastidious in assisting monks in their adherence to the Vinaya. All dana not eaten at the meal is taken home by the lay supporters. Ven. Dhammasiha, the Abbot, strictly observes the rules set down by the Buddha. Allowable drinks and medicines are kept at the Monastery. Breakfast cereals are stored by the lay people on the property, and someone is there to present these at 6.15 a.m. (approx) each day.
metta
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Chris & All,
In my limited experience at Vimutti (Auckland) and Dhammagiri (Brisbane) I have found the monks to be keeping the Vinaya immaculately and food and other requisites are obtained from the lay (Sri Lankan & Thai) community with daily rosters.

regards,
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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby cooran » Sun May 03, 2009 8:48 am

Thanks fijinut. :smile:
Actually today, by coincidence, in our Sutta Study at Dhammagiri, we were going over MN 6 Ākaṅkheyya Sutta "If a Bhikkhu Should Wish".
Verse 2 the Buddha states: "Bhikkhus, dwell possessed of virtue, possessed of the Patimokkha, restrained with the restraint of the Patimokkha, perfect in conduct and resort, and seeing fear in the slightest fault, train by undertaking the training precepts".

I think Bhikkhus not keeping the Patimokkha perfectly and regarding 'modern days' as a reason for altering or bending the way they behave brings them into disrepute. It wasn't until I saw the immaculate (as fijinut describes) conduct of the Sangha members at Dhammagiri that I felt inspired to deepen my material support and pay stricter attention to my practice of Sila Samadhi and Panna.

metta
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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun May 03, 2009 8:51 am

This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby cooran » Sun May 03, 2009 9:47 am

Hello Manapa,

I can't download from the link for some reason. Can you tell me the name of the booklet and the name of the author please?

metta
Chris

Addit. It's O.K. now - I managed to open it, thanks Manapa. :smile:

C.
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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun May 03, 2009 12:10 pm

Chris wrote:Hello Manapa,

I can't download from the link for some reason. Can you tell me the name of the booklet and the name of the author please?

metta
Chris

Addit. It's O.K. now - I managed to open it, thanks Manapa. :smile:

C.


Hi if anyone else has a problem opening the link it is called Discipline and Conventions for Western Sangha I got the link from What Buddha Taught.net in the resources section on the right hand column 7 from the top of that list although I have seen it in other places I just by chance opened it and saw that part yesterday.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun May 03, 2009 7:23 pm

i may be wrong or this could be a mahayana holdover but isnt there a difference in breaking a precept and not being able to keep a precept? it would be silly to think a monk cant use money to buy food if there was no other option. touching cash isnt on the same level as say having sex, killing someone, or stealing, yet on the internet lay followers seem to make it out to be the worst thing a monk could do.
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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby cooran » Sun May 03, 2009 9:49 pm

Hello JC,

isnt there a difference in breaking a precept and not being able to keep a precept?

I don't think so. Can you give an example?

metta
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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun May 03, 2009 10:40 pm

This thread raises some interesting points. I've had the opportunity to observe monks living or visiting New Zealand from various backgrounds (Thai, Sri Lankan, Western via Thailand, Malasian). At our Thai Wat here there is no shortage of lay people coming with food every day , whereas the much smaller Sri Lankan community seem to struggle with that. In fact, I went to the Sri Lankan monastery one morning when Ajhan Tiradhamma (an Ajahn Chah student) was visiting since he insisted on not eating unless someone had specifically offered the food at the time of consumption (whereas the lay supporters tend to deliver it the night before).

Monks such as Ajahn Tiradhammo, and Bhante Aggacitta (who visited us from Malaysia) do mange to travel all over the place without handling any money. That would be unusual for many of the Thai monks I know. I should say that monks who I know well are not particularly happy that they handle money.

My personal attitude is to praise those who have the circumstances and skill to keep the Vinaya immaculately and not second-guess the others, particularly monks who are here to a large extent to provide a social service to the ethnic community.

It's not hard to find monks purchasing things in the 7/11 in Thailand, and people certainly put envelopes into alms bowls.

Again, I'm not going to second-guess what they are doing, and whether is it "necessary". I'll leave it other ordained Sangha to comment... In general, if I didn't like the way things were being handled I would simply avoid the particular monks or wats.

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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby cooran » Sun May 03, 2009 11:54 pm

Hello Mike, all,

I disagree. The Lay people are not meant to be adoring 'yes' men and women. It is a supportive two-way relationship. The lay people support the bhikkhus to give beings and opportunity to work solely for liberation without the distractions of having to earn a living etc. And the bhikkhus guide and teach the lay people. If one side is not doing their duty, the other side ought to not approve.

Here is a post of mine from Elsewhere on an experience I had with Thai lay people giving Alms very early in the morning in Central Bangkok - their daily practice.

Perhaps it's helpful to read what the Buddha has to say about
Sangha and what type of monastic is "worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, an incomparable field of merit for the world".

Hello Ven. Gavesako, all,

Bhante, thanks for the link to Thanissaro Bhikkhu's article. This quote reminded me of an experience that I had recently in Bangkok:
"The arrangement may limit the freedom of the monastics in certain ways, but it means that the lay supporters take an active interest not only in what the monastic teaches, but also in how the monastic lives — a useful safeguard to make sure that teachers walk their talk. This, again, insures that the practice remains a communal concern."
http://accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/ ... onomy.html

As you know, the Lay people and the Sangha in a Buddhist country have an intertwined relationship . Lay people, though deeply respecting the Bhikkhus, are not helpless subordinates bound to accept indiscriminately everything a monk says and does. One aspect of the relationship is that, though it might be assumed that all power and control resides with the Sangha, the Lay people have their own way of influencing things.

I have stood with Thai friends in Bangkok in the early morning when the monks were coming past in dribs and drabs on pindapata (also known as binderbaht). Donations of food and small toiletries were made to all - with silent communication from the lay people gracefully expressing the invitation, monks kindly accepting and the respectful giving and receiving of alms was accomplished, according to the an age old tradition.
http://www.thaibuddhist.com/alms_round.html

I remember when I first joined in .... on one particular morning, there was one monk who was not silently invited to cross the street and receive alms. No one bowed to him or made eye contact. Nothing was said - but the bodily postures of the donees, the averting of eyes, the not giving the invitational wei - all communicated the fact that this particular monk was not welcome.

In my innocence at first, I thought all the Thais had somehow simply not noticed him in his bright coloured robes, and began to make an invitational wei in his direction - only to hear an urgent hissing sound from my companions, with one single emphatic shake of the head. I asked later, but all they would say was 'not a good monk, not a good monk'.

I have since heard that it is common in rural areas in particular, for the lay people to express their strong disapproval via this avenue.

http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index. ... t&p=352108

metta
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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon May 04, 2009 1:08 am

Hi Chris,

Perhaps I wasn't clear,
Chris wrote:Hello Mike, all,
I disagree. The Lay people are not meant to be adoring 'yes' men and women.

I never said that lay people should be 'yes' men/women.

If I thought a particular temple/monk was not good I would not support that particular temple/monk, as in your quote.

But I don't think it is would be helpful to build up negative feelings by dwelling on it, or to be overly critical of some of the ways things have developed in various places.

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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby Dhammanando » Mon May 04, 2009 4:29 am

Hi JC,

i may be wrong or this could be a mahayana holdover but isnt there a difference in breaking a precept and not being able to keep a precept?


From the example that you then give, I think the distinction you are making would be more accurately described as having to endure some inconvenience or hardship as a result of keeping one's precepts versus not having to endure any.

it would be silly to think a monk cant use money to buy food if there was no other option.


How would there not be another option? If you're referring to a place in which nobody ever offers almsfood, then that would simply be an unsuitable place for a Vinaya-observant bhikkhu to live. And so there is in fact an option: move somewhere else.

On the other hand, if it’s a place where almsfood is hard to come by but at least some is obtainable, then the teaching given in the Vanapatthasutta (MN. 17) and the Sevanasutta (AN. iv. 365) is applicable.

    from the Vanapatthasutta

    “Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives in some jungle thicket. While he is living there his unestablished mindfulness does not become established, his unconcentrated mind does not become concentrated, his undestroyed taints do not come to destruction, he does not attain the unattained supreme security from bondage; and also the requisites of life that should be obtained by one gone forth —robes, almsfood, resting place, and medicinal requisites— are hard to come by. The bhikkhu should consider thus: ‘I am living in this jungle thicket. While I am living here my unestablished mindfulness does not become established, my unconcentrated mind does not become concentrated, my undestroyed taints do not come to destruction, I do not attain the unattained supreme security from bondage; and also the requisites of life that should be obtained by one gone forth —robes, almsfood, resting place, and medicinal requisites— are hard to come by.’ That bhikkhu should depart from that jungle thicket that very night or that very day; he should not continue living there.”

In short, if the place is both bad for obtaining requisites and bad for practice, then move on. The sutta then continues with the following permutations:

2. Good for requisites, bad for practice: leave at once.
3. Bad for requisites, good for practice: stay put for now.
4. Good for requisites, good for practice: stay put for as long as life lasts.

The same is then repeated for bhikkhus living in locations other than jungle thickets.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
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    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon May 04, 2009 7:06 pm

Dhammanando wrote:2. Good for requisites, bad for practice: leave at once.
3. Bad for requisites, good for practice: stay put for now.
4. Good for requisites, good for practice: stay put for as long as life lasts.

Hi Bhante, all,

Then it would appear that a monk that receives alms on nearly all days of the month, but not all, might fall under #2 above, bad for requisites but good for practice so it is okay to stay put for now.

So could such a monk store some food as necessary for the days when there are no alms? Or would it be a modern interpretation / convenience to do so?

I know that purchasing and cooking the items is definitely a modern interpretation at best, but what if a lay steward purchased the items and/or cooked them and placed them in the refrigerator for a later date not as a regular thing, but for the few days when there are no alms?

I know these are not issues in Buddhist countries or even in some non-Buddhist countries where there is plenty of support, but for some places in non-Buddhist lands, this can be a problem / issue.
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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby Tex » Mon May 04, 2009 7:37 pm

Follow-up question on requisites -- what about medical care? I understand from Bhante Dhammanando's malaria issue that there was a hospital in Thailand to handle monastics' major health issues, but what about here in The States? I'm sure free clinics could handle a lot of issues, but what about something like cancer that could require extremely lengthy and expensive treatments? Do Western bhikkhus qualify for any sort of health insurance assistance from the government, etc?
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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby cooran » Mon May 04, 2009 7:51 pm

Hello Tex,

In Australia, monks have a medicare card as do all citizens, which allows free hospital, and general practitioner care. Britain is similar.

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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby kc2dpt » Mon May 04, 2009 10:01 pm

On a related note, I remember a Sri Lanken monk I know needed glasses. He got the examination from one of the lay supporters who was also a doctor. He got the glasses from donation I think. This was in the USA. Then again, the whole reason the temple was established there was to support a local population of Sri Lankens. So this was a case of monks establishing themselves in a place which had both suitable support and also lots of people who knew nothing about Buddhism. Thus they could be supported and also spread the Buddhadhamma. :clap:
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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby Dhammanando » Tue May 05, 2009 1:13 am

Hi David,

TheDhamma wrote:So could such a monk store some food as necessary for the days when there are no alms? Or would it be a modern interpretation / convenience to do so?


It would be a modern interpretation. On a bad day for almsfood a monk is supposed to simply endure and remind himself: "It isn't for the sake of requisites that one goes forth into the homeless life." After all, fasting for a day or two, or even a week or two, is really no big deal for a person in good health. In British prisons when the IRA terrorists go on hunger strike it usually takes 60-70 days before they snuff it.

I know that purchasing and cooking the items is definitely a modern interpretation at best, but what if a lay steward purchased the items and/or cooked them and placed them in the refrigerator for a later date not as a regular thing, but for the few days when there are no alms?


That's okay provided that (i) the monks don't instruct anyone to do this for them, (ii) the refrigerator isn't in their living quarters, and (iii) the food is freshly offered on the day it is eaten.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
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    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby AlaskanDhamma » Tue May 05, 2009 2:39 am

Here in Alaska, it is much too cold in the winter for bindabaht(spelling may be off there, sorrry). So most of the lay community comes and offers food in the mornings indoors. Then I think even in the summer as it got warmer, it just became habit, so we keep it that way. I know of a Wat in California that has regular bindabaht in their neighborhood because of the high Thai population. It may have already been mentioned, as I can't remember the name of it right now. Sorry, I'll try to get back with you on that. I know it's featured in a Dhamma video called Fearless Mountain though.
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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue May 05, 2009 3:24 am

Dhammanando wrote:
That's okay provided that (i) the monks don't instruct anyone to do this for them, (ii) the refrigerator isn't in their living quarters, and (iii) the food is freshly offered on the day it is eaten.

Hi Bhante,

Okay, thanks! That shouldn't be too hard for lay people to make that arrangement since that scenario works.
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Re: How do monks in non-Buddhist countries obtain food, etc?

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue May 05, 2009 4:26 am

AlaskanDhamma wrote:Here in Alaska, it is much too cold in the winter for bindabaht(spelling may be off there, sorrry). So most of the lay community comes and offers food in the mornings indoors. Then I think even in the summer as it got warmer, it just became habit, so we keep it that way. I know of a Wat in California that has regular bindabaht in their neighborhood because of the high Thai population. It may have already been mentioned, as I can't remember the name of it right now. Sorry, I'll try to get back with you on that. I know it's featured in a Dhamma video called Fearless Mountain though.

the monks here never went on alms rounds, they thought it was illegal. they were surprized when i told then there is no law against walking around with a bowl (alms rounds are not begging since a monk cant ask for anything). i can only think of two monestaries in america where the monks go for alms rounds, there may be more though.

ps im glad my copy of Fearless Mountain is getting around...
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