Receiving Teachings

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Receiving Teachings

Postby Beautiful Breath » Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:44 am

Hi,

I have a friend who is struggling with the fact that Ordained Sangha rely almost exclusivley on the lay community for everything. We have all see this is the various monasteries we have stayed in and I can see how for a none Buddhist it does seem incredibly one sided. What are the Monastic obligations to the lay community?

How have others explained this to none Buddhists - explainging it as a 'tradition' didn't wash with my friend as her argument was that a 2500 year old tradition holds little relavance in the West in 2012.

Thoughts?

BB... :anjali:
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Re: Receiving Teachings

Postby Ben » Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:53 am

Hi BB,

The laity physically support the sangha and the sangha preserve and propagate the sasana (teachings), and the sangha are a potent 'field of merit' for the laity.
In some SE Asian countries, there is also a deep interrelationship between the laity, sangha and the government.
Its not one-sided, its a relationship that is mutually beneficial. Howevr, the mutual benefit may not be easy to see for a non-Buddhist.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Receiving Teachings

Postby DAWN » Tue Nov 20, 2012 7:09 pm

Sangha take a role of school. Childrens lern to read, count, live in comunity, deal with samsara etc
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english
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Re: Receiving Teachings

Postby Alobha » Tue Nov 20, 2012 7:29 pm

Some explanation to offer another perspective:

"Now, there are these five gifts, five great gifts — original, long-standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated, unadulterated from the beginning — that are not open to suspicion, will never be open to suspicion, and are unfaulted by knowledgeable contemplatives & brahmans. Which five?

"There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones, abandoning the taking of life, abstains from taking life. In doing so, he gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings. In giving freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, he gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression. This is the first gift, the first great gift — original, long-standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated, unadulterated from the beginning — that is not open to suspicion, will never be open to suspicion, and is unfaulted by knowledgeable contemplatives & brahmans. And this is the fourth reward of merit...

"Furthermore, abandoning taking what is not given (stealing), the disciple of the noble ones abstains from taking what is not given. In doing so, he gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings. In giving freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, he gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression. This is the second gift, the second great gift... and this is the fifth reward of merit...

"Furthermore, abandoning illicit sex, the disciple of the noble ones abstains from illicit sex. In doing so, he gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings. In giving freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, he gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression. This is the third gift, the third great gift... and this is the sixth reward of merit...

"Furthermore, abandoning lying, the disciple of the noble ones abstains from lying. In doing so, he gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings. In giving freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, he gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression. This is the fourth gift, the fourth great gift... and this is the seventh reward of merit...

"Furthermore, abandoning the use of intoxicants, the disciple of the noble ones abstains from taking intoxicants. In doing so, he gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings. In giving freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, he gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression. This is the fifth gift, the fifth great gift — original, long-standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated, unadulterated from the beginning — that is not open to suspicion, will never be open to suspicion, and is unfaulted by knowledgeable contemplatives & brahmans. And this is the eighth reward of merit, reward of skillfulness, nourishment of happiness, celestial, resulting in happiness, leading to heaven, leading to what is desirable, pleasurable, & appealing; to welfare & to happiness.


Note the expression: "he gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings".
Right Conduct is a gift to the world. Of course, the gift of right conduct doesn't end with the five precepts. The teachings given by the Sangha and the life the monastics give to Buddha Dhamma Sangha - these are great gifts. The Buddha taught the way out of suffering and walked the path out of compassion. And I believe so does Sangha. The Sangha gives a gift to the world by touching people and showing them a way out of the struggles of life. They give the world the gift of certainty that there is a way out of suffering and that it can be done. Not just the many outstanding teachers, but the whole Sangha gives this gift of confidence to the world - confidence that there is a way to lasting happiness, confidence that we can abandon greed, hatred and ignorance.

This is the relevant aspect in the western world 2012 and this is what it has been ever since the Buddha laid down the monastic code to prevent the Sangha from shutting themselves off from the laity. From my point of view, the Sangha touches the life of people, its presence in the world keeps the path to a life free from suffering open because the Sangha is uplifting, is leading people on the right and straight way out of suffering.

Think of it. They have no TV, don't listen to music, they don't eat after noon, they don't go dancing, why do they do that? When we look at those monks and nuns experienced on the path, we know that this is not because they want to punish themselves. They put all their effort into giving freedom from the dangers of greed, hatred and ignorance to themselves and others. What a wonderful thing this is. What a wonderful thing it is, that the Sangha follows the strict training of the Buddha to bring the roots of suffering in this world to rest. People come to monasteries sometimes just to work there for the day because they can feel this. And if you (or rather your friend) experiences the gift the Sangha brings to this world, then the inclination to support and to help comes naturally. At least that's a way to explain why people support the Sangha so much.

Another thing is that people feel good with giving. People from all over the world were very happy to support Bhikkhu Samahita when he was ill some time ago. It's good for oneself to care. Kindness and compassion is of great benefit for oneself as well as for others. Preparing and giving food to them seems like such a small thing, but it fills the heart with kindness and the joy of giving, it gives oneself freedom from anger and selfishness.

It's as the Buddha said: "If beings knew the result of giving and sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of selfishness overcome their minds."
In our modern world, we have a lot of things, but people still are not happy. They feel lonely as they live alone and they aspire to independency and self-reliance and people prefer to not need any help. The Sangha gives the laypeople the opportunity to help and to care where it really counts and where the benefit of giving is really great. Food, clothing, a roof over the head, medicine... is it easy to make oneself so dependable, so defenseless and so helpless and to rely on others? I don't think so. It's really great that the Sangha does this and it fills people with joy to help in this situation.

So... there you have something.
Best wishes,
Alobha (who feels like bowing in homage to the Sangha right now! ;) )
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Re: Receiving Teachings

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:54 pm

Alobha wrote:Some explanation to offer another perspective:

:anjali:
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Receiving Teachings

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:03 pm

:goodpost: :anjali:
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: Receiving Teachings

Postby Paribbajaka » Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:01 am

I strongly recommend you read Thanissaro Bhikkhu's "Economy of Gifts" (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... onomy.html) to gain help explain the Lay/ Monastic relationship. Long story short, when monks have their mundane needs taken care of by lay people, this allows them to focus purely on Dhamma. When monks are allowed to devote themselves to the Dhamma, they are able to share it free of charge and they are able to share it without concern for who's going to buy it, therefore not watering the message down. So really both parties benefit tremendously. Hope this helps! :anjali:
May all beings be happy!
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Re: Receiving Teachings

Postby pegembara » Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:26 am

Today I have brought you the Dhamma as a gift (in this time of illness). I have no material things to give you; there seem to be plenty of those in the house already, and so I give you Dhamma, something which has a lasting worth, something which you'll never be able to exhaust. Having received it from me you can pass it on to as many others as you like and it will never be depleted. That is the nature of Truth. I am happy to have been able to give you this gift of Dhamma, and I hope it will give you strength to deal with your pain.

Ajahn Chah


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