Viscid wrote:I've been meaning to ask this question generally for a while:
Would a monastery have to break totally from the Theravadin tradition if they wish to be self-sufficient? (Farming, perhaps, or selling products such as pottery or food.) I fantasize about a Theravadin monastery that operates much like a Trappist monastery to fund itself, rather than relying completely on laypeople. There seems to be a niche for it-- requiring a dedicated lay community seems unnecessarily prohibitive.
I've wondered about this, too. The majesty and brilliance of the Vinaya code is such that one would hesitate to mess with it in modern times, yet I have observed some Theravada monks make some small concessions in order to function in the west. These concessions are undertaken with some reluctance, but with a sense that certain functions would be impossible without some "tweaking" of the Code. For example, one of the monks is a Dhamma teacher, and he drives himself (old small car) to the various sanghas that support his Wat in the US. He has undertaken to drive because there is often no one to drive him from where he lives. He chooses to teach the Dhamma vs. stay at home and not teach.
Is it possible to endeavor to be a good Vinaya monk in the west, and still make some accommodations in order to survive and thrive? It seems to me that there needs to be an understanding that we can't let Theravada die out in the west over issues like transportation, food resourcing, and similar concerns. I recall one monk in the west relating that he had started a new monastery dependent on daily meal dana from some Asian locals in town. This small group of monks went for days without eating because the locals forgot to bring food. One of these monks is a Pali Dhamma scholar...I'd hate to think that he'd die in a remote cabin somewhere simply because in the west no one cared to remember to bring him a daily meal.
I don't want to see Theravada die off in the west, or see itself in a distant third place in the west behind the leading Mahayana sanghas. I personally see Theravada as the strongest link of the Buddhist chain, and it should never find itself imperiled due to an inability to function in modern western society.