Thai Theravadin monks and money

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby fivebells » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:02 pm

I came across this interesting passage in Ajaan Lee's autobiography. It surprised me, because I understood that monks aren't supposed to handle money at all. Is it an aberration, or can monks carry small amounts of money when traveling alone in urban areas? (Seems like a practical exception, in some ways.)

I had no idea of how to find my way to Wat Sra Pathum, so I called a rickshaw driver and asked him, ‘How much will you charge to take me to Wat Sra Pathum?’
‘Fifty satang.’
‘Fifty satang? Why so much? Wat Sra Pathum is practically just around the corner!’ So in the end he took me for fifteen satang
fivebells
 
Posts: 299
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:52 am

Re: Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby reflection » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:18 pm

Although the quote doesn't say Ajahn Lee handled the money himself (perhaps there was a lay person with him, not uncommon when travelling), not all monks keep or understand the precepts equally. So some do handle money.

There is no exception for handling money in the precepts I don't think.
User avatar
reflection
 
Posts: 1115
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm

Re: Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby lyndon taylor » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:52 pm

I think there is an allowance of three???$$$ in whatever currency was popular in the Buddha's time, correct me if I am wrong.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
User avatar
lyndon taylor
 
Posts: 866
Joined: Mon May 02, 2011 11:41 pm
Location: Redlands, Southern California, USA

Re: Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby Sekha » Mon Jul 08, 2013 6:45 pm

No allowance whatsoever. Monks are not supposed to associate themselves directly with any money transfer, which includes engaging in bargain.
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org
User avatar
Sekha
 
Posts: 749
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:32 am
Location: French Guiana

Re: Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby lyndon taylor » Mon Jul 08, 2013 7:00 pm

Sorry I must have been thinking of the minimum donation of 3?? when going to temple.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
User avatar
lyndon taylor
 
Posts: 866
Joined: Mon May 02, 2011 11:41 pm
Location: Redlands, Southern California, USA

Re: Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby gavesako » Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:14 pm

In real life, you can assume that the average Theravada monk you meet will have and use money. Having said that, there are a few exception: The monks who have ordained in the strict discipline tradition (which are a small minority) such as some of the forest monks in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Burma. However, do not be misled merely by the colour of the robes. In the Thai tradition, the Ajahn Chah group still holds to this principle, but a lot of the Dhammayut monks these are using money or ATM cards. There are some other Thai monks who are not part of forest tradition and who don't use money, but they are relatively few.

The Monks' Rules: FAQs

FAQ. 5: The Vinaya rules disallow monks from touching or handling money. As such, in Buddhist countries monks must have a Kappiya [attendant] to handle money for them. However, if a monk has to travel and does not have a Kappiya, under such circumstances do the Vinaya rules allow him to handle money personally? This is a problem especially in non-Buddhist countries.

A: While it may be a problem or inconvenience, the rules are there to protect and remind the monk about dangerous, unskilful actions. If the monk becomes increasingly involved with money there is a tendency for the whole of his bhikkhu-life to be compromised — and that would be a far greater problem. Soon after the Final Passing Away of the Lord Buddha this sort of question had already become a major controversy and it is now even more complex under modern conditions. However, modern conditions also have brought their own assistance to keeping these rules. For instance, a bhikkhu can be given an air ticket and travel around the world (if need be) without having any money or attendant. He will need to be met at the airport and helped in the normal way, but that should be natural if he has been invited to come by the lay group. (He should not really be travelling otherwise.) And, of course, a monk can use postage stamps and 'telephone-cards' that add convenience to communicating — when it is appropriate.

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/bud ... qmonks.htm

:broke:


VINAYA
Monks and Money

Ajahn Brahmavamso

This is the second article in the series about the Vinaya, the body of monastic rules and traditions binding on every Buddhist monk and nun. In this article I will be concerned with the controversial issue of a monk's or nun's dealings with money.

The issue has been controversial for over 2,000 years. Around 200 years after the Buddha's final passing away, there arose a great quarrel in which "both endless disputations arose and of not one speech was the meaning clear" [1]. This dispute arose because a large community of monks were accepting money in defiance of the Vinaya. The proceedings of the dispute became known as the Second Council and it sowed the seed of the first great schism in the Buddhist world, which happened soon after.

Then, as now, there is no excuse for uncertainty on this point, for the Buddha's own words make it plain...

On Monks and Money

Buddhist monks (bhikkhus) and nuns (bhikkhunis) are not allowed to accept money for themselves. Nor are they allowed to tell a trustworthy layperson to receive it on their behalf and keep it for them (e.g. keeping a personal bank account). Such practices are explicitly prohibited in the 18th rule of the section of Vinaya called Nissaggiya Pacittiya.

Nor may monks or nuns buy and sell things for themselves using money. This is prohibited by the 19th rule in the Nissaggiya Pacittiya.

Some people argue that these two rules refer only to gold and silver but such a view is indefensible. The Vinaya specifically states that these rules cover "whatever is used in business" [2], i.e. any medium of exchange.

Other people try to get around this rule by saying that it is only a minor rule, inapplicable to monastic life today. Indeed, the Buddha once did say that the Sangha may abolish the "lesser and minor" rules.

But is this rule a minor one?...

'Monks, there are these four stains because of which the sun and moon glow not, shine not, blaze not. What are these four? Rain clouds... snow clouds... smoke and dust... and an eclipse. Even so, monks, there are these four stains because of which monks and priests glow not, shine not, blaze not. What are these four? Drinking alcohol... indulging in sexual intercourse... accepting gold or money... obtaining one's requisites through a wrong mode of livelihood. These are the four stains, monks, because of which monks and priests glow not, shine not, blaze not.' [3]

Obviously, the Buddha thought that the rule prohibiting the acceptance of gold or money was, indeed, a very important rule.

The non-acceptance of money has always been one of the fundamental observances of those who have left the world. Money is the measure of wealth and to most people material wealth is the goal of life. In the renunciation of money by monks and nuns, they emphatically demonstrate their complete rejection of worldly pursuits. At one stroke they set themselves significantly apart from the vast majority of people and thus become a constant reminder to all that a life based on the struggle to accumulate money is not the only way to live. Through giving up money they give up much of their power to manipulate the world and to satisfy their desires. Thus, as the Buddha once said when asked whether money was permissible to the monks and nuns:

'Whoever agrees to gold or money, headman, also agrees to the five strands of sensual pleasure, and whoever agrees to the five strands of sensual pleasure, headman, you may take it for certain that this is not the way of a recluse, that this is not the way of a Buddhist monk.'[4]

References
[1] Book of the Discipline, volume 5, page 424.
[2] Book of the Discipline, volume 2, page 102.
[3] Anguttara Nikaya, volume 2, page 53. (my translation)
[4] Samyutta Nikaya, volume 4, page 326. (my translation)

http://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebsut018.htm
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

ajahnchah.org - Teachings of Ajahn Chah in many languages
Dhammatube - Videos on Buddhist practice
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
User avatar
gavesako
 
Posts: 1400
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:16 pm
Location: England

Re: Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jul 08, 2013 11:11 pm

Sekha wrote:No allowance whatsoever. Monks are not supposed to associate themselves directly with any money transfer, which includes engaging in bargain.

there is an allowance, but not for handling money in this manner.
it is an allowance to put into safekeeping valuables found on manastery land. but it is only for safekeeping. and another for appropriate disposal by one bhikkhu that which has been forfeited & confessed by another.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
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."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5751
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby fivebells » Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:14 pm

Thanks for the perspectives, everyone.
fivebells
 
Posts: 299
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:52 am

Re: Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby clw_uk » Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:27 pm

In real life, you can assume that the average Theravada monk you meet will have and use money.


Is this against the Vinaya?
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3479
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Jul 11, 2013 4:34 am

clw_uk wrote:
In real life, you can assume that the average Theravada monk you meet will have and use money.


Is this against the Vinaya?


yes
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1944
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby gavesako » Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:58 am

Goofaholix wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
In real life, you can assume that the average Theravada monk you meet will have and use money.


Is this against the Vinaya?


yes



In traditional Theravada countries, the canonical Vinaya rules are not the only standard that is followed, although they do form the basis (at least the most important rules). So some of the smaller rules such as this one (nissaggiya pacittiya) are conveniently by-passed by the majority of the monks because it is in the interest of the Sangha hierarchy -- established by the state in order to maintain control and cohesiveness -- to possess funds and use them for various religious activities. The strict Vinaya monks are a very small group which is tolerated and respected, and due to a bit of skilful diplomacy the two groups can peacefully co-exist in the same country and participate in certain events as a single Sangha body. But in the daily life they will keep separate and know who is who. Naturally, strictness in Vinaya tends to attract admiration by the laity and a flow of donations (which are not handled directly by the monks but by lay stewards), which in turn and over a period of time tends to have a weaking influence on the tradition itself. And then the cycle repeats itself...
:group:
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

ajahnchah.org - Teachings of Ajahn Chah in many languages
Dhammatube - Videos on Buddhist practice
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
User avatar
gavesako
 
Posts: 1400
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:16 pm
Location: England

Re: Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby Bakmoon » Thu Jul 11, 2013 7:37 pm

I read that same book and was also a bit confused, being that Ajahn lee was in the Dhammayutta Nikaya. In other places in the autobiography however, it always shows him as traveling with lay stewards so I suppose that at this occasion Ajahn lee was with an attendant and it was Ajahn lee doing the talking with the driver trying to negotiate a lower price.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
Bakmoon
 
Posts: 197
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:14 pm

Re: Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby gavesako » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:34 am

From the current discussion about Buddhist monks' discipline in Thailand:

Truth about temple cash isn't pretty

http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opin ... n-t-pretty

:spy:
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

ajahnchah.org - Teachings of Ajahn Chah in many languages
Dhammatube - Videos on Buddhist practice
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
User avatar
gavesako
 
Posts: 1400
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:16 pm
Location: England

Re: Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby gavesako » Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:29 pm

... For Rojanaphruk, and a growing number of Thais like him, Buddhism in Thailand is failing, unable to cope with a society increasingly under the spell of consumerism and secular ideals. Nenkham is unique in that he got caught.

“But there are likely dozens more monks, senior monks like him, who have the same portfolio,” Rojanaphruk says. “Thai Buddhism has lost touch with reality. The rigours and demands of the system, especially on monks, are out of synch with the realities of life. Times are changing.”

Certainly the days of forest monasteries and secluded monks devoted to a spiritual life at the expense of physical desire are quickly becoming a thing of an idyllic past. Rapid urbanization is changing the face of societies in southeast Asia, and along with it, how people engage with faith.

Rojanaphruk says he remembers the days when his grandmother would wake up before sunrise every morning to prepare food for the alms bowls of monks. “This was the way it was done for thousands of years,” he says. “But who has time for that these days? It’s easier just to give money.”

The result, he adds, is a commodification of Buddhism, particularly in Thailand. Monasteries find themselves competing heavily for the wallets of devotees. According to Rojanaphruk, there are now more than 40,000 temples in Thailand, each looking for a competitive edge over its rivals.

“Merit-making has become big business in Thailand,” Rojanaphruk says. “People offer goods and money to monks as a way to gain favour in the next life. I don’t doubt their faith–they believe in what they are doing. So they build lavish temples and statues, not only in the hopes of having their sins forgiven, but also to gain prestige in society. This is contradictory to Buddhist teaching.”

At the heart of it all, according to Rajanaphruk, is the monetization of faith. “If people stopped looking for easy ways to buy merit,” he says, “like becoming a monk temporarily–a feature of Thai Buddhism–monkhood would not suffer the way it has. Buddhism is a way of life. You can’t simply purchase your way to nirvana.”

http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/07/31/when-monks-go-bad/

:shrug:
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

ajahnchah.org - Teachings of Ajahn Chah in many languages
Dhammatube - Videos on Buddhist practice
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
User avatar
gavesako
 
Posts: 1400
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:16 pm
Location: England

Re: Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby forestmat » Sat Aug 10, 2013 5:27 am

Rojanaphruk says he remembers the days when his grandmother would wake up before sunrise every morning to prepare food for the alms bowls of monks. “This was the way it was done for thousands of years,” he says. “But who has time for that these days? It’s easier just to give money.”


Having moved out of Bangkok after living there for 10 years, from what I experience daily, villagers in Isarn (NE Thailand) are still waking up early to prepare rice for both themselves and monks on pindabat.

Metta
User avatar
forestmat
 
Posts: 138
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2009 9:50 am
Location: Northeastern Thailand

Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby GraemeR » Sat Aug 10, 2013 6:05 am

forestmat wrote:Having moved out of Bangkok after living there for 10 years, from what I experience daily, villagers in Isarn (NE Thailand) are still waking up early to prepare rice for both themselves and monks on pindabat.

Metta


I think it's the urban monks that many people have lost respect for.

In rural areas there is often better conduct both by monks and laity.

Grahan
User avatar
GraemeR
 
Posts: 136
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:20 am
Location: Thailand

Re: Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby robertk » Sat Aug 10, 2013 7:25 am

forestmat wrote:
Rojanaphruk says he remembers the days when his grandmother would wake up before sunrise every morning to prepare food for the alms bowls of monks. “This was the way it was done for thousands of years,” he says. “But who has time for that these days? It’s easier just to give money.”


Having moved out of Bangkok after living there for 10 years, from what I experience daily, villagers in Isarn (NE Thailand) are still waking up early to prepare rice for both themselves and monks on pindabat.

Metta

i lived in sukimvit 24 in the heart of bangkok for 5 years and if i was ever up at daylight there were dozens of people lined up waiting to give food to monks. far more food than they could eat actially.
User avatar
robertk
 
Posts: 1254
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby robertk » Sat Aug 10, 2013 7:27 am

GraemeR wrote:
forestmat wrote:Having moved out of Bangkok after living there for 10 years, from what I experience daily, villagers in Isarn (NE Thailand) are still waking up early to prepare rice for both themselves and monks on pindabat.

Metta


I think it's the urban monks that many people have lost respect for.

In rural areas there is often better conduct both by monks and laity.

Grahan

well the multi millionairre monk recently disrobed after the picture of him in a private jet had his temple in si saket, one of the poorest rural areas of isaan.
User avatar
robertk
 
Posts: 1254
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby forestmat » Sat Aug 10, 2013 7:56 am

robertk wrote:
forestmat wrote:
Rojanaphruk says he remembers the days when his grandmother would wake up before sunrise every morning to prepare food for the alms bowls of monks. “This was the way it was done for thousands of years,” he says. “But who has time for that these days? It’s easier just to give money.”


Having moved out of Bangkok after living there for 10 years, from what I experience daily, villagers in Isarn (NE Thailand) are still waking up early to prepare rice for both themselves and monks on pindabat.

Metta

i lived in sukimvit 24 in the heart of bangkok for 5 years and if i was ever up at daylight there were dozens of people lined up waiting to give food to monks. far more food than they could eat actially.



Thanks @RobertK,

my post was in relation to the quote:

"Rojanaphruk says he remembers the days when his grandmother would wake up before sunrise every morning to prepare food for the alms bowls of monks. “This was the way it was done for thousands of years,” he says. “But who has time for that these days? It’s easier just to give money.”


It wasn't meant to be have been taken as a comparison between urban and rural lay Buddhists.

Metta.
User avatar
forestmat
 
Posts: 138
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2009 9:50 am
Location: Northeastern Thailand

Re: Thai Theravadin monks and money

Postby Bankei » Sat Nov 09, 2013 11:45 pm

Touching money is not such an issue in my opinion, it is the becoming attached to it and the businessisation of monks that concerns me.

For example you must actually pay monks to get ordained as a monk. The going rate for a compulsory donation to a upatcha is about 3,000B. Each monks attending the ceremony will also get around 500B. All up a very expensive affair.

I wonder what all these monks do with the money??
Bankei
-----------------------
Bankei
Bankei
 
Posts: 426
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:40 am

Next

Return to Theravāda for the modern world

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests