Almsfood in Western countries

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
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Stephen K
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Almsfood in Western countries

Postby Stephen K » Thu May 08, 2014 1:57 pm

I don't know whether this has been discussed before here, but I'm wondering how monks in Western countries like England get their almsfood. Do they walk on almsround like they do in SE Asia? Seems unlikely to me but do not know for sure.

Last year I visited a great Burmese monk in Manchester, UK, we talked about Dhamma and stuff, but I did not think of asking him this question.

As you may know I want to be a monk, and for me it would be great to be a monk in England one day, but I don't exactly know how alms are gathered.

Thanks.
With metta,
Upāsaka Sumana

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Sam Vara
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Re: Almsfood in Western countries

Postby Sam Vara » Thu May 08, 2014 2:40 pm

At my local monastery (Cittaviveka, in Southern England) the monks do sometimes go on almsround. But most of the food is provided by volunteers who cook and serve it at the monastery.

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Stephen K
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Re: Almsfood in Western countries

Postby Stephen K » Thu May 08, 2014 2:42 pm

Sam Vara wrote:At my local monastery (Cittaviveka, in Southern England) the monks do sometimes go on almsround. But most of the food is provided by volunteers who cook and serve it at the monastery.

I see. Thank you.
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Upāsaka Sumana

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cooran
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Re: Almsfood in Western countries

Postby cooran » Thu May 08, 2014 9:05 pm

At Dhammagiri Forest Hermitage at Kholo near Brisbane the monks rely solely on food given as Dana by the Lay Community. There is a roster for lay donors. General public may give Dana on Saturday or Sunday. If the rostered Lay Person does not attend, then the Bhikkhus do not eat. I have great respect for the Bhikkhus living according to the Rules set down in the Vinaya.

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Almsfood in Western countries

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu May 08, 2014 9:40 pm

Outside of the English Sangha Trust monasteries, walking for alms is unusual. I walk to local supporter's houses four days a week, and supporters come here three days. I don't know of any Asian monasteries where they do that. Alms is either brought to the Vihāra, or monks are taken by car to the donor's house. That is my experience at least — there may be exceptions I don't know about.

It is not like in Asia, where you might receive alms from many different donors on each day, and are free to walk different routes. Here, even in Chithurst it is by arrangement with local supporters, except for those monks and nuns who walk into Midhurst and stand in the High Street (if they still do that).
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Re: Almsfood in Western countries

Postby SarathW » Thu May 08, 2014 11:22 pm

Is it illegal to beg in the street in Western Countries?
:thinking:

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Re: Almsfood in Western countries

Postby SarathW » Thu May 08, 2014 11:25 pm

Interesting video (1 of 5) by Ajhan Sumdeho explain his experience.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BhnnNEy5Zo
:popcorn:

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James the Giant
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Re: Almsfood in Western countries

Postby James the Giant » Fri May 09, 2014 1:34 am

SarathW wrote:Is it illegal to beg in the street in Western Countries?
:thinking:

Not everywhere, but yes in many cities and towns it is illegal.
The police do not enforce it much unless there is a complaint from the public, and an annoyance being caused.
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Re: Almsfood in Western countries

Postby mikenz66 » Fri May 09, 2014 1:49 am

I can't find the post, but if I recall correctly, either James or Blackbird posted recently about how one of the monks at Bodhinyanarama (Greater Wellington, NZ: http://www.bodhinyanarama.net.nz/) ate for a few months by going on alms round. Can someone add a link to that here?

:anjali:
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gavesako
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Re: Almsfood in Western countries

Postby gavesako » Sat May 10, 2014 9:06 pm

Here is a recollection of a typical pindapata or almsround in England:

This morning after 8 am we started walking towards the town with our almsbowls. I took an antihistamine tablet because during this month there is a lot of grass pollen in the air and I have an allergy. Soon I started sneezing and my nose was running and my eyes were itchy. But we continued walking along the roads through the forest. To avoid going across the fields, we tried another path which went past some rich people's properties with fences around them. From the map it seemed that we could reach another footpath on the other side of the forest, but we got stuck and had to return and then find another way around, which took us quite a long time. In the end, we reached the town and stood in front of the supermarket just after 12 o'clock, with hardly any rest on the way. I was feeling rather dizzy from the hay fever allergy and also tired from the long walk.
We did not have much time left to collect some food, and for the first 15 minutes nobody seemed to notice us. Only one drunk man smoking a hand-rolled cigarette came up to us, greeted us and asked if we are Buddhists. Then he came back later, smiled and said: "George Harrison." He repeated: "George... George. It makes life worth living." I smiled back and said: "Yes, George Harrison. Good music." He must have remembered that the Beatles had experimented with Eastern meditation and went to India to meet some yogis. Then he said to us: "Don't drink. I say this to my nephew, I say this to everybody, drinking is bad for you. But I myself can't stop drinking... Remember: George." And he shook his head and walked away.
Standing there and feeling rather unwell, I was leaning against a tree. I closed my eyes, focused on my breath and repeated in my mind the four qualities "metta, karuna, mudita, upekkha". This is always a good way to prepare the mind for meeting other people in the town. Then a woman came out from the supermarket with a shopping cart, and started walking towards us. She took some money out and wanted to put it into my bowl, but I explained that we only accept food. So she took some uncooked vegetable and offered it to us. I did not say anything, although we could not eat it raw like that. Then she came back again and brought some more cheese and biscuits for us. After that, another three people offered us apples and bananas so that our bowls were full.
We only had about 20 minutes left to eat our food before 1 pm (which is midday according to summer time). Then a man came up to us, greeted us in a Buddhist way and asked if we came from the monastery. He was surprised that we walked so far in the morning, and after we explained our situation, he quickly went to buy some more sandwiches and drinks. Then took us to the lake to eat there, which we just managed before 1 pm. He explained that today it was his birthday, and so he wanted to go to the Buddhist monastery to sit in peace for a few hours with his wife. They were very happy to meet two monks on the way and drive them back. We were also happy that we did not have to walk all the way back...
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Re: Almsfood in Western countries

Postby LXNDR » Wed May 28, 2014 1:28 pm

James the Giant wrote:
SarathW wrote:Is it illegal to beg in the street in Western Countries?
:thinking:

Not everywhere, but yes in many cities and towns it is illegal.
The police do not enforce it much unless there is a complaint from the public, and an annoyance being caused.


i guess preventing an ordained monk clad as a monk from collecting alms would constitute a violation of freedom of consciousness

farmer
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Re: Almsfood in Western countries

Postby farmer » Wed May 28, 2014 5:27 pm

The monks at the Pacific Hermitage outside Portland Oregon live off food collected during alms round five days a week.


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