MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

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MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby dumb bonbu » Wed Jan 28, 2009 5:41 am

hi folks, okay so where my understanding is lacking is in verses 13 and 15 -

13. "Here, student, some woman or man is not a giver of food, drink, cloth, sandals, garlands, perfumes, unguents, bed, roof and lighting to monks or brahmans. Due to having performed and completed such kamma, on the dissolution of the body, after death he reappears in a state of deprivation... If instead he comes to the human state, he is poor wherever he is reborn. This is the way that leads to poverty, that is to say, not to be a giver of food, drink, cloth, sandals, garlands, perfumes, unguents, bed, roof and lighting to monks and brahmans.
-MN 135

15. "Here, student, some woman or man is obdurate and haughty; he does not pay homage to whom he should pay homage, or rise up for whom he should rise up, or give a seat to whom he should give a seat, or make way for whom he should make way, or worship him who should be worshipped, or respect him who should be respected, or revere him who should be revered, or honor him who should be honored. Due to having performed and completed such kammas, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a state of deprivation... If instead he comes to the human state, he is low-born wherever he is reborn. This is the way that leads to low birth, that is to say, to be obdurate and haughty, not to pay homage to whom he should pay homage, nor rise up for..., nor give a seat to..., nor make way for..., nor worship..., nor respect..., nor revere..., nor honor him who should be honored.

so with regards v13 i understand Buddha is referring to the virtue of dana, and that it is taught that of the greatest virtue is giving to the Sangha. what i don't understand is say someone cultivates dana by supporting the needy, the poor, by helping them...but has no opportunity or does not come into contact with the Sangha and Dharma in this lifetime. will they be reborn into poverty themselves despite cultivation of dana in this way?

regards v15 - what is meant by high and low birth in the human realm? is the Buddha referring to the caste system? because i thought he rejected it?

many thanks in advance
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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby cooran » Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:02 am

Hello db, all,

MN 135 The Culakammavibhanga Sutta is The Shorter Exposition of Action. In this Sutta, the Buddha explains how kamma accounts for the fortune and misfortune of beings.
Kamma is intentional choice/action. It isn't the case that these people didn't happen to come across the Sangha, and couldn't give Dana.
It means they intentionally chose to withhold Dana from the Sangha, were miserly.

High means being born into a comfortable well-off and respected family. Low means not having such a fortunate rebirth.

metta
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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby dumb bonbu » Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:10 am

hi Chris thankyou for your clarification, most helpful. so being intentionally miserly is the thing to consider in the context of verse 13. but are there suttas where the Buddha speaks of dana in the sense of helping those less fortunate than ourselves? or is cultivation of dana more often than not, spoken of in terms of supporting the Sangha (i don't want to sound like i'm down on supporting this Gem by the way, i realise the importance in doing so)? thankyou
Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding.
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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby cooran » Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:52 am

Hello db,

These essays may be of assistance:
Dana -The Practice of Giving Selected essays edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el367.html

A couple of weeks ago, there was a discussion with Bhante Dhammasiha at my local monestary, about 'Giving' and there was mention of 'merit' and thinking over (recollecting) the gifts and donations one has made. I recalled that for some years, I have been having some deductions made monthly from my bank account for various charities here and overseas - but that I never think about it. Apparently it is perfectly okay in Buddhism to recall the good things one has done, and to let others know - as a matter of fact, it seems to be recommended - so that they can also rejoice in your merit. It is a little difficult for me to do this - having been brought up to downplay any achievements or donations. It was suggested that I read over my bank statement, and that whenever I receive the newsletters from the Agencies I donate to, to allow myself to read the good things they are doing and feel delight at realising that my donation was helping these things to happen.

metta
Chris
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Element

Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby Element » Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:37 am

Chris wrote:It isn't the case that these people didn't happen to come across the Sangha, and couldn't give Dana. It means they intentionally chose to withhold Dana from the Sangha, were miserly.

How can this be true when the Sangha was new in India? Most alive in the Buddha's time obviously did not give dana to the Sangha in their previous life.

Element

Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby Element » Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:40 am

This sutta is just encouraging the well to do to do good. Buddha would not have taught the poor and destitute the same teaching.

This sutta is merely one teaching given to a Brahmin student. It is improved Brahminism taught to a Brahmin.

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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby cooran » Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:55 am

Element wrote:
Chris wrote:It isn't the case that these people didn't happen to come across the Sangha, and couldn't give Dana. It means they intentionally chose to withhold Dana from the Sangha, were miserly.

How can this be true when the Sangha was new in India? Most alive in the Buddha's time obviously did not give dana to the Sangha in their previous life.


Hello Element,

Beings have been reborn all through Beginingless Time. There have been uncountable rebirths for each flux of becoming. There have been many Sasanas with the four-fold assembly of Bhikkhus, Bhikkunis, upasakas and upasikas. Generosity and alms-giving has always been known in India - the time of the Buddha was a time when the general populace supported many types of Wanderers dependent on Alms.

metta
Chris
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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby cooran » Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:01 am

Element wrote:This sutta is just encouraging the well to do to do good. Buddha would not have taught the poor and destitute the same teaching.

This sutta is merely one teaching given to a Brahmin student. It is improved Brahminism taught to a Brahmin.


In MN. 99, according to MA, his father, the brahmin Todeyya, was reborn as a dog in his own house because of his extreme stinginess. The Buddha identified him to Subha by getting the dog to dig up some hidden treasure Subha's father had buried before his death. This inspired Subha's confidence in the Buddha and moved him to approach and inquire about the workings of kamma. (Bh. Bodhi's notes to sutta].

metta
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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby Annapurna » Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:37 am

dumb bonbu wrote:hi folks, okay so where my understanding is lacking is in verses 13 and 15 -

13. "Here, student, some woman or man is not a giver of food, drink, cloth, sandals, garlands, perfumes, unguents, bed, roof and lighting to monks or brahmans. Due to having performed and completed such kamma, on the dissolution of the body, after death he reappears in a state of deprivation... If instead he comes to the human state, he is poor wherever he is reborn. This is the way that leads to poverty, that is to say, not to be a giver of food, drink, cloth, sandals, garlands, perfumes, unguents, bed, roof and lighting to monks and brahmans.
-MN 135

15. "Here, student, some woman or man is obdurate and haughty; he does not pay homage to whom he should pay homage, or rise up for whom he should rise up, or give a seat to whom he should give a seat, or make way for whom he should make way, or worship him who should be worshipped, or respect him who should be respected, or revere him who should be revered, or honor him who should be honored. Due to having performed and completed such kammas, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a state of deprivation... If instead he comes to the human state, he is low-born wherever he is reborn. This is the way that leads to low birth, that is to say, to be obdurate and haughty, not to pay homage to whom he should pay homage, nor rise up for..., nor give a seat to..., nor make way for..., nor worship..., nor respect..., nor revere..., nor honor him who should be honored.

so with regards v13 i understand Buddha is referring to the virtue of dana, and that it is taught that of the greatest virtue is giving to the Sangha. what i don't understand is say someone cultivates dana by supporting the needy, the poor, by helping them...but has no opportunity or does not come into contact with the Sangha and Dharma in this lifetime. will they be reborn into poverty themselves despite cultivation of dana in this way?

regards v15 - what is meant by high and low birth in the human realm? is the Buddha referring to the caste system? because i thought he rejected it?

many thanks in advance


Dear db,

13 describes generosity on a material level, with gifts.
15 describes generosity on a non-material level, through good demeanor.

13: If you are not meeting any of those worthy of donations, such as monks and Brahmins, you don't intentionally withhold your generosity from them.

But if you are both wealthy and have an occasion to be generous, and you choose not to be, well then MN 135 is valid for you.

15. If you are poor, but show respect by your conduct, you give generously as well, just on another level.

We often underestimate how generous we can still be even if on humble means.

We can for instance pick wild flowers and make garlands, and bring them to temples.
We already give time and veneration by studying the dhamma and listening to teachings.

or give a seat to whom he should give a seat, or make way for whom he should make way,


To who should we give a seat and make way ? Not just to a monk, but also to anybody who needs a seat more than we: somebody pregnant, sick, tired or old,

as somebody who was our mother in a previous life.


To those we should give a seat and make way.

Basically, to anybody.

so with regards v13 i understand Buddha is referring to the virtue of dana, and that it is taught that of the greatest virtue is giving to the Sangha. what i don't understand is say someone cultivates dana by supporting the needy, the poor, by helping them...but has no opportunity or does not come into contact with the Sangha and Dharma in this lifetime. will they be reborn into poverty themselves despite cultivation of dana in this way?


And viewed under this light, if you now look at 13 again, you will see that everybody in need deserves your generosity.

"somebody who was our mother in a previous life... "


:namaste:

Annabel
Last edited by Annapurna on Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:29 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Element

Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby Element » Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:42 am

dumb bonbu wrote:so with regards v13 i understand Buddha is referring to the virtue of dana, and that it is taught that of the greatest virtue is giving to the Sangha. what i don't understand is say someone cultivates dana by supporting the needy, the poor, by helping them...but has no opportunity or does not come into contact with the Sangha and Dharma in this lifetime. will they be reborn into poverty themselves despite cultivation of dana in this way?

Dear Dumb Bonbu

It appears that way. It that is the case, it would be best if I better stop giving to my two sponsored children in Africa, my other African welfare program, my Nepalese orphanage and three environmental charities but instead give to one of those temples in Bangkok with glittering stupas and overweight monks.

With metta

Element

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Last edited by Element on Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:52 am, edited 3 times in total.

Element

Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby Element » Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:43 am

Chris wrote:Hello Element,

Beings have been reborn all through Beginingless Time. There have been uncountable rebirths for each flux of becoming. There have been many Sasanas with the four-fold assembly of Bhikkhus, Bhikkunis, upasakas and upasikas. Generosity and alms-giving has always been known in India - the time of the Buddha was a time when the general populace supported many types of Wanderers dependent on Alms.

metta
Chris


Sorry Chris but I do not believe you. :smile: I do not believe the children I support due to their poverty did bad karma in any life.

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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby cooran » Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:00 am

Hello Element,

I'm not particularly interested in your idiosyncratic beliefs or history of donation. I would think that all of us here give to many charities, welfare, and buddhist organisations - by salary deduction or individual donation.

This is the Classical forum and my understanding is that it is for those interested in explaining and discussing the Buddha's Teachings in the way they have been handed down within the Tradition over the last two and a half millenia.

One hopes this sub-forum can continue and be treated with respect without yet another thread being transferred to the Modern forum.

metta
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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby Ben » Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:50 am

Dear members

Please remember that the question asked by the OP has been asked in the Classical Forum. The guidelines for the Classical (and Abhidhamma) forum are as follows:

The Abhidhamma and Classical Theravada sub-forums are specialized venues for the discussion of the Abhidhamma and the classical Mahavihara understanding of the Dhamma. Within these forums the Pali Tipitaka and its commentaries are for discussion purposes treated as authoritative. These forums are for the benefit of those members who wish to develop a deeper understanding of these texts and are not for the challenging of the Abhidhamma and/or Theravada commentarial literature.

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The appropriate forum for critiquing the Classical point of view or concepts such as rebirth, kamma & etc, is the Dhamma free-for-all.

In this forum, personal interpretations of the Tipitaka or critiques of the Tipitaka, commentaries or scholars representative of the Classical tradition are off-topic and are liable to be removed from view.

For the benefit of all, please respect this advice.
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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby dumb bonbu » Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:18 pm

hi Chris, thankyou for the essays.... it should be a quiet nightshift tonight so i'm sure i'll have the chance to read them then

Annabel, thankyou for your perspective...highlighting both verses and casting them in another understanding for me is most helpful!

Element, interesting points...perhaps we could raise a thread in the Dhamma free-for-all? (does anyone else think that forum name makes it sound like some Ultimate Wrestling Tournament for Buddhists, or is it just me?)
Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding.
MN 21

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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby elaine » Thu Feb 05, 2009 1:16 am

Element wrote:It appears that way. It that is the case, it would be best if I better stop giving to my two sponsored children in Africa, my other African welfare program, my Nepalese orphanage and three environmental charities but instead give to one of those temples in Bangkok with glittering stupas and overweight monks.
I hear ya.

The reason why Buddhists prefer to donate to temples and monks is because there's a sutta (I forgot which one) which says, if you give money and food to monks and temples, the merit that you'll receive is much, much better than giving it to anyone else(!?!) Because of this teaching, the first priority for Buddhists is to donate money and food to the temples. Hence, the glittering stupas. ((Have you ever wondered how much donation temples get every month))? Anyway, why does the sutta says to donate to temples first? The simile is, if you want a good harvest, it is better to plant the seeds in fertile soil. (I think, in this case, fertile soil == enlightened monks).

But how do we know if the monk whom we give to is a really virtuous/enlightened monk? I think, if we give to someone who really needs it, e.g. a beggar who is hungry, it is "better" than giving it to the temple who already has lots of money to buy food? No?? (((( I hope I won't get bad kamma for saying my thoughts out loud)))

P/S: Personally, I always, always, always, give to temples and monks first. Even if it's blind faith - it doesn't matter. If the sutta says so, it must be right!! hahah. (cynical laugh)

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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Feb 05, 2009 2:03 am

Hi Elaine,

elaine wrote:The reason why Buddhists prefer to donate to temples and monks is because there's a sutta (I forgot which one) which says, if you give money and food to monks and temples, the merit that you'll receive is much, much better than giving it to anyone else(!?!)


When posting to the Classical Theravada forum citations from Pali textual sources are required. Readers of this sub-forum are not interested in half-misremembered quotes.

In fact there is nothing in the Pali suttas about giving money to temples or monks. I suspect the text that you are referring to (but which you have both misunderstood and misremembered) will be either the Dakkhiṇavibhanga Sutta (MN. 142) or the Velāma Sutta (AN. iv. 392-5). The main message of the former concerns the threefold purity of giving (i.e. of the giver, the recipient and the gift) and that an offering made to the sangha as a whole is more meritorious than one made to an individual monk or nun. In other words, it's a teaching aimed at encouraging laypeople not to discriminate between monks they like or dislike when making offerings to the sangha.

As for the Velāma Sutta, here we are presented with a graduated list of increasingly meritorious deeds. As summarized by Lily de Silva:

    The Anguttara Nikāya (A.iv,392-95) records a fabulous alms-giving conducted by the Bodhisatta when he was born as a brahmin named Velāma. Lavish gifts of silver, gold, elephants, cows, carriages, etc., not to mention food, drink and clothing, were distributed among everybody who came forward to receive them. But this open-handed munificence was not very valuable as far as merit was concerned because there were no worthy recipients. It is said to be more meritorious to feed one person with right view, a stream-enterer (sotāpanna), than to give great alms such as that given by Velāma. It is more meritorious to feed one once-returner than a hundred stream-enterers. Next in order come non-returners, Arahants, Paccekabuddhas and Sammasambuddhas. Feeding the Buddha and the Sangha is more meritorious than feeding the Buddha alone. It is even more meritorious to construct a monastery for the general use of the Sangha of the four quarters of all times. Taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha is better still. Abiding by the Five Precepts is even more valuable. But better still is the cultivation of mettā, loving-kindness, and best of all, the insight into impermanence, which leads to Nibbāna.

So the highest kind of merit taught in this sutta is developing insight into impermanence:

    "Though a person might develop a thought of loving-kindness, greater still would be the fruit if he would develop the perception of impermanence for the duration of just one snap of the fingers."

Thus the chief point of this sutta is not to promote gifts to the sangha —meritorious though they be— but rather to highlight how superior to everything else is the development of understanding (paññā).

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby elaine » Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:50 am

Hello Bhante, all,

Sorry for the mis-remembered quotes.

Let's say if we have a scenario like this - if someone has only 1 can of soup to give and s/he chose to give it to a genuinely poor person with children who can't find work in a foreign country, than giving it to a temple. Will the "merit" that the giver get be any less than if he were to give to the temple? How do we "measure" the merits from the act of giving? Is there a right or wrong way to give, or the right or wrong place to give?

Do we have to investigate whether the temple is preaching the right Dhamma before giving? If the temple is preaching all the wrong stuffs and we didn't know and we donated, would it count "against" us for supporting the wrong things?

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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby gavesako » Thu Feb 05, 2009 2:52 pm

In Buddhism it is said that if one throws dish-washing water into a pool where there are insects and living creatures, intending that they feed on the tiny particles of food thus washed away, one accumulates merit even by such trivial generosity -- see A. I, 161.
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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:29 pm

elaine wrote:Let's say if we have a scenario like this...

Elaine,

Venerable Dhammanando was kind enough to post the Buddha's teachings on this matter. Did you read what he posted? It seems to me the answer to your question is there.
- Peter

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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 05, 2009 10:56 pm

Greetings venerable Gavesako,

gavesako wrote:In Buddhism it is said that if one throws dish-washing water into a pool where there are insects and living creatures, intending that they feed on the tiny particles of food thus washed away, one accumulates merit even by such trivial generosity -- see A. I, 161.


Indeed. I have highlighted the word "intending" here because this is a key aspect. Volitional activity such as that mentioned in this example, done with mindstates of generosity constitute good kamma and will therefore tend towards pleasant vipaka (mental result).

Metta,
Retro. :)
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