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Gold and silver is not money?

money
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#103

I’m afraid if you break open a card, you won’t find any money there!

If I have $10 in a credit card account, and then I die, who owns the money? My estate. The money is mine, and if I buy a coffee at Starbucks I am transferring it to Starbucks.

But if I have a Starbucks gift card worth $10 and I die, who owns the money? Starbucks. The money does not belong to me or to a donor, but to the company who has issued the gift card. When I get a coffee, no money is transferred from me or the donor.

Whether Starbucks moves money around internally, or through a vendor or whatever, doesn’t matter. That’s just up their own internal accounting practices, and has nothing to do with my intentions. All I have done is indicate to them that a previous transfer of money has been made, and then I get to enjoy my delicious unicorn frappuccino. (Disclaimer: purely hypothetical scenario, I’ve never had a frappuccino!)


#105

And if you break open a credit card you wont find money in there. And if you break open a bank note you won’t find gold and silver.

Aren’t gift cards generally transferable. If one were to die I would imagine that a gift card with it’s value would be part of your estate if you were being meticulous.

Gift cards give you buying power. You can buy your lunch at Starbucks. No need for alms food.

:anjal:


#106

Sure, well, forget the estate then. If i die inestate, who owns the money? For a credit card, it would be the bank or credit card company. For a gift card, it is Starbucks. If a gift card is not redeemed, the funds remain with the owner of the funds, i.e. the issuer of the card.

Who makes money from interest on the invested funds? If it’s a credit card, I do, because I own the money. If it is a gift card, it is Starbucks, because they own the money. Who pays taxes on it? If it is a credit card, I do, because I own the money. If it is a gift card, Starbucks does, because they own the money.

Just to be clear, you do realize that this kind of arrangement is explicitly allowed in the Vinaya, right? A donor sets up an account at a robe shop, pays the money to the shop vendor, and the monk can then get robe cloth whenever they want. A gift card is just the modern way of doing exactly the same thing.

No, I can’t because the funds have already been transferred by the donor. A card is “prepaid”, that’s the whole point, and it doesn’t get somehow paid again when you get a coffee.

This is a form of alms food, as due to the kindness of the donor it is possible for me to have some lunch, using the gift card to indicate to Starbucks that the payment for the lunch has already occurred.


#107

This is a very good point.
Accepting gift card is a very dangerous practice.
This will break the contact between the monk and the lay followers.


#108

The problem is not with the gift card but on how it is being used. If used properly (i.e. exchanged with food immediately) then it is alms food. If it is accumulated or exchanged with other stuff then it becomes money.


#109

Using goods for trade is covered by another Vinaya rule. If gift cards are used to trade, then they may indeed incur a Vinaya offence. But in this they are no different from anything else of value.


#110

I guess using gift card can be equated with giving alms food indirectly.


#111

My sense of what you find so distressing, @ponmcjimron, is the changing of the words in the translation. Right? Translation is a topic all by itself which has no doubt been batted back and forth in this forum space. But there is general accord that we do not know exactly what is Buddhavacana (if anything), and what is not.

First - and this a gentle question rather than a challenge - where is the slander? I am confused. I see interpretation.

Second, sometimes when one is translating - especially the vinaya - it is important to capture the intention of the passage and the rule, even if there are no equivalent modern words for what is being allowed or disallowed. The Buddha lived in a time when there were oxcarts and carriages and elephants for transport. No planes, trains, cars. And in the realm of commerce, only gold, silver, and barter - no money, bitcoin, or plastic. But the intention of the precept is obvious from the context.

And about the precepts themselves…I always find discussions of how we are to interpret them both completely fascinating and kind of endless, at the same time.

The long back and forth about just what is allowable goes to the heart of how we hold whatever precepts we hold. But it’s easy to forget that they are conventions, inventions - not some absolute truth from on high. So one wise monk once instructed me very soon after I ordained to decide how I would interpret the rules and then hold that to the very best of my ability. And not to get too tweaked by what others do or don’t do because there are and infinite number of interpretations and rationalizations.

My bottom line - whether it’s about gift cards, cheese and chocolate after noon, or whatever - is that it’s the intention is paramount, because that is where the kamma comes from. @Kay mentions flexibility and compassion. Yes. Because around the precepts it’s so easy to get rigid and fixed views about what is ‘right.’

Attachment to a certain way of holding a precept is sīlabbata-parāmāsa.
And when that becomes sīlabbata-upādāna, it’s what creates discord in the sangha. So I will admit to this as opinion, but especially as monastics, we need first to take care of our own sīla, as we each have been given it and understand it - to guard the precepts with our lives but not to take it all too seriously, either.

The Buddha gave us all these precepts as a support for lightening up - and went away to stay by himself in the forest when the monks of Kosambi got too hot-headed about them.
If nothing else that’s pretty a pretty good example.:wink:
Metta to all~
(And…edit…all that said, I am especially interested in this discussion about plastic. Thank you everyone for your input…)


Some thoughts on Translation and interpretation of Vinaya by Ayya Viranyani
#112

So the robe vinaya arrangement is a general principle rather than specific? A donor can give funds to a supermarket and I can chose goods from the supermarket as I please (if I were a Bhikku/Bhikkuni ?

In the UK VAT is not charged when a gift card is purchased as no goods or services have been purchased. VAT is charged when the goods are purchased (the transaction takes place). Using a gift card is not like collecting goods which have been prepaid for you. If Starbucks were to offer prepay tokens for a particular item then the VAT would be charged when the token was sold rather than used. What is the relevance of all this? It shows at what point the actual transaction takes place. Money is really just a promise backed by the central bank. A gift card is a promise backed by the issuer, given as money has been deposited with them.

Personally I would find it incongruous to see a Bhikku/Bhikkuni sitting alone in a restaurant ordering food and presenting a card when the bill was presented, even if technically it is inline with vinaya.

:anjal:

PS is there a Pali word equivalent to monastic (non-gendered collective)


#113

Sure, go for it! Of course, you’d have to be accountable to both the donor and to kamma, but you wouldn’t be breaking this specific rule. That’s just the nature of Vinaya, it doesn’t cover every conceivable case.

A more relevant example is hardware stores. At Bodhinyana and elsewhere the monastery has accounts at a local hardware store so the monks can get building supplies. In such a case, the donors are the donors to the Buddhist Society, who acts as steward to manage the funds. It’s a convenience.

When the monks visit, they are always in a car which is driven by a lay person. So in principle it is possible to ask the lay person to handle it. And maybe that would be better. But the problem is, there are lots and lots of different lay people who come and go over the years, and it gets complicated to explain the procedures, trust who can make payments, get receipts, and all the rest.

I didn’t know this. But then, I don’t know much about money, having barely owned any even as a layman! Still, it’s just an accounting matter: if the tax law says it is levied “when the goods are delivered” that’s how the law is framed. But the payment for those goods has already been completed.


#114

A more relevant example is hardware stores. At Bodhinyana and elsewhere the monastery has accounts at a local hardware store so the monks can get building supplies. In such a case, the donors are the donors to the Buddhist Society, who acts as steward to manage the funds. It’s a convenience.

When the monks visit, they are always in a car which is driven by a lay person. So in principle it is possible to ask the lay person to handle it. And maybe that would be better. But the problem is, there are lots and lots of different lay people who come and go over the years, and it gets complicated to explain the procedures, trust who can make payments, get receipts, and all the rest.

I would see an account set up for a community as being a little bit different to an account set up for an individual. Not sure if that is relivent.

The payment hasn’t already been made because no goods have yet been specified. The amount being held via the card is used to make the payment. A gift card is essentially the front end of a debit account with very bad terms. :grinning: I guess I will just have to let this one go.

:anjal:


#115

A cup of coffee and a sandwich is also transferable (even though it is not legal tender) isn’t it?


#116

Currency is a medium of exchange that confers purchasing power in a single set of markets, usually operating within a single national territory. A gift card is a medium of exchange that confers purchasing power at a a single business establishment, including possibly a scattered chain of franchises.

The fact that you purchase a gift card with another medium of exchange doesn’t mean that the gift card is not itself a medium of exchange. For example, I could use dollars to buy some Thai baht, and then give somebody the baht, which will then be accepted in mainly, though not exclusively, Thailand-based markets. I can also use the dollars to buy a Starbucks gift card, which they can then use only in Starbucks stores. The differences are only a matter of degree, having to do with the size and range of the market in which the medium will be accepted, not kind.

Gift cards are transferable and inheritable. And they can be traded for money.

Use “in trade” is just a kind of market exchange. If somebody gives me a puppy and I exchange it for some clothes, that is not an activity different in kind from receiving dollars, and exchanging them for clothes. In both cases, I am making a market decision and engaging in a market exchange.

I don’t know why the Buddha forbade the handling of money, but I suspect what he was doing was trying to restrict the element of economic choice among the monks. He wanted monastics to take what is given, and not to be making market exchange decisions themselves. I imagine that if a monk receives food in his bowl at one house, and then goes to a second house and exchanges that first gift of food for his choice from among some selection of other foods, that is not approved? Receiving money to be used for a latter exchange is like this. The difference seems to be only that, in the first case, the violation only occurs when the initially received food, which could have been eaten, is exchanged for other food. In the case of money, which cannot be eaten or personally used at all for anything other than a later exchange, he thought monks should’t take it in the first place.

Receiving the gift card seems more like the case of receiving money, since the card cannot itself be eaten or worn.

I assume the Buddha’s focus was on the kind of economic activity involved. He didn’t want monks involved in market exchange. It wouldn’t matter whether the money they received was made out of gold and silver, paper, tree bark, cigarettes, clam shells or balance quantities in electronic accounts. And he didn’t want them acquiring commodities for use in trade, or even for personal use beyond a limited number of purposes requisite for the maintenance of life and health.

Nevertheless, there are gross and lesser degrees of deviation from the highest ideal.


#117

Just reading the terms on the back of a book shop gift card that is hanging out in my wallet. Never looked at the terms and conditions before. Interesting:

“This card is for personal use only and cannot be sold nor used for commercial purposes.”

“If this card is not used for a consecutive 24 month period the balance is reduced to zero and the card will be suspended.”


#118

I would say this is the key sentence to our discussion “Gift Cards can be used as full or part payment for goods … for sale etc.” A payment is being made when the card is used.


#119

Yes, you can.
But only with a beggar.
I am not talking about barter system here.


#120

Yes. That is what it says. But at the same time it also says that after 24 months the balance will reduce to zero and (looking further into the T&C) 180 days later …

“If the card is not used for a consecutive period of 24 months (whether to make a purchase, top-up or to make a balance enquiry), the card will automatically expire and any remaining balance will be deducted. If the card shows a zero balance and there are no card transaction(s) for 180 days, it will automatically expire at the end of that 180 day period.”

so I think that there is an interesting conundrum here as to who actually owns the money used in the purchase at the time of the purchase. In this case it appears to be Waterstones selling something to itself. Maybe :man_shrugging:


#121

As I said earlier “A gift card is essentially the front end of a debit account with very bad terms”.


#122

Heh! :grinning: So yes, it’s probably precisely because of those “bad” terms that make me feel OK about giving a gift card to a monastic. How odd this world is.


#123

When I was on a junior doctor’s salary, in UK, I had to go to less ‘recognised’ coffee shops like Costa, as Starbucks was rather expensive. It was on top of the coffee shop food chain, as it were. The issue is branding creates ‘clubs’ at the top, and ‘members’ are happy to pay their hard earned cash to get it. As for the issue of practice (and Vinaya) addiction to coffee is something to work on I think. Then I think there is an issue when there is the perception of a ‘luxury’ item is being used. Some might object to seeing a Bhikkhu using an item lay people cannot even afford, even when the monk doesn’t have the perception of a ‘luxury item’. I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t examples in the Vinaya to learn from of such instances.

Possible misjudgment might happen be when a monk is from a culture which doesn’t consider same things as high class. Those on the autistic spectrum might find it hard to appreciate what is socially acceptable to say and do, and appear socially awkward. They might have a more difficult time judging what comes out in their typing and speech, but are usually open to their gaffes being discussed discreetly and value advice on social matters.

With metta