Material Support for the Sangha

Many in society are often unsympathetic to the needs and lifestyle of monastics, perhaps due to not seeing the value of their work or “profession.”

Just as in the time of the Buddha, monastics are often seen as “free-loaders” and “parasites,” unduly dependent on society and “too lazy to work to earn their own living” by many who value “society.”

I wish to build an organization that materially supports the Sangha globally in a systematic and suitable way.

Any thoughts, ideas, and feedback to more feasibly and realistically build such an organization that materially supports the Sangha?


"People who have good faith in bhikkhus may entrust money (lit., silver and gold) into the hand of a [steward] and order him to purchase allowable things for bhikkhus. Bhikkhus may be glad at the allowable things bought by the steward with that money. This is not regarded as being glad at that money. This is called the [Me.n.daka Allowance.] Bhikkhus should not request suitable things from the steward in excess of the money deposited with him.

The Mendaka Allowance


Greetings serious fun :slight_smile:
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Enjoy! :slight_smile:


What text is this from?

Is this from an early source?

Do you have a local sangha you could support, or one further afield that you would like to support?
I’m thinking small steps here.

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I agree! :slightly_smiling_face:

Good question!
I have established a relationship with my local Sangha (about 4 monks or so).
I would like to branch out from there to other ones.

I would like to learn from individuals or groups who have been able to do this on a larger scale (i.e. two or more Sanghas) to develop a more systematic approach to doing this.

Like what kinds of activities do they do, how do they do what they do, what monastic needs they find to be most worth prioritizing or under-met, etc.

For example, from my local Sangha, I was told that healthcare actually seems to be the most difficult and food seems to be the least difficult to obtain for them at least.

I am currently in the process of formulating an organizational and operational plan for the organization (kind of like a business plan) - I am hoping to learn from others to get a more realistic idea of what this process would entail. :pray:t3:

Just wanted to plug the Alliance for Bhikkhunis which sounds a lot like what you’re talking about here. Might be worth contacting them. :smile_cat:


I know of one Wat in America that is in need of a cook or some new system of food provision maybe as with the current way of doing things it seems food stuffs are lacking, there are a dozen monks and most days only one or two donors. Maybe start by making a database by country? of dāyakas and then start by networking. Most monasteries that have been established for some time are well looked after, is would have thought the groups who need more support are thr more small community’s outside of S.E Asia, sometimes it maybe just a monastic living alone or travelling to a region but without knowing anyone etc etc,I can conceive it to be useful in the sene of creating a network of people who have sammā diṭṭhi, and monastics who are out in the cold so to say.

Thank you, :pray:t3: Bhante. Yes, it definitely does seem very much in alignment. Will consider contacting them at some point, perhaps after the organization is a bit more developed.

Can you please elaborate? Any tips on how one might be able to go about doing this in a suitable way?

This seems like a good idea - it came to mind at some point previously since it fits with the ideal of undertaking this work in a more systematic way, but we stopped for whatever reason after gathering the contact information of a handful of Viharas.

One person in the organization has some experience in developing and sending out a “needs assessment” of the monastic community - and got back about 12 replies.

Thank you for letting me know.

In the discourses, it mentions those monastics who are residing in solitude - we were thinking of prioritizing them since they might have a harder time accessing necessities.

Exactly my thought.

Any further advice would be much appreciated and helpful.

Thank you, :pray:t3: Bhante.

Hey, this is great, and much merit for the proposal.

One question for you: would this be specific for the Sangha of a particular tradition? (Western Tibetan monastics need hella support, just sayin’)


I don’t know how these things work really, but generalizations are probably difficult to make For example I saw a documentary in which they said that Western Tibetan monastics claim unemployment benefit in the Uk, so they might not have support from individual lay people but they seem to get it at least in the Uk from the Governement.

Good question!

The simple answer is “no.”

The complex answer is that I would like for the material support to be undertaken in accordance with the early Buddhist textual sources regarding how generosity should be undertaken - in a sense, a very “by-the-book” approach, with the “book” being “‘early’ reliable Buddhist texts/sources.”

Thus, I do not wish to discriminate on the basis of sect or sectarian affiliations, but I also do not want provide material support in an indiscriminate, “equal,” or careless manner.

I wish to prioritize individual and groups of monastics to the degree that they act in accordance with the “Dhamma-Vinaya” as represented by the early sources as opposed to based on sectarian views regarding what the “Dhamma-Vinaya” is.

As you probably already know, the guidance provided in the early sources is often nuanced and multi-layered - its not always as simple as “just give to the poor/needy.”

For this reason, I am soliciting advice regarding how I can avoid common pitfalls in the process and go about this in a more feasible and suitable way.

Each question, comment, and feedback seems to prompt me to further clarify and refine my thinking on this matter, so thank you :pray:t3: for your question, Bhante.

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We’ll in one sense every Buddhist practicitioner is a volunteer in waiting, but I guess the tricky part is finding those with a higher commitment level, how to do that? We’ll via sutta central and other sites like Dhammawheel, + social media + social networking in general you can just ask if there is as anyone interested in offering support to monastics by offering their time & or skills. Maybe make a form to fill out for people, recording their bio data a little as often times what every individual can offer is different depending on their situation + career etc. Sometimes what someone can offer can be related to transport, medical aid engineering and so on, they’re all handy at some point. You can then maybe after some time start to get a sense of which individuals or regions even are perhaps more reliable than others, which will help monastics also in not chasing a rabbit down a hole as sometimes is the case. For example if your a monastic in India and sometimes you go to B.gaya there is actually a place with free medical aid there.

Another bubble burster is often times because of the phenomenon of diṭṭhi māna, the degree of support any individual or group can offer is often limited to the diṭṭhi s of a committee or Abbott (sometimes it’s raining a little, sometimes it’s no rain at all Itv ) if you go through places or organisations. Meaning you can either go through established places/institutions and run into that kind of thing, or as is maybe easier and better to do go outside ‘the establishment’ and maybe just do things on a smaller scale but with the idea you can rain anywhere as long as the conditions are there, ie there is some degree of faith + sati-pañña on the upāsakā side and Dhamma Vinaya + sīla on the pabbajita side.