SuttaCentral

Monastics that go for alms in the West


#83

Your harsh judgements about good monks are shocking and de-meritorious. Your statement would easily apply to a sotapanna, a sakadagamin, an anagamin, an arahant, even the Lord himself.

Yes there is abundant evidence that monasteries under the Buddha’s direct guidance routinely stored up food. For example, it is a parajika offense for a monk to steal food from the Sangha’s food storage.

The Vinaya offense is for a monk to store food for himself; storing for the community is a different matter. (The rules of offering still apply, so laity are involved.) Self-storing of food isn’t a breach of human ethics but a minor breach of practical rules guiding the holy life. (The 1st offender was an arahant.)

With or without food stored away for the Sangha, the Buddha strongly advocated for monks to give laity the blessing of opportunities to give alms to Sangha. There is no evidence to suggest that the Buddha ever said for the Sangha’s larders to be checked prior to going out on almsround.

A little bit of knowledge can be dangerous. You have missed much of the vibrant reality of the holy life, substituting some limited dry ideas, then harshly you judge those who don’t live up to your idiosyncratic high standards, even using demeaning language. In so doing you misrepresent the Blessed One and earn suffering, starting with the suffering of a fault-finding mind.

FWIW, I myself give away leftovers after lunch to start each day fresh. My alms-seeking is done with a pretty much empty larder, which is very convenient whenever an American unfamiliar with our traditions asks in amazement, “But don’t you have any food?”

Yet I would not dare to judge monastics who have less support for exercising this level of freedom. I too was unable to do this, prior to establishing my own Vihara on my own terms. Some people have gossipped about me for sticking to this principle. (Lay supporters from a certain Buddhist background absolutely insist that their excess donations be kept for later use and would take great offense if their donations were given away or tossed. They actually said things such as “The elder great monks of xyz monastery accept groceries, they are respected, venerated; who does she think she is!”)

Let’s leave behind the harsh judgements. Anyone sincerely trying to live the holy life despite the enormous modern stressors definitely deserves respect.

[Minor edits to add a paragraph break and this note.]


#84

It sounds like you’re angry about something. Is there something, in particular, you’re angry about? I’d be happy to discuss in a private message, too, if that would be helpful.


#85

I was wrong then and won’t criticize it, thanks for teaching:)

Just a bit frustrated for several reasons it is more about things piling up.


#86

Here’s a nice, inspiring teaching from the Buddha on giving that might be helpful:

Dāna

ANGUTTARA NIKĀYA 6:37

Pages 899-900, in the Wisdom Edition, trans. Bhikkhu Bodhi

Giving

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. Now on that occasion the female lay follower Veḷukaṇṭakī Nandamātā had prepared an offering possessed of six factors for the Saṅgha of bhikkhus headed by Sāriputta and Moggallāna. With the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, the Blessed One saw the female lay follower Veḷukaṇṭakī Nandamātā preparing this offering and he then addressed the bhikkhus:

“Bhikkhus, the female lay follower Veḷukaṇṭakī Nandamātā is preparing an offering possessed of six factors for the Saṅgha of bhikkhus headed by Sāriputta and Moggallāna. And how is an offering possessed of six factors? Here, the donor has three factors and the recipients have three factors.

“What are the three factors of the donor? (1) The donor is joyful before giving; (2) she has a placid, confident mind in the act of giving; and (3) she is elated after giving. These are the three factors of the donor.

“What are the three factors of the recipients? Here, (4) the recipients are devoid of lust or are practicing to remove lust; (5) they are devoid of hatred or are practicing to remove hatred; (6) they are devoid of delusion or are practicing to remove delusion. These are the three factors of the recipients.

“Thus the donor has three factors, and the recipients have three factors. In such a way the offering possesses six factors. It is not easy to measure the merit of such an offering thus: ‘Just so much is the stream of merit, stream of the wholesome, nutriment of happiness—heavenly, ripening in happiness, con- ducive to heaven—that leads to what is wished for, desired, and agreeable, to one’s welfare and happiness’; rather, it is reck- oned simply as an incalculable, immeasurable, great mass of merit. Bhikkhus, just as it is not easy to measure the water in the great ocean thus: ‘There are so many gallons of water,’ or ‘There are so many hundreds of gallons of water,’ or ‘There are so many thousands of gallons of water,’ or ‘There are so many hundreds of thousands of gallons of water,’ but rather it is reckoned simply as an incalculable, immeasurable, great mass of water; so too, it is not easy to measure the merit of such an offering . . . rather, it is reckoned simply as an incalculable, immeasurable, great mass of merit.”

Prior to giving one is joyful;
while giving one settles the mind in trust;
after giving one is elated:
this is success in the act of offering.

When they are devoid of lust and hatred,
devoid of delusion, without taints,
self-controlled, living the spiritual life,
the field for the offering is complete.

Having cleansed oneself
and given with one’s own hands,
the act of charity is very fruitful
for oneself and in relation to others.

Having performed such a charitable deed
with a mind free from miserliness,
the wise person, rich in faith,
is reborn in a happy, non-afflictive world.


#87

In my own experience, hiding from danger does not lead to any great escape or freedom. As a climber, I had to turn towards and proceed in the face of danger unwaveringly to return home. Hiding in the safety of a monastery or valley avoiding danger is no great success. It is cowardice, the fourth prejudice. Similarly, as a lay meditator walking in the streets, I have to face danger of sensual impingements and exercise restraint just as I would as a monk on alms round. Therefore I see the alms round as a daily opportunity to practice restraint from sensual dangers. It is an opportunity to practice observing the rise and fall of the five grasping aggregates. It is not just about nutriment. Nutriment is merely an adornment and requisite for the mind. The primary purpose of the alms round is for practice.


#88

it is not about hiding but an avoidance of unnecessary potential distractions and seeing danger in slightest fault.


#89

I was talking about this concept last week with one of the monks who has been teaching me the Dhamma. What is the most skillful practice when confronted with a sensory experience that is unpleasant, say, a gruesome or violent image? One could poke one’s eyes out to avoid having to look at such an image. The Buddha taught against such extreme actions. Instead, he taught the middle way, which is neither to fixate on images nor to avoid them, but rather, to note them and treat them with equanimity. One could avoid alms rounds entirely to avoid seeing disturbing sights, but this would seemingly not be good practice for cultivating equanimity in encountering sensory inputs of all nature.


#90

Yes, as in the Indriyabhāvanā Sutta MN 152:

Then the brahmin student Uttara, a pupil of the brahmin Pārāsariya, approached the Buddha, and exchanged greetings with him. When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side. The Buddha said to him, “Uttara, does Pārāsariya teach his disciples the development of the faculties?”

“He does, Master Gotama.”

“But how does he teach it?”

“Master Gotama, it’s when the eye sees no sight and the ear hears no sound. That’s how Pārāsariya teaches his disciples the development of the faculties.”

“In that case, Uttara, a blind person and a deaf person will have developed faculties according to what Pārāsariya says. For a blind person sees no sight with the eye and a deaf person hears no sound with the ear.” When he said this, Uttara sat silent, embarrassed, shoulders drooping, downcast, depressed, with nothing to say.
SuttaCentral

“And how, Ānanda, is there the supreme development of the faculties in the training of the noble one? When a mendicant sees a sight with their eyes, liking, disliking, and both liking and disliking come up in them. They understand: ‘Liking, disliking, and both liking and disliking have come up in me. That’s conditioned, coarse, and dependently originated. But this is peaceful and sublime, namely equanimity.’ Then the liking, disliking, and both liking and disliking that came up in them cease, and equanimity becomes stabilized. It’s like how a person with good sight might open their eyes then shut them; or might shut their eyes then open them. Such is the speed, the swiftness, the ease with which any liking, disliking, and both liking and disliking at all that came up in them cease, and equanimity becomes stabilized. In the training of the noble one this is called the supreme development of the faculties regarding sights known by the eye.
SuttaCentral


#91

mikenz66 quote of MN152 is the perfect answer. :heart:


I’d also like to describe an experience that shows how MN152 might apply.

After gaining some skill and peace in Zen meditation I went climbing in Yosemite with a guide. The guide was fine. I was not. For six hours I filled my head with gruesome and violent images of myself falling to certain death. I could not find the unrepulsive in the repulsive. It was a horrible day of suffering. After that I gave up Zen and resolved to study climbing.

Yesterday, twenty-two years later, I took my lead test in a new gym. The lead test requires falling unanounced in the hope that my belayer will catch me before I hit the ground. That is the lead test.

So I climbed and near the top I thought, “This is a good place to fall. Thank you for this life.” And I fell. In this way I found the unrepulsive in the repulsive.


#92

Wow!

Is that “lead” as in “leader”, or “lead” as in “Led Zeppelin”? :sweat_smile:

I’m pleased it went OK!
:heart:


#93

As this thread has long since strayed from OP’s intended topic, it will now be closed.

Thank you all for your participation!


closed #94