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Rejecting a donation - Vinaya Question

Is there any rule that prevent a monk from rejecting a donation from someone? I get that if it is for the sake of kindness a monk might accept something even when it is not needed. But is there a rule?

How about if the donation is on repairing a building inside a monastery? Not a personal belonging, but the monk is in charge of making decision.

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I suggest we tag bhante @brahmali who may help answering this Vinaya question. :anjal:

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Skip to 4:50 min

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Thanks. It’s a good explanation on handling money. But sorry for not explaining it much clearer, what I mean is on other requisites that is allowable.

One of example that I can give let’s say a person want to donate a blanket. The monk still has one and it’s still pretty good and nobody can use it nearby. Is there any rule that prevent this monk to reject the donation?

The other case that I have stated above is on repairing a building inside a monastery.

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We are encouraged to receive out of compassion for those who want to give but we don’t “have to” receive everything that is offered, we are not obliged to receive anything at all.

Contentment is a virtue to be encouraged in monastics, but this has to be balanced with the virtue of giving, which should be encouraged in lay people! So, often at big events like a kathina ceremony we will just receive everything that is offered and anything that is surplus to requirements will be disposed of discreetly later, usually to charities.

However, if we don’t need something or don’t want it, we can politely refuse it. This has to be done carefully as it’s unskilful to shut down someone’s inspiration to give and might prevent them practicing generosity or offering in future.

Usually it’s good to ask what is needed and support that, rather than showing up with something that might not be wanted. Or offer an invitation for a particular thing, the monastics can take you up on it or not, or give an open invitation where they can tell you if they need something. This is good because sometimes we get caught up in what we want or what when we want, doing whatwe think is best, rather than giving what is needed when it’s needed.

One thing to consider also is that monasteries and temples can become quite ‘overrun’ with the kindness of laypeople, often the same things are offered repeatedly, which can create piles of stuff cluttering up the spaces, not only with small requisites but larger objects, too, like tables statues, caravans, potplant stands, garden sculptures, grandma’s old sofa and other random things! Often it’s well intentioned but it can become awkward if it’s not needed and then it disappears, upsetting the donor perhaps. We may have experienced something similar when someone who regularly visits our house gives something quite unwanted… awkward… Monasteries are semi public spaces, but are run by the monastics, so it’s fine for them to decide what stays and goes. Sometimes people can be quite pushy about offering things. I remember one person who kept on bringing old microwaves for some reason and getting upset that they weren’t needed because the monastery already had perfectly fine working ones.

In some situations where people are giving giving giving to the point that they might disadvantage themself there is a provision in the Vinaya to not approach them, so that they won’t end up destitute. On a lesser scale it’s wise to not rely on only a few people greatly, thus becoming a burden.

There is one last thing to mention, the practice of ‘overturning the bowl’ which is when monastics decide as a group to not receive offerings from people who have caused trouble in the community or who have been promoting wrong views etc. This is not a punishment per se but more a way of censuring - the Sangha still has a moral compass.

In your situation perhaps the monk doesn’t want to repair the Kuti for some reason, or doesn’t think it needs repairs. You can have a chat with them about it if you like and ask why or just accept that it’s not wanted currently. You can ask if there is something else that is needed if you’re still feeling generous. In your example of a blanket, it would seem a bit churlish to reject it, unless there was simply no room to store it.

It’s always good to give, some monasteries are well supported but others are not, so maybe give to them! There are plenty of worthy places and causes to give to outside of the Sangha, also.

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Hi Majjhima,

Monks - and nuns - are not allowed to become the owners of money (the rule for the monks is nissaggiya pācittiya 18). Nor should they receive money into their hands, even if the gift is for someone or something else, like a building project (the rule for the monks is pācittiya 84). If anyone wants to give money to monastery, it should be done through the stewards of that monastery, who will then look after the money on behalf of the monastery or the Sangha. If you have experienced a monastic refusing a donation, it may simply have been a refusal to receive personal money. You have to give the donation in the right way, like using a donation box or transferring the money into an appropriate bank account.

There are also a number of lesser rules that forbids a monastic from receiving a number of items that are considered luxurious or indulgent. Typically this concerns items made of precious metals or gems, or items made for sensual indulgence.

I hope this helps!

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Is there a typo here? If not, what’s a ‘marginal ceremony’ please?

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:laughing: Yes, a typo. Marginal seems to be autocorrect for kathina.

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Thank you for both of your answers. The case is not that the donation is being rejected, but a person said to me that there is a rule preventing from rejecting a donation. Which to me is rather odd. This clear things up. I agree that a monk should be compassionate and wise in accepting donation. A difficult task indeed.

Your explanation is very great bhante @Akaliko but I’ll give ajahn @brahmali the solution mark :grin::pray:t2:

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I just uploaded this sutta…

In it, the Arahant Mahā Kassapa turns down alms food from gods so he can accept it from the poor.

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It may be a slightly tangential, but in case of interest: https://suttacentral.net/an8.87/en/sujato

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