Ven Sujato "Monks and politics" (The Buddhist Channel, May 27, 2015)


This is indeed a conundrum. I think it’s important to take the teachings as a whole when trying to puzzle this out. In Chapter IV of In the Buddha’s Words, The Happiness Visible in This Present Life

there are a number of suttas giving advice to lay people and kings. Most of those are spoken by the Buddha, but we see Ananada and others given advice as well.

More importantly, the monastic rules seemed to be designed so that the lay supporters were essential to the survival of the Sangha. If the Buddha had intended monastics to simply withdraw then setting up self-contained monastic communities would have been the obvious model. But that was not the model. The monastics needed lay support, so they needed to offer something, and that was advice.
Dhp354 “The gift of Dhamma excels all gifts”.

But is what is being given here really Dhamma? I personally felt somewhat challenged when Bhikkhu Bodhi established Buddhist Global Relief and started urging Buddhists to pay more attention to the world. This seemed to contradict the suttas that @LXNDR quoted above. However, if I think of such activities under the umbrella of dana, it makes more sense.

A few years ago, at a meeting of the various Buddhist groups on my city, one of the Sri Lankan monks remarked that the Sri Lankan and Thai groups were very generous when it came to their monastics and their monasteries, but he really wished that some of that generosity could be focussed on the people in our city who really needed it. It’s a good point, and being generous is certainly part of the Dhamma.

With metta…

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