As he was sitting to one side, King Pasenadi Kosala said to the Blessed One:
“Where, lord, should a gift be given?”
“Wherever the mind feels confidence, great king.”
“But a gift given where, lord, bears great fruit?”
"This [question] is one thing, great king — ‘Where should a gift be given?’ —
while this — ‘A gift given where bears great fruit?’ — is something else entirely.
What is given to a virtuous person — rather than to an unvirtuous one — bears great fruit.
My mind seems to feel the most confidence in the “Sangha.”
Primarily, those who have attained at least the first stage of Nibbana.
Secondarily, to the monastic community as a whole.
However, I have no idea how to identify who has attained at least the first of Nibbana.
Furthermore, I seem to feel quite unhappy that the Sangha today seems to have become quite divided and fragmented, for example into the three sects of Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana.
From comparing the teachings of the different sects, I had already lost a large amount of confidence in the Mahayana and Vajrayana sects. My experience living in Sri Lanka has similarly made me lose quite a bit of confidence in the Theravada sect as well.
- How can one realistically discern an unvirtuous person from a virtuous person - especially in real life?
(I think that I am relatively foolish and unwise - and thus find it (very) difficult to discern between the two - on many occasions in the past, I have made mistakes!)
- Are there any monastic communities that follow early Buddhism (and leave aside the all the later additions/contrary parts of the Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana).
For example, it is one thing to argue that the Abhidhamma is helpful.
It’s quite another to argue that it was spoken by the Buddha.
The former often blends in seamlessly as an excuse and justification for the latter,
thereby making me lose confidence in those who posit this.
The same is the case with later sutras and tantras as well.
Helpful and true is one thing. Claiming the Buddha said it is quite another.
- Does “virtuous person” refer to both laypeople and monastics? If yes, there seems to be a somewhat established procedure for giving gifts to monastics - is there any such procedure to giving gifts to virtuous laypeople?
Answered: MN. 142
I can easily imagine the former, but I can’t seem to think of a way to do the latter that doesn’t awkward and uncomfortable, especially for the recipient of the gift!
Me: here, take this:
Virtuous lay-follower: [scratches head] what is this? what for? why? [confused]
Me: for being virtuous and worthy? because it would be fruitful for me to do so?
- Suppose I were somehow able to develop the skill of discerning between the unvirtuous and virtuous. Would this include giving gifts to virtuous beings in other religions as well?
Answered: MN. 142
If yes, how much to give to the Sangha first, how much to give elsewhere?
How does this relate to the advice given in the Candala Sutta to “does not search for recipients of his/her offerings outside [of the Sangha], and gives offerings here first”?