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Theos-World On Buddhist charity

May 06, 1999 09:33 PM
by Richtay

In a message dated 5/7/99 2:25:04 AM, Lucio wrote:

<<I agree with you entirely I have one coment to make
about buddism [and monks]. I do not know what brach you bellong to 
but the non involvement with life in the daily chores of producing food
they sit back and enjoy the charity bowls. of the workers. they being poor

Again, I would expect to find this thinking in a Marxist discussion.  No one 
forces the poor people of Buddhist communities to give charity to the monks.  
Buddhist monks in the Scriptures are forbidden to go to the same houses on 
successive days, or to ask for any item or foodstuff in particular, or to set 
up antagonism toward people who never give them anything.  (The monastic 
rules may be found in the Buddhist collection called the VINAYA.  The best 
translation is currently that of I.B. Horner, in 5 volumes, titled THE BOOK 
OF DISCIPLINE.)  The Buddha is on record as wanting his monks and nuns to 
make as little disturbance in the community as possible, and rather than 
"taking" from the community -- to be a source of aid and comfort and learning.

No doubt there are monks and nuns who abuse the system.  But having lived in 
Buddhist countries and Buddhist monasteries for some time, I personally saw 
no abuses at all.  And in East Asia in particular, monks do actually perform 
physical labor like planting and harvesting (i.e., every Zen monastery has 
its own land and the monks and nuns work).  In America, nearly all the new 
Buddhist communities are self-sufficient.

The Tibetan lama I worked with in Nepal (Bodhinath village) actually received 
far, far more offerings than he and his 400 monks could use.  So he 
redistributed it to the poor.  On many occasions the lama gave me (then a 
"starving student") an orange or banana from the huge bowls of gifts he was 
given (but I never asked for it).  The poorest in the community came to the 
monastery every day and went home with full bellies.

I think it is perfectly fair to scrutinize anyone and everything, and 
criticize whatever seems inappropriate.  I merely caution that we do so with 
FACTS and first-hand knowledge, rather than imaginative caricatures.


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