This question applies mainly to Theravada Buddhism, which is the prevailing branch of Buddhism in my country (Sri Lanka).

I've observed, many times, how many temples and monks are amassing wealth and influence. Some monks travel in luxury vehicles. Some buy expensive phones. These are just a few examples that comes to mind.

How is practices like this aligned with Buddhism, i.e. how is it justified or explained by Buddhists?

Also note that I emphasize "some", and not all.

  • I reworded the question to use "justify" and "explain", instead of "is aligned with": I hope this is what you wanted to ask, and a bit clearer than before.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 19:59
  • @ChrisW Yes, bad phrasing on my part, thanks for the edit.
    – Thihara
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 3:17
  • I think it'll be better if we can ask this question from Ven. Walpola Gothama Thero. I think we'll be getting an honest answer with references from vinaya & suthra. I've got a similar question & I too need a bit more clarification in my case. This dosen't look like the best platform to ask these questions.
    – Amaani
    Commented Sep 15, 2019 at 18:46

3 Answers 3


One should feel pity for those ignorant monks for they're sowing some very bad seeds for their future's well-being:

Bhikkhus, there are these five themes that should often be reflected upon by a woman or a man, by a householder or one gone forth. What five? (1) A woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, should often reflect thus: ‘I am subject to old age; I am not exempt from old age.’ (2) A woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, should often reflect thus: ‘I am subject to illness; I am not exempt from illness.’ (3) A woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, should often reflect thus: ‘I am subject to death; I am not exempt from death.’ (4) A woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, should often reflect thus: ‘I must be parted and separated from everyone and everything dear and agreeable to me.’ (5) A woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, should often reflect thus: ‘I am the owner of my kamma, the heir of my kamma; I have kamma as my origin, kamma as my relative, kamma as my resort; I will be the heir of whatever kamma, good or bad, that I do.’ ~~ AN 5.57 ~~


Householder Thihara, interested,

Lay people, since old here, always advice their fellows saying "don't touch the fruits of actions of the monks" (that is their merit or demerit) when someone feels he needs to govern another society.

How to avoid the dangers of gain and honor (lābhasakkara)? and [Q&A] Should Buddhist teachers get rich? (Dhamma-trade) might assist those in the danger of such.

How ever, there is possible more danger related to one self if not able to rejoice with the gains of others and that is the very pitfall here. So when focusing on ones own good mind states, which does not mean not to judge good or bad behavior of others, it's the best protection, also a prerequisite to possible meet good followers.

Those seeking and pointing out faults but stingy with sharing attainments and good will not easy ever be near good association.

A person who is able to rejoice with good and gain of others, who does not like stingy and ill-will tendency will possible meet up with likewise people rejoicing in doing merits and leave it to others how they might act further, take only the good food and leave behind the low.

One should also not forget that many, even most, monasteries are run by lay people and people after lābhasakkara and dwelling monks do not necessary take part on such and things may look total different from outward. There are 'good' and 'bad' rich monasteries and 'good' and 'bad' poor. There are those after "luxory" and there are those being given supportive means without any asking or for proper use.

May all soon develop the Sublime mind-state of Mudita, able to lead till the highest goal beings could archive!

(Note that this is not given for trade, exchange, stacks, entertainment and akusala deeds, but as a share of merits and to continue such for release)


It's not justified by the suttas. Karaniya Metta Sutta gives instructions for the performance of metta. (Metta is the basis of Buddha's noble path.)

This is to be done by one skilled in aims who wants to break through to the state of peace: Be capable, upright, & straightforward, easy to instruct, gentle, & not conceited, content & easy to support, with few duties, living lightly, with peaceful faculties, masterful, modest, & no greed for supporters.

Do not do the slightest thing that the wise would later censure.

-- Karaniya Metta Sutta: Good Will

So how can one begin to transgress the path is such a wealth-amassing atmosphere with his mind focused on wealth? However, one can be living with all kinds of luxuries and be a self-realized sage. Krsna explained this to Arjuna in the second chapter of Bhagavad-gītā.

"Arjuna said: What are the symptoms of one whose consciousness is thus merged in Transcendence? How does he speak, and what is his language? How does he sit, and how does he walk?"

"The Blessed Lord said: O Pārtha, when a man gives up all varieties of sense desire which arise from mental concoction, and when his mind finds satisfaction in the self alone, then he is said to be in pure transcendental consciousness. One who is not disturbed in spite of the threefold miseries, who is not elated when there is happiness, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady mind. He who is without attachment, who does not rejoice when he obtains good, nor lament when he obtains evil, is firmly fixed in perfect knowledge. One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws his limbs within the shell, is to be understood as truly situated in knowledge. The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness. The senses are so strong and impetuous, O Arjuna, that they forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is endeavoring to control them. One who restrains his senses and fixes his consciousness upon Me is known as a man of steady intelligence." -- Bhagavad-gītā 2.54-61

The justification comes from one's self. Arjuna asked Krsna what are the symptoms of the self-realized human being? Arjuna inquired about the external symptoms. Can his transcendental state of consiosunsess be recognized by external symptoms, seen with material senses? Is his transcendental state of consciousness reflected on his external actions?

Krsna replied from the point of view of consciousness or internal, subjective self-awareness. Real symptoms are seen in the quality of consciousness. This means one can be extremely materially opulent and still be situated in transcendental consciousness. On the other hand, one can be fooling himself by living like a hermit in a cave but actually contemplating the object of sense gratification. See?

  • 1
    Krsna's explaining something to Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gītā doesn't imply that's Buddhist doctrine, isn't that so?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Sep 15, 2019 at 21:05
  • So what. Teachings of Krsna have nothing to do with Hinduism but consciousness. This part of Bhagavad-gita, in particular, is significant to understand what is the standard for judging one's position in this world. Commented Sep 15, 2019 at 21:13
  • 1
    So what Well when someone asks a question on this site (e.g. this question -- "How do Buddhists justify ...?" and "This question applies mainly to Theravada Buddhism ...") then they are asking for Buddhist doctrine (specifically Theravada in this case).
    – ChrisW
    Commented Sep 15, 2019 at 21:23
  • Ok. This I have answered in the first part of my answer. Commented Sep 15, 2019 at 21:31
  • This answer is not Buddhist because there is no pure transcendental consciousness in Buddhism.
    – ruben2020
    Commented Sep 15, 2019 at 23:22

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