As a monk how would you handle a homeless person who wants to stay in your temple? If you are not a monk just give the hypothetical answer based on your present knowledge assuming you are a monk.

  • 1
    I'm not sure that purely "hypothetical" answers are good. A general guideline for "expert" answers on Stack Exchange sites is to recommend that answers be based on references or on personal experience.
    – ChrisW
    Apr 13, 2017 at 9:18
  • I posted the same question in Sutta Central:discourse.suttacentral.net/t/… and Dhamma Wheel:dhammawheel.com/…
    – SarathW
    Apr 13, 2017 at 21:14
  • You might find it relevant to ask another question, about laypeople, e.g. as mentioned here.
    – ChrisW
    Apr 13, 2017 at 21:21
  • Buddha taught kindness and humanity so I'd help a person came to me who is homeless as a human as I following and believing Buddhism. .
    – Swapnil
    Apr 15, 2017 at 6:24
  • 1
    At my monastery, I would merely show the homeless person to a qualified person such as the abbot or the director. I am not entitled to decide such things. Apr 18, 2017 at 13:22

3 Answers 3


I used to manage certain affairs of a monastery. I once gave a homeless penniless man food & lodging and he has been a monk now for over 20 years & is a well-known dhamma teacher.

The beggar must be able to live by the basic monastery rules for laypeople, which is not consuming drugs & alcohol; not disturbing other people; and doing his share of work.


As a monk, I will have empathy towards this homeless person and welcome him to the temple, in understanding and sharing my experiences and emotions with him. The Buddha and his disciples – who left home to practice so that they could share the Dhamma with us – sacrificed everything to walk the PATH. They came to this from all walks of life. Some were ordinary people like us. Others came from the families of kings, financiers, and landowners, from very refined backgrounds. There were ones like Sopaka, who were born to very poor families. Suneeta was from an untouchable caste like the harijans and Dalits. Suneetha, Sopaka and Patacara would have died in grief had not they come to the dispensation of the Supreme Buddha.

We monks are no different to this homeless person. When we went forth into the homeless life, we made ourselves into rags and footmats. Our path of practice is frugal and sparing, beset with poverty. We do not concern ourselves much with external plenty or wealth. Instead, we are concerned with the wealth and fullness of the Dhamma in our hearts. We didn’t leave room in our hearts for any of the values that pride places on things. We abandoned all values of that sort so as to become rags without any vanity or conceit. But as for our inner quality, these rags wrapped gold in our hearts. Our hearts contain riches; the treasures of concentration, wisdom, all the way to the greatest treasure – release in the heart.

People who sympathise with each other, see that all human beings are of equal value. They find it easy to be forgiving and to live with one another in peace. They don’t despise one another for belonging to this or that class or for having only this or that much wealth. What we are, and who we are is simply a matter of each person’s kamma. If we can live with the thought that each living being has his or her own kamma, we can live together in peace.


What is the difference between the homeless person and the monk?

  • They both choose to be in the temple.
  • They both have nothing to call their own.

I guess the biggest difference is imposed by those that aren't either a beggar or a monk: "I see you as a monk, therefore you are allowed here. I see you as a dropout from society as therefore you aren't allowed here."

The monk may have more knowledge of the Dhamma, and may live his life according to it, but who's to say the homeless person doesn't? He may be a devout Buddhist, which is why he was drawn to stay in the temple. The label of "homeless person" comes associated with a whole host of negative connotations. A monk is a "homeless person". He chooses to gather (as Buddha suggested) with others of the right mind (Right Association). By coming to the temple, is not this other "homeless" person merely enacting Right Association?

Kudos to him/her, I say.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .