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In some other religions like Hinduism and Catholicism, the role of monks and the role of priests are clearly separated. However, in Buddhism, this is not clearly separated.

It is clear what the monks should not practise. DN2 clearly lists a lot of "animal" arts that monks should not practice e.g. prediction, forecasting, dream interpretation, palmistry, geomancy, selecting auspicious dates, horoscopes etc.

It is also clear that monks can ordain other monks, nuns, novice monks, novice nuns.

Does the Vinaya allow or mandate monks to perform rituals and ceremonies like the following?

If it does not, then why do they do it?

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Nothing should be given as a matter of exchange, gain, honor... that is clear.

  • Refuge in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha ceremony

Who else should give refuge? There is nothing wrong with it, but the opposit.

  • Five precepts initiation

Who else should give one precepts? There is nothing wrong with it, but the opposit.

  • Worship of the Buddha image and stupa

Veneration is part of practice, encourged by the Buddha

  • Veneration of the Bodhi tree

Veneration is part of practice, encourged by the Buddha

  • Blessing by chanting

Giving blessings and Anumodana is not only practicing metta and mudita, but also allowed by the Buddha

  • Weddings

There is nothing wrong to receive a meal, give talk on Dhamma and a blessing.

  • Funerals

There is nothing wrong to receive a meal, give talk on Dhamma and a blessing.

  • Blessing of newborns

There is nothing wrong to receive a meal, give talk on Dhamma and a blessing.

  • Blessing of the sick (heard this from a Ajahn Brahm talk)

There is nothing wrong to receive a meal, give talk on Dhamma and a blessing.

  • Blessing using holy water (a Thai tradition)

That's of cause a ritual, but follows an occation where the Buddha send out Ven. Ananda to do such.

  • Protection by tying blessed strings on hand (a Thai tradition)

That is not right, to give people material things aside of Dhamma, since people would think that good come from others and material.

  • Blessing of objects like car keys (a Thai tradition)

Terrible... again, no problem to receive food on what ever event.

  • Protection blessing (Pirit in Sri Lanka)

Nothing wrong with that.

  • Housewarming (heard this from a Ajahn Brahm talk)

There is nothing wrong to receive a meal, give talk on Dhamma and a blessing.

Offerings to the deceased and blessing the deceased

There is nothing wrong to receive a meal, give talk on Dhamma and a blessing. Also encouragement to do offering toward the death is the Buddhas way.

Worship of the Devas or Brahmas

Nothing wrong with paying respect to the Devas and Gods, the Buddha encouraged as well.

  • Worship of Bodhisattvas

seldom & unusual

  • Worship of the planets (Bali in Sri Lanka)

seldom & unusual

  • Exorcism (Tovil and Atanatiya in Sri Lanka)

depends on the way. In giving a talk, there is no problem. Harming a ghost, or doing healing others then by giving Dhamma might be failing.


It's not good the generalize althought sadly sure 95% of monk make a livelihood from sharing Dhamma or make other services. Look at Sutta Central... even asking directly for exchange is "normal", but people buy Dhamma and you do, or not? Hmm? So why does one crow like to pick out the eye of another. Crow is crow, and usually don't do that.

People, monks who are not trading, who really live on alms are very very rare, and be sure, with general being biased, one would not meet them even standig in front.

How ever, usually kammaṭṭhāna-monks seldom to never, join such folk fests. If really listening to Dhamma would be expected, they would follow an invitation to a meal which might look similar.

May you come out of certain bias and selfdestructing views soon (and yes that's a blessing, sometimes it helps). Better look of what you can give then to demand.

Some advices: (Q&A) Details on what may be given as alms (Tips for alms-giving)

Don't forget that there are also reasons why monks would turn over the bowl. One might not fear such thinking "I can buy or trade for it and what I desire" Sure... but here "we" (you, they) go...

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma, not meant for commercial use or other lower wordily gains by ways of exchange or trade]

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