I had questions regarding the laity, monastic relationship.

1) How exactly (the step by step or explained) does the process work in which the monastics rely solely on the laity?

2) How do monks publish works (such as books) and not deal with the money involved in their lives?



3 Answers 3


At it's core it works out as if a person went to mountains to meditate, his friend then brings him food & clothing. Eventually the amount of people interested in supporting this project grows. Then for some reason the supporters build something and invite the meditator to stay there. At some point there might be willingness and resources for others to become full time meditators. The supporters may equip the monastery with starlink and invite monks to publish books or monks might do so on their own initiative.


The monks have to rely on lay stewards as described below.

From The Bhikkhus' Rules: A Guide for Laypeople by Ven. Ariyesako:

One can also make an invitation, 'pavarana,' to cover any circumstances that you might not be aware of — a health problem, need for a toothbrush, etc., by saying, "Bhante, if you are in need of any medicine or requisites, please let me know." To avoid misunderstanding it is better to be quite specific, such as — "Bhante, if you need any more food...," "If you need a new pair of sandals..." Unless specified an invitation can only be accepted for up to four months after which time it lapses unless renewed. Specifying the time limit, or giving some indication of the scope of the offering is good, in order to prevent misunderstanding — so that, for instance, when you are intending to offer some fruit juice, the bhikkhu doesn't get the impression you want to buy a washing machine for the monastery!...

In practical terms, monasteries are financially controlled by lay stewards, who then make open invitation for the Sangha to ask for what they need, under the direction of the Abbot. So junior monks even have to ask an appointed agent (generally a senior bhikkhu or abbot) if they may take up the steward's offer — to pay for dental treatment, obtain footwear or medicines, for example. This means that as far as is reasonably possible, the donations that are given to the stewards to support the Sangha are not wasted on unnecessary whims.

If a lay person wishes to give to a particular bhikkhu, but is uncertain of what he needs, he should make invitation. Any financial donations should not be made to 'X Bhikkhu' but to the stewards of the monastery, perhaps mentioning if it's for a particular item or for the needs of a certain bhikkhu. For items such as traveling expenses, money can be given to an accompanying anagarika (dressed in white) or accompanying lay person, who can buy tickets, drinks for the journey, or anything else that the bhikkhu may need at that time. It is quite a good training for a lay person to actually consider what items are necessary, and offer those rather than money...

"For Laypeople: A lay-person should never offer money directly to a bhikkhu... even if it is placed inside an envelope or together with other requisites. They should either deposit the money with the monastery steward, put it in a donation-box or into the monastery bank account. They may then state their invitation to the bhikkhu(s) regarding the kind or amount of requisite(s). In Thailand, for example, knowledgeable lay-people would deposit money with the steward and offer to the bhikkhu(s) an invitation note mentioning the details of the offering." (HS ch.14)

"People who have good faith in bhikkhus may entrust money (lit., silver and gold) into the hand of a [steward] and order him to purchase allowable things for bhikkhus. Bhikkhus may be glad at the allowable things bought by the steward with that money. This is not regarded as being glad at that money. This is called the [Me.n.daka Allowance.] Bhikkhus should not request suitable things from the steward in excess of the money deposited with him." (EV,II,p.135)

"When a fund has been set up with a steward indicated by a bhikkhu: Obtaining an article from the fund as a result of having prompted the steward more than the allowable number of times is [an offence of Confession with Forfeiture.]" (Nis. Paac. 10; BMC p.206)


Good householder,

in regard of 2):

To lead the holly life (use it) and make ones living by publishing books for lay-people, although common, is for the most wrong livelihood (sg 13). The primary task of a monk is to gain the highest fruit, liberation.

To lead the holly live just to become well-known, famous, for honor... is likewise wrong as learning and publish Dhamma to win over others is. Many are just disputer, contribute, like all of them for sensuall pleasures, becoming, to maintain support.

Not seldom, byways of stealing, they even touch Pārājika-faults.

Those many popular provider of food in books (even as sold stuff or for direct trade) usually simply make a living from it, holding money, or take controll over it, and do a lot not proper to Vinaya, starting from fondraising, trade, till encouraging to steal Dhamma. Depending on there "students", customers, the Dhamma grows corrupt. This being the case, monks are actually not allowed to receive something after/in exchange with Dhamma.

To be clear, a Monks task, who has still not arrived at Arahat-ship, is in no way obligated to teach, not to speak of producing entertainments for householder.

How ever, likewise the Buddha dedicated his rest of life for the Dhamma, as it is not pleasing to dwell without dedication, his Arahat disciples had been encouraged to teach. Yet it's somethink total voluntary.

Of what a monk should do is giving an encouragement after having received generosity out of faith.

As there had been cases that other sects got famous by teaching people on Uposatha, while the Buddhas monks remained in seclution, on request of a King, the Buddha allowed his disciples to give talks on Dhamma on this day.

There are, how ever, cases that books might come into being, but such is exclusively a product of generosity by wise lay people, contributing them as gift. Something very selfdom actually.

It's also usually in traditional lands that lay people would support the share of Dhmma books for the monks, the Sangha, hepling, assisting to maintain their heritage.

It's a modern confusion, with the start of the last Dhamma-Period, that monks started to contribute Dhamma, incl. the Tripitaka, to householder.

Dhamma of which is shared or gained in improper way has no conductive effects at all and for those not understanding the whole issue and the way and economy of the Noble Ones, the demanding or trading common people with grave wrong view and no faith in regard that giving first is the reason for gain more sublime, there is no way to prevent them falling deeper and deeper.

in regard of 1): Early in the morning a monk would take his bowl and walk for alms in nearby settlement. Wise people, on seei.g him, would give alms, take the seldom change to make merits.

Generally it's a matter of Upanissaya to ever met such. For sure good monks to not run "fire houses" next villages or in towns, and where such as natural generosity has already died of, on places where is actually no condition for Dhamma, good monks would not dwell. Neither having given, give inwardly and outwardly food, relation doesn't grow, dies off.

16.3: Candūpama Sutta — Comparable to the Moon give best answer to 1) and 2), to understand, that there is actually no relation in both ways anymore, no duities for the world.

Here you are, or, and what do you think would be smart to do? You wouldn't either, right? That's the way it goes.

[Note that this isn't given for stacks, exchange, other world-binding trades, but for an escape from corruption, to gain independency]

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