1

I do know alms giving is a chance for lay people to do good deeds, however I do not see the right intention of the monk. I feel the compassion is one sided. A lay person becomes homeless not because he has compassion for the lay people, but for himself first. If his first intention is true, how can we say while receiving alms his intention has changed and now has compassion for lay people only so that he can survive, meditate and attain nibbana?

What if lay people did not exists? What would be the condition for a buddhist monk not to exist. As long as there are lay people, monks will exist too?

I feel there is a ego behind monks receving alms. It is explained that buddha wanted monks to spend more time meditating rather than cooking or growing own food.

The exchange and doubling of merits is a business minded solution. A lay person works very hard and it would not be proper to use anyone just to satisfy there own ego using a business minded approach very similar to slavery.

How different is a buddhist monk from a hindu brahman or a christian priest, where they always need an offering to satisfy there gods. May be the monks feel they have understood more, but the truth has not changed. The give and take has not stopped, the approach is same and the reason is not different either.

I feel the lay people giving alms is only satisfying the monk needs to attain nibbana. I do understand the good deed part, but out of compassion, I personally not want to receive food from someone who has taken so much effort to earn it.

Lay people are not slaves, do buddhist monks need food of lay people ?

5 Answers 5

1

Why lay people should give alms?

I expect it's human nature -- in almost every society, some people feed their children, their parents, and/or the homeless/destitute -- also guests, and teachers, and (in some societies) travellers -- without being paid to.

A lay person becomes homeless not because he has compassion for the lay people, but for himself first.

I'm not sure that's so. In some societies virtually every man takes the vows, at least temporarily.

See also this article:

Today, young men sometimes enter the monastery through a sense of obligation, largely to please their parents. Ordination bestows great merit on the family and helps improve their karmic consequences. For many, is the ultimate act of filial piety: demonstrating obedience, respect, gratitude, and devotion to the people who raised him.

In summary there are several reasons, maybe mixed.

What if lay people did not exists? What would be the condition for a buddhist monk not to exist. As long as there are lay people, monks will exist too?

When no lay people support monks then monks don't subsist there -- see for example this theory of why Buddhism declined in India after the Arab invasion:

  • Buddhists were mostly dependent on the merchant class
  • The invasion changed the trade routes, cutting off old trade and establishing new trade with Arabia
  • Muslims merchants prospered with the new trade routes while Buddhist merchants became poorer, which encouraged Buddhist merchants to convert
  • Without the support of urban merchants, the Buddhist monasteries declined
  • Without the Buddhist monasteries, the rural non-mercantile Buddhists became "vulnerable" to conversion, either to Islam or to Hinduism. Hinduism wasn't so vulnerable because its strength was in rural, non-mercantile economy

Supporting monks is how a people can live in a Buddhist society.

And, unlike paying taxes, it's voluntary.

A lay person works very hard and it would not be proper to use anyone just to satisfy there own ego using a business minded approach very similar to slavery.

I think that was an argument used by the communist Chinese when they invaded Tibet -- i.e. that they were liberating the Tibetan people who were held as serfs by the land-owning monasteries.

Still in my opinion an important reason why a modern capitalist society is unlike "slavery" is that even poor people (or "wage slaves") have some choice about who they work for and with.

The fact that donations to monastics are voluntary, even unasked-for, seems to me to make it very unlike slavery.

I do understand the good deed part, but out of compassion, I personally not want to receive food from someone who has taken so much effort to earn it.

I think that people see monks as a "field of merit" i.e. an opportunity for lay people to plant good deeds and harvest merit.

As for monks, I get the impression from the suttas that they take this consideration as a strong incentive (not to disrobe but) to be good monks, to keep the Vinaya, so as to be "worthy" of offerings.

1

I feel the lay people giving alms is only satisfying the ego of a monk to attain nibbana. I do understand the good deed part, but out of compassion, I personally not want to receive food from someone who has taken so much effort to earn it.

Lay people are not slaves, do buddhist monks need food of lay people ?

Couple things, the merit derived from giving is not only dependent on the purity of heart on the part of the giver, but also on the part of the receiver. If you give to a serial killer, serial rapist, serial cheater, then the resultant merit will be quite minimal. But if giving to a monk, provided that the monk has observed/cultivated moral virtues, meditation, and wisdom to a high degree, the merit will be much higher.

Regarding the ego of a monk, you already knew that Nibbana can only be attained after one has renounced all ego, right? You are giving alms to them not to boost their ego, but to help renounce all traces of it to attain the highest goal. By the way, the symbiosis relationship between monks and lays go much further than just food donation. It's a chance for the two sides to interact so that the monks could get sustainments to help with their noble quest, while in returns, addressing any inquiries the lays might have about the Noble Teaching, or advising on any issues they're facing in their daily life. It's a good win-win relationship.

2
  • The food offering is very similar to the one given to hindu brahmins or christian priests. There should be a better solution to this. Please update your answer for this questions as well. Thanks.
    – Vaibhav
    Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 18:38
  • But why do you see a problem with food offering, whether to Buddhist monks or to other contemplatives of other religions? While I can't speak for those other sects, the mutual benefits for both lays and monks in the Buddhist context have been clearly provided.
    – santa100
    Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 18:43
1

The following points describe the gist of it:

  • Monks should not be too preoccupied with worldly tasks such as farming and cooking, and instead they should focus on the study and practice of the Dhamma (teachings).
  • Going on alms round at certain times of the day and behaving in a certain way (e.g. how to take alms, how to eat etc.) as prescribed by the monastic rules, is a form of rigorous training of renunciation for the monks.
  • Lay people get a chance to make merit and do charity, which brightens and purifies their mind. This is the chance of lay people to exercise compassion.
  • Charity by lay people is completely voluntary. They are not compelled to do so and they are not slaves.
  • Monks being dependent on lay people do not become deluded into thinking that monks can be independent of the material world, and all persons should become monks. Monks get to appreciate the validity, usefulness and role of the lay follower path.
  • By interacting with lay people, monks remain in touch with understanding the intricacies of lay life and the material world.
  • By interacting with lay people, monks get the chance to teach lay people, which brings merit to monks because the greatest gift is the gift of the Dhamma. This is the chance of monks to exercise compassion and, also brighten and purify their minds.
  • When monks receive questions by lay people, they get the chance to be exposed to thinking and pondering questions of Dhamma that they may otherwise not get exposed to. This helps them progress further in their path.
  • By interacting with monks, lay people get exposed to renunciation.
  • By interacting with monks, lay people get the chance to be taught the Dhamma and its practice. Lay people stand the chance to receive the greatest gift of all, the gift of the Dhamma.

In other words, the design of dependency of monks and lay people on each other leads to the middle way of right renunciation away from the extremes of asceticism and worldly indulgence. The monastic order and the lay followers become like the yin and yang of the institution of Buddhism.

0

The Buddha and his disciples don't teach stingy people, avoid them as they are incapable of proper attention and incapable to gain any concentration. They aren't demanding anything and are sure not to have much lose if stingy people are not trying to build up relation with the liberation. They are even not forced to stop stealing the Dhamma and trade in exchanges outwardly. People are hire of their actions.

I personally not want to receive food from someone who has taken so much effort to earn it.

So it's proper then to immediately stop eating as it's all taken from other being who put a lot of effort into earning it, even killed for it much ...

Maybe good to think about who's worthy to receive gifts and if by oneself worthy to take not given or start to side ways of generosity outside of foolish stingyness based on total unqualified hypocrisy. Much compassion with those so poor incapable to give a "beggar" with noble aspiration.

Can someone open a gofundme for Christopher the hard working poor who desires to learn about the Dhamma yet so poor that incapable to give outside of stingy people at BSE, the circle 'worthy' of gifts?

"Stand up for freedom, equality and brotherhood, good follower of our red future!"...

Really poor this communist marxist folk of hard working consumers... the liberal slaves of desires.

0

What's the problem? Do you want to live in a world even more greedy and stingy than the current one?

You do not want to receive food voluntarily given from someone because he/she has put much effort into it, but you don’t see any problem in consuming sensuality as a householder? Whenever you consume a sensual pleasure, someone else was deprived of something so that you could consume it. How much beings have been suffering and deprived of their belongs so that you can get all the sensual pleasures which you are used to consume? The monks have given up their share of sensual pleasure, hence they are doing much more to alleviate the suffering in the world than a regular householder could do.

You must log in to answer this question.

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