When I search for the word "debt" on this site -- https://buddhism.stackexchange.com/search?q=debt -- many of the posts are from the same author -- including two recent ones:
seek out for people teaching the Dhamma not training consuming fools and suggestions that they could escape the debts
The answer to the latter question puzzled me -- because I'm not sure what the difference is between a state welfare recipient thinking "I have a right", compared with an employed wage-earner's having the same kind of thought.
What is Buddhist doctrine on that subject?
The only reference that come immediately to my mind is the debt towards parents, which is so immense that it cannot be repaid, and which is acknowledged by the fact that monks are allowed to help care for their own parents in person.
There are few references on Access to Insight:
- Ina Sutta: Debt (AN 6.45) sounds like it might be a parable or analogy -- i.e. that a monk who behaves badly suffers consequences like a layman who goes into debt
- The Lessons of Gratitude by Thanissaro Bhikkhu seems to say to repay your benefactors by becoming a better person
- Anana Sutta: Debtless (AN 4.62) says that "debtless" is one of the states that a house-holder can enjoy -- along with "having" and "using" wealth, and being "blameless" -- the debtless isn't the import bit in this sutta, which says it's next to nothing compared with being blameless
- Vasala Sutta: Discourse on Outcasts (Sn 1.7) says that denying a debt is one of many examples of misbehaviour that would cause someone to be considered an outcaste
Can you summarise Buddhist doctrine about debt?
Should you try to be more conscious of debts? If not what should you try to be more conscious of?
Part of this question is exemplified by this from Thanissaro Bhikkhu's essay:
In other words, as the first passage shows, it's perfectly fine to appreciate the benefits you've received from rafts and other conveniences without feeling any need to repay them. You take care of them simply because that enables you to benefit from them more. The same holds true for difficult people and situations that have forced you to develop strength of character. You can appreciate that you've learned persistence from dealing with crabgrass in your lawn, or equanimity from dealing with unreasonable neighbors, without owing the crabgrass or neighbors any debt of gratitude. After all, they didn't kindly go out of their way to help you. And if you were to take them as models, you'd learn all the wrong lessons about kindness: that simply following your natural impulses — or, even worse, behaving unreasonably — is the way to be kind.
Debts of gratitude apply only to parents, teachers, and other benefactors who have acted with your wellbeing in mind. They've gone out of their way to help you, and have taught you valuable lessons about kindness and empathy in the process.
As a corollary, if the "raft" there might be an analogy of the Dhamma, what do you think of that? If people publish the Dhamma, after which find and use it, you may appreciate that -- is it something to feel "indebted" about, and if you don't feel properly indebted then are you like stealing it from its rightful owner (e.g. the Sangha), and/or is the person who published it some kind of thief?