Is it right for a monastery or a temple to take money donations, having donation boxes and selling a lot of different things to worship or get luck from? Or shouldn't a monastery use money just like the monks? I feel if I want to give to a monastery is better to give food to the monks, give the things they need not the money so they can get it themself.

1 Answer 1


Yes it is OK for monastics to sell things. Sư Trưởng (Head Nun) Như Thanh started the Huế Làm Nunnery and nine other nunneries by selling food and in a few cases businesses like rice sales, making soy sauce, printing sutras and a tailor shop. (1) She was in many ways the Mother Teresa of Vietnam but refused to travel saying she would just give the money to the nunneries thus she remains unknown. In her life she raised over 5000 nuns and 13 Dharma masters including Sư Cô Thích Nữ Như Nguyệt, PhD sited above. A large reason 90% of the monastics in Vietnam are now nuns can be traced back to her works. I do not know of another person that made such a big change to Buddhism in one country (and by extension the US because her disciples are here) in the scant span of 100 years like Sư Trưởng Như Thanh.

Her book "Path of the Bodhisattva" (Vietnamese only 1989) might be the crowning achievement out of her extensive literary works. Without a doubt she was one of the most stunning people of this world and few know her name. But those that do she is seen as a true bodhisattva.

"Looking up, I seek enlightenment. Looking down, I liberate sentient beings." - Sư Trưởng Như Thanh.

So when you go to a Vietnamese-American temple run by nuns and see food being sold you'll know who started it [so please buy some]. Also any temple named "Huế Làm" will quite likely have her picture hanging around somewhere. She is that important.

  1. Eminent Buddhist Women, p. 88 "Fostering Self-sufficiency" written by her Dharma daughter and personal care attendant of the last 22 years of her life Pháp sư và Sư cô Thích Nữ Như Nguyệt ("moon"), PhD. http://goo.gl/TKNxns. She is the apex between intelligence and compassion. Her pháp danh should've been Minh.

Also http://giacngo.vn/lichsu/2009/01/15/7FC650/

As for giving just food I'm someone who's office duties includes cutting checks to pay the electricity, heat, Internet, phone and the myriad of other bills and can say at our nunnery (note: I'm laity and a white guy) money is always accepted with gratitude and is needed. Gratitude was something Sư Trưởng Như Thanh taught should always been shown.

Edit: In hindsight I would recommended making donations for specific needs. If a monastic needs a car fixed you show pay the mechanic. If they need to pay a bill you should it the company directly. Advice I received from a very good monk.


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