I'd feed a starving child before a healthy arahant

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Re: I'd feed a starving child before a healthy arahant

Postby pegembara » Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:32 pm

Let's break down the problem using the Dalai Lama as an example... not saying that he is or isn't an arahant.

Feed a starving child and you save one life. That is good. The DL doesn't need your help and feeding him has minimal impact. The DL continues with his good works and impacting many lives.

If both are starving, saving the DL is more "meritorious" as the end result would be potentially many more lives can be helped.

You can substitute Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Mother Teresa and the like for the arahant.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Re: I'd feed a starving child before a healthy arahant

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:50 pm

Welcome back...
kc2dpt wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:there are suttas that say an offering to an arahant yields greater merit to an offering to a non-arahant.

Do these suttas instructs us to give to a "plump arahant" before giving to a "starving beggar child"?
What does it mean to "yield greater merit"?
I'd like to take a closer look at the suttas you referenced.

Thanks for the helpful analysis.

This sutta on the results of giving is also worth reflecting on:
This was said by the Lord...

"Bhikkhus, if beings knew, as I know, the result of giving and sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would they allow the stain of meanness to obsess them and take root in their minds. Even if it were their last morsel, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared it, if there were someone to share it with. But, bhikkhus, as beings do not know, as I know, the result of giving and sharing, they eat without having given, and the stain of meanness obsesses them and takes root in their minds."

If beings only knew —
So said the Great Sage —
How the result of sharing
Is of such great fruit,
With a gladdened mind,
Rid of the stain of meanness,
They would duly give to noble ones
Who make what is given fruitful.

Having given much food as offerings
To those most worthy of offerings,
The donors go to heaven
On departing the human state.
Having gone to heaven they rejoice,
And enjoying pleasures there,
The unselfish experience the result
Of generously sharing with others.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#iti-026


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Re: I'd feed a starving child before a healthy arahant

Postby clw_uk » Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:10 am

Seems we have some options

1) Give to the arahant, and let the child die, yet "I" get merit and so do future being's from the arahant being sustained for longer.

2) Give to the child and let the arahant die. So "I" get merit yet the child lives but the arahant dies, yet the child may become an arahant and fulfil the end of the above sentence.

3) Give to neither and sustain oneself, the child and arahant will die yet one can have wisdom from this act and become an arahant

The point is that the outcome it unknown, yet the intention defines the "morality".

However there are many variables, such as one can feed oneself and let both die, and not gain wisdom or the child could live and could not become enlightened.

Once again, there are so many outcomes to one situation. That is why, to me, intention is key.

Be sceptical to the outcome (as buddha said) and rely on subjective wisdom, which is born from empirical investigation into subjective phenomena.
Lost to a world in which I crave no part,
I sit alone and listen to my heart,
Pleased with my little corner of the earth,
Glad that I came--not sorry to depart
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Re: I'd feed a starving child before a healthy arahant

Postby seeker242 » Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:15 pm

"Any action performed with greed — born of greed, caused by greed, originating from greed: wherever one's selfhood turns up, there that action will ripen. Where that action ripens, there one will experience its fruit, either in this very life that has arisen or further along in the sequence.AN 3.33

Giving food to a plump arahant, instead of a starving child, just so you can make more merit for yourself, seems pretty greedy if you ask me! Actions born out of greed can hardly be considered meritorious IMO.


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Re: I'd feed a starving child before a healthy arahant

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:50 pm

I think this could be an option: bring the child with you and ask the arahant if he would like to share some of your food with him.


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