Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

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Hickersonia
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Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby Hickersonia » Tue Oct 08, 2013 12:53 am

On one hand, I have noticed that every single monastic I have met handles money.

On the other hand, about 1/2 of these monastics are Mahayana rather than Theravada, and are ordained in a school that doesn't appear (so far as I can ascertain) to have any prohibition on it anyway.

So, in one tradition I have found monks who take on a precept (or vow, if you will) to abstain from bartering and the use of whatever is a medium for business but appear to disregard it almost entirely and in the other the precept is not taken at all; they just dispense with the rule entirely.

Sometimes I'm okay with what I have observed... although I do not give money directly to them, I can still support them indirectly (by donating to the temple). Other times, I feel like it is such a contradiction to live the Buddhist monastic life while still handling money that I choose to not give at all...

And at other times, I think to myself "at least the Mahayana monks don't pretend like they aren't handling money."

I don't much like "hearing" myself think such snide remarks; I really don't like being overly critical. I mean... who am I to find fault with anyone in the first place?

How do you reconcile this sort of thing with your understanding of Dhamma and Vinaya? Am I wrong to be a little troubled? I almost think that if I ever stumbled across, in-person, a Dhamma teacher from any tradition that honestly seemed to keep the first ten precepts (dasa-sila) , I would follow him (or her) around the world if so asked.

Sorry for the jumble of thoughts... Please be well. :anjali:
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Re: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby Virgo » Tue Oct 08, 2013 1:03 am

You actually associate with those monks? What can you possibly learn from them if they recite the patimokkha every fortnight knowing they will break it at a moment's notice with no regret or shame?


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Re: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:00 am

The reality is that most monks do have cash and handle money and many even have bank accounts. About the only exceptions are some forest monks, especially those from the Ajahn Chah tradition.

See also: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=17916
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Re: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby reflection » Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:38 am

Always easy to judge others, that's one thing. Especially if we don't observe their rules ourselves.

But it's also very difficult to get by in today's society without money. Think of things like transport and so. In monasteries without money there is always a lot of arrangements with who drives who where and such. Can't just take a cab. Also if they run out of a simple item like toilet paper or toothpaste, they can't just get it. So there is something to say for monks handling money. I don't think monks without money are better monks per se. Of course it can happen out of attachment to money and to some form of self control, but in many cases I think that's not what's going on and they simply handle money because it just makes things a bit easier. Or, because that's simply how things go. And admittedly, me myself I do so many things because that's simply the way society is.. so I am certainly not in a position to judge somebody else on such things. ;)

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Re: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby chownah » Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:59 am

I'm ambivalent about monks having money. I don't think that it is a make or break sort of thing.....but I can't help pointing out that while toilet paper and toothpaste have been used as examples of essential items, it is actually the case that both of them can be replaced with water. Having lived in Thailand for a number of years I have adopted the Thai way and use water and not toilet paper and I much prefer it as water does a much much better job. And the American dental association did a study of brushing without paste and found it to be just as effective at reducing dental caries as brushing with paste.....the one caveat in this is that the study was done before the advent of fluoridated tooth paste and especially for young people the fluoride in tooth paste does provide extra protection above and beyond brushing.
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Re: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby Hickersonia » Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:08 am

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Re: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:20 am

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Re: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby Sylvester » Tue Oct 08, 2013 5:01 am


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Re: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Oct 08, 2013 5:42 am

Even in Burma, I didn't come across many monks who refrain from using money. Chanmyay Sayādaw, being from the stricter Shwegyin sect, was always scrupulous about it, which is why I preferred to stay in Chanmyay Yeikthā rather than Mahāsi Yeikthā.

While the Mahāsi Sayādaw was alive, any monk found to break the rule was sent away, but after his demise the standards slipped. Sayādaw U Paṇḍita is also scrupulous, but he left to start his own branch centre. You will still find scrupulous monks at Mahāsi Yeikthā, but I got the impression that most are not.

Given that most monks don't observe that rule nowadays, just as most lay Buddhists do not observe the five precepts scrupulously, one has to cultivate a skilful attitude to avoid making unwholesome kamma due to spiritual pride. What others do is their business, what we do is what really matters.



• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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Re: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby SarathW » Tue Oct 08, 2013 7:00 am

Sadhu, Sadhu , Sadhu
:anjali:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby cooran » Tue Oct 08, 2013 7:10 am

Hello all,

Ven. Dhammasiha at Dhammagiri Forest Hermitage which I attend, near Brisbane, does not handle money. He strictly keeps all the monks' rules.
http://www.dhammagiri.org.au/

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby SarathW » Tue Oct 08, 2013 7:28 am

Thanks Cooran
I have no doubt that there were at least few monks who follow the 227 Vinaya rules.
But this is the first time I heard of one of them.
I hope I will meet him one day!
:anjali:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby lyndon taylor » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:05 am

If we're going to practice rationalization, cash is bad but checks are OK, we might as well let all the monks have credit cards, after all there's nothing in the Buddhist Vinaya where monks were told they couldn't use credit cards!!!
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

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Re: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:09 am

Most of the centres in seem to be Mahāyāna. There is one
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Re: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby pegembara » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:24 am

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: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby Derek » Tue Oct 08, 2013 1:03 pm

Hello, folks,

The actual precept is:

Jatarupa-rajata-patiggahana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from accepting gold and silver

So monks only undertake not to accept silver and gold. Refusing to accept paper money and cupro-nickel coins is only an interpretation of this precept.

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Re: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby Ben » Tue Oct 08, 2013 1:22 pm

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Dan74
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Re: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby Dan74 » Tue Oct 08, 2013 1:44 pm

I'd worry more if the monk or nun were motivated by money, were attached to money, were greedy for money. Monastics don't always get the support they need to survive and besides practical considerations sometimes dictate that in order to be there to teach you the Dhamma, they need to make compromises. As long as they strive to be free of greed, hatred and delusion, the outward form matters little, IMO. True renunciation is in the mind.
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Re: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby daverupa » Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:53 pm

I found that it's very easy for the possession of money to generate the mindset of storing up sensual pleasures as a householder; it feels like having a piece of security, as well as opening up the ability to buy food or entertainment, etc., with great ease when living becomes difficult or stressful, rather than addressing these issues directly.

In short, I think it can easily lead to a palliative approach to life, rather than a curative one, at the individual level; this sort of social lubrication is the function of lay stewards, and ought not be accomplished through relaxation of this rule, I think.

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Re: Monks and Money; trying to figure out my feelings...

Postby Hickersonia » Tue Oct 08, 2013 7:50 pm

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"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of
throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned."


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