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My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:31 am
by Dr. Dukkha
I'm an American and I go to a Theravadin monastery in America. I've been seeing a Sri Lankan Theravadin monk to learn more about Buddhism and I've been considering monkhood. I've been seeing him for about a month, and I offer a lot of food to them.
So I volunteer at a soup kitchen and I like to bring leftover food to the monks after I finish my duties.
I called my teacher and told him that I was bringing him some bananas from the soup kitchen and he said it was great and its okay that I should bring them.
So I did when I went to his monastery today (he is the abbot of the monastery). And I admit that the bananas were of darker complexion, but they certainly weren't brown or inedible. I actually had one and it was absolutely fine.
So I brought it up to him, and showed him the tub of bananas I had for him. There were about fifteen of them. And when he saw the bananas, he declined them. I actually found this rather insulting that I came all this way to offer him food that he said he would accept and declined them when he saw them.
He didn't specifically tell me why he declined them, though. And I know he knew they were edible because he said it was okay that I would give them to the homeless people around the area. They were very edible, just a little browned.
So I'm just confused if there is some type of Theravadin tradition I'm missing out on or is my teacher just breaking some rules. Because that's not the only rule they are giving the appearance of breaking.
They also handle money that is given to them from donation and that is against the tenth precept.
I asked them about that and they told me that they had some type of superior type of ordination that gave them the right to handle money and buy things.
I just hope it's a huge misunderstanding and not some type of misbehavior or carelessness on their part.

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 4:53 am
by Bhikkhu Pesala
How to Tell the Difference Between a Monk and a Monkey

Offer some money and some bananas
  1. If he accepts the bananas and rejects the money, he's a monkey, not a monk
  2. If he accepts the money and rejects the bananas, he's not a scrupulous monk.
  3. If he accepts the bananas, and explains that money is not allowable for monks, he is a monk, not a monkey
  4. If he rejects the bananas and the money, and explains that money is not allowable for monks, and that bananas are only allowable at the right time, he's a monk, not a monkey.
There is no "superior type of ordination" that allows a monk to accept money. There's an inferior ordination as an Anāgārika, which allows a lay person living in the monastery to accept and make use of money.

I also sometimes refuse bananas when they are offered, because they don't keep, and are rarely ready to eat on the day that they are offered. They are also high in carbohydrate, which I don't need any more off. Bananas are at their best when the skin has started to go black or brown in places — it means that they are ripe.

Acceptance of money is now almost universal, so don't be too disappointed about that. There are plenty of monks who accept it, but who still provide a useful service by teaching Dhamma to the community. However, saying that there is a superior ordination that allows monks to accept money is just monkey-business. It would be better to admit one's fault, making some excuse about it being difficult to manage one's affairs without using money, etc., as most monks do.

Outside of Asia, it is often difficult to get sufficient support to run a temple. Even Chithurst is now struggling to meet the monthly expenses. However, if things are set up properly, a lay board of trustees should take care of that, without the monks having to get involved in fund-raising or accepting monetary donations.

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 5:35 am
by dagon
Thank you Bhante; as always to the point - even if some times we have too much dust in our eyes to see it.

Ajahn Brahm in the talk linked below discusses fault finding - along with many other things.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHXkwj_0MIU

You could start listening at 24:53 min but the whole talk is well worth listening to.

metta
paul

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 4:51 pm
by Dr. Dukkha
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:How to Tell the Difference Between a Monk and a Monkey

Offer some money and some bananas
  1. If he accepts the bananas and rejects the money, he's a monkey, not a monk
  2. If he accepts the money and rejects the bananas, he's not a scrupulous monk.
  3. If he accepts the bananas, and explains that money is not allowable for monks, he is a monk, not a monkey
  4. If he rejects the bananas and the money, and explains that money is not allowable for monks, and that bananas are only allowable at the right time, he's a monk, not a monkey.
There is no "superior type of ordination" that allows a monk to accept money. There's an inferior ordination as an Anāgārika, which allows a lay person living in the monastery to accept and make use of money.

I also sometimes refuse bananas when they are offered, because they don't keep, and are rarely ready to eat on the day that they are offered. They are also high in carbohydrate, which I don't need any more off. Bananas are at their best when the skin has started to go black or brown in places — it means that they are ripe.

Acceptance of money is now almost universal, so don't be too disappointed about that. There are plenty of monks who accept it, but who still provide a useful service by teaching Dhamma to the community. However, saying that there is a superior ordination that allows monks to accept money is just monkey-business. It would be better to admit one's fault, making some excuse about it being difficult to manage one's affairs without using money, etc., as most monks do.

Outside of Asia, it is often difficult to get sufficient support to run a temple. Even Chithurst is now struggling to meet the monthly expenses. However, if things are set up properly, a lay board of trustees should take care of that, without the monks having to get involved in fund-raising or accepting monetary donations.
I should consider framing this reply. I've seen your other replies and I love the personality, lol. I appreciate this. It's good to know my monks aren't being bad role models. And it's possible that the "superior ordination" was some type of explanation; worse case scenario being that it was some type of shortcut explanation. Thank you for your help.

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 4:53 pm
by Dr. Dukkha
Some type of "misunderstanding," not "explanation."

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:17 pm
by Dr. Dukkha
dagon wrote:Thank you Bhante; as always to the point - even if some times we have too much dust in our eyes to see it.

Ajahn Brahm in the talk linked below discusses fault finding - along with many other things.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHXkwj_0MIU

You could start listening at 24:53 min but the whole talk is well worth listening to.

metta
paul
Beautiful.

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:50 pm
by DNS
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote: If he accepts the bananas and rejects the money, he's a monkey, not a monk
:lol:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote: If he rejects the bananas and the money, and explains that money is not allowable for monks, and that bananas are only allowable at the right time, he's a monk, not a monkey.[/list]
There is no "superior type of ordination" that allows a monk to accept money. There's an inferior ordination as an Anāgārika, which allows a lay person living in the monastery to accept and make use of money.
:anjali: :meditate:

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 11:11 pm
by dagon
Dr. Dukkha wrote:Some type of "misunderstanding," not "explanation."
In the end we are responsible for our own liberation. The Buddha gave us a raft to cross a river with but said that in the end we would need to let go of that as well. Ask yourself the question; was your post about the monk or about your response to the situation? were you disappointed?

Ajahn Brahm talks about disappointment

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmlQ9qGomG0

metta
paul

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Sat Oct 12, 2013 11:21 pm
by Sekha
Unfortunately, it sounds like those monks are not worthy of honors and respect. If I were you, I would just stop going there and look for a better place. Otherwise, make just make mine at home.

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:51 am
by pegembara
[The teachings that promote] the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to passion, not to dispassion; to being fettered, not to being unfettered; to accumulating, not to shedding; to self-aggrandizement, not to modesty; to discontent, not to contentment; to entanglement, not to seclusion; to laziness, not to aroused persistence; to being burdensome, not to being unburdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is not the Dhamma, this is not the Vinaya, this is not the Teacher's instruction.'

[As for the teachings that promote] the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to accumulating; to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to entanglement; to aroused persistence, not to laziness; to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher's instruction.'

— AN 8.53

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 6:24 am
by lyndon taylor
If someone offered me a bunch of browning bananas, I'm sure I would decline, one of the things I was taught about giving food to monks is to pick the freshest healthiest, even fanciest food, as one would for an honoured guest, its seems an honoured guest at your house might have similar reservations about the banana offering in question.

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 8:12 am
by Bhikkhu Pesala
How to Tell if a Banana is Ripe.

If they're completely yellow or green, don't offer them to monks. We have to eat food on the day it is offered, and cannot store it up. It can be offered again on another day, but that depends on someone being available to offer it. A banana with black spots will start turning brown within two or three days. After four or five days it will be too ripe to use.

In the Buddha's time, many monks became sick due to an excess of luxurious foods. You should know that you cannot eat Christmas dinners every day of the week without getting quite ill. One should offer food that is the best for health, with only a small portion of luxurious foods.

The seven kind of luxurious foods, which a monk may not request unless sick or invited to ask for whatever he wants, are: ghee, butter, oil, honey, molasses, fish, meat, milk, and curds. Ordinary working people in Asia at that time could not afford to use these luxuries on a daily basis as we can now in the West. The monks should be content with meals of mostly grains, pulses, and vegetables, with a little of the luxurious foods if donors can afford to offer them.

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 8:24 am
by appicchato
If someone offered me a bunch of browning bananas, I'm sure I would decline...
Barely, just barely, can I believe what I read here...in a nutshell, it's not what's offered that means anything, it's the spirit of the offering that means everything...in addition, not everyone with the Dhamma in their hearts has the privilege of being able to offer the 'fanciest'...

A skillful monk will accept anything (in accordance with the Vinaya) sincerely offered...how it is consumed, disposed of, or dispensed with, is completely irrelevant both to the offerer, and the offeree (sic)...

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 8:28 am
by cooran
Thank you, Bhante!

With metta and respect,
Chris

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:33 am
by lyndon taylor
Well I am not a monk and I will only eat yellow bananas without spots, perhaps the monk in the OP had similar taste, at the temple I studied the mostly women brought very nice food, I guess in a poorer environment monks should be happy to get anything to eat, but still, I don't think you take your leftovers you're about to throw away to the monks, its a matter of respect, as I said before treat the monks as you would an honoured guest at your house. if you have two apples, one really good and one just so so you give the good one to the monk not vice versa, or am I missing something here???

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:58 am
by Feathers
A layperson might choose to give the best apple to the monk, but a monk who expects the best as his due and gets arsey if it isn't offered him needs a couple of slaps in the face with a rotten fish.

Not saying that that was what was going on in the OP, he may have had good reason for rejecting a month's supply of bananas :p

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:21 am
by lyndon taylor
Well I guess we see monks differently, "ripe" or overripe bananas make me physically ill and want to barf, if some one offered me that I don't see why I'm obligated to take it.

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:27 am
by Feathers
If they make you ill it's different, I'm not suggesting you should eat rotting meat or something that will actually harm you! But if it's just fussiness like you described between an 'ok' apple and a 'perfect' apple . . .

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:49 am
by lyndon taylor
One of the points I am trying to make is that one persons edible partly brown banana, might be a rotten banana to someone more squemish like me, My own mom will eat what I consider rotten bananas and if I were to eat them they make me gag, so before we judge the monk in the OPs story we need to see the bananas and maybe estimate how many days if ever they will be eaten in, does anyone even consider they may have already had some fresher supply of less brown bananas, anyway if your going to take bananas to a monastery I suggest you buy them at the supermarket fresh the same day the way you would for your self, rather than decide they're getting old we'll just give them to the monks!!

Re: My monk teacher refused almsfood and handles money?

Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 12:29 pm
by Anagarika
I believe the Vinaya requires a monk to accept whatever he/she is offered. The lay people are making merit, and supporting the monks, and the monks are in turn being of support to the laity. Whatever goes in the almsbowl stays there. I went on pindabaht as a samanera in Thailand, and can say that the strict rules were followed...no requests can be made for anything, and anything given by the laity is accepted with a chant. Once back at the temple, the offerings are sorted out, and some items might be set aside for the homeless (who showed up in the afternoons at the temple looking for food) or even leftovers for the dogs at the temple, who need to eat, too. The idea is that sometimes the almsbowl contained stale sticky rice, or a brown banana, or worse, a meat or fish item in a plastic bag so wickedly spicy hot that it was difficult to eat. In any case, all of the food went to good use that day.

Nothing would be more shocking to a layperson on the street, kneeling on the ground in front of their home, to have a monk refuse a ripe brown banana. That brown spotty banana might have been the best of the bunch that the family was to eat later that day.