Monks that work?

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greenjuice
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Monks that work?

Post by greenjuice » Fri Sep 05, 2014 10:36 pm

Bhikku Dhammika wrote about his bad experiences in Theravada monasteries with lazy, uncompassionate monks, and made a suggestion that monks could do some work, e.g. agriculture, to support themselves to a some degree, and to practice activity and vigour. Are there any passages in the sutta where it is said that monks should not do work?

SarathW
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Re: Monks that work?

Post by SarathW » Fri Sep 05, 2014 10:39 pm

Monks job is to practice and teach and preserve the Buddha's teaching.
If a monk want to do a day job, they might as well remain as a lay person
:shrug:
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Mkoll
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Re: Monks that work?

Post by Mkoll » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:13 pm

greenjuice wrote:Bhikku Dhammika wrote about his bad experiences in Theravada monasteries with lazy, uncompassionate monks, and made a suggestion that monks could do some work, e.g. agriculture, to support themselves to a some degree, and to practice activity and vigour. Are there any passages in the sutta where it is said that monks should not do work?
I don't think there's anything in the suttas but there is a Vinaya rule about not digging in the ground (pācittiya 10).

Folks who become monks just so they can be lazy and uncompassionate shouldn't have become monks in the first place.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

culaavuso
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Re: Monks that work?

Post by culaavuso » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:14 pm

greenjuice wrote:a suggestion that monks could do some work, e.g. agriculture, to support themselves to a some degree
Agriculture is difficult without digging in the ground (Pācittiya 10). Supporting themselves might be difficult without storing food (Pācittiya 38).

Regarding the duties of a monk there are descriptions like AN 3.91 and Snp 2.14
AN 3.91: Accāyika Sutta wrote: The undertaking of heightened virtue, the undertaking of heightened mind, the undertaking of heightened discernment. These are the three urgent duties of a monk.
Snp 2.14: Dhammika Sutta wrote: A bhikkhu should not wander about at the wrong time but should walk the village for food at the right time, as one who goes about at the wrong time is (liable to be) obsessed by attachment, therefore Awakened Ones do not walk (for alms) at the wrong time. Sights, sounds, tastes, scents and bodily contacts overwhelm (the minds of) beings. Being rid of desire for these sense objects, at the right time, one may enter (the village) for the morning meal. Having duly obtained food, going back alone and sitting down in a secluded place, being inwardly thoughtful and not letting the mind go out to external objects, a bhikkhu should develop self-control.

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greenjuice
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Re: Monks that work?

Post by greenjuice » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:17 pm

SarathW wrote:Monks job is to practice and teach and preserve the Buddha's teaching.
If a monk want to do a day job, they might as well remain as a lay person
:shrug:
Well, Dhammika specifically mentions that that kind of 'division of labor' you seem to assume there is a later tradition, suttas, vinaya, and earlier historical sources mention not only lay teachers, but also lay teachers who teach dhamma to monks. Have you read The Broken Buddha?
Mkoll wrote:I don't think there's anything in the suttas but there is a Vinaya rule about not digging in the ground (pācittiya 10).

Folks who become monks just so they can be lazy and uncompassionate shouldn't have become monks in the first place.
Yes, if I remember correctly, Dhammika mentioned agriculture because he thinks that rule is not an authentic one.

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Re: Monks that work?

Post by SarathW » Sat Sep 06, 2014 12:23 am

Agree that lay teachers who teach dhamma to monks.
I am talking about ordained monks. They obey by additional precepts such as not handling money.
:)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Monks that work?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Sep 06, 2014 7:39 am

Monks have many duties to maintain their monasteries and robes, to go on regular almsround, and to tend the sick. They are not permitted to grow crops or cut plants, so lay attendants or novices must do any digging or cutting

Sammuñjānī Thera was constantly sweeping the monastery, but when admonished to meditate more by Revata Thera, he gave up his constant sweeping and did more meditation.
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Re: Monks that work?

Post by martinfrank » Sat Sep 06, 2014 1:19 pm

Mkoll wrote:Folks who become monks just so they can be lazy and uncompassionate shouldn't have become monks in the first place.
You are right, James, but of course that monks don't need to work is exactly the reason why so many lazy men become monks in some countries.

We should not forget that Buddhist monks in majority Buddhist countries live according to their local traditions. If Lord Buddha would live now, maybe there would be a rule "computers and printers he doesn't accept", "mobile phones he doesn't accept" and "from surfing the Internet he keeps away", "train, plane tickets he doesn't accept" etc..

In Laos Buddhist monks have to work by law. Did you hear that Lao monks are worse than SriLankan monks because of this? In Thailand some monks work hard for social and ecological causes. Are they less good monks than those who spend their time doing nothing?

What should a monk be allowed to do?
- Teach in school?
- Teach in university?
- Be a university rector?
- Study in university?
- Chant at funerals?
- Chant at marriages?
- Teach meditation to prison inmates?
- Be a Buddhist military chaplain?
- Write books?
- Run an orphanage?
- Take care of street children?
- Herbal medicine?
- AIDS prevention?
- Take part in Buddhist conferences?
- Make amulets?
- Exorcism?
- Organize retreats?
- Watch a movie in a cinema?
- Watch a movie on his computer?
- Read a novel?
- Listen to music?
- Work on a Buddhist website?

I propose not to judge. Life comes in many shades of gray. We'll always be relatively good and relatively bad at the same time and we should look at others with the same indulgence we have for our own weaknesses.
The Noble Eightfold Path: Proposed to all, imposed on none.

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Mkoll
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Re: Monks that work?

Post by Mkoll » Sat Sep 06, 2014 1:38 pm

martinfrank wrote:
Mkoll wrote:Folks who become monks just so they can be lazy and uncompassionate shouldn't have become monks in the first place.
You are right, James, but of course that monks don't need to work is exactly the reason why so many lazy men become monks in some countries.
Yes, that's the type I'm talking about: people who want a free lunch in life.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Anagarika
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Re: Monks that work?

Post by Anagarika » Sat Sep 06, 2014 4:43 pm

I'm aware of some sanghas of monks in the west where the monks have day jobs, insofar as they cannot support the temple unless they earn some income. Such is one reality in the west, where the temple would not exist were it not for the monks working day jobs ( for example, as teachers and nursing home workers).

I am unsure how to process this issue of monks working. I very much want to see good Vinaya monks and nuns take root in the west, build wats, and establish sanghas. I feel there may be some need to balance the Vinaya rules ( such as avoiding driving cars, cooking, working day jobs) against the need for survival. I recall one story of a Thai trained young monk/teacher in the west who tried to establish a sangha in his home country. He related that for a few days, the local Sri Lankan community would bring meal dana ( the local town was too far away to do almsround), then, after a day or so, they forgot to come. He and his younger monks sat in their donated home, starving for a few days, wondering if they would die. I was glad to see that he was teaching, and building a sangha, but was it just too much devotion to the absolute rules that caused him to sit and starve? Would it have been better that he die, and then in a few days his body be found?...the sangha now lost, but the honor of the Vinaya preserved?

The sangha that I mentioned where the monks work day jobs is thriving. Many lay people are exposed to and benefited by the Dhamma and the daily meditation practices. All of the monks are very good people. I'm guessing that having a monk as a caregiver or teacher is a wonderful bonus for their pupils or patients.

Monks that work? IMO, so long as they otherwise obey the vast majority of the 227 rules, I feel I can process the idea of monks working and driving cars in order for them to survive. It's not ideal, and it seems somehow not right, but given the choice of having a sangha, or watching the monks and community die off, I'd rather have the sangha. There are important and necessary rules, and there are reasonable exceptions. I guess we have to let intention, reason and wisdom guide us as to the exceptions we can allow.

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martinfrank
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Re: Monks that work?

Post by martinfrank » Sat Sep 06, 2014 6:36 pm

:goodpost:
The Noble Eightfold Path: Proposed to all, imposed on none.

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appicchato
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Re: Monks that work?

Post by appicchato » Sat Sep 06, 2014 8:47 pm

I propose not to judge. Life comes in many shades of gray. We'll always be relatively good and relatively bad at the same time and we should look at others with the same indulgence we have for our own weaknesses.
<cough>Amen... :candle:

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Re: Monks that work?

Post by SarathW » Sat Sep 06, 2014 11:42 pm

If there is no lay support the best option is to become an Anagarika.
You become a monk only because you are trying to observe higher precepts.
If there is no supportive conditions, the best option is to down grade your precepts rather than downgrading the Sangha.
:shrug:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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cooran
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Re: Monks that work?

Post by cooran » Mon Sep 08, 2014 5:42 am

Yes, I agree.

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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Zom
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Re: Monks that work?

Post by Zom » Mon Sep 08, 2014 2:49 pm

If there is no lay support the best option is to become an Anagarika.
You become a monk only because you are trying to observe higher precepts.
If there is no supportive conditions, the best option is to down grade your precepts rather than downgrading the Sangha.
Quite right.
Temples/monks are needed only in large buddhists communities which can properly support them. Why build a temple if you know there is no one to support it? Why become a bhikkhu (who is a mendicant) if you know no one support you as well? :? Indeed, better to start with a very small Dhamma center and see if there are enough people interested in Buddhism. That's how we did here in Saint-Petersburg in 2009. So after 5 years I can tell we don't need a monastery or a temple - few are interested in Theravada here and small center is more than enough.

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