Can monks ever eat what they want?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
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No_Mind
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Can monks ever eat what they want?

Post by No_Mind » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:35 am

I have a question.

Numerous westerners have ordained in Thailand .. for those used to soup, rolls, steak, roast potato, apple pie, chocolate pudding, potato chips, burgers, hotdogs .. the change to eating glutinous rice and unknown vegetable preparations is not easy (I guess Poh Taek soup and Prik Kai Sot Sai Thod - Chicken wings tossed in Thai sweet chili sauce with kaffir lemon is not part of normal Dana routine) ..



How do western monks cope with this massive change in lifestyle? Can they ever eat what they want .. suppose they have terrible craving for chocolate ice cream one day .. or even plain lasagna .. how do they cope ..

I ask because someone wrote in Reddit, he wants to go to Thailand and become a monk (without thinking about it for a year or two and making some visits to and fro) https://www.reddit.com/r/Buddhism/comme ... ound_here/

As someone put it in Reddit answer waking up at 4 AM in a foreign country, following 200 rules and eating once a day is not easy.

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Goofaholix
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Re: Can monks ever eat what they want?

Post by Goofaholix » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:45 am

Monks can only eat what they want if what they want is offered.

If they crave chocolate ice cream or lasange then they observe craving and hopefully learn it's nature and gain freedom from it, much like when they crave sex.

In thai monasteries where there are a lot of foreigners sometimes lay people like to spoil the monks and offer food they may be more accustomed to.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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DooDoot
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Re: Can monks ever eat what they want?

Post by DooDoot » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:53 am

No_Mind wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:35 am
Numerous westerners have ordained in Thailand .. for those used to soup, rolls, steak, roast potato, apple pie, chocolate pudding, potato chips, burgers, hotdogs ..
I doubt anyone attached to the above foods is fit for ordination.
No_Mind wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:35 am
the change to eating glutinous rice and unknown vegetable preparations is not easy
I think glutinous rice is largely eaten in North East Thailand but not elsewhere (in a significant amount). "While it is widely consumed across Asia, it is only a staple food in northeastern Thailand and Laos" - Wikipedia.


No_Mind wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:35 am
(I guess Poh Taek soup and Prik Kai Sot Sai Thod - Chicken wings tossed in Thai sweet chili sauce with kaffir lemon is not part of normal Dana routine) ..
It depends where the monk lives. Monks often receive luxurious foods.
No_Mind wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:35 am
How do western monks cope with this massive change in lifestyle? Can they ever eat what they want .. suppose they have terrible craving for chocolate ice cream one day .. or even plain lasagna .. how do they cope ..
Cultural stereotyping.
No_Mind wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:35 am
I ask because someone wrote in Reddit, he wants to go to Thailand and become a monk (without thinking about it for a year or two and making some visits to and fro) https://www.reddit.com/r/Buddhism/comme ... ound_here/

As someone put it in Reddit answer waking up at 4 AM in a foreign country, following 200 rules and eating once a day is not easy.
Its easy enough when the mind is primarily concerned with meditation.
Last edited by DooDoot on Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:00 am, edited 3 times in total.

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No_Mind
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Re: Can monks ever eat what they want?

Post by No_Mind » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:54 am

Goofaholix wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:45 am
Monks can only eat what they want if what they want is offered.

If they crave chocolate ice cream or lasange then they observe craving and hopefully learn it's nature and gain freedom from it, much like when they crave sex.

In thai monasteries where there are a lot of foreigners sometimes lay people like to spoil the monks and offer food they may be more accustomed to.
How hard is the change from USA/Europe/Australia to Thailand .. the shock of a new culture, new food, extreme hot and humid temperature?

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Goofaholix
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Re: Can monks ever eat what they want?

Post by Goofaholix » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:59 am

No_Mind wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:54 am
How hard is the change from USA/Europe/Australia to Thailand .. the shock of a new culture, new food, extreme hot and humid temperature?
It depends on the person, there are a lot of westerners living in Thailand, some for work, some for retirement, a very small number for the monasteries. It's not so much the intial culture shock, that can be exhilerating, it's the daily grind that wears you down.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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DooDoot
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Re: Can monks ever eat what they want?

Post by DooDoot » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:02 am

No_Mind wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:54 am
How hard is the change from USA/Europe/Australia to Thailand .. the shock of a new culture, new food, extreme hot and humid temperature?
Probably as hard as it it for the Western wannabes in this video to sound like American TV. :roll:


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No_Mind
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Re: Can monks ever eat what they want?

Post by No_Mind » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:03 am

DooDoot wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:53 am
No_Mind wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:35 am
I ask because someone wrote in Reddit, he wants to go to Thailand and become a monk (without thinking about it for a year or two and making some visits to and fro) https://www.reddit.com/r/Buddhism/comme ... ound_here/

As someone put it in Reddit answer waking up at 4 AM in a foreign country, following 200 rules and eating once a day is not easy.
Its easy enough when the mind is primarily concerned with meditation.
Once in a Charlie Chaplin look alike competition Charlie Chaplin came third .. you are the winner of "be like Buddha" competition DooDoot .. Buddha is a distant second to you when it comes to Buddhism .. now can I get others to clear my queries?

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Re: Can monks ever eat what they want?

Post by JamesTheGiant » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:04 am

No_Mind wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:35 am
How do western monks cope with this massive change in lifestyle? Can they ever eat what they want .. suppose they have terrible craving for chocolate ice cream one day .. or even plain lasagna .. how do they cope ..
Yes, those cravings do come up. They are nothing compared to the sexual cravings!! Even Ajahn Chah had huge problems with that.
But they cope by having something more important in their lives; hopefully meditation and cultivating the 8-fold path. If there is something like that which is so important to you, you can withstand a lot of suffering and craving. Besides, eventually it becomes just a thing to be observed.

I do remember one amusing story, about a western monk who was craving steak. This was back in the 1970s I think, before Ubon Ratchathani was a big town. As I remember it, he calculated that he could attend morning chanting, and tell the other monks he would not attend dana that day. Then he would jump the monastery wall, change into layperson clothes, take some money he had been given, and could make it to the Ubon Ratchathani airport, where he would take the morning plane to Bangkok. He planned to have a huge steak meal in Bangkok, and then catch the evening plane back to Ubon, a taxi to the monastery, and then back over the wall and change back into monk's robes in time for evening chanting. Some monk's rules would have been broken, but the worst of them just being a pacittiya, which entails confession to another monk.
There was another part to the story, but I can't remember it. He never did it, but he told someone about the plan afterwards, and so we have this great story.

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No_Mind
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Re: Can monks ever eat what they want?

Post by No_Mind » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:05 am

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:04 am
No_Mind wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:35 am
How do western monks cope with this massive change in lifestyle? Can they ever eat what they want .. suppose they have terrible craving for chocolate ice cream one day .. or even plain lasagna .. how do they cope ..
Yes, those cravings do come up. They are nothing compared to the sexual cravings!! Even Ajahn Chah had huge problems with that.
But they cope by having something more important in their lives; hopefully meditation and cultivating the 8-fold path. If there is something like that which is so important to you, you can withstand a lot of suffering and craving. Besides, eventually it becomes just a thing to be observed.

I do remember one amusing story, about a western monk who was craving steak. This was back in the 1970s I think, before Ubon Ratchathani was a big town. As I remember it, he calculated that he could attend morning chanting, and tell the other monks he would not attend dana that day. Then he would jump the monastery wall, change into layperson clothes, take some money he had been given, and could make it to the Ubon Ratchathani airport, where he would take the morning plane to Bangkok. He planned to have a huge steak meal in Bangkok, and then catch the evening plane back to Ubon, a taxi to the monastery, and then back over the wall and change back into monk's robes in time for evening chanting. Some monk's rules would have been broken, but the worst of them just being a pacittiya, which entails confession to another monk.
There was another part to the story, but I can't remember it. He never did it, but he told someone about the plan afterwards, and so we have this great story.
That really gives an insight .. we are not perfect yet .. just trying to become perfect

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: Can monks ever eat what they want?

Post by JamesTheGiant » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:07 am

DooDoot wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:53 am
I doubt anyone attached to the above foods is fit for ordination.
Nonsense. Cravings arise. Many people have favourite foods and deep attachment to different things, including foods. We join the monastery to help free ourselves from these things. We do not join the monastery only when we are stainless and pure and free from attachment.

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Re: Can monks ever eat what they want?

Post by DooDoot » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:12 am

No_Mind wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:54 am
How hard is the change from USA/Europe/Australia to Thailand .. the shock of a new culture, new food, extreme hot and humid temperature?
When I lived in Thailand, I would walk down long village roads in the middle of the day & the villagers thought I was crazy but the heat in Thailand is not as bad as in Australia. In Australia the heat burns & the humidity is worse. As I type in Australia, it is 4pm, 32 degrees Celsius and 63% humidity. In Bangkok, it is 1pm, 32 degrees and 40% humidity. :roll:

Canberra 29 degrees. Sydney Airport 39.7 degrees. Brisbane 31 degrees. Cairns 32 degrees.


JamesTheGiant wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:07 am
Nonsense. Cravings arise. Many people have favourite foods and deep attachment to different things, including foods. We join the monastery to help free ourselves from these things. We do not join the monastery only when we are stainless and pure and free from attachment.
A 'non-sense' competition :D . Eating healthy food does not require monasticism. I have eaten what I believed to be healthy since childhood. It is mere personal responsibility or morality.
Last edited by DooDoot on Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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No_Mind
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Re: Can monks ever eat what they want?

Post by No_Mind » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:32 am

DooDoot wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:12 am
No_Mind wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:54 am
How hard is the change from USA/Europe/Australia to Thailand .. the shock of a new culture, new food, extreme hot and humid temperature?
When I lived in Thailand, I would walk down long village roads in the middle of the day & the villagers thought I was crazy but the heat in Thailand is not as bad as in Australia. In Australia the heat burns & the humidity is worse. As I type in Australia, it is 4pm, 32 degrees Celsius and 63% humidity. In Bangkok, it is 1pm, 32 degrees and 40% humidity. :roll:
Yeah and just wait till April-end to October .. and compare notes then .. from here (Calcutta) to Singapore we clock 90% humidity and upper 30s low 40s

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DooDoot
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Re: Can monks ever eat what they want?

Post by DooDoot » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:37 am

No_Mind wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:32 am
Yeah and just wait till April-end to October .. and compare notes then .. from here (Calcutta) to Singapore we clock 90% humidity and upper 30s low 40s
Sounds like you are ready to ordain & be the next Buddha, like in this video:

Last edited by DooDoot on Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Can monks ever eat what they want?

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:32 am

Goofaholix wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:45 am
Monks can only eat what they want if what they want is offered.
I'm reminded of the Lewis Carroll quote from Alice in Wonderland:
“You might just as well say,” added the March Hare, “that ‘I like what I get’ is the same thing as ‘I get what I like’!”

JubalHenshaw
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Re: Can monks ever eat what they want?

Post by JubalHenshaw » Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:18 pm

As a westerner, I would assume that one seeking to become a monk already has an appreciation for Asian cultures and would be willing to try what is offered to them. Some of the more exotic dishes might be less appetizing however.

As someone who spent 3 days as a monk, I felt that there was a wide variety of food offered at services and meals that there were a lot of options, sometimes even some fried chicken. Of course I'm also weird in that I'll eat any Thai or Khmer dishes. 😀

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