Touching Money

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TRobinson465
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Touching Money

Post by TRobinson465 » Sat Jun 30, 2018 10:58 pm

Hello all,

In this thread I would like to ask two questions, but first let me give you some background. (Do not quote me on this explanation, I am just reporting what a Thai friend told me.)

As most of you probably know (I've found that like 80% of the people on this forum follow some Thai Tradition of Buddhism) almost all monks in Thailand touch paper money, even though the 10th precept for samanera and another rule for Bhikkhus supposedly forbids this. A friend of mine actually told me that this is actually done on the lines of Nikaya in Thailand. The Dhammayuttika Nikaya in Thailand does not allow monks to touch paper money while the Maha Nikaya generally does. Given the fact that close to 95% of Thailand is Maha Nikaya, this means most Thai monks touch money and if you actually go to Thailand or visit a Thai temple in the west you can readily see this. And by Thai temple I mean "Thai" Thai temple, not Western "Thai" Temples like Wat Metta or Abhayagiri Monastery.

An explanation somebody gave me for this is that most of Maha Nikaya (Maha Nikaya is broad and is basically anything that isnt the royally endorsed Dhammayuttika) actually interprets the rule differently than the Dhammayuttika Nikaya. Again, don't quote me on this I'm just telling you what i was told. The idea is that the rule "Jatarupa-rajata-patiggahana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami" literally means to not handle "gold or silver", and most Maha Nikaya traditions interprets this rule literally, as in, no gold and silver. Because paper money is not gold or silver, it doesnt count.

In contrast, the Dhammayuttika Nikaya extrapolates the literal words of the rule of not accepting gold or silver as meaning "money". So this appears to be why the two Nikayas have different rules on this. If you read the this rule on Access to Insight or something it will say the Buddha meant "money" even though he literally said gold and silver, but then again, Access to Insight is a Dhammayuttika website so if this rule is truly interpreted differently between the Nikayas, Access to Insights explanation only applies to like 5-6% of Thai Buddhist monks.

Although I have visited many Thai temples of various traditions throughout my years as a Buddhist, including some Dhammayuttika ones, I have never been able to confirm this (its very hard to prove that someone "doesn't" do something). So this brings me to my two questions.

1. For those of you who have experience with Thai temples or have been to Dhammayuttika Thai temples (again, I'm talking about real Thai temples, not Western "Thai" Temples), is this division among the Nikayas correct? Does Dhammayuttika not touch paper money? I already know for a fact that most Maha Nikaya temples do.

and

2. For the people on this forum who do not follow a Thai lineage of Theravada Buddhism, do these temples in these other countries touch money? (Cambodian, Burmese, Sri Lankan, etc.)

Thank you in advance :anjali:
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

SarathW
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Re: Touching Money

Post by SarathW » Sat Jun 30, 2018 11:37 pm

Sri Lankan
Most Sri Lankan monks handle money.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

TRobinson465
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Re: Touching Money

Post by TRobinson465 » Sun Jul 01, 2018 10:39 pm

SarathW wrote:
Sat Jun 30, 2018 11:37 pm
Sri Lankan
Most Sri Lankan monks handle money.
Interesting. Do you know whether or not Sri Lankan monks interpret the rule literally (just gold or silver), or if they include paper money with the rule?
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

TRobinson465
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Re: Touching Money

Post by TRobinson465 » Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:31 pm

Adding to the topic. Does anyone here know the reason the Buddha set forth the not handling gold/silver rule? since all of the patimokkha rules were added after something happened, I would assume there has to be a story for this rule too.

I remember learning the story about 10 years ago but have not been able to verify or disprove it with any resources i could find online.

The story I heard was something like, laypeople would offer monks and novices gold and silver which would be stored in bags. When the monastics walked around the gold and silver pieces would make a clattering sound, thus causing bandits to then attack the monastics and steal their gold/silver. As a result, the Buddha called a meeting with the Sangha as he always does and set forth a rule of refraining from accepting gold and silver.

It has been close to 10 years since I learned about it however and I'm not the kind of person to believe things without some kind of legit in-writing source or second opinions. So it would be great if somebody could verify this story, or if this story isn't accurate, let us know what the real origin story for the rule was.
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: Touching Money

Post by JamesTheGiant » Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:45 pm

TRobinson465 wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:31 pm
or if this story isn't accurate, let us know what the real origin story for the rule was.
Here's the origin story for that rule Nissagiya Pacittiya 18
At one time the Buddha was staying at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the squirrel sanctuary. At that time Venerable Upananda was associating with a family from which he received a regular meal. Whenever that family obtained food, they put aside a portion for Upananda. And that’s what they did when one evening they obtained some meat.

The following morning one of their children got up and cried, “Give me meat!” The man said to his wife, “Give the Venerable’s portion to the child. We’ll buy something else for the Venerable.”

On the same morning, Upananda dressed, took his bowl and robe, and went to that family, where he sat down on the prepared seat. The man of the house approached Upananda, bowed down to him, sat down to one side, and said, “Yesterday evening, Venerable, we obtained some meat, and we put aside a portion for you. But then in the morning our child got up and cried, ‘Give me meat!’,
and we gave your portion to the child. What can we get you for the sum of a kahāpaṇa?”

“Are you giving up a kahāpaṇa coin for me?”

“Yes, Venerable.”

“Then just give me that kahāpaṇa.”

After giving a kahāpaṇa to Upananda, that man grumbled and complained, “Just as we accept money, so do the Sakyan ascetics.”

Monks heard the complaints of that man, and the monks of few desires … complained and criticized him,” “How can Venerable Upananda receive money?

After criticizing him in many ways, they informed the Master. … “Is it true, Upananda, that you did this?”

“It’s true, Master.”

The Buddha rebuked him: “… Foolish man, how can you receive money?
This will not give rise to confidence in those without it … And, monks, this training rule should be recited thus:

‘If a monk takes, gets someone else to take, or consents to gold and silver being deposited for him, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.’”

https://suttacentral.net/pli-tv-bu-vb-np18/en/brahmali

TRobinson465
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Re: Touching Money

Post by TRobinson465 » Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:53 pm

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:45 pm
TRobinson465 wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:31 pm
or if this story isn't accurate, let us know what the real origin story for the rule was.
Here's the origin story for that rule Nissagiya Pacittiya 18
At one time the Buddha was staying at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the squirrel sanctuary. At that time Venerable Upananda was associating with a family from which he received a regular meal. Whenever that family obtained food, they put aside a portion for Upananda. And that’s what they did when one evening they obtained some meat.

The following morning one of their children got up and cried, “Give me meat!” The man said to his wife, “Give the Venerable’s portion to the child. We’ll buy something else for the Venerable.”

On the same morning, Upananda dressed, took his bowl and robe, and went to that family, where he sat down on the prepared seat. The man of the house approached Upananda, bowed down to him, sat down to one side, and said, “Yesterday evening, Venerable, we obtained some meat, and we put aside a portion for you. But then in the morning our child got up and cried, ‘Give me meat!’,
and we gave your portion to the child. What can we get you for the sum of a kahāpaṇa?”

“Are you giving up a kahāpaṇa coin for me?”

“Yes, Venerable.”

“Then just give me that kahāpaṇa.”

After giving a kahāpaṇa to Upananda, that man grumbled and complained, “Just as we accept money, so do the Sakyan ascetics.”

Monks heard the complaints of that man, and the monks of few desires … complained and criticized him,” “How can Venerable Upananda receive money?

After criticizing him in many ways, they informed the Master. … “Is it true, Upananda, that you did this?”

“It’s true, Master.”

The Buddha rebuked him: “… Foolish man, how can you receive money?
This will not give rise to confidence in those without it … And, monks, this training rule should be recited thus:

‘If a monk takes, gets someone else to take, or consents to gold and silver being deposited for him, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.’”

https://suttacentral.net/pli-tv-bu-vb-np18/en/brahmali
Oh thank you, looks like I certainly remembered the story wrong or got it mixed up with something else. :anjali:
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: Touching Money

Post by JamesTheGiant » Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:09 am

TRobinson465 wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:53 pm
Oh thank you, looks like I certainly remembered the story wrong or got it mixed up with something else. :anjali:
The coins jingling and bandits story you remembered sounds authentic too, so maybe it's from some other story in the jatakas or somewhere.

SarathW
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Re: Touching Money

Post by SarathW » Mon Jul 02, 2018 2:06 am

Interesting. Do you know whether or not Sri Lankan monks interpret the rule literally (just gold or silver), or if they include paper money with the rule?
It is so common and I am not sure whether monks even know that there is a rule like that!
I learnt this rule by reading DW posts.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

TRobinson465
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Re: Touching Money

Post by TRobinson465 » Mon Jul 02, 2018 3:16 am

SarathW wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 2:06 am
Interesting. Do you know whether or not Sri Lankan monks interpret the rule literally (just gold or silver), or if they include paper money with the rule?
It is so common and I am not sure whether monks even know that there is a rule like that!
I learnt this rule by reading DW posts.
Yes, its the same in Thailand. I actually knew about that rule before having much experience in Thailand and was really confused when i saw the monks doing this. Happens so often in Thailand i was surprised when my friend told me Dhammayuttika monks don't handle money because it seemed like all of the monks in Thailand do, although its still unverified whether Dhammayuttika monks do or don't.

Based on the origin story of the rule it certainly seems like the Buddha clearly meant money though, as opposed to just gold and silver pieces. Granted the Buddha did allow the Sangha to change the minor rules as they see fit (but he doesn't tell them which ones are the minor rules). I'm curious if there is any Buddhist country where this rule is normally followed.
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.


TRobinson465
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Re: Touching Money

Post by TRobinson465 » Mon Jul 02, 2018 3:43 am

robertk wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 3:27 am
http://www.aimwell.org/money.html
If it's true that donating money to monks is an act of demerit, that's extremely alarming considering almost everyone in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and possibly other Buddhist countries does this. From a kamma standpoint, it'd be better to just not be Buddhist.
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

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Bhikkhu_Jayasara
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Re: Touching Money

Post by Bhikkhu_Jayasara » Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:12 am

It has been my experience that many monks know little of the vinaya, what they know of the rules comes from what they learned from their teacher or during their training, and that often has a commentarial or more of a cultural/regional background rather then a vinaya one.(Thanissaro Bhikkhu does a great job in the BMCs explaining the variety of ways rules are used)

the other think to take into account is the transitory nature of monasticism, there are many reasons why people in these countries become monastics, and most are not going to be for life, ordaining for short periods, so they may be less likely to follow the rules strictly.

I can confirm that part of the Sri Lankan tradition is that when monks are invited to another vihara for something like vesak, they are usually given an envelope with money as a sort of parting gift of the host. We usually have the envelopes given to the lay person who has driven us and put them right in the donation box when we get back to the monastery.

outside of the practicalities , where as I stated in another thread, I too have had to use money a few times, it is important to understand the danger of having money available and how strictly the Buddha was against monastics having money -
If gold and silver are allowable for anyone, the five cords of sensual pleasure are allowable for him. If the five cords of sensual pleasure are allowable for anyone, you can definitely consider him to be one who does not have the character of an ascetic or of a follower of the Sakyan son.
As someone who went into monasticism at a later age, it has been a long process of detangling myself from my money. I had a government job with a pension,differed comp mutual fund and the like. and it's only recently I've been able to cash it out, and finally next week I will be able to close down my joint bank account, my family will take care of the money to set it up for some of the children in my family to benefit from when they are older. I've been looking forward to this for quite some time, as I feel it's one of the last things still holding me to my old life, and allowing me to be fully free of it's hold.

it is especially dangerous these days with being able to be online, how easy it is if you have money in an account to just think " hmm... I kind of need this, why don't I just buy it". Old thinking of a lay person for sure. I think it's a real important thing for a monastic to be totally dependent, this will allow for peoples generosity to really shine. The few times in my travels that I have "let go" , I've been amazed at how ... somehow everything I needed was provided , seemingly out of the blue.

I was able to spend a few days with Ajahn Brahm last year, this was an opportune time for me as I was a year into my traveling to share dhamma, and I was amazed to see him come off the plane with nothing but his monk bag, no attendants or anything. When I asked him how light he travels he told me something I still remember and am trying to embody, but I've not been able to let go of just yet. he said to "trust in kamma to provide". I want to slowly move towards that ideal, but the practical and pragmatic side of me really wants some sort of safety net when I travel, and I've been given a sort of pre-paid card for that use, which I can take with me. Letting go completely and "trusting in kamma to provide" is a hard one.
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JamesTheGiant
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Re: Touching Money

Post by JamesTheGiant » Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:38 am

Bhikkhu_Jayasara wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:12 am
trusting in kamma to provide" is a hard one.
True! On that topic I have an interesting story:
Bhante Sujato was going to speak at some conference in Indonesia. He flew into the country, changed planes, and flew to some small regional city. He got off the plane, and waited for his pre-arranged ride outside the terminal.
And waited. And waited...
...and he finally went back inside, found a wifi hotspot, and checked his email to see if he could contact the layperson who was coming to pick him up.
As he read his email he realized he was in the wrong city, 400 miles from where he should be! He knew nobody in the city, there was no Buddhist centre or temple in the area, and the population was mostly Muslim and a few Christians.
At that moment, in this small regional Indonesian city, a woman walked past and said "Oh hello Bhante Sujato, what are you doing here? I haven't seen you since I was last in Australia".
He was amazed, and he explained, and she and her husband gave him a place to sleep for the night, and drove him all he way to the conference the next day.
Kamma or coincidence, who knows!
If I remember correctly he said he knows less than perhaps 50 Indonesian people, and so that makes the odds of meeting someone he knew there at less than 1 in Five Million.

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DooDoot
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Re: Touching Money

Post by DooDoot » Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:37 am

Bhikkhu_Jayasara wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:12 am
Letting go completely and "trusting in kamma to provide" is a hard one.
Jason the Walking Monk did something very extreme (which was very noticeable if you were discerning & met him) but showed what is possible.

SarathW
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Re: Touching Money

Post by SarathW » Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:09 pm

Letting go completely and "trusting in kamma to provide" is a hard one.
I can understand you.
If I believe that Kamma can provide perhaps I would have been a monk by now.
I was brought up with the belief only hard work will provide.
Thank you for sharing your experience.
You are very brave to come forward in a public forum like this.
:bow: :bow:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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