Buddhist monks receiving money as a modern Standard practice

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Chanh Dao
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Buddhist monks receiving money as a modern Standard practice

Post by Chanh Dao » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:41 am

So I've been a monk for about a year now. In that year I've met senior Theravada monks from India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Many monks that are respected and deeply revered by myself and others accept donations of money as a normative practice.

I have found that in the very well known Ceremony of Kathina at the end of Vassa it is almost universally expected that monastics will receive money.

What do the members of this server feel about this normative practice?

I'm guessing some people will discriminate against these monastics but I can say with authority that they are deeply experienced and developed spiritually, many of them Pali scholars and teachers.

So personally I don't discriminate against them. I accept it as modern normative change to the Bhikkhu Sangha that's been adopted by most of the sangha.

Looking forward to hearing responses about this, I know it is a sensitive subject but I believe it's worth discussing.

🙏🙏🙏

SarathW
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Re: Buddhist monks receiving money as a modern Standard practice

Post by SarathW » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:52 am

Aren't they breaking the 'Vinaya rules and the tenth precept by accepting money?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Bhikkhu_Jayasara
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Re: Buddhist monks receiving money as a modern Standard practice

Post by Bhikkhu_Jayasara » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:55 am

Yes when I first became a monk and started going to various events at temples( sri lankan, I have no experience with other countries temples), I was surprised when someone handed me a white envelope, I didn't know what it was until I opened it and saw cash, thankfully we had a lay person there who drove us so I gave the money to him and it was then put into the donation box when I got home. Since then I ask the person who is going to give me the envelope to give it to the lay person with us.

It is a bit of a tradition that whatever temple is hosting the event gives some money to each monastic, ive seen it's like in lay life traditions where it makes sense, I was surprised to see it in monastic life, but such is the way it is.


Individual monks can accept money through the use of a kappiya , who essentially acts as the accepter, holder, and user of the money, and this person then can purchase what the monk needs when the monk requests it of the kappiya. So an experienced lay person who wanted to give money to a monastic would know to ask the monastic " who is your kappyia", as a monastic can't even technically say " give this to my kappiya" , but can explain the rules as to how things are to be done.


Ajahn Geoff in the Buddhist Monastic Code, on money(BMC1 pg 173)
The protocols surrounding gifts of money and their proper use are quite complex
much more complex than even this long training rule would indicate — and require a
detailed explanation. What follows is an attempt to make them clear. If it seems long
and involved, remember that the purpose of the protocols is to free bhikkhus from
the even more bothersome worries and complexities that come with participating in
buying, selling, and monetary matters in general.

This rule is one of four nissaggiya pācittiya rules covering a bhikkhu's proper
relationship to money. The others are NP 18, 19, & 20. Although they sometimes
seem to be splitting hairs, they focus precisely on the two acts involving money that
are most burdensome to a sensitive mind: In the act of accepting money, or having
it accepted in one's name, one is accepting all the cares, responsibilities, and
dangers that come with its ownership; in the act of arranging a trade, one is
accepting responsibility for the fairness of the trade — that it undervalues neither
the generosity of the person who donated the money nor the goods or services of
the person receiving the money in exchange.

Thus to protect a bhikkhu from these mental burdens, this rule sets up protocols so
that lay donors may have the convenience of dedicating amounts of money and
other valuables to provide for a bhikkhu's needs, and so that the bhikkhu may
benefit from such gifts without having to bear the responsibilities of ownership or of
having to arrange fair trades.

If a bhikkhu follows the protocols recommended here, the money placed with the
steward still belongs to the donor, and the responsibility for making a fair trade lies
with the steward. The bhikkhu's only responsibility is to inform the original donor if,
after a reasonable number of promptings, the steward entrusted with the money
does not provide him with the requisite the donor had in mind, and then let the
donor look after the matter if he/she cares to.

Although the rule itself mentions only funds for robe-cloth intended for individual
bhikkhus, we should note from the outset that the Commentary uses the Great
Standards to extend it to cover all funds — composed of money, jewels,
commodities, land, livestock, or other valuables that bhikkhus are not allowed to
accept — not only for an individual bhikkhu's robe-cloth but also for any type of
requisite. And it further extrapolates from this rule to cover funds for Communities
and groups of bhikkhus, as well as impersonal funds for such things as buildings
and — in the modern world — the printing of books.

The money rules & allowances: an overview. NP 18 forbids a bhikkhu from accepting
gifts of money, from getting others to accept them, and from consenting to gifts of
money meant for him being placed down next to him. NP 19 & 20 forbid him from
engaging in buying, selling, or bartering, regardless of whether it involves money.
Mv.VI.34.21, however, contains the following allowance, called the Meṇḍaka
Allowance, after the donor who inspired it:

"There are people of conviction and confidence, bhikkhus, who place gold in the
hand of stewards, (saying,) 'With this, give the master whatever is allowable.' I allow
you, bhikkhus, to accept whatever is allowable coming from that. But in no way at
all do I say that gold or silver is to be accepted or sought for."

Even given this allowance, though, it is important that the bhikkhu, in his dealings
with the steward, does not say or do anything that would transgress NP 18-20. At
the same time, it is important that he not abuse the steward's services. Otherwise
the steward will never want to perform this service for bhikkhus again. This is the
main point of the origin story to this rule:

"Then Ven. Upananda the Sakyan approached the lay follower (his steward) and on
arrival said, 'My friend, I have need of a robe.'

"'Wait for the rest of today, venerable sir. Today there is a town meeting, and the
town has made an agreement that whoever comes late is fined 50 (kahāpaṇas).'
"'Friend, give me the robe this very day!' (Saying this,) he grabbed hold of him by
the belt. So the lay follower, being pressured by Ven. Upananda the Sakyan,
purchased a robe for him and came late. The people said to the lay follower, 'Why,master, have you come late? You've lost 50!' So he told them what had happened.

They criticized and complained and spread it about, 'They're arrogant, these
Sakyan-son monks, and malcontent. It's no simple matter even to render them a
service. How can Upananda the Sakyan, being told by a layman, "Wait for the rest
of today, venerable sir," not wait?'"

Stewards. According to the Commentary, there are three types of steward with
whom money might be placed: (1) indicated by the bhikkhu, (2) indicated by the
donor or his/her messenger, and (3) indicated by neither.
1) Indicated by the bhikkhu covers two sorts of cases:

 a) The donor asks the bhikkhu who his steward is, and the bhikkhu points
him/her out, as mentioned in the training rule.

 b) The donor, knowing that a particular lay person has volunteered to act as a
steward or is on familiar terms with the bhikkhu, gives the money to the lay
person and informs the bhikkhu — or has someone else inform him — either
before or after the fact.

2) Indicated by the donor covers cases where the donor chooses one of his/her
own friends or employees to act as the steward for that particular gift, and informs
the bhikkhu — or has someone else inform him — either before or after the fact.

3) Indicated by neither covers two separate cases:

 a) The donor asks the bhikkhu who his steward is, and the bhikkhu says that
he has none. Another person happens to overhear the conversation and
volunteers — in the presence of both — to act as the steward for that
particular gift.

 b) The donor gives the gift to the lay person who is normally the bhikkhu's
steward or is on familiar terms with the bhikkhu, but does not inform the
bhikkhu or have him informed of the fact.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Bhikkhu Jayasāra -http://www.youtube.com/studentofthepath and https://bhikkhujayasara.wordpress.com/

Chanh Dao
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Re: Buddhist monks receiving money as a modern Standard practice

Post by Chanh Dao » Wed Oct 16, 2019 9:20 am

SarathW wrote:
Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:52 am
Aren't they breaking the 'Vinaya rules and the tenth precept by accepting money?

Yes I agree it is a breach of the vinaya rule however it is a normative and accepted breach by an exceeding large portion of the Bhikkhu Sangha.


I'm mainly just curious to get peoples feeling about this as a normative practice of the modern Sangha in Asia.


Thank you Bhikkhu Jayasara for your thoughtful response.

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robertk
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Re: Buddhist monks receiving money as a modern Standard practice

Post by robertk » Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:27 am

I think it is a sign of decline in the Sasana, that this has become widespread. Probably inevitable and natural that it should be this way .

Anyway as a layman addicted to pleasures of the senses, the monks life looks difficult indeed to me.

Chanh Dao
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Re: Buddhist monks receiving money as a modern Standard practice

Post by Chanh Dao » Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:47 am

Update, I just consulted with a senior Bhikkhu here regarding this case.

He plainly said that the use of money is a breach of vinaya that has the solution or the proper response of confession.

A Bhikkhu who uses money is still a Bhikkhu and is not inherently corrupt.

It is simply a breach and not a Parijika. In the Vinaya there are solutions to breaches and they are clearly layed out.


I personally support this perspective and while I completely believe that the use of money is a breach of the Patikmokkha it does not anyway make a monk inherently corrupt as an individual nor does it mean the monastery that allows it is inherently corrupt.

It strictly does not in anyway impede on a Bhikkhus position within the Sangha as a Bhikkhu.

According to the vinaya, monks who use money are in no way fake monks or at risk of having their legitimacy questioned.

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Re: Buddhist monks receiving money as a modern Standard practice

Post by Bhikkhu_Jayasara » Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:54 am

the " its just a minor rule" thing is an argument that I can get behind in a few cases, but when it comes to money the Buddha is quite clear about things :
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.
and that being said, I'm not perfect, I've had to use money once or twice myself, once in bringing things to the dump for the retreat center, and once when I was stranded after missing a bus. I recognized the reason I had to use the money, and did not give myself an excuse, I still had to confess and it was still a breach. This is something I want to stress, because some of my statements on this forum could be construed as me claiming to be a perfect monk while denigrating many others, this is not the case, I am merely stating facts as I've experienced them, or read/heard from other monastics. I am far from perfect as a monk, but im trying to get there :)


I think one thing people mistake about monastics comes from one of the many western misconceptions that monks are perfect. I have a saying I use now to explain to people.

" you don't become perfect, then become a monastic, you become a monastic to become perfect"

one of the things that perpetuates the idea of perfection in the monastic sangha is the culture of silence regarding your faults or the faults of other monastics. You just don't do it because the thought is that it hurts the sangha as a whole, so silence and a culture of not even talking about yourself at all (for after all, thats arrogant!) dominates.

This reminds me very much of something I saw from my birth Religion, Catholicism, with the covering up of pedophilia among the clergy, which of course makes public opinion worse then if they had just owned up and tried to do something about it.

There is one major exception I know, and that is Ajahn Chah, who I have more respect for then pretty much any other monastic. The fact that he forced his floating vaginas to be in his biography and talking about being attracted to a monkey really makes him stand out, that he talks about his struggles, and you can relate.

When I share dhamma with people, I share my struggles, I try to be an open book as much as possible, and be the same person teaching dhamma as I am alone, as much as that can be done. This has made a major impact on fellow westerners, from the feedback I've gotten, and it also helps keep me straight on the path.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________
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Volo
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Re: Buddhist monks receiving money as a modern Standard practice

Post by Volo » Wed Oct 16, 2019 12:04 pm

It might be difficult to live without money in the west or other non-Theravada countries (although some monks manage), but in Thailand or Myanmar, where people are very generous and are happy to support monks, there is no reason why the monk would not be able to live without money.

santa100
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Re: Buddhist monks receiving money as a modern Standard practice

Post by santa100 » Wed Oct 16, 2019 2:17 pm

Bhikkhu_Jayasara wrote:and that being said, I'm not perfect, I've had to use money once or twice myself, once in bringing things to the dump for the retreat center, and once when I was stranded after missing a bus. I recognized the reason I had to use the money, and did not give myself an excuse, I still had to confess and it was still a breach. This is something I want to stress, because some of my statements on this forum could be construed as me claiming to be a perfect monk while denigrating many others, this is not the case, I am merely stating facts as I've experienced them, or read/heard from other monastics. I am far from perfect as a monk, but im trying to get there.
I commend you for your honesty and effort. Very soon you'll find yourself becoming a minority and might even get isolated from the monastic majority who follow those "modern standard practices". Stay strong and always strive forward. Be proud that the monastic path is not for the faint of heart. If one simply follows the common practice of the mass, then it'd be way too easy, and everyone can be a monk. Even on a mundane level, not everyone can become a US Marine, that's why they have that iconic tagline: "The Few and the Proud". Be like a Buddhist Marine!

binocular
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Re: Buddhist monks receiving money as a modern Standard practice

Post by binocular » Wed Oct 16, 2019 7:45 pm

Volo wrote:
Wed Oct 16, 2019 12:04 pm
It might be difficult to live without money in the west or other non-Theravada countries (although some monks manage), but in Thailand or Myanmar, where people are very generous and are happy to support monks, there is no reason why the monk would not be able to live without money.
Exactly.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

binocular
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Re: Buddhist monks receiving money as a modern Standard practice

Post by binocular » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:12 pm

Chanh Dao wrote:
Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:47 am
Update, I just consulted with a senior Bhikkhu here regarding this case.

He plainly said that the use of money is a breach of vinaya that has the solution or the proper response of confession.
But doing this every time a monk takes money is an abuse of the principle of confession. It's like lying to someone repeatedly, but believing that afterwards telling the truth and apologizing should make everything alright, no matter how often this cycle of lying and apologizing is repeated.

The whole point of confession is to afterwards make the determination to not repeat the transgression for which the confession was made. The purpose of confession is to help one change one's behavior. Not to delete one's wrongdoing or grant one a clean slate, so that one feels free to do the same transgression over and over again.
According to the vinaya, monks who use money are in no way fake monks or at risk of having their legitimacy questioned.
Perhaps not. But practices like monks repeatedly handling money and repeatedly confessing their transgression for doing so, but apparently with no intention to change their behavior, probably affect the monks themselves, in that deliberate indulgence in repeatedly doing something that one believes is wrong cannot go on without adverse consequences (such as diminished conscientiousness, loss of commitment).

Also, since we now know about these practices, we're at risk of our trust for the monks and for the Buddhist teachings becoming eroded.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

binocular
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Re: Buddhist monks receiving money as a modern Standard practice

Post by binocular » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:16 pm

Chanh Dao wrote:
Wed Oct 16, 2019 9:20 am
Yes I agree it is a breach of the vinaya rule however it is a normative and accepted breach by an exceeding large portion of the Bhikkhu Sangha.

I'm mainly just curious to get peoples feeling about this as a normative practice of the modern Sangha in Asia.
In me, this practice inspires loss of faith.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

SarathW
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Re: Buddhist monks receiving money as a modern Standard practice

Post by SarathW » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:27 pm

santa100 wrote:
Wed Oct 16, 2019 2:17 pm
Bhikkhu_Jayasara wrote:and that being said, I'm not perfect, I've had to use money once or twice myself, once in bringing things to the dump for the retreat center, and once when I was stranded after missing a bus. I recognized the reason I had to use the money, and did not give myself an excuse, I still had to confess and it was still a breach. This is something I want to stress, because some of my statements on this forum could be construed as me claiming to be a perfect monk while denigrating many others, this is not the case, I am merely stating facts as I've experienced them, or read/heard from other monastics. I am far from perfect as a monk, but im trying to get there.
I commend you for your honesty and effort. Very soon you'll find yourself becoming a minority and might even get isolated from the monastic majority who follow those "modern standard practices". Stay strong and always strive forward. Be proud that the monastic path is not for the faint of heart. If one simply follows the common practice of the mass, then it'd be way too easy, and everyone can be a monk. Even on a mundane level, not everyone can become a US Marine, that's why they have that iconic tagline: "The Few and the Proud". Be like a Buddhist Marine!
:goodpost:
You save my time typing the same. (more or less :D )
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

santa100
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Re: Buddhist monks receiving money as a modern Standard practice

Post by santa100 » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:35 pm

SarathW wrote:
Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:27 pm
:goodpost:
You save my time typing the same. (more or less :D )
Glad that you feel the same way too :anjali:

SarathW
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Re: Buddhist monks receiving money as a modern Standard practice

Post by SarathW » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:56 pm

By the way, I still give money to monks.
Nobody has rejected it so far!!!
I think monks should communicate the Vinaya rules to laypeople when accepting money.
If I am a monk I may accept the money on behalf of the temple and communicate that to him and ask my helper to give him a receipt.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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