MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

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Dhammanando
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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Post by Dhammanando » Thu Feb 05, 2009 2:03 am

Hi Elaine,
elaine wrote:The reason why Buddhists prefer to donate to temples and monks is because there's a sutta (I forgot which one) which says, if you give money and food to monks and temples, the merit that you'll receive is much, much better than giving it to anyone else(!?!)
When posting to the Classical Theravada forum citations from Pali textual sources are required. Readers of this sub-forum are not interested in half-misremembered quotes.

In fact there is nothing in the Pali suttas about giving money to temples or monks. I suspect the text that you are referring to (but which you have both misunderstood and misremembered) will be either the Dakkhiṇavibhanga Sutta (MN. 142) or the Velāma Sutta (AN. iv. 392-5). The main message of the former concerns the threefold purity of giving (i.e. of the giver, the recipient and the gift) and that an offering made to the sangha as a whole is more meritorious than one made to an individual monk or nun. In other words, it's a teaching aimed at encouraging laypeople not to discriminate between monks they like or dislike when making offerings to the sangha.

As for the Velāma Sutta, here we are presented with a graduated list of increasingly meritorious deeds. As summarized by Lily de Silva:
  • The Anguttara Nikāya (A.iv,392-95) records a fabulous alms-giving conducted by the Bodhisatta when he was born as a brahmin named Velāma. Lavish gifts of silver, gold, elephants, cows, carriages, etc., not to mention food, drink and clothing, were distributed among everybody who came forward to receive them. But this open-handed munificence was not very valuable as far as merit was concerned because there were no worthy recipients. It is said to be more meritorious to feed one person with right view, a stream-enterer (sotāpanna), than to give great alms such as that given by Velāma. It is more meritorious to feed one once-returner than a hundred stream-enterers. Next in order come non-returners, Arahants, Paccekabuddhas and Sammasambuddhas. Feeding the Buddha and the Sangha is more meritorious than feeding the Buddha alone. It is even more meritorious to construct a monastery for the general use of the Sangha of the four quarters of all times. Taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha is better still. Abiding by the Five Precepts is even more valuable. But better still is the cultivation of mettā, loving-kindness, and best of all, the insight into impermanence, which leads to Nibbāna.
So the highest kind of merit taught in this sutta is developing insight into impermanence:
  • "Though a person might develop a thought of loving-kindness, greater still would be the fruit if he would develop the perception of impermanence for the duration of just one snap of the fingers."
Thus the chief point of this sutta is not to promote gifts to the sangha —meritorious though they be— but rather to highlight how superior to everything else is the development of understanding (paññā).

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

elaine
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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Post by elaine » Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:50 am

Hello Bhante, all,

Sorry for the mis-remembered quotes.

Let's say if we have a scenario like this - if someone has only 1 can of soup to give and s/he chose to give it to a genuinely poor person with children who can't find work in a foreign country, than giving it to a temple. Will the "merit" that the giver get be any less than if he were to give to the temple? How do we "measure" the merits from the act of giving? Is there a right or wrong way to give, or the right or wrong place to give?

Do we have to investigate whether the temple is preaching the right Dhamma before giving? If the temple is preaching all the wrong stuffs and we didn't know and we donated, would it count "against" us for supporting the wrong things?

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gavesako
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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Post by gavesako » Thu Feb 05, 2009 2:52 pm

In Buddhism it is said that if one throws dish-washing water into a pool where there are insects and living creatures, intending that they feed on the tiny particles of food thus washed away, one accumulates merit even by such trivial generosity -- see A. I, 161.
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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kc2dpt
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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Post by kc2dpt » Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:29 pm

elaine wrote:Let's say if we have a scenario like this...
Elaine,

Venerable Dhammanando was kind enough to post the Buddha's teachings on this matter. Did you read what he posted? It seems to me the answer to your question is there.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Feb 05, 2009 10:56 pm

Greetings venerable Gavesako,
gavesako wrote:In Buddhism it is said that if one throws dish-washing water into a pool where there are insects and living creatures, intending that they feed on the tiny particles of food thus washed away, one accumulates merit even by such trivial generosity -- see A. I, 161.
Indeed. I have highlighted the word "intending" here because this is a key aspect. Volitional activity such as that mentioned in this example, done with mindstates of generosity constitute good kamma and will therefore tend towards pleasant vipaka (mental result).

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Post by Annapurna » Mon Feb 09, 2009 11:22 am

elaine wrote:Hello Bhante, all,

Sorry for the mis-remembered quotes.

Let's say if we have a scenario like this - if someone has only 1 can of soup to give and s/he chose to give it to a genuinely poor person with children who can't find work in a foreign country, than giving it to a temple. Will the "merit" that the giver get be any less than if he were to give to the temple? How do we "measure" the merits from the act of giving? Is there a right or wrong way to give, or the right or wrong place to give?

Do we have to investigate whether the temple is preaching the right Dhamma before giving? If the temple is preaching all the wrong stuffs and we didn't know and we donated, would it count "against" us for supporting the wrong things?
Dear Elaine,

quite rightly you raise important questions: here the issue of needing urgent help.
Let's say if we have a scenario like this - if someone has only 1 can of soup to give and s/he chose to give it to a genuinely poor person with children who can't find work in a foreign country, than giving it to a temple. Will the "merit" that the giver get be any less than if he were to give to the temple?
1. We should not think about our own gain and what we get out of our charity, when giving. Any own karmic 'gain' is decreased through selfish motives.

The highest form of giving is to someone who can never return it, without thinking about our gain from this deed,- such as fame, good reputation, good karma.

True kindness does not count upon nor ask about merit nor gratitude but acts from inner necessity.

2. I would always give to the one who is in more desperate need of quick help and less likely to get it. So, then we have to use independent thinking.

A :namaste:

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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Feb 09, 2009 11:27 am

Annabel,

Is what you posted something that can be tied to actual teachings/texts that are related edirectly to classical Theravada(, which is a reasonable question given the purpose stated for this particular form)?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Post by Annapurna » Mon Feb 09, 2009 11:29 am

gavesako wrote:In Buddhism it is said that if one throws dish-washing water into a pool where there are insects and living creatures, intending that they feed on the tiny particles of food thus washed away, one accumulates merit even by such trivial generosity -- see A. I, 161.
Without detergent liquid, of course! :jumping:

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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Post by Annapurna » Mon Feb 09, 2009 11:32 am

tiltbillings wrote:Annabel,

Is what you posted something that can be tied to actual teachings/texts that are related edirectly to classical Theravada(, which is a reasonable question given the purpose stated for this particular form)?
Sure. Do you want me to quote? And what exactly?
My lunchbreak is almost over though.

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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:12 pm

Annabel wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Annabel,

Is what you posted something that can be tied to actual teachings/texts that are related edirectly to classical Theravada(, which is a reasonable question given the purpose stated for this particular form)?
Sure. Do you want me to quote? And what exactly?
My lunchbreak is almost over though.
Whatever will directly tie what you are saying to the sutta and commentarial teachings.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: MN 135 - help me clear some things up!

Post by Annapurna » Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:26 pm

Ok. To desire good karma requires a self and desire for a certain pleasant state of being. Desire is a defilement.

If a person is selfless self and has no desire, how can there be a wish for good karma?

So all action would be for the benefit of others. Pure, without being intended as gaining own benefit FOR it, like in a business deal, or expecting own benefit.


:smile:

The Buddhas words on kamma:

From the preface by Khantipalu Bikkhu:

"Good" and "bad" kamma are distinguished by the roots of the actions. What is one's motivating force when one helps the sick? [poor]This is a case where there are various possibilities. Is it just because one wants rich Aunty's money when she dies, or out of genuine compassion? Obviously, in the latter case much better kamma is made.
the Buddha says all intentional actions, whether thoughts, speech or bodily actions, however expressed, are kamma and lead the doer of them to experience a result sooner or later. In this sutta the Buddha classifies kamma into four groups:

(i) dark with a dark result,
(ii) bright with a bright result,
(iii) dark and bright with a dark and bright result,
(iv) neither dark nor bright with a neither dark nor bright result.

Dark (evil) kamma does not give a bright (happy) result, nor does bright (beneficial) kamma lead to dark (miserable) result. Kamma can be mixed, where an action is done with a variety of motives, some good, some evil. And that kind of kamma also exists which gives up attachment to and interest in the other three[ f.i.good karma] and so leads beyond the range of kamma.


:namaste:

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