A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Knowledge, profound, yet simple

The simple wisdom the Buddha hides within the knowledge he left for us is amazing. I was thinking about how the ideal situation was to become a monk, and leave the cares of society behind. The subtlety of the Vinaya is in inviting us to join the Sangha as a monk, thereby giving up society. Then with the rules prescribed by which the Sangha must abide, the monk if forced right back into a relationship with society. If the Sangha were to be nondependent on society, then the rules would have been different. A monk is not allowed to touch money, which if you split hair could allow for a debit card. But would a debit card uphold the spirit of the precept. A monk must survive on the alms he receives in his bowl. He is told not to till the earth, nor have it tiled for him. He is not to store food, except if ill, and then for a maximum of seven days. He is advised against cooking. If the community around asks for teaching or another service the Sangha are instructed to provide it. It can be viewed as a contract between the Sangha and the community at large. In return for the lay people providing, the monk with three robes, a bowl and a safe place to reside. The monk agrees to live a holy life, become wiser, and to attend to the needs of the laypeople within his abilities. If Buddhists requires the Sangha, then it can be said the Sangha requires the lay Buddhist. This basically prevents the Sangha from becoming a community of ascetics.

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