Sunday, March 18, 2007

Final Thoughts on Monks

Let this be my final post on this subject for a while... tomorrow I get on a train bound for the Great White North.  Expect a post on that in a few days... but for now: 

Probably beating a dead horse, but here goes.

This post I'd like to address the fact that, when the chips are down, we monks do receive our basic necessities from other people.  This seems to be a source of some concern for those I've come in contact, as though I were an affront to their industry in that I receive all of the things I need to live as gifts.  Well, my response here is manifold:

1) What I need to live doesn't amount to much. Especially in this country, it is amazing the disparity between what I actually need and what is offered to me. I find myself refusing not only money, but other things as well, simply because I have no need and would only be burdened by the weight.

2) People give because they are generous.  It is not difficult for a generous person to give something to someone who has not.  I'm more often than not a visitor in this strange land, and who would not feed a visitor?  I certainly would, and have, and I've never been that generous...

3) People give because they respect the recipient.  They understand how difficult it is to live a life of poverty and how noble the goal of the recluse, working ceaselessly without pay, so they give as a gift of respect.

4) People give because they expect.  In Buddhism it's okay to have a goal in mind when you give; it gives you direction.  Some give because it makes them happy here and now; some give because they expect the recipient to help make the world a better place with the gift.  Some give because it leads the heart to let go and become free.

5) Either way, I am never afraid to receive a gift given out of faith in me.  I just have to work to deserve it. Nor am I afraid of giving gifts out of faith. I appreciate those who have interest in things like truth and goodness, and I try my best to support them in their quest for these things. Unfortunate it is that I have little to give except advice and teaching. Maybe not so unfortunate, if the advice and teaching is good advice, good teaching...

I am always afraid of receiving gifts given out of something other than faith, though.  Sometimes people give expecting some sort of service in return; some give because the recipient has given hint or expects.  These kind of gifts I am afraid of, and try not to give or receive such gifts.

There's my 0 cents. Off to my cell for meditation. Midnight. Spent all evening trying to remove a virus on the monastery's computer. Ended up reinstalling Windows... three times. For this I get food :)