Sunday, April 29, 2012

Do Buddhist Monks Survive Solely On Donations?

This question arose in my mind after seeing the poor state of the lemongrass rows at the farm.

One row is grown for family consumption and one row is grown for the Khmer Buddhist temple. Occasionally, a car or van load of people visit my folks' farm to cut piles of lemongrass stalks for cooking and for fundraising purposes, raising funds for upkeeping the temple and the monks.

Monks aren't allowed to work for a living. My Mum tells me that they must survive on donations and if there are no donations, then they starve. Whilst that is a harsh way to live life, I do wonder about whether the Monks are allowed to grow their own veggie patch? Instead of driving around giving predictions about the future of my life and my friends life(we have both had our fortunes 'read' involuntarily by Buddhist Monks)- are Monks allowed to be productive and helpful?

Buddhism itself was a concept created by someone in our past so why can't the modern day Monks alter the concepts for the modern environment?

So back to the lemongrass patch. It is wildly overgrown with weeds. I was busy cutting a few stalks off when I realised that there were several dead patches of the herb in amongst the weeds. Why wasn't the patch maintained? Since the lemongrass row was donated to the temple why couldn't they help maintain the rows? By letting patches in the row die off and be overgrown by weeds, did they realise that eventually, there won't be much lemongrass left to cut for their charity and upkeep?

I don't know if it's due to religious restrictions or laziness but if I were reliant on a patch of donated garden herbs, I'd be there to maintain the patch so that it would grow perpetually. Am I even sinning by thinking of these questions? Does sinning even exist in Buddhism or is that a concept belonging only to Christianity and Catholicism? I'm pretty mixed up over religion as you can tell.

If I spend my next weekend eradicating the weeds and replanting the dead ones, then have I done my good deed for Buddhism? Lemongrass is usually $1 per stalk at the grocers so I'm simply surprised that they don't help maintain what they're reliant on...

If anyone knows about Buddhism, please do leave a comment. I couldn't find my answer on the internet so may need to borrow a book to read up about it.

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