Monday, November 14, 2011

Buddha a begger ?

(Buddha image with alms bowl)

Question : (Unedited)

According to the Pali Canon texts, Buddha was a begger-man and he encouraged others (his followers) to go begging for food. Don`t you think there is a problem here? When a person is healthy, he has healthy hands and healthy feet, why shouldn`t he work to earn his food? Doesn`t Buddhism hurt economics by developing beggers? The society already has children, handicapped people and old-men and women as consumers who don`t produce anything. Don`t you think by putting healthy people as monks in the category of cosumers it will hurt economics and economical self-reliance?

My comment:

The Buddha was never a begger!!  You also need to have a little background knowledge of the Indian society during the Buddha's time.  Long before the Buddha's time Indian civilization was already very well established.  The society was controlled by the Brahmins (high caste priests) who practised Brahmanism, the present day Hinduism.  There were a lot of ascetics who wandered everywhere practising different forms of "spiritual ascetism".  These people concentrated their whole lives in search of the "ultimate release".  They lead  a "carefree" life and the lay people would support them by offering them food.  This was the way to follow when one wanted to find spiritual liberation.  The Buddha merely followed that tradition and for good reason.  Even today this tradition is followed.  The lay people understand this traditional practice and always support the monks.  It is the Buddhist culture that we support the monks by providing them the material necessities while they concentrate on their spiritual cultivation and teaching us the Dhamma (Budhha's teachings).  We refer the giving of "alms food" to the monks as Dana.  They never come begging from us.  It is our willingness to provide them with the daily sustenance.  Please be patient with your "learning" process.  I take the liberty to assume that you are from a very different culture and are just being exposed to Buddhist tradition.  If I am wrong please accept my apology.  Once you are familiar with the Buddhist traditions, a lot of your doubts will gradually disappear.

Wishing you peace and happiness :-)

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