Question: Should making of offerings to Buddhist monastics be limited to basic necessities? Or should they be extended to other material things if they request for them?
Answer: Basic necessities should always be the key priority – such as the four requisites of food, clothing, shelter and medicine. For other things that might seem ‘luxurious’ or ‘excess’, in case of uncertainty, you can politely ask why they are needed. If there is no reasonable reply, it is better not to give those things.
Question: What if it is difficult to ask about a request, what more to reject one?
Answer: It is always alright to ask. Never follow the teachings of any ‘teacher’, monastic or lay, who refuses to answer reasonable questions. If blind obedience is demanded, it is time to look for a better teacher, and to warn other remaining followers. Even the Buddha was open to polite questions, though he also answered rude questions, as long as the answers are helpful.
Generosity must be guided by wisdom. Lay Buddhists have the responsibility to support monastics correctly, and not ‘distract’ or ‘spoil’ them with worldly things. As lay and monastic Buddhists, we should all play our parts to nurture one another’s spiritual lives mindfully, directly or indirectly, but without loss of moral integrity.