Home » Excerpts » Ancient Symbiotic Relationship Of Monastics & Laity

Receive needs
humbly and gratefully.
Offer needs
humbly and gratefully.

– Shilashanti

Before the Dalai Lama departed from Thailand, he told his secretaries that he wanted to go out in the morning on alms round. It is common to see orderly queues of gold-robed monks in villages and cities of Thailand, Burma, and other Theravada countries slowly walking barefoot, begging for food. The laity place food offering into the monks’ large begging bowls.

The Buddha instituted the practice of begging as a way to teach monks humility. And for the laity, offering sustenance was a means by which positive merits, or good karma could be accumulated. This continues today to be one of the most important features of the symbiotic relationship between laity and monks in the southern Buddhist countries.

In northern Buddhist countries like Tibet, Mongolia, and Japan, the custom of the daily alms round by monks was not established. But the Dalai Lama wished to take part in the tradition of Thailand… [T]he… secretary… arranged for the Tibetan leader to take a short walk to beg for food, accompanied by a few Thai monks.

Roar: Sulak Sivaraksa and the Path of Socially Engaged Buddhism
Matteo Pistono 

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