Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Discuss the application of the Dharma to situations of social, political, environmental and economic suffering and injustice.
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Könchok Thrinley
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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by Könchok Thrinley »

well wisher wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:20 pm
And relying on farms & soup kitchen (instead of money) would work, because if one studies the history of the great depression period in the 1930's, in addition to other hyperinflation cases (such as in Germany/Greed , this is exactly how many people got by: through self-reliance farming / gardening, and bartering trading, when the currency has collapsed. And remember: human society has survuved through historic times BEFORE the invention of coinage. The currency will just be shifted towards food/ sustenance material , rather than printed paper and metallic coins.
I would be kinda interested to see a center of 6-10 people and a lama in a big city like Prague, Paris or even London, how they are trying to get by with gardening. :tongue:
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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by tkp67 »

seeker242 wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:04 pm
Probably because a bank is not going to accept cucumbers as a mortgage payment for the temple buildings? Nor will the electric company or water company. And monastics are not supposed to be running a business that sells the cucumbers to get money that is needed for the above.
Some traditions accept money for prayers. Would it be unreasonable to also accept money to support sustainable local sourcing/production of food for the local needy?

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Queequeg
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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by Queequeg »

Many of the farmers I've known have a very even keeled demeanor. I think of my uncle by marriage - he woke at 4 in the morning to milk the cows, then had his breakfast, then on to whatever tasks he had. He spent his whole life on the farm, I'm told, and left it only a hand full of times. He was a man of few words. Other than milking the cows, and outside of planting and harvest seasons, he didn't do too much. Maybe go replace some barbed wire, or white wash the barn. He seemed like a very serene guy. Never got excited, never saw him angry except when a cow stepped on his foot. Didn't drink. His only vice that I recall was that he always had a big wad of chaw. He lived with the rhythms of nature. I can see how that rhythm could be conducive to contemplation. You don't need to plant much if you're just living a subsistence life style. You're not growing surpluses and hauling them to hustle at the market.

The point it, you can have a lot of time. Don't need to leave, and don't need to be dependent on anyone. Plenty of time practice and study.

Relevant:



As for being in a city... I'm not so sure that's the most ideal place to carry out the renunciate life. All that activity, with its temptations (especially for the young men) and lay people with their harried minds coming in for blessings and teachings. Sounds exhausting. Sounds like a job. In Buddha's day, monks visited the towns and villages to beg, but then withdrew outside the settlements in quiet, serene places.

These days to pay for facilities and feeding the monks... you have to give the folks something in return for their generosity. There might be a few who have perfected dana and don't expect anything, but that's rare, especially nowadays. They want retreats and teachings, blessings, amulets and charms... as an example of what can happen, in Japan when the vitality was snuffed out of Buddhism by state regulation, many temples devolved into little more than funeral parlors that proved very lucrative... people will pay a lot of money for the promise of good circumstances in the afterlife. Money corrupts. That's why it was so controversial for monastics to just store salt, let alone accept money.

At this time, we're a long way from a lay community that is anywhere close to perfecting dana. We're mostly grubby capitalists.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

narhwal90
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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by narhwal90 »

I grew up on a 10 acre family farm. Small enough for a family of 4 to work on evenings and weekends, we didn't have livestock but grew hay and corn. The former to sell to horse people the latter we sold out of the garage or by the side of the road. In winters we heated by firewood we cut and split ourselves, leaving the oil furnace as a backup. Farmers can be really creative and keep their machinery working beyond all reason lol, we overhauled an early 1900's horse-drawn sickle bar mower to run behind the tractor to cut the margins of the fields and roadsides.

As Q mentioned the work can be rewarding, but at some point you have to buy stuff for the tractor, gas & parts, replace the implements when they are beyond help, buy a new water pump and so on- so its really difficult to avoid cashflow. We operated reasonably for a number of years, but I think only because my parents had jobs. If a center had enough diversity in skills of its members then a lot could be accomplished by barter, but it seems like keeping such things in proper focus could be problematic.

I guess you could try to do the work without power implements, but I think that is a very hard way to live- how many people are you going to need to prep the fields? If no tractors, then probably no horses either.. subsistence existence is rough, daily work and even subsistence farmers need to sharpen axes, replace shovels and picks and so on. Going to sew all the clothes by hand too?

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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

I'm not any kind of expert, but I have family members who ran a small organic farm for a time, and other family members who are pretty amazing gardeners and grow probably 90% of their own food..

Personally, from what I've observed I would say that for many, the amount of work required is prohibitive to a contemplatives schedule, at least for a monk etc. focused on meditation, which frankly, they probably should be.

Now small scale farming as a contemplative work task, sure I guess. However, surviving only on what one grows, let alone being able to pay for land etc. based on it is outside the capabilities of many, for a bunch of reasons.

As far as general charity stuff, both meatspace Dharma orgs I'm connected with are perpetually involved in all kinds of charity, it's just not done as an organization, because the organization simply isn't big enough. Rather, people (including monks) do jobs or volunteer service as individuals. I don't know if this is the case with everyone or not, but I suspect there are lots of people actively doing stuff that don't get counted in these kind of criticisms due to not being as visible as an organized church, etc. doing social service.
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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by Queequeg »

narhwal90 wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 8:07 pm
but at some point you have to buy stuff for the tractor, gas & parts, replace the implements when they are beyond help, buy a new water pump and so on- so its really difficult to avoid cashflow.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 8:17 pm
grow probably 90% of their own food..
I'm not suggesting some idealistic monastic, self-contained farm, or some idealistic Amish shunning of machines. There's going to be a lay community that practices dana, and there's gotta be a flow of young acolytes entering the life. We're talking about a society where its hard to support a dharma center without significant support from a lay community.

What I'm suggesting is what is already practiced to varying degrees. They're not going to be a big factory farm, or even a small family farm. I was looking into it, and you don't actually need too much land to grow enough food for yourself to live. Staples like grain are cheap enough that its not worth the effort, but vegetables and greens - it doesn't take much space or work to have more tomatoes and cucumbers than you know what to do with. Have a few fruit and nut trees. Learn to pickle.

And as for clothes, there are goodwills you can buy clothes by the pound. Better than shrouds scavenged in a charnel ground. Sure its not fancy and impressive like the formal robes many monks wear, but, do you really need that to study and practice?

Those guys in the video were needing to grow grains.

I think Meido up at Korinji has something like this going on.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

narhwal90
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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by narhwal90 »

You make a fair point with respect to extensive gardening vs agriculture- it is much easier to have a "big enough" garden, we did that as well. Add to that enough woodland to produce firewood, some orchard space and you're getting somewhere. An operation like that wouldn't need much more than a small yard tractor and wagon to save on the labor, and basic tools; chainsaw, tiller, mowers and the like.

For a while my wife attended a presbyterian big-box church which set up a garden space for their members which they ran and worked. Last I saw they had quite a large garden space set up and producing.

Though they are capitalized by their retirement funds, some friends of ours have an interesting farm business; raising chickens for egg laying in a sustainable fashion, and honey. So they operate on farmland, but do not have large horrible chicken coops or cultivation, instead they have mobile coops that they move around on the property to minimize the local impact and keep the birds moving. For the bees, they mostly let them do their thing and don't take much so the bees are not particularly stressed. The biggest job they encounter is keeping the place mowed, husbandry to keep the noxious weeds down being necessary. They have learned to adapt to the situation; apparently the foxes like to raid the chickens during thunderstorms, so they mind the weather closely. Its a much prettier operation than the big-ag company which used to own the land, though its also the case that the field they bought was thoroughly maintained; so clean of weeds and with good fences.

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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

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narhwal90 wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 3:21 am
The biggest job they encounter is keeping the place mowed, husbandry to keep the noxious weeds down being necessary.
goats!
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by narhwal90 »

lol, goats are fascinating creatures. Never knew they climbed trees... but we had a 2019 calendar featuring goats in trees. Start up a dharma center that keeps goats for the cheese and I'm in :)

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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by Queequeg »

What is a sangha but an intentional community?
https://nyti.ms/2NsaCHB
Haven't read the whole thing yet, but thought it might be relevant.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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well wisher
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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by well wisher »

Queequeg wrote:
Tue Jan 21, 2020 6:08 pm
What is a sangha but an intentional community?
https://nyti.ms/2NsaCHB
Haven't read the whole thing yet, but thought it might be relevant.
Yes, this article "The New Generation of Self-Created Utopias" is quite relevant and actually makes a lot of sense, considering how utterly unfair and corrupt the current economic model "Big corporation-favored capitalism" and "Billionaires-worshiping mandates", rife with nepotism & obscuring deceits & encouraging cheaters and dishonest gambling & exaggerating lies and selfish boasting egos, while constantly fueling inequality, mass murdering wars & famine, along with environmental destruction that poses huge existential threats.The current system are just is definitely not cutting it any more, with too many people falling into the cracks of victimization of forced oppression with reduced rights and freedom and increasing poverty for more people.

Therefore many people are rightfully becoming disillusioned with the current system, and going to attempt for their own models of utopia. I just hope reasonable ethics and at least basic levels of mutual sympathy & compassion will prevail for the time being, and any nonsensical violence or destruction be minimized.

May all sentient beings be well, and may all suffering & Samsara be eliminated (as inevitable) - so that all may achieve Nirvana swiftly and never suffer again.

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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by Varis »

Queequeg wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:54 pm
I believe the notion that monks could/should work is common in East Asia. The work is part of the training. The physical exertion is conducive to calming the mind. This gets extended out to extreme exertion as practice you find in Shugendo.

I think the integration of work came about as a necessity - if no one is feeding you, you have to grow your food. Unlike India where renunciates can be supported through begging, the Chinese with their mercantile sensibilities were not so keen on supporting the drop outs.
If I'm not mistaken Linji Chan in all its regional forms has a strong focus on using the body in practice. This grants them more leeway than a Theravadin monk in this regard because regardless of what they're doing, whether it be working, or taking a literal piss, they're still practicing.

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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by shoe »

Most temples that I have been to ether grow their own food or lay people come in with a food donation for the sangha ( there is usually a free meal for everyone that attends.) However, since I live in Oregon we have very strict land use laws so it's not unusual to be in a midsize city and have farmland available. So, I can't speak for other places that have less land use restrictions.

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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

In American cities with sizable Thai, Lao, or Cambodian immigrant populations, you can find temples (wats?) with monks living there, and members of the community bring them food every day for lunch (they don’t eat after lunch). The temples serve as both centers for community events and also as a place where people go to make prayers and listen to teachings.

So, maintaining a monastic center in cities is not totally out of the question. But keep in mind, this is also the situation even in the large cities of Southeast Asia. So, it’s already part of the culture.

There are also Tibetan lamas residing and teaching in cities around the United States, who are likewise supported by devoted students, who may or may not also facilitate public dharma centers.

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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by shankara »

Marpa was a farmer, didn't seem to get in the way of him being enlightened.

Honestly I think the monastic Vinaya was created for another time, maybe it's still good for some people to be practicing it but there's definitely room for more Anagarikas and different forms of community in these times.

Given the horrors of capitalism isn't it kind of wrong livelihood to be dependent on the capitalist system in order to survive?

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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by well wisher »

shankara wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 2:14 pm
Marpa was a farmer, didn't seem to get in the way of him being enlightened.

Honestly I think the monastic Vinaya was created for another time, maybe it's still good for some people to be practicing it but there's definitely room for more Anagarikas and different forms of community in these times.

Given the horrors of capitalism isn't it kind of wrong livelihood to be dependent on the capitalist system in order to survive?
Agreed: there exists way too much evidences for the horrors modern capitalism system, rampant theft & dishonesty & extreme-selfish greedy malice being actively encouraged - especially by the ones holding the reins to the monetary system: the irresponsible big corporate banks & unaccountable big governments recklessly printing / manipulating the monetary flows for their own benefits, and at the expense of the general non-rich populace with overly inflated pricings & ponzi scams & unaffordable debt-usury. Speculation bubbles and market crashes are the inevitable result. This is all on top the major world-destroying pollution and waste created by the big corporate industries, and never-ending cycles of political conflicts and wars (also funded by the corrupt big banks & industries themselves).

Aside from huge (and possibly violent) societal revolutions and uprisings, I do not see this broken system being fixable anytime soon.
So in the meantime, the most feasible and peaceful solution is probably to try and go entirely independent from money itself.
"Money" and "jobs" are horribly unreliable and unsteady anyways, for the vast majority who are not rich, in the current gig-economic schema.
The Mormon community model is actually kind of admirable to me in some aspects - at least some honest work and mutual cooperation are being encouraged.

The traditional Buddhist Monastic Vinaya requires the lay-people groups support for material needs. If the social trust gets further eroded (especially by the horribly unfair & cheating capitalism system), or if the economic inequality gets even worser for the vast majority poor, then this model can no longer work. Then a temporary more-merged-model would be more feasible instead; just like historical enlightened zen farmer-monks in Asia. Just need to mindful about minimizing harmful impacts to living sentient beings and the environments.

Hopefully it will never come to the worst scenarios. But as the old saying goes: while there's life, there's hope. And there are always multiple solutions to every single problem.

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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by well wisher »

Correction: I mean to say Amish groups lifestyle is somewhat admirable - at least those who are living the ascetic (but not necessarily extreme-asceticism) lifestyles are generally less susceptible to the greed corruptions.

Anyways Food banks, Soup Kitchen & other similar charities are great temporary stop-gap aid for urban denser population settings, and its demands is likely to increase as the socioeconomic inequality problems worsens. But they too are also susceptible to bankruptcy if the funding or support stops.
There are severe lack of transparency and honesty in a lot of large organizations and corporations.

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