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

Post by Mantrik » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:43 am

Grigoris wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:32 am
Mantrik wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:09 am
Quote from a certain cult:
'Our focus is on becoming enlightened for the benefit of all.'

That is fine for an ascetic, food brought to them in their cave, but I'd like a lot more evidence that others in monastic or lay environments ignore social need.
Lay practitioners should not ignore social needs, the question here is to what degree monastic ascetics should involve themselves in filling social needs.
I would of course not assume all monastics to be ascetics or isolated from their host communities. So we may be referring to a very small number who do not engage either in the daily running of the monastery or supportive interaction with the lay community. Are there enough true ascetics left to make the issue important?
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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by narhwal90 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:51 am

Grigoris wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:28 am
narhwal90 wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 11:44 pm
I'm not an ascetic, but I wonder about a buddhist ascetic who chooses not to lend a hand in some way to help those less fortunate.
Chalk up another one that does not understand the role and nature of monasticism.
I say the monastic/ascetic should put up or shut up. I see plenty of evidence of monastics who do help others while off the cushion.

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

Post by Grigoris » Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:42 pm

narhwal90 wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:51 am
I say the monastic/ascetic should put up or shut up.
And lose your opportunity to gather merit via dana to the ordained Sangha. Working hard on the first Paramita I see. Good on yah!
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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by Queequeg » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:29 pm

narhwal90 wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:51 am
Grigoris wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:28 am
narhwal90 wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 11:44 pm
I'm not an ascetic, but I wonder about a buddhist ascetic who chooses not to lend a hand in some way to help those less fortunate.
Chalk up another one that does not understand the role and nature of monasticism.
I say the monastic/ascetic should put up or shut up. I see plenty of evidence of monastics who do help others while off the cushion.
By practicing single-mindedly, one is putting up. If a person has entered the monastery to single-mindedly pursue a goal that does not permit daily interactions with others, that's their path. Others may take vows of service to others. That is their path to pursue single-mindedly.

The point of the monastery is to give our fellows the opportunity to practice assiduously without concerns for their basic material needs. Its a cooperative arrangement to allow those inclined an opportunity to pursue the path to Buddhahood with a minimum of worldly concerns. I suppose we can put strings on our donations and demand a tangible return to the larger community in the form of service - that's our prerogative. I don't think the Buddhist monastic community was set up with such expectations as a general matter.
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 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:44 pm

Well thats fine, and I fully support training periods in isolation- but as far as I'm concerned if thats how the monastery stays overall and it is not investing time and effort back into the outside community then its not an operation I want to have anything to do with. I donate to a couple different buddhist centers more or less monastic because they have a visible presence in the community.

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

Post by Könchok Thrinley » Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:14 pm

narhwal90 wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:44 pm
Well thats fine, and I fully support training periods in isolation- but as far as I'm concerned if thats how the monastery stays overall and it is not investing time and effort back into the outside community then its not an operation I want to have anything to do with. I donate to a couple different buddhist centers more or less monastic because they have a visible presence in the community.
What greater effort than preservation of the precious teachings would you want?

Anyway you look at it the problems in community are not the causes of suffering and no amount of money or time will solve it. If they find some to help thats great and it is amazing you give them dana. But preserving dharma by itself is the greatest activity.
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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by well wisher » Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:30 pm

Mantrik wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:43 am
I would of course not assume all monastics to be ascetics or isolated from their host communities. So we may be referring to a very small number who do not engage either in the daily running of the monastery or supportive interaction with the lay community. Are there enough true ascetics left to make the issue important?
narhwal90 wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:51 am
I say the monastic/ascetic should put up or shut up. I see plenty of evidence of monastics who do help others while off the cushion.
The above statements are rings true to me. Monastic practices should not be exclusive of connection with the communities.
Rather, the connection might be a essential part of the practice, as mutual beneficiaries.

A question worth pondering is: why did the Vinaya rules state the monks beg for alms bowl for food,
and NOT to become like isolated self-starving extreme forest ascetics, who took no food?
Shakyamuni Buddha already knows that isolated extreme asceticism to be wrong, as proven in his story with Sujata the milkmaid.
This implies the connection between the monastic to the lay-folks community is essential, in the true spirit of the Bodhicitta, and for the preservation of the teachings.

It appears the most successfully Mahayana institutions (arguably, all the ones that survived that we know today)
are the ones which have direct interaction and benefits to the lay communities. The ones that pursue isolated-asceticism are in the minority.

For example, the monks and nuns at my local Tendai lineage Temple has very close direct connection to the lay communities.
Every week, the monks hold Dharma lessons and practices which are open to the public. There are language classes held for children on weekends.
The cooks inside the monastery are generous and skilled, offering free vegetarian lunch for all who attends the Sunday morning lessons,
while some others institution might offer meals at low reasonable (non-profit) costs. (This is partially where I got the idea of soup kitchens).
Many local farmers are happy to donate extra fruits and vegetables to this monastery.
The monks are not dictated to learn how to cook, as it is not their primary job.
But chef-monks are known to exist, if some choose to pursue it.
Plus much more events and rituals held at key dates of every year.
During the off times & quiet hours at night, the monastics are free to depend their solitary practices.
As a result, this temple has no problem attracting donations and volunteers from the community.

In our time where public trust are faltering in all the rich elites' institutions (governments, big companies & corporations),
the noble Sangha, and possibly other religious organizations, are in key positions to step in and help fill in the essential needs for the masses.
Not only for Mahayana, but even in Thervada-majority countries like Thailand too!
https://news.mongabay.com/2018/08/ecolo ... -thailand/
If I asked the farmers who they would choose to trust between government officers and the monks, they would choose the latter.
......
As their environmental influence spreads throughout Thailand, monks are helping to obtain more community forest rights for indigenous people and farmers, which takes land away from both the government and logging and oil companies. Some monks have been prosecuted by the Thai government for their controversial activism. Others have been assassinated, like Phrakhu Supoj Suvacano, an ecology monk involved in trying to prevent the land around a meditation center in Chiang Mai from being converted into a tangerine farm.
Even in the face of these threats, many ecology monks continue their work, which has started to receive help and support from other outlets, like local universities and NGOs.
In my opinion, these Thailand Ecology monks are heroes!

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

Post by Queequeg » Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:38 pm

In terms of diversity in monastic communities, I think of the various Catholic orders. Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits... etc. etc. They each have their different emphases. My experience is that Buddhist orders also have different emphases.

My understanding is that the HHDL has encouraged monastics to be more engaged in the world. IIRC, he has looked with approval at Western monastics who on balance are more engaged with the world. However, I think the center of gravity will tend inward for Buddhist communities just because of the views implied by Dharma.

It seems to me, the Buddhist approach to ordering the secular world has been to encourage rulers to take actions in accord with Dharma. Bob Thurman suggests that the distinction between the Sangha and secular world was intentional for a number of reasons, one of them being avoiding coming into conflict with worldly rulers. As soon as monks get involved with worldly matters, they are treading on territory rulers like to claim for their own and that can make them targets for persecution. Buddhist history is full of these examples.

No one can really have quarrel with a drop out who makes no claim on worldly terrain and endeavors to tread as lightly as possible through the world, except maybe Confucians and capitalists who find drop outs abhorrent.
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 Queequeg » Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:04 pm

well wisher wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:30 pm
A question worth pondering is: why did the Vinaya rules state the monks beg for alms bowl for food,
and NOT to become like isolated self-starving extreme forest ascetics, who took no food?
Shakyamuni Buddha already knows that isolated extreme asceticism to be wrong, as proven in his story with Sujata the milkmaid.
This implies the connection between the monastic to the lay-folks community is essential, in the true spirit of the Bodhicitta, and for the preservation of the teachings.
I'll disagree with that.

The sangha originally was homeless, and were instructed to not stay in a place too long to avoid becoming a burden on the community and to avoid developing dependence on the community. That doesn't mean there was not a reciprocal relationship. The lay person might be motivated to make offerings to attract teachers to their community to teach. The monastic might be mindful of offering lay people the opportunity to make merit by making such offerings and to receive instructions.

The mindset underlying the relationship between the monastics and the community codified in the Vinaya is not quite what you suggest.

Later, when communities became permanent, dynamics changed, but rules were still in place about avoiding habitually going to certain households for alms, especially if the motivation was because particular houses gave really good food. By neglecting other homes, the monks deprive those other households from generating merit through giving.
It appears the most successfully Mahayana institutions (arguably, all the ones that survived that we know today)
are the ones which have direct interaction and benefits to the lay communities. The ones that pursue isolated-asceticism are in the minority.
Those institutions are treading a fine line, and many go over the line and have become worldly institutions. To be fair, Mahayana is a development that in respects is about this deeper engagement with the world. The economic model of support are different than the original communities.
In our time where public trust are faltering in all the rich elites' institutions (governments, big companies & corporations),
the noble Sangha, and possibly other religious organizations, are in key positions to step in and help fill in the essential needs for the masses.
Not only for Mahayana, but even in Thervada-majority countries like Thailand too!
https://news.mongabay.com/2018/08/ecolo ... -thailand/
If I asked the farmers who they would choose to trust between government officers and the monks, they would choose the latter.
Familiarity can breed contempt. You might find positive opinions for periods, but if the institution fails to maintain their ethics, they can fall into disrepute.

You bring up Tendai - you might be familiar with Go-Shirakawa's lament - "Three things refuse to obey my will: the waters of the Kamo River, the fall of backgammon dice, and the monks of Enryakuji Temple”. Enryakuji's encroachment into worldly matters is ultimately what got the monks slaughtered and the temple complex burned to the ground by Oda Nobunaga.

I'm not saying its wrong, but you might want to reexamine the deeper themes in the Vinaya code about the traditional standards and expectations of the monastic community.
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 well wisher » Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:22 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:04 pm
You bring up Tendai - you might be familiar with Go-Shirakawa's lament - "Three things refuse to obey my will: the waters of the Kamo River, the fall of backgammon dice, and the monks of Enryakuji Temple”. Enryakuji's encroachment into worldly matters is ultimately what got the monks slaughtered and the temple complex burned to the ground by Oda Nobunaga.

I'm not saying its wrong, but you might want to reexamine the deeper themes in the Vinaya code about the traditional standards and expectations of the monastic community.
To do or not to do - duality is truly a dilemma that needs to be overcome! Maybe the safest approach is the "middle balanced" way of maintaining ties with community and worldly affairs, with proper ethics of course; while mostly avoiding political opinions and thorns.

Anyways, most news story proves that money and wealth is bigger danger to handle than food, especially in our modern age.
As in the Below news story shows too:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enryaku-ji
Collusion with organized crime
On April 4, 2006, Enryaku-ji performed a ceremony for former leaders of Yamaguchi-gumi, by far the largest Yakuza organization in Japan.
Because such temple ceremonies have been used for Yamaguchi-gumi fund-raising and demonstrations of power, the Shiga Prefectural Police requested that Enryaku-ji cease performance of the ceremony. Rejecting the request, Enryaku-ji received crime-related money for the ceremony and allowed nearly 100 upper-level Yamaguchi-gumi leaders to attend.
After reports in the Asahi Shimbun and Yomiuri Shimbun newspapers, Enryaku-ji faced a nationwide scandal. The temple was also criticized by the Japan Buddhist Temple Association (representing 75,000 Buddhist temples), which led a movement against the Yakuza.[clarification needed] Finally on May 18, all representative directors of Enryaku-ji resigned, apologizing on their website and in e-mails which were sent to 3,000 branch temples.
We all need food & water to survive as basic needs. Money is not a basic need, it only helps facilitate in the accounting of transactions. And if the governments and economic institutions fails the masses even in the basic needs, then the masses have the right to take it back and correct it.
In the end, the goal is to become not attached to either money or food.
I still think most Mahayana institutions today are more honest and beneficial to the masses, than governments and big corporations.

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

Post by Grigoris » Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:18 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:38 pm
No one can really have quarrel with a drop out who makes no claim on worldly terrain and endeavors to tread as lightly as possible through the world, except maybe Confucians and capitalists who find drop outs abhorrent.
^^^This^^^

And that is, in a nutshell, what monastic ascetics are: Drop outs. Bums. People that have renounced worldly/samsaric activity.

As soon as people get their heads around this and stop trying to squeeze them into the mold of "productive members of society", the quicker we can finish with this ridiculous conversation.

Nobody is compelled to support the monastic Sangha and nobody gives a crap if you choose not to. You are the one that misses on the opportunity to accumulate merit, not them.

I bet the moaners are also the kind of people that bitch about having to pay for teachings (cf this discussion).
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"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by intiger » Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:41 am

The city of ten thousand Buddha's has a farm. So do some Zen monestaries from what I hear.

They should be customary. It's ridiculous that monastics don't grow there own food.

There is good reason to not till the Earth. There is also a different system of agriculture called no-till farming.

When Buddha said to beg for sustenance he also said to live in the groves. Monks only went indoors for two months out of the year while Buddha was alive instructing them to beg.

Now monks live on monestaries where they have access to pristine lands to grow food.

I think monks should grow food and donate it to the community.

Yes, monks are supposed to be dropouts, but there not. They live in places with land where all kinda of money is circulating through an institution; that is nothing like dropping out of society like Buddha did.

Masunoba Fukuoka was a Natural Farmer whose system of agriculture is intertwined with Buddhist teachings. His flavor is pretty Zen.

His farming practice is 'do nothing'.

There is another Korean natural Farmer whose handbook has a section on practicing and seeing nonduality in farming.

Natural farming is certainly a way of engaging in the practice of teachings directly in a way that aligns ones thoughts and actions with nature,not against it and yields good food for people to eat. It is probably the rightest of livlihoods.

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

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Jan 10, 2020 8:02 am

They aren't customary for monks because of the Vinaya. AFAIK, Zen monks do not follow many monastic rules. Not a value judgement, but setting them as the standard for what all monks should do is silly.

Not a bad idea that some could do more social work etc. though, there is mention here and there in Pali canon of manning shelters for travelers, etc.The thing is though, being a monk is being a contemplative, that is their primary job. It's awesome IMO that some farm, but the primary job of a monk is to be a monk. Farming is a buttload of work.
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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:54 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 8:02 am
They aren't customary for monks because of the Vinaya. AFAIK, Zen monks do not follow many monastic rules. Not a value judgement, but setting them as the standard for what all monks should do is silly.

Not a bad idea that some could do more social work etc. though, there is mention here and there in Pali canon of manning shelters for travelers, etc.The thing is though, being a monk is being a contemplative, that is their primary job. It's awesome IMO that some farm, but the primary job of a monk is to be a monk. Farming is a buttload of work.
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.
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 Könchok Thrinley » Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:13 pm

There are differences between traditions when it comes to this topic.

IMHO in the tibetan tradition monastics should be drop outs. Once you go this way they should be ideally supported by community, or in some way "work" for their support. But by "work" I don't mean going to a factory or spending days on a field, but something more fitting, be it translations, pujas, etc. This is their purpouse to upheld the teachings. I mean, if they want to have a garden, I don't care, but I would rather see my monks learning and studying than working the fields.
They can do many things from making amulets, to making paintings etc. However, it would be insane to ask fully ordained monks with all the vows to do a blue collar job or work in an office of an IBM.
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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by tkp67 » Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:25 pm

why can't they support monks ascetic endeavors and perform local good will?

Seems a bit more boundless then this or that.

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

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:42 pm

If Buddhist Dharma centers should rely mostly on farms and soup kitchens,
Then logically, shouldn’t all universities, hospitals, and research centers likewise rely on farms and soup kitchens, rather than money?
If not, then please explain why not.
What’s the difference?
If yes, then please explain how that could possibly work.
Thank you.
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Re: Why not more Farms and Soup kitchens for Buddhist dharma centers, instead of money?

Post by well wisher » Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:20 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:42 pm
If Buddhist Dharma centers should rely mostly on farms and soup kitchens,
Then logically, shouldn’t all universities, hospitals, and research centres likewise rely on farms and soup kitchens, rather than money?
If not, then please explain why not.
What’s the difference?
If yes, then please explain how that could possibly work.
Thank you.
I would think that the main difference is that universities/ hospitals, / research centres tend to focus more on materialistic wants and needs. While dharma centre would be more spiritually focused.
Unfortunately, being bounded to a Samsaric world and living conditions, most living beings on this planet requires materialistic sustenance to even survive, and thus not even people in dharma centres would be exceptions to such.

Anyways, my gripe was about how unfair & corrupt the current economic system is (which the greedy big governments & big corporate banks have vast majority of the controls, and have near arbitrary powers to print or set market standards however they wish: it is too skewed and too much funds concentrated in the hands of the few rich elites).
So I was thinking maybe it is more reliable to depend on farms / foraging / soup kitchens instead, especially considering that the institutions are vulnerable to collapses (for starters, just observe how many hyper-inflation cases has happened all over the world.)
I would think money is the great danger: it is much easier to be attached to greed via the usage of money, rather than farm or soup-kitchens where a bit of hard work and mutual appreciation is required. As money figures are just numbers, and for some people it does removes the direct connections to reality, without thinking about the actual consequences and impact. And many people online has said that the current modern circumstances in over-monetization actually creates more obsessive misery and harmful environmental damages and trashings/pollutions, not less.

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.

References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression
https://www.businessinsider.com/worst-h ... ory-2013-9

----------
Now maybe I am paranoid or too depressive from seeing too much bad news worldwide, so feel free to go about with your own ways and opinions. This is just a discussion about the possibilities after all.

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

Post by justsit » Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:41 pm

well wisher wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:20 pm
This is just a discussion about the possibilities after all.
In the best of all possible worlds, sure, dharma centers would be self-supporting through farming, people would happily donate large sums of money to support them, etc. etc. Lots of things may be possible, IF...big IF - the requisite causes and conditions arise.

But we don't live in the best of all possible worlds, and endless rumination about "Gee, what if.....?" or "If only...." doesn't change that.

We can consider the possibilities all we want, but to what end? Most of us are acutely aware and surely understand that things could be different - but they aren't. Start where you are, change what you can change, let go of the rest.

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

Post by seeker242 » 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.
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