Bangkok Monks and why make offerings
Our large group in Bangkok woke up around 4 am to get ready. We left the hotel at around 5 am to drive to Banglampoo area of Bangkok. Without traffic, it took us around 20 mins to get there (Remember Bangkok is a huge metropolitan city with 10 million residents). The other day it took us 2 hours to arrive with the traffic jam to the same place… hehehe. When we arrived it was still not dawn yet and the monks had not come out, so I gave a short talk on why we make offerings and support the sangha. The purpose behind supporting the sangha was shared with our group. After the talk the monks started coming on their alms round as the morning sun started to rise…
There are stalls set up on the roadside daily all over Thailand that cook for people who wish to make offerings to monks just before they go to work or go to school. You see many people who quickly park their cars nearby, purchase the ready made simple foods, and offer to the monks and off to work they go. You see many young school kids who stop by to make offerings on the way to school in their school uniforms. What a beautiful way to start the day with generosity, making offerings to sangha and spirituality. This is such a blessed way to start the day and a wonderful part of Thai culture that I like so much.
In the villages or areas where people are homemakers, they actually cook a portion of their food in ready to offer monks on their alms rounds daily. It is a chance for the lay people to participate in the spiritual practice of the monks. You support the monks to do their studies, practice, meditations and teachings. You gain the merit for sponsoring their activities, in this case through food to put it simply. They do what you cannot and you do what they do not do… it is a perfect balance. Every activity a monk does for the community, you contributed to it… the merit comes from supporting the sangha and continuance of the Dharma. The sangha renounces samsara to focus on study, practice, teaching and serving others. They don’t waste time on wordly activities and do Dharma part time, they do it full time so they can put their full energies into their practice and in this way keep the Dharma alive due to their full attention given to it. Hence you are supporting their 100% commitment towards the Dharma. They do you a great service because without them putting their full energy into the Dharma, who will learn, practice, teach and keep the Dharma alive?
For the last 2500 years, it is mainly the sangha who has kept the Dharma alive and intact throughout all the monasteries in the world up till the present day. It has been the sangha who teach other sangha and lay people and kept the Dharma alive and well through teachings. Buddha set it up this way. Supporting the sangha is supporting the continuance of the holy Dharma. If all sangha disappeared due to no support, then you will see the Dharma decline in its complete form. If you have to work a secular job 10 hours a day, take care of kids, pay bills then it would leave you with very little time to study, practice, meditate and advance in the Dharma. If you cannot advance in knowledge and practice, then how to disseminate to others. When the dissemination of the holy Dharma stops/lessens, then the Dharma declines. Worshipping Buddha statues, visiting temples, offerings on the shrine is only a small part of Buddhist practice. 100% study, meditation, practice, commitment, work and teaching the dharma is necessary for it’s pure continuance. Only a Sangha may do this in general due to their full concentration and commitment towards this by renouncing seccular activities. There are always exceptions of course… but we are talking about what Buddha established when He started the Sangha. So supporting the sangha is crucial in all countries. Especially in countries where Buddhism is new.
We should all sponsor the sangha and make it our priority. Without this priority, then how can we expect Dharma to remain? Do not think supporting the sangha is a burden or only when you have extra resources because if you ponder the value of the sangha, you will realize it is not a burden or extra but a necessity. It is not enough you encountered the Dharma, but you must make sure it is safeguarded for future generations… how? Through the sangha naturally. Some people cannot find the time at the moment to study, practice and focus on the Dharma due to self made barriers or otherwise, but if you support the sangha, then you collect the merits to do dharma practice in the near future. Why? You are supporting others to do Dharma, and by the power of cause and effect, you should receive the same because you created the causes by making offerings. Causes resemble results and results resemble causes. That’s karma. Not doing much practice yourself and not contributing to others’ practice will lead you where? No causes bear no results. It’s in your hands… contemplate please. I am not saying all this because I am a monk, but because it is the truth as set up by the infallible Lord Buddha. I didn’t create the tradition of sangha, Buddha did.
If we are lacking in resources to support the sangha we can donate our time, talents and skills to the sangha, centre or teacher. Same. The sincerity of your offering is the key. The consistency of your offerings is the key to uprooting negative habituations. Remember, you are not doing the centre or sangha or Buddha a favour. But these institutions have been set up to benefit others and yourself. Your participation is for your spiritual growth as you contribute to the growth of others.
Our group purchased over 200 packets of food this day. The stall we went to didn’t have enough, so we had to run to other stalls… it was wonderful. We were very busy and surprised the locals because they hadn’t seen foreigners do this… There was a table set up next to us with pre-booked packets (around 80 packets) and Wan said most likely it was someone’s birthday or a special day for that person, so they will come to make offerings to the sangha on their special day. Imagine making offerings to one’s guru, sangha, Temple on one’s Birthday to celebrate. Instead of expecting to get, one practices generosity on your significant day?? That is beautiful. Some school boys helped monks carry their offerings back to the Temple then proceeded to school… This is what a young child does at the beginning of the day!!! Wow!! I was contemplating what a powerful impression it must leave the school kids while they are young to grow up making offerings to monks and practicing generosity. It will help children to form a less self-centric attitude and as adults perhaps focus on others more? Maybe. Impressions are powerful when we are kids. I love to bring groups to Thailand to visit Temples especially to offer food dhana to monks. It is such powerful and blessed practice. It is my favorite activity in Thailand.
Every morning, the monks walk from their temple early in the morning to beg for alms. You offer them food, place it in their bowls and make a prayer. It is so powerful to see so many saffron robed sangha walking in the morning for their alms. It is such a POWERFUL experience for me each time and very moving. Please see the video of our offering so you can experience this from wherever you are if you have not had the chance yet… remember… you can make offerings to sangha anywhere in any country you are in…and you should please… you should support the Dharma all the way… I will encourage and bring many more to make offerings to the monks… I have been donating to the monks of Gaden for over 15 years now. I often make food offerings to the thousands of monks in Gaden also… if you are in Thailand or anywhere there are monks, please engage in this activity. It will help the Dharma to grow. I hope so very much all of you can come to Thailand to do this also… I very much wish this for everyone. Serving and offerings to the sangha was started by Lord Buddha Himself. So it is a perfect practice instituted by an Awakened Being.
Much care in the Dharma,
Address: Thanon Kraisi, Banglampoo, Bangkok (Behind Khaosan Road)
By Car: 20 mins from Bangkok Central
Hours: 6 am – 7.30 am (Offering time)
– There are food stalls along the street with pre-packed food and drinks to be offered to the monk.
– Just standby the road side and hold the offering respectfully and offer to the monk and place into the monk’s bowl.
– Ladies shall not touch the monks nor the bowl.
– Traditionally we should remove our shoes when make offerings, if possible bow lower or kneel on the floor to make offerings.
– Wear appropriate clothing.
– As monks are trained to be humble and not attached, therefore they might not look at you directly, instead walk up and offer the food and they will receive it.
– It is okay to make more than one offerings, the more the better!
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If you are in the United States, please note that your offerings and contributions are tax deductible. ~ the tsemrinpoche.com blog team