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Monday, July 30, 2012

Food and Forest Buddhism, Wat Tham Phuang, Sakon Nakhon Part 2, 30.07.12

As I mentioned in Part 1, the Buddha laid down the rule that monks and nuns may not cook or store their own food. The intention was for monastics to be free from the worldly burden of cooking and to make them dependent on the generosity of lay followers.
In the west one often hears the term dana or dana sila, here in Thailand that is often translated to tamboon, to do (or make) merit.
Dana is a Sanskrit, Pali word, generally 'the practice of cultivating generosity"  In the Buddhist tradition, the teachings are given freely because they are considered priceless; in the Buddhist tradition we also practice dana, or generosity. Dana is not payment for goods or services rendered; it is given from the heart.
In Thai Buddhism tamboon is often seen as making payment, or even a bribe to get the lottery number, job or whatever else the donor might want or need.
Over the years in Thailand I will often ask, when visiting a temple why the folks give and answers generally follow the payment or want and need theme, this also often holds true in the forest wats, In the forest temples giving is often an act of gratitude for the teaching and sometimes for the monks simply being there. In Thailand it seems even at the the Forest temples giving includes getting. It is, it seems, often the folks in the villages, who are the recipients of the teaching on a day to day basis, who have the least to give, who give the most without motive. On a day to day basis they give their time and work to support the monks wanting nothing in return.
But, back to pindabat, and in this case at wat Tham Phuangin Sang Dao, Amphor Sawang Daeng Din, Sakon Nakhon Province, Thailand. The temple is about 12 kilometers from the nearest villages and the monks "truck down" on a daily basis to receive almsfood from the villagers.
Very often,especially on weekends and holidays supports will drive up from Bangkok, or simply out of towners wanting to offer food and spend time with the teacher, in this case Luang Por Raw. When that happens another pindabat will take place at the wat, as you can see in the video below. It should be easy to pick out the folks from out of town. As there is a fair population of people who live at the wat they also join in with the visitors.
After each pindabat the bhikkhus take the food to the kitchen where the mae chee and onld ladies will get it sorted and ready to go to the sala which will be the next part of this series.