Author Topic: Sri Lanka prescribes safe menu for Buddhist monks  (Read 8590 times)

Ensapa

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4124
    • Email
Sri Lanka prescribes safe menu for Buddhist monks
« on: November 30, 2012, 01:11:29 PM »
Quote
Sri Lanka prescribes safe menu for Buddhist monks

Press Trust of India, November 27, 2012
Colombo, Sri Lanka -- Concerned over the unhealthy diet of Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka, health authorities are to introduce a new food menu for them.
"The Buddhist monks are offered alms (free offering of meals) by their devotees with most respect. They take extra care to ensure that food offered are rich in taste. But food so offered has caused health problems for the monks," Maithripala Sirisena, the minister of health said.

The ministry of health says that rich food offered to monks have caused diabetic and blood pressure ailments among them.

As a remedial measure, the ministry would issue a special safe food menu on December 16.
A health ministry specialist nutritionist is currently preparing the menu, the ministry said.

Alms or offering off meals to monks at lunch time is believed by the Buddhists to be a meritorious act.

The merits so accrued are expected to provide one and their dead relatives with a better life in the next birth according to Buddhist teachings.




I wonder tho, if we offer food that would give the monks health problems, would it still be meritorious? haha.

Jessie Fong

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 690
Re: Sri Lanka prescribes safe menu for Buddhist monks
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2012, 10:02:44 AM »

The practice of giving alms is common and is usually carried out in the early morning when Buddhist monks begin their rounds.  Laypeople prepare food and drinks (water) and wait for the monks to approach with their bowl.



Almsgiving is considered a respect and not charity.  It also shows humbleness and respect for the Buddhist monk/nun.

As shown in Lama Tsong Khapa's 'The Abbreviated Points of the Graded Path' (Tibetan: lam-rim bsdus-don):

Total willingness to give is the wish-granting gem for fulfilling the hopes of wandering beings.
It is the sharpest weapon to sever the knot of stinginess.
It leads to bodhisattva conduct that enhances self-confidence and courage,
And is the basis for universal proclamation of your fame and repute.
Realizing this, the wise rely, in a healthy manner, on the outstanding path
Of (being ever-willing) to offer completely their bodies, possessions, and positive potentials.
The ever-vigilant lama has practiced like that.
If you too would seek liberation,
Please cultivate yourself in the same way




DS Star

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 418
Re: Sri Lanka prescribes safe menu for Buddhist monks
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2012, 01:28:53 PM »
It is a good practice to take into consideration the health factor of the food we offer to Sangha. Sangha need to be healthy so that they can perform their duty well and thus can help many people and other sentient beings. It is also very important for us to be responsible and careful when we make offerings; not to cause any harm from our act of so-called 'kindness'.

Giving alms to Sangha (community monks/ nuns) is a practice of "Generosity" i.e. the first of the 6 Perfections (Paramitas). It is mostly practice in countries where Buddhists are the majority population like Sri Lanka and Thailand. This practice of giving alms is called "Dana" in Pali language. In a big Dana event, after the monks have received the food and offerings, normally there will a blessing ceremony.

"During the blessing the lay people will perform the water-pouring ceremony. Very simply this requires a container for the water and two bowls, one roughly half the size of the other - at least able to fit inside. The apparatus shown on the left is a traditional form of this but any vessels will do. During the blessing chants the water is poured into the smaller of the bowls and the quantity of water is such that it overflows the smaller into the larger.

There are several symbolic elements involved here.

The water is a symbol of life, purity and cleansing. As it is poured it represents the 'fluid' nature of generosity, how easy it is for this kindness to pass from one person to another. As the small bowl overflows into the larger one considers how the positive benefits of any generous act 'overflow' into the lives of many. When the chanting is finished the water in the bowls can be taken outside and poured onto a tree or plant; again increasing, or expanding the 'field of merits' resulting from the initial act of giving.
"

There are 5 benefits, or blessings, from the practice of generosity:
 
1. everybody will like you.
2. all your friends will be good people.
3. you will have a good reputation.
4. you will have lots of self confidence.
5. you will have a heavenly rebirth
   (Anguttara V. 34)


Aurore

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 356
Re: Sri Lanka prescribes safe menu for Buddhist monks
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2012, 07:18:41 PM »
It is a good thought to prescribe a safe menu for people to offer to the Buddhist monks. This way, on top of practicing generosity, it's a good practice to care for the well-being of others. Monks dedicate their life to others and to help them extend their lives to continue benefitting others is also meritorious.

When I was in Thailand, the stalls was selling non-vegetarian food to be offered to monks. Monks will accept whatever offerings that is given to them, however I thought it would be better to offer pure vegetarian food instead of meat because monks holds vows of not killing. Maybe they should start a safe menu in that country too :)

rossoneri

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 386
    • Email
Re: Sri Lanka prescribes safe menu for Buddhist monks
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2012, 08:14:08 AM »
It is good to offer something to people always moreover to the Sangha community. I believed it has been a practice more than thousand of years. 'Dana' or the practice of giving will benefit us in many ways not only us but more importantly to the sangha.

Giving (dana) is one of the essential preliminary steps of Buddhist practice. When practiced in itself, it is a basis of merit or wholesome karma. When coupled with morality, concentration and insight, it leads ultimately to liberation from samsara, the cycle of repeated existence. Even those who are well-established on the path to emancipation continue to practice giving as it is conducive to wealth, beauty and pleasure in their remaining lifetimes. Bodhisattas complete the danaparami or perfection of giving to the ultimate degree by happily donating their limbs and their very lives to help other beings.

Like all good deeds, an act of giving will bring us happiness in the future, in accordance with the kammic law of cause and effect taught by the Buddha. Giving yields benefits in the present life and in lives to come whether or not we are aware of this fact, but when the volition is accompanied by understanding, we can greatly increase the merits earned by our gifts.

The amount of merit gained varies according to three factors: the quality of the donor's motive, the spiritual purity of the recipient, and the kind and size of the gift. Since we have to experience the results of our actions, and good deeds lead to good results and bad deeds to bad results, it is sensible to try to create as much good kamma as possible. In the practice of giving, this would mean keeping one's mind pure in the act of giving, selecting the worthiest recipients available, and choosing the most appropriate and generous gifts one can afford.

I am very much in support of the Sri Lanka Health Ministry to have such guideline for the public in order for them to offer a healthier food to the Sangha Community.

Tenzin Malgyur

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 551
Re: Sri Lanka prescribes safe menu for Buddhist monks
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2012, 10:04:31 AM »
It is so good to know the significance and benefits of making food offerings to monks and nuns. Indeed, we are always taught to offer the best we can afford. It is also time now we consider the nutritious and health aspects of the food being offered because the sangha members would eat whatever that is being offered to them and can not make any demands. Definitely we wish for them to be healthy always so that they can go about their spiritual works smoothly.

sonamdhargey

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 406
Re: Sri Lanka prescribes safe menu for Buddhist monks
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2012, 10:44:13 AM »
Offering food that is beneficial for the health of the Sangha is very important. This is one way to practice mindfulness as well. Simply offering food to the Sangha that causes their health to deteriorate is not a practice. One should be mindful that whatever we offer to the sangha should be good for them and not detrimental to them and then we can claim that we offer dana properly.

RedLantern

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 758
Re: Sri Lanka prescribes safe menu for Buddhist monks
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2012, 11:57:34 AM »
We offer alms to monks so that they can sustain themselves.It is also a practice of giving and letting go for lay people.When a monk has food to nourish his body and mind,he will have energy to go about his day.His main duty is studying,spreading the Buddha's teachings and practicing meditation to purify the mind.
Money used for alms giving should be earned in a honest way.When offering,the donor must be joyful before,during and after the offering.Donors should offer healthy food low in fat and sugar,to prevent the monks from developing heart disease and diabetes.
There are 40,000 monks in Sri Lanka,where a majority of the nation's 20million people are Buddhist offering alms is believed to bring good fortune in this life as well as the next.

Midakpa

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 624
Re: Sri Lanka prescribes safe menu for Buddhist monks
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2012, 01:48:59 PM »
When offering food, the Buddha said, the donors are actually offering five things: long life, beauty, strength, happiness and knowledge, for without food, we cannot live. Lack of food will affect our complexion and looks. Food gives us strength. If we are hungry we cannot have any pleasure, happiness or enjoyment in life. And only when we have food can we carry out study to gain knowledge or meditation to gain wisdom. By virtue of this offering, the donors will receive the same kind of results in this life or in future lives.

Therefore, those who give food should be mindful that the food is nutritious so that the receiver will benefit from it and become healthy in body and mind. For example, after eating Sujata's milk rice, the Buddha, who had been practising asceticism for six years, became strong again and was able to sit and meditate until he achieved enlightenment. It is with this noble aim in mind that one should do dana. Thus one should give with wisdom and take into consideration such things as the health and well-being of the monks. One should avoid giving oily and fattening foods that will cause health problems.

dondrup

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 816
Re: Sri Lanka prescribes safe menu for Buddhist monks
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2012, 02:43:08 PM »
There are times when ignorant devotees would make offering of meat to the sangha during their alms rounds.  Monks or nuns are not permitted to refuse any offering from devotees during alms rounds.  By accepting the offering, the sangha will accumulate negative karma of killing indirectly.  The monks or nuns will break their vows of non-killing due to the ignorance of the devotees.  It is commendable that the Sri Lankan health authorities had introduced a safe menu for devotees’ reference when offering alms to the monks.  This helps the sangha greatly in terms of getting safe, healthy and vegetarian food. Causing the sangha to be unhealthy and to break their vows is not meritorious and defeat the purpose of doing dana!

Benny

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
Re: Sri Lanka prescribes safe menu for Buddhist monks
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2012, 05:13:21 PM »
I am indeed surprised that this development took so long to happen ! Especially in a majority Buddhist nation like Sri Lanka , totally unexpected to even find out that there exist such ignorance still amongst so many born Theravadan Buddhist , to offer alms that is non vegetarian or not healthy .

It is not like they were instructed or taught to purposely offer meat or non vegetarian alms to monks . I believe it is a case of carelessness or being not mindful or not bothered and not a case of ignorance. This in fact is a case of where the intention was to collect merits but instead otherwise , all due to non mindfulness.

Its a no wonder these "infantile" minds have to be disciplined by the law or authorities to respect the monks vows . I believe there are many non Buddhist who would know better than to offer meat as alms to monks in robes ! Shameful , to even have a need to pass such laws or regulations.   

Ensapa

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4124
    • Email
Re: Sri Lanka prescribes safe menu for Buddhist monks
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2012, 10:18:30 AM »
there are many types of giving, but in general there is the type of giving where you do not care about the recipient and the one where you actually care about the recipient and what your giving will do to them.

If the followers of these monks give solely with the intention of collecting merits and they are offering foods that are harmful to the monks in the long run, would these followers not reap negative karma as it is something done out of selfishness?

On the other hand, if the followers offer with great care and precision to not include foods that will harm the health of the monks, because they want to benefit the monks sincerely, would that not be a proper act of giving as compared to the latter?

If that is the case, then why is there need for a 'menu' in the first place?