Monk at work
Traditionally, in larger Way places, there is a monk or nun designated as Kitchen manager or Food and Drink manager, 點坐法師. Those who wish to make food and drink offerings to the temple must go see him. He accepts all such offerings and disburses them to the kitchen staff for cooking.
Quite often, the temple cannot use up the food offerings quickly enough. Therefore, the Kitchen manager would often ask for a formal procedure called karmavachana through which he formally requests permission from his “bosses” to redirect the food and drink usage, say by donating it to other temples.
You see, people in the know are very careful about managing properly the resources of the Way place, by following the proper procedures. Why? Failure to do so is to commit offenses against the Triple Jewel. And that would carry very grave consequences.
For example, the abbess of a temple cannot say that she wants to donate her temple to her monk son because she loves him. That would probably mean improper management of the resources of the temple. On the other hand, can a monk son say that he accepts such donation out of love for his mother? That would be an even worse offense unless he decides to accept the donation on behalf of the Triple Jewel.
Make no mistake about it. Once anything is accepted on behalf of the Triple Jewel, then it must be managed accordingly because after all, all sanghans are just representatives of the Triple Jewel and are supposed to not treat them as personal properties. I repeat, even the head monk, who has the final saying over the temple matters, he must go through the proper procedures in order to ensure the proper deployment of the Triple Jewel resources, if he has enough wisdom.
The question arises about the case of some left home people who go to work. They then bring home the paycheck to pay for the mortgage on the temple property and the bills. Can they do as they please?
It depends on the individual sanghan.
Some feel that they can.
Unfortunately, that is not the case.
The proper procedure would be to first offer up the paycheck to the Triple Jewel. Once received, then the abbot who holds a job must then manage the offering on behalf of the Triple Jewel and cannot certainly do as he pleases.
Those abbots who choose to do as they please will eventually run into trouble. They do not last very long if they intentionally commit offenses against the Triple Jewel that they are supposed to serve.
We do not need to do anything. There is no need to worry. We all get what we deserve. Such is the law of Cause and Effect.
For example, some very smart and informed Buddhists may criticize the abbot of a temple for wasting the resources of the temple by offering to pay for his entourage’s expenses to a trip to Hawaii for Dharma propagation. That is quite misguided to comment the abbot’s motives. Who are they to feel qualified to comment on how the Triple Jewel resources should be used? Did they go through the decades of training before one becomes an abbot? Aren’t they even aware that they are not supposed to gossip and question the abbot’s decisions? Those who understand could say that before they make such comments, perhaps they would be more credible if they offer to pay for the Dharma propagation expenses incurred before they may feel qualified to comment on its use.
Finally, in my humble opinion, if I do not feel that sanghans should go to work in order to earn enough to sustain their work as sanghans. We become left home people in order to devote our lives to transcendental pursuits, not to make money or seek fame or profit. If we are worthy of it, we will receive enough support without having to ask for it. If we don’t then perhaps we should change “profession”.
I am very grateful for the support I have been receiving so far in all these decades of full time practice as a monk. Thanks to your most generous donations, we never had to owe money to anyone or ask for money to print sutras or pay for gas or pay for our clothes.
I will make you this promise. When the support runs out, I will simply return to lay life or disappear into the mountains so that I can devote the rest of my life to do Chan meditation.
Peace and bliss to the world.