Ajahn Brahm once remarked that “keeping” a monk or nun is far cheaper than keeping a dog. It is maybe a little doubtful if this is really true, but monastics indeed try to live with little.
Monastics live on the basic requisites of almsfood, robes, dwelling-place and medication, given by kind donors.
Of these, only almsfood is something that is needed on a daily basis and they are not allowed to store it overnight for the next day.
The giving of dāna, almsfood, is like giving life and health to a monk or nun. As such, the merit that one makes by giving dāna is also the gift of long life and health. It helps to cultivate a mind of generosity and gladness.
In traditional Buddhist countries, you see monks (and sometimes also nuns) go on Piṇḍapāta (almsround) every morning. It is a joy to see even small children wanting to put a small spoon of rice in the bowl of a passing monk. They do this with so much happiness, that it is easy to see how this small act of daily kindness cultivates the mind.
In western countries however, it is not always possible to go on almsround because we have not grown up with a culture of giving alms. So unless it is in a city where there are Asian restaurants, it is often not possible to go on Piṇḍapāta, unless somebody drives the monk or nun to the nearest market-town.
Lay supporters sometimes come to bring dāna to the monastery. But of course most people have to work, and often they have to come from far away, so they can only come in the weekends.
In Santi Forest Monastery in Australia, people would sometimes call the local Pizzeria or Chinese restaurant in the nearby village if they were unable to come or wanted to give dāna on a special day, like the death anniversary of a beloved relative. The restaurant would then come and bring the order in time for lunch. Maybe this is also something we can organise here in Belgium when our new monastery is operational.
In the mean time, if you want to help support Ayya Vimalā by donating a meal for a day, you can do so for only 5 euro. The lay supporters here will then be happy to use these funds to go shopping and cook a meal.
You can use the paypal button below or the bank account details in the right column.
If you have donated a meal and would like the merit of the dāna to be dedicated to somebody special, you can contact us and leave a message with your name and the person you wish to have the dedication for. Ayya Vimalā will then dedicate the merit of the dāna by chanting when the meal is offered.
If beings only knew—
So said the Great Sage—
How the result of sharing
Is of such great fruit,
With a gladdened mind,
Rid of the stain of meanness,
They would duly give to noble ones
Who make what is given fruitful.
Having given much food as offerings
To those most worthy of offerings,
The donors go to heaven
On departing the human state.
Having gone to heaven they rejoice,
And enjoying pleasures there,
The unselfish experience the result
Of generously sharing with others.