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Brieve introduction about monks.


portrait of Mahāsī Sayādaw

In the context of theravāda, "monk" is a translation of "bhikkhu".

Ven. Mahāsī Sayādaw

What is a bhikkhu?

A bhikkhu (a monk) is someone who lives attentive to anything he does. He is present, he acts without ever rushing. He trains incessantly to have a conduct dignified and irreproachable, to contain his desires and his emotions, and to be patient in all circumstances. He acknowledges all this faults and fully accepts any admonishments without excusing himself. He renounces the pleasures of the world and everything that is not beneficial to the dhamma.

Vigilance and perseverance in the respect for the vinaya are part of the essential qualities on which the bhikkhu must train himself assiduously.

The bhikkhu is – by definition – someone who has renounced everything. By dedicating himself exclusively to practice, realisation, study and teaching of the dhamma, he renounces all possessions, all money, all the activities of the laity, all comfort, anything futile, all beliefs, etc. He is content with the bare minimum.

What are a bhikkhu's means of support?

So that a bhikkhu can perform his task in the best possible conditions, it is the laity (dāyaka) who take care of his needs, by offering him the objects of the four requisites (nourishment, lodging, clothing and medicine). In return, this allows them to cultivate considerable merit.

Thus, the bhikkhu lives only of what is given to him. He does not hoard anything and does not covet anything. He is like a spider, happy with anything that falls on the web.

The laity sustain the saṃgha materially. The saṃgha, on their part, give the laity the wholesome virtue and advice to conduct their lives in the most correct way. In general, the members of the saṃgha teach the dhamma to permit everybody to see clearly into the reality, to reduce their sufferings, looking towards the definitive liberation from suffering.A bhikkhu must always bear in mind that his life depends on the laity. When he reflects in this way, there are seven benefits: he guards his virtue well; he is always active in his practices of inner progress; he does not harm any person; he has no vanity as to himself; he is conscientious in his practice or his studies; he contents himself only with what is necessary to him; he is courageous.

By exploring this section, we will come to know the procedure required to be followed for integrating the monastic community, as well as the role assumed by the bhikkhus...

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Origin: Text wrote for the Website

Author: Monk Dhamma Sāmi

Date: 2001

Translator: Lucy Costa

Date of translation: 2002

Update: 2005, June the 19th