Monks are one of the most important people in a Buddhist community. They have a very special daily routine. They all wear yellow robes and shave their heads. They don’t grow food and only have one meal a day. They also aren’t allowed to eat meat because they don’t want to hurt other animals. But if offered meat then they shall eat it as it is rude to not accept a present. Monks have begging bowls where they are given food in because they are not allowed to grow food they have to beg it. To learn a bit more about Monks and Nuns we have interviewed a very famous Buddhist, in fact he started Buddhism, you can all guess who he is Prince Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha). We have interviewed him on our beloved program “Every day with a Buddhist”.
It is nice to have you on our Show.
Thanks, a lot I really have the honour of being on TV because they were not supposed to be invented at my time.
Firstly, Prince Gautama we will start by asking you some questions and then we will be asking our manager what he thinks about Buddhist Monks.
Why do Buddhist monks and nuns wear a yellow robe?
When the Buddhist followers looked into the jungle they could always tell which leaves were about to drop from the tree, because they were either yellow, orange or brown. In India, yellow became the colour of meditations. Monks and nuns robes are yellow so they can act as a constant reminder of the importance of clinging on, of not letting go, of not giving up the search for enlightenment. like a tree and a leaf, the leaf always tries to cling on but the wind pushes it of but if the leaf is strong then it wont fall of.
Some Monks and Nuns teach or write books but what about the Monks that do nothing but meditate. What good are they to the community?
If we compare a Buddhist monk or nun to a research scientist. The people support the research scientist as he sits in his laboratory making experiments because they hope that he will eventually discover or invent something that will help them. The same applies to a Buddhist community, it supports the meditating monk and nuns because it hopes that they will attain wisdom and insights that will be for the general good. But even before this happens or even if it doesn’t, the meditating monk can still benefit others.
In some modern places it is ‘The Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous’, with its extravagance, its when people spend a lot of money so that other people notice and like them for their wealth and allowing themselves to do anything they want which is held up as the ideal to follow, or at least to wish for. The example that the meditating monk sets reminds us that one doesn’t have to be rich to be happy. It shows us that the gentle and simple lifestyle has its advantages too.
What is the purpose of monks and nuns and what are they supposed to do?
I purposed an order (rules) of monks and nuns, and it was to provide an environment in which spiritual development (meditation ect.) would be easier. The community provide monks and nuns with their basic needs – food, clothing, shelter, and medicine – so they can devote their time to the study and practice of Buddhism. The ordered and simple lifestyle of the monastery is very useful to achieve a good inner peace and meditation. In return, monks and nuns are expected to share what they know with the community and act as an example of how the good Buddhist should live.
In actual practice this basic mission has sometimes been extended far beyond what I originally planned and today monks and nuns sometimes act as schoolteachers, social workers, artists, doctors, even politicians. Some have argued that taking such roles is all right if it helps promote Buddhism. Others point out that by doing such things monks and nuns too easily get carried away in worldly problems and forget the purpose they went to the monastery in the first place.
Do you have to be a monk or a nun to become enlightened?
Of course not. Some of my most clever disciples were normal men and women. Some were spiritually developed enough to instruct the monks. In Buddhism the level of one’s understanding is the most important thing and that has nothing to do with whether they wear a yellow robe or blue jeans, or whether they live in a monastery or a home. Some might find the monastery, with all its advantages and disadvantages to be the best environment in which to spiritually grow. Others may find the home, with all its joys and sorrows, to be the best. Everyone is different.
I have heard that there are no more Buddhist nuns. Is this true?
I founded the purpose of nuns in my lifetime and for five or six hundred years nuns played an important role in the spread and development of Buddhism. But for reasons that are not clear nuns never got the same respect and consequently never got the same support, as monks and in India and South-east Asia the nuns died out. However in Taiwan, Korea and Japan the purpose of nuns was still in mind. Today in Sri Lanka and Thailand steps are being taken to reintroduce the purpose of nuns from Taiwan although some traditionalists are not very enthusiastic about this. However, in keeping with the My original intentions, it is only right that women as well as men have the opportunity to live the religious Buddhist life and benefit from it.
Becoming a monk is all very well but what would happen if every Buddhists became a monk?
One could ask the same thing about any vocation. “Becoming a dentist is all very well but what would happen if everyone became a dentist? There’d be no teachers, no cooks, no taxi drivers.” “Becoming a teacher is all very well but what would happen if everyone became a teacher? There’d be no dentists, etc. ” The Buddha did not suggest that everyone should become a monk or nun and indeed that is never going to happen. However, there will always be people who are attracted to the life that I lead, the life of simplicity and understanding. And like dentists and teachers every person has special skills and knowledge that can be helpful to the community in which they live.
Do Monks just meditate inside the Monastery?
The Monks don’t just meditate inside a monastery they also chant scriptures and read sacred scriptures. They do whatever would help them in the search for enlightenment.
Do Monks get new robes?
Yes. Monks get new robes every rainy season. This might seem a lot but Monks don’t really do messy jobs that make clothes go dirty. In fact Buddhist Monks are spotlessly clean.
Thank you Prince Gautama for being with us today. From What I have just heard Buddhist Monks and Nuns really devote their whole life towards Buddhism. The fact that they are not getting paid to be a Buddhists monk makes me think that they are devoting their whole life for Buddhism not pretending they are. Because Buddhist Monks and Nuns don’t get paid so there is no point pretending you are a Buddhist monks or nuns because the people that pretend they are religious normally do it for money or power (as in leadership ect.). No money or power is gained while being a Buddhist monk or nun only knowledge is gained.
Have you ever wondered what Monks and Nuns do inside a Monastery? Well the right answer is obviously meditate, but what is it? Find out in this episode of “Every Day with a Buddhist”. Today we are interviewing one of the leading Buddhist Meditation masters the Dalai Lama.