When the monks go for the offering rounds, can they wear a pair of sandals?

I would like to ask about when the monks go for the offering rounds; can they wear a pair of sandals? For nowadays some areas are not suited to walk bare footed. https://dmc.tv/a3472

Dhamma Articles > Question and Answer for Life
[ Jan 8th, 2005 ] - [ read : 13533 ]
Question:
I would like to ask about when the monks go for the offering rounds; can they wear a pair of sandals? For nowadays some areas are not suited to walk bare footed.
 
Answer
by Venerable Dhattajeevo Bhikku 
 
 
 
In my childhood, I saw the monks walking in lines on the dirt of the earth, around the paddy fields and along the cart tracks throughout the villages for the offerings.

Later, the infrastructure was built with many cars and roads of tar.  The monks were walking along the road- side in rows to receive the offerings of lay Buddhists, from house to house.

It is noticeable that the monks do not wear any kind of footwear while going for the offering rounds.  It is a century long tradition in Thailand.

To the question regarding the monks having to always take off their sandals or can they wear a pair of sandals while going for the offerings, or something like that, I would like to say that some necessary reviews of this passage of the monastic rules should be considered in the manner relating to the existing circumstances.

When I was a child, around 60 years ago, the earth in the paddy field was not as dirty as it is today.

The routes that were not polluted have become filled with potholes because of cart tracks in the rainy season, even though covered by dust, especially in the summer.

Today, the modern concrete streets and the new roads are everywhere, but frankly I say I dare not walk in bare feet on the roadsides.

Why?  I can clearly see many venomous chemicals left behind on the road surfaces.  For instance, the locations of the insecticide shops have led to baneful substances being dropped all over the areas, including fertilizers.

The locales of car repair shops have littered scrap iron ready to prick the feet.  If I were to walk passed the area bare footed, I confess I would feel uncomfortable.

Sometimes, I visited my home town, walking on the earth around the rice fields those days, and I could see the chemicals for killing the plant diseases and insect pests, as well as the chemical fertilizers widely used in the agricultural lands of Thailand.

Thus, walking on the farm or in the rice field nowadays without footwear is something dangerous to health, not only for the monks but for the general public as well.

This kind of environmental pollution dilemma has been inching slowly up and compelling both monks and lay Buddhists to abandon some generation-long valuable cultural practices as a result of the rough and ready in taking good care of the nature.

It probably affects the tradition of going about for offerings in the future.

However, at the moment of speaking, the monks including myself still walk bare footed at the temple during acceptance of the offerings and I am not persuaded to change on this cultural and monastic practice. I merely pointed out the existing environmental situation.

In the future, if it is necessary, then the monks will be obliged to cover their feet on offering rounds for fear of danger from the chemicals and sharp scraps on the offering routes.

Before facing such a situation, I would like to ask the private sectors and the government authorities who are involved in public health and environmental hygiene to find the efficient measures to manage the dumping of sharp metal scraps and broken glass that can easily stab or pierce into the passer-by’s feet.

Otherwise, the unsafe walking along the roads can impact the monastic practice of the monks in the future.

Furthermore, I would like to ask Thai Buddhists to try not to find faults with every aspect of the monks’ behaviors, but to try seeing each other with mercy.

Nowadays, Thai society is full of stimuli to rouse and encourage people to become carping, instead of being kind to each another.

For instance, if you listen to the morning news on the radio, you will find the news articles relating to various criticisms and tragic events; just as one said malicious rumours published free of charge, good tidings are printed with a contribution fee.  It means the daily radio news has no creative stories.

Because of people’s frequent listening to the criticisms, they gradually cultivate a faultfinding habit.

A piece containing a pleasant story is hardly appearing on the front-page news read by the newsreader, on the radio or reported on the television.  The television news especially presents both cruel pictures and strong critical soundings.

Thai people wake up in the morning, listening to the rumours and slanders.

If they watch the television, they see unpleasant scenes and sounds.  It is a pity for Thai people today.  And all Thais are becoming captious unawares.

If you do not believe what I have said, I would suggest an obvious trial.

Let the mother hand a piece of paper and a pencil to her child who is already schooling and tell him/her to write a full page of whatever gratitude and goodness he/she can see in his/her mother.

The term “gratitude” may be too complicated for the child, so let’s say that whatever kindness of the mother that he/she can see, write out about a full page of paper.

Believe me he/she can at best write out only 2-3 sentences. Forget about the full-page long essay, for he/she can never remember.

He/she never saw the example of praising others.  The parents, the teachers, the newspapers, the radio and the television never taught them to extol others.  Particularly, as said, no morning news is good news.

So when the mother asks her child to write her a full page of her goodness, he/she can do only a few lines.

Again, give the child another piece of paper and tell him/her to write what bad things he/she can see in his/her mother and wants his/her mother to improve.

Believe it or not, the child will ask for another piece of paper. One piece is not enough to contain the details.

Why is it so?  Simply it is because Thai children of this generation are not familiar with honoring others’ virtues but are rather keen to faultfinding.

It is the result of the lack of constantly instilling the positive core value regarding honoring other’s virtue in children.  They always listen to criticism and become the critics themselves.

Then the first persons who will be found faulty by the children are the nearest persons ~ the parents.

In the past, around 50-60 years ago, the children were taught to do the prayers with their parents before going to bed.

After the prayers, they paid respect to their father, their mother and included their grandfather and grandmother if any. When they asked for the blessing, the grandmother blessed the grandson such as saying, “May the might of merit of this morning’s offerings to the five monks support the monks’ lives and prolong the religion and protect my dear grandson not to be ill and to live a long life.”

The younger said, “Sadhu,” paid respect by placing the bowl on her feet and went to bed.

When paying respect to the mother; the mother would say something similar such as, “Apart from offering with your grandmother, I also released some fishes. May the merit of the good conduct protect you from any kinds of danger and live a long life.”

The younger said, “Sadhu,” placed the bowl on the parent’s feet and went to bed.

50-60 years ago, people of that generation, before going to bed, received pleasant words and nice sayings regularly.  Thai children in the present day never receive this kind of treatment from their parents; they neither hear their parent’s advice to do the prayers nor receive the blessing before going to bed.

Thai children these days do not know how to bless others or praise others’ virtues. They only know carping.  The captiousness is prevalent in our society.  Children inceptively find faults with their own parents, their siblings and the housemaids.

Then in school, they gossip about the teachers and criticize the classmates.

When they are grown-ups, they read newspapers, watch television and listen to the radio.  They follow the means of criticisms from the media.  They start condemning the government; finally they offensively talk about the monks and try to find their mistakes.

If we allow the situation to continue this way, even though there are no invaders, Thailand could be in a state of unrest as a result of people always finding faults with one another.

Let us go back to the basics by doing the prayers after wake-up, offering alms to the monks, encouraging one another to do good deeds and going out to work after having breakfast.

In the workplace, the employers do not find faults with the employees but encourage cooperation.

During work, colleagues do not find faults with each other but provide friendly suggestions.

Before leaving the office, if you know you affected someone’s interests during the day, offer an apology so that nobody carries the resentment over to the next day.

Then wave goodbye and go home, take a shower, have dinner, do daily evening prayers, bless the children and go to bed.

We all should reverse ourselves to revive all these age-long cultural practices; then all the social chaos, irrespective of the northern territories, the southern unrest, and the government enterprise’s strikes will subside by themselves soon.

Stop finding faults but try to find virtues in each other and honor them.

Children should praise their parent’s gratitude.  The husband should honor the wife’s virtues and vice versa.  Lay people should pay homage to the virtue of the monastic community.  The monks appreciate the devotees’ requisite supports.

The upright people should see the monks as a worthy field of merits to make offerings to and as worthy preachers who teach the households right and wrong, and heaven and hell.

The congregation should treat the clergy kindly like this; the issue of wearing the footwear or not during the offering rounds due to the danger of the littered poisonous chemicals to health is merely a trifle.  No one takes concern.

For the time being, lets try to keep the pavement well and clean so that the monks on the offering rounds must not walk limpingly and the laity can offer the alms conveniently.
After receiving the offerings, the monks won’t have to walk, and when they finish eating they will have energy to devote their time to their real duties of studying the Tipitaka, practicing, and preaching to the households, and all will be harmonious.

http://goo.gl/11AWy


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