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What do Monks Eat?

ChrysalidChrysalid Veteran
edited November 2010 in Buddhism for Beginners
Typically I mean, I'm not after extensive lists.

I'm reading Old Path, White Clouds and the daily begging trip is frequently mentioned, but I have no idea what to picture in my head. I haven't a clue what size the bowls would be, or the likely contents that they would receive. I'm guessing that if it had to last the whole day, the bowl would be quite sizeable?

What do monks eat in modern traditions? I'm aware that some eat only one meal in the morning as the Buddha did, but do different schools have different rules regarding food?

Comments

  • Mr_SerenityMr_Serenity Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Different monks eat different food. I've eaten with monks that eat better than me. And by that I actually mean that they had a great cook cooking a full course meal with good ingredients lol.
  • edited November 2010
    image


    That's the approximate size, and a monk is not allowed to ask for specific types of food. A monk must eat whatever is offered without complaint.
  • edited November 2010
    I think it's more polite to say monks go on "alms rounds" rather than "begging trips". They merely present themselves to the lay people (they don't ask - push their bowls to your face) and accept whatever is given. Traditionally, all the food for the day is placed in the single bowl before the monk eats. This means rice, curries, fruits, dessert, etc.. are place into the single bowl. The monk meal for the day is eaten before midday. After midday, he can have liquids without any solids in it, like orange pips, etc...

    I have heard that life in some monastries is quite different. A variety of food is laid out and the monks help themselves - self service. Some lay people also offer meals such as McDonalds burgers, KFC, etc... But still, the meal for the day is eaten before midday.
  • edited November 2010
    Depends on the tradition, I think
  • edited November 2010
    Is it the same for nuns?
  • edited November 2010
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited November 2010
    It depends heavily on the tradition. Some monks never go begging (they go shopping at the supermarket!) and some eat at whatever time of day. Some eat anything and some are strict vegetarian. It varies a lot according to the tradition.
  • edited November 2010
    Theravada and forest traditions do it. The other monastics of other traditions follow the Vinaya in different ways. The Seeker242 is correct, but I am speaking from what I know.
  • edited November 2010
    seeker242;143940 said:
    Some eat anything and some are strict vegetarian. It varies a lot according to the tradition.
    A Monk should never refuse what is offered, that doesn't vary in tradition. Devadatta called for Vegetarianism and demanding that such food not be refused by monastics and was rebuked by the Buddha.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited November 2010
    The_Fruit_Punch_Wizard;143946 said:
    A Monk should never refuse what is offered, that doesn't vary in tradition.
    Some Zen sects are different. If you bring beef or pork to a korean temple, they will refuse it. But then again, you should already know not to do that, so it hardly ever happens. :) I believe that was the case in China also, but who knows now with the government situation over there.
  • edited November 2010
    seeker242;143948 said:
    You should already know not to do that, so it hardly ever happens. :)
    That's sort of how it is all around, but at the same time refusing a meal offered is frowned upon.
  • MountainsMountains Moderator
    edited November 2010
    Mr Serenity;143896 said:
    Different monks eat different food.
    'Cause if they all ate the same food, it wouldn't go as far, and they'd probably all get really skinny :)
  • edited November 2010
    seeker242;143940 said:
    It depends heavily on the tradition. Some monks never go begging (they go shopping at the supermarket!) and some eat at whatever time of day. Some eat anything and some are strict vegetarian. It varies a lot according to the tradition.

    This was my experience in Korea. We had chefs in the kitchen, and the food was generally really, really good. before I left, I ate meat with every meal, and honestly, short of the lack of protein, if I could have meals like that every day, I'd easily become vegan. we also ate three times a day.

    In begging cultures, it makes more sense to eat twice a day; it takes time to go out and beg. That's not how it is in most countries in the Mahayana tradition. TETO.

    as to seeker, I ate meat at Hwa Gye Sa more than a few times when I was there...maybe whether or not meat is allowed is dependent on the head monk or abbot? (to be fair, the meat we ate was after hours, not prepared at the cafeteria. I actually had time one day to go to Itaewon and pick up some quizno's! I remember the head monk asking me "Why don't Korean restaurants have food like this!?")
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    edited November 2010
    I heard that in (some) SE Asian Theravada monastaries, the monks sometimes mash up all the food to make an unappetizing-looking (and I assume, smelling) paste as to not get attached to the individual types of food that they receive during begging rounds.

    I suppose they anticipate that no one will become attached to the paste hahaha
  • edited November 2010
    HAHAHAHA! Well that's what happens when you eat it anyway!
  • edited November 2010
    Quote from a book "Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?" by Ajahn Brahm

    For several weeks, one of my fellow monks had been teaching meditation in a new maximum-security prison close to Perth. The small group of prisoners had come to know and respect the monk well. At the end of one session, they began to ask him about his routine in a Buddhist monastery.

    We have to get up at 4:00 am every morning, he began. Sometimes it is very cold because our small room don't have heaters. We eat only one meal a day, all mixed together in one bowl. In the afternoon and at night, we can eat nothing at all. There is no sex or alcohol. of course. Nor do we have television, radio, or music. We never watch movies, nor even play sports. We talk little, work hard, and spend our free time sitting cross-legged watching our breath. We sleep on the floor.

    The inmates were stunned at the spartan austerity of our monastic life. It made their high-security prison seem like a five-star hotel in comparison. In fact, one of the prisoners was so moved with sympathy for the plight of their monk friend that he forgot where he was and said: "That's terrible living your monastery. Why don't you come in here and stay with us?"
    :lol:
    More here ....

    ... and, as others have said, the monks' lifestyle varies from tradition to tradition; and perhaps monk to monk. And I think, change is unavoidable, things are not the same now as they were in the Buddha's time. But what always remains the same is the Buddha's teaching of suffering (dukkha), its causes, its cessation, and the way that leads to its cessation (8FP).

    Let me stop here... I seem to be going off topic. :D
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Chrysalid;143892 said:
    Typically I mean, I'm not after extensive lists.

    I'm reading Old Path, White Clouds and the daily begging trip is frequently mentioned, but I have no idea what to picture in my head. I haven't a clue what size the bowls would be, or the likely contents that they would receive. I'm guessing that if it had to last the whole day, the bowl would be quite sizeable?

    What do monks eat in modern traditions? I'm aware that some eat only one meal in the morning as the Buddha did, but do different schools have different rules regarding food?

    My only experience is that the temple had a fine kitchen, the monk in charge of the kitchen used whatever was in season and could be bought cheaply and in large quantities, and the monks ate what anyone else in the area would eat. Rice seems to be universal, because it's cheap, easy to fix, and very filling.

    The notion that all monks spend half their day wandering the streets with a begging bowl is wrong. Probably the only universal is that monks are supposed to eat when the temple tells them to eat, and be thankful and mindful of what they are eating.
  • MountainsMountains Moderator
    edited November 2010
    Y'know, my first thought when I read this thread was....


    .... wait for it....


    monk fish? :)
  • edited November 2010
    Mountains;144138 said:
    Y'know, my first thought when I read this thread was....


    .... wait for it....


    monk fish? :)
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited November 2010
    The_Fruit_Punch_Wizard;143961 said:
    That's sort of how it is all around, but at the same time refusing a meal offered is frowned upon.
    From some people from other traditions that go on alms rounds, yes probably, but not internally to that particular tradition.
    CPaul;144036 said:


    as to seeker, I ate meat at Hwa Gye Sa more than a few times when I was there...maybe whether or not meat is allowed is dependent on the head monk or abbot? (to be fair, the meat we ate was after hours, not prepared at the cafeteria. I actually had time one day to go to Itaewon and pick up some quizno's! I remember the head monk asking me "Why don't Korean restaurants have food like this!?")
    I don't know, but if Seung Sahn found it you would probably get hit with a stick...30 times...:lol:
  • LeonBasinLeonBasin Veteran
    edited November 2010
    sukhita;144090 said:
    Quote from a book "Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?" by Ajahn Brahm

    :lol:
    More here ....

    ... and, as others have said, the monks' lifestyle varies from tradition to tradition; and perhaps monk to monk. And I think, change is unavoidable, things are not the same now as they were in the Buddha's time. But what always remains the same is the Buddha's teaching of suffering (dukkha), its causes, its cessation, and the way that leads to its cessation (8FP).

    Let me stop here... I seem to be going off topic. :D
    Thank you for sharing that quote.
    Very insightful.
  • edited November 2010
    It comes down to monks eat food in modern traditions. Simplest answer :lol:
  • edited November 2010
    seeker242;144152 said:
    From some people from other traditions that go on alms rounds, yes probably, but not internally to that particular tradition.



    I don't know, but if Seung Sahn found it you would probably get hit with a stick...30 times...:lol:
    I have very little respect for Seung Sahn. The the guy, from what I understand, would feed peoples delusions more than help them with Koan practice.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seung_Sahn#Criticisms

    I think your comment was in jest, but I take my relationship with my teacher very seriously, and am incredibly thankful that he is much more concerned with koan practice than about whether or not we eat meat.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited November 2010
    CPaul;144418 said:
    I have very little respect for Seung Sahn. The the guy, from what I understand, would feed peoples delusions more than help them with Koan practice.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seung_Sahn#Criticisms

    I think your comment was in jest, but I take my relationship with my teacher very seriously, and am incredibly thankful that he is much more concerned with koan practice than about whether or not we eat meat.
    I have read the criticisms, but I also know that The Jogye Order granted him the title of "Dae Soen sa Nim", the utmost highest title the order can grant. I doubt they would do that if all he did was feed people's delusions. I have seen the criticisms, heard the rumors and found them to be irrelevant. I have also met him personally. Had koan interviews with him personally and he was a very nice guy and a very good teacher. Also, whoever brought meat to Hwagyesa temple was breaking the rules, because that is officially prohibited in all Jogye temples. Some monks may have eaten it yes. I have also seen monks sneak out to the bar and get drunk... Being concerned about food does not detract from proper teaching. Heck, Thich Nhat Hanh's temples/centers are completely vegan...
  • edited November 2010
  • BonsaiDougBonsaiDoug Veteran
    edited November 2010
    imageimage

    Sorry... someone had to say it! :rolleyes:
  • edited November 2010
    ... and some tea to go with the bread:

    image
  • edited November 2010
    seeker242;144538 said:
    I have read the criticisms, but I also know that The Jogye Order granted him the title of "Dae Soen sa Nim", the utmost highest title the order can grant. I doubt they would do that if all he did was feed people's delusions. I have seen the criticisms, heard the rumors and found them to be irrelevant. I have also met him personally. Had koan interviews with him personally and he was a very nice guy and a very good teacher. Also, whoever brought meat to Hwagyesa temple was breaking the rules, because that is officially prohibited in all Jogye temples. Some monks may have eaten it yes. I have also seen monks sneak out to the bar and get drunk... Being concerned about food does not detract from proper teaching. Heck, Thich Nhat Hanh's temples/centers are completely vegan...

    Don't ever underestimate the ability of large organizations to appoint people to the highest ranks based on politics instead of ability; it's one of the reasons Hyon Gok Sunim, and my own teacher, don't affiliate with them outside of Korea


    anyways, I'm hijacking the thread

    tl;dr monks eat what monks eat.
  • edited November 2010
    monks dont eat MAN they FAST DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA
  • edited November 2010
    The Sangha studying Humanistic Buddhism tend to stick to vegetarian diet, but they will not refuse when offered clean meat. They do not go on Alms rounds because the instituation as a whole provides for them.
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited November 2010
    CPaul;144418 said:
    I have very little respect for Seung Sahn. The the guy, from what I understand, would feed peoples delusions more than help them with Koan practice.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seung_Sahn#Criticisms

    I think your comment was in jest, but I take my relationship with my teacher very seriously, and am incredibly thankful that he is much more concerned with koan practice than about whether or not we eat meat.

    A very unskillful posting on your part. Please do not criticize other Buddhist's revered founders.

    And please don't use wikipedia as an authority on anything since anyone can post anything there with no regard to truth. The article you linked to is obviously biased. In fact, it is full of lies and innuendo, nameless people being quoted.

    Some years ago Master Seung Sahn was the victim of a smear campaign by irresponsible book authors and some people who thought his attempt to create a western style Zen school was blasphemy. Accusations were made and words were put into his mouth that were so unlike what he had ever said, they were unbelievable and eventually the slander went away.

    As pointed out, Master Seung Sahn was some years later awarded the highest honor by another ancient, honorable, and traditional Zen school. If the accusations were true, that would never have happened.
  • MountainsMountains Moderator
    edited November 2010
    ShiftPlusOne;144139 said:
    ...
    I've got a million of 'em! Remember, tip your waitress. I'm here until Thursday ;)
  • edited November 2010
    Invincible_summer;144051 said:
    I heard that in (some) SE Asian Theravada monastaries, the monks sometimes mash up all the food to make an unappetizing-looking (and I assume, smelling) paste as to not get attached to the individual types of food that they receive during begging rounds.

    I suppose they anticipate that no one will become attached to the paste hahaha
    jeez... :wtf:
  • edited November 2010
    It's a skillful means to make sure people don't get attached to the way food looks.
  • edited November 2010
    Cinorjer;144690 said:
    A very unskillful posting on your part. Please do not criticize other Buddhist's revered founders.

    And please don't use wikipedia as an authority on anything since anyone can post anything there with no regard to truth. The article you linked to is obviously biased. In fact, it is full of lies and innuendo, nameless people being quoted.

    Some years ago Master Seung Sahn was the victim of a smear campaign by irresponsible book authors and some people who thought his attempt to create a western style Zen school was blasphemy. Accusations were made and words were put into his mouth that were so unlike what he had ever said, they were unbelievable and eventually the slander went away.

    As pointed out, Master Seung Sahn was some years later awarded the highest honor by another ancient, honorable, and traditional Zen school. If the accusations were true, that would never have happened.
    I would completely disagree with you. If you don't want me to quote wikipedia, I can always use my own experiences with Kwan Um people. not to mention the fact that the Jogye order gave him some award says nothing of the award itself; many of the monks in the Jogye order don't practice hwadu (koan) at all. In fact, out of all the monks that were at the temple I stayed at, which was probably between 15 and 20, 3 of them (one of which was russian) would be practicing with us at any given time. And that doesn't even mention the fact that the Jogye order sends completely untrained "missionaries" out to the world en mass.

    Like I said earlier, never underestimate the ability of large organizations like the Jogye order to appoint people to positions, or give awards to, due to politics instead of ability. if that upsets you, stay at a Jogye temple and see for yourself how things are.
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited November 2010
    You are ignoring my asking you not to criticize another Buddhist's honored founder. So you don't find anything wrong with insulting people's Teachers, even ones who died recently? Did your own school neglect to tell you anything about Right Speech?

    I have no problem with understanding about temple politics. I am concerned that your judgemental attitude means your own Teacher is passing on bad teaching. More likely you still have to work on that part of the 8-fold path. I have my own problem areas.

    Anyway, I would be much skinnier if I'd stayed in Korea. I hated Korean cooking. I don't like seafood and sticky rice can only get a person so far.
  • edited November 2010
    Cinorjer;144869 said:
    You are ignoring my asking you not to criticize another Buddhist's honored founder. So you don't find anything wrong with insulting people's Teachers, even ones who died recently? Did your own school neglect to tell you anything about Right Speech?

    I have no problem with understanding about temple politics. I am concerned that your judgemental attitude means your own Teacher is passing on bad teaching. More likely you still have to work on that part of the 8-fold path. I have my own problem areas.

    Anyway, I would be much skinnier if I'd stayed in Korea. I hated Korean cooking. I don't like seafood and sticky rice can only get a person so far.
    If you want to call my own personal assessment of the interactions I've had with the Kwan Um students in Korea, and the Jogye order judgmental, then I guess you're correct. of course it's judgmental! it's my experience! trying to get rid of your own experience is nonsense. I'd wonder why you're so upset about someone criticizing a "founder." if someone criticized my teacher, I'd laugh them off.

    Not to mention he has never said a word about Kwan Um. it's been my own experiences with them that have led me to my conclusion.

    that doesn't make it any less legit.
  • edited November 2010
    we are :ot:
  • edited November 2010
    Some interesting stories about life of Thai monks....

    [1] The Morning Alms Round

    [2] What do Monks Eat for Breakfast
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