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Offering Almsfood (Dāna) to the Monks
"If beings knew as clearly as I know the powerful karmic results of giving, they would not eat even a single meal without sharing..."
The Buddha, Itivuttaka / 'Thus Have I Heard', 1.26
For over 2,500 years, support for the monastic life has been provided by lay supporters through daily acts of generosity. The monks are not allowed to own, accept or handle money. They are not allowed to store or prepare food, and can only eat food which is presented to them daily. The Buddha deliberately required the monks to be totally dependent upon the lay community for their physical support. He wanted them to be unencumbered by any worldly responsibilities. Free to live a life dedicated to simplicity, contentment and contemplation, monks can spend their time and energy to study and practise the Dhamma. Deepening their knowledge in meditation, they benefit the lay community by sharing whatever insight they gain through teaching, advice and example.
Daily Almsoffering (Dāna) -
Every Day of the Week
Offering food to the monastic community provides an opportunity to visit and participate in the lifestyle of the monastery. The monks eat one main meal a day in late morning, which they are required to finish by midday. Everyone is welcome to join the program on any day and to bring food to offer to the monks, and to share with other lay visitors.
(PLEASE NOTE: On two or three weekdays during the month Dana is offered at 7:00 am There is a blessing for those offering, but no communal meal or talk. There will be no one there at the usual time of 10:30 am. Please check the calendar for these days.)
Except for these 7:00 am days, the best time to arrive is 10:00 am to set out food for the 10:30 am Almsoffering. There is a microwave for heating, but otherwise dishes should be pre-prepared ready to eat, as the monks take the food into their bowls to be eaten immediately.
Rice Offering (Piṇḍapāta - Almsround)
Traditionally, monks go into the village or town every morning on almsround to receive food offerings. This is difficult to do at Dhammagiri, as Brisbane is too far away to walk there, and there's only few people living in the neighborhood on large acreages where they wouldn't even notice the monks walking past.
Therefore, to at least symbolically maintain this noble and beautiful tradition, the monks are doing a 'mini-almsround' every day on the verandah. At 10:30 am, visitors collect a plate with a small amount of rice and a spoon, and join up in a long line of people on the front verandah. As the monks walk by, everyone spoons a small portion of rice into their bowls. After this offering, please leave the plate of rice on a dedicated table and proceed to the shrine room to quietly collect your mind. After the monks have formally received the food placed on the buffet, and collected their daily meal from the buffet into their bowls, they will proceed to the shrine room themselves to give a blessing.
One of the more experienced lay visitors will lead the recitation to formally offer Sangha-Dāna to the community of monks, both in Pali (the language of the Buddha) and in English translation. Immediately after this is the opportunity to step forward if you wish to offer any other requisites to the monks, like robes, medicines or daily hygiene articles and so on.
In accordance with the original rules laid down by the Buddha, the monks are not allowed to own, accept or handle money in any way. Therefore, please never offer money or personal cheques to the monks. Cash or cheques made out to Brisbane Buddhist Vihara Inc can be deposited in the donation box. These funds will be collected by lay members of the management committe of BBV Inc, the charitable association responsible for accounting and managing finances of the monastery.
After the offerings, a traditional Pali blessing is chanted by the monks to share the merits of the gifts given with departed loved ones, and to express their anumodanā ('rejoicing') with the generosity of the kind donors.
The Shared Meal
After the blessing by the monks, lay visitors are invited to select their meal from the buffet table, while the monks will eat their meal by themselves in the shrine room. Following the meal and clean up (usually around 11:45am), lay visitors may wish to return to the shrine room, where Ajahn Dhammasiha, Ajahn Moneyyo, or other experienced senior monks make themselves available to share Dhamma, answer questions, or lead a discussion on various Dhamma themes.
Everyone is welcome to join the almsoffering any day of the week. Naturally, most people find it easiest to come on the weekend. To make sure that there's at least some food offered every day, even on the less popular weekdays Tuesday to Friday, Arosha and Nghiep organise a roster of people who firmly commit beforehand to come on a particular date. This is to ensure that someone will be there every day of the week. Even it no one turn up spontaneously on a particular day, at least the person committed on the roster will be there to make sure that the monks will not go hungry.
If you can commit beforehand to offer Dana on Tue, Wed, Thu or Fri, please contact our organizers via email:
Lay visitors are requested to dress modestly when visiting. Please, no shorts for men or women or dresses above the knees or low necklines.
Sharing the meal with others is a way to make new friends and connect with the community at Dhammagiri. Many people from different cultures and backgrounds come to the monastery and there is always a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. We look forward to seeing you here.
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