This does connect with a fascinating book by the western born Theravada monk, Ven. Shravasti Dhammika, samples below ... Lay folks earn Karmic "merit" from donations to monks, and thus better rebirth and other Karmic benefits, so demand the right to donate. It seems like a harm of the merit system run amuk:The daily afternoon fasting of Thai Buddhist monks is making them fat, thanks largely to modern sugary drinks, says a leading nutritionist.
The most recent figures show 48 per cent of monks are obese and more than 10 per cent are diabetic. ...
"Some monks have diabetes and had their legs amputated, so they can't walk."
When researchers studied monks' dietary habits, they were initially puzzled.
They found the total calorie intake of monks (1,350) was about the same as that of the general population of Thai males in Bangkok (1,500).
"When we really do research about this we are surprised … it is the drink," said nutritionist Jongjit Angkatavanich, from Chulalongkorn University's Department of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Monks are forbidden from eating after midday, but many sip sweetened drinks to keep up their energy.
http://buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id= ... x1lvor7TIV
http://www.buddhistische-gesellschaft-b ... dhanew.pdfIn Sri Lanka
while monks are eating lay people will come around to see if they need more food. Typically the
monks allow food to keep being piled on their plates so that when they have finished eating there is
as much left over as has been consumed. When the sweet plates are collected at the end of the meal
there will be slices of cake with the icing eaten off the top, apples with one or two bites taken out of
them and half eaten biscuits. And of course all this food is just thrown away. I have seen
Theravadin monks from Bangladesh, a country where hunger and malnutrition are endemic, do
exactly the same things. They are guaranteed a full meal tomorrow, they don’t have to pay for it and
so they just don’t care. When people offer you soap or towels you may politely tell them that you
already have more than enough but it will make no difference. They will insist that you take their
gifts. Many times I have had conversations that went something like this; ‘Venerable sir, would you
like a cup of tea?’ ‘No thanks.’ ‘Coffee?’ ‘No thanks’. ‘Would you like some fruit juice then.’ ‘Not
now. Maybe later.’ ‘Then how about a glass of Milo?’ ‘No.’ ‘Then can I get you a drink of mineral
water?’ etc, etc etc. The first visitor to the monastery will do this, then the second may go through
the same routine and so on. Eventually, worn down by the relentless desire to give, you surrender,
accept what’s offered, take a sip out of it just to please the donor and the rest is later tipped down the sink.
Last time I was in Burma I found the food so
rich that on several occasions I decided to fast for a day. When I didn’t come to the danasala in one
place where I was staying a contingent of very formidable matrons came to see what was wrong.
‘Are you sick venerable sir ?’ ‘No, I’ve decided just not to eat today.’ Eyes popped open, jaws drop
with disbelief and then the breaking down process commenced. ‘How about having just a little?’
‘No thanks. I’d really like to give my stomach a rest.’ ‘Have some fruit then. You must keep your
strength up’. ‘No, it’s quite okay’. ‘Then what about some soup’? ‘No, I’m having nothing today’
etc, etc, etc. In this instance I held my ground and the matrons went off shaking their heads with a
combination of bewilderment and admiration. But it is easy to give in when one is assailed with this
kind of thing day after day. It is hard to blame monks for allowing themselves to be overindulged,
devotees can be very persistent. It is equally hard to blame lay people; for centuries this is what
Theravada has taught them to do. Both are caught up in a vicious circle. Each spoils the other.
You could hardly believe it possible for human beings to sleep so much until you’ve spent time in a
Theravada monastery. The most enduring images I have of my years in monasteries is of Burmese
monks dozing in chairs while their devotees massage their feet, of Thai monks lying flat on their
backs snoring at ten in the morning and of somnolent old nayaka hamdarus in Sri Lanka getting out
of bed for lunch and going straight back again after it is over. The English monk Phra Peter relates
an amusing incident he witnessed when a junior monk was paying respects to his senior with the
traditional three bows. The first bow went okay, the second was somewhat slower and during the
third bow the monk drifted off and remained fast asleep on the floor. This pervasive slothfulness is
a logical consequence of the Vinaya notion that monks must have everything done for them To
quote Spiro again. ‘Almost all his needs are satisfied by others, without his doing - or being
permitted to do - anything on his own behalf. As we have seen, he does no work; he does not earn
his own bread; even if he wants to, he cannot so much as pour his tea or lift his serving bowl, let
alone tend his garden or repair his monastery. Everything he needs must be given to him by others;
everything that he desires must be provided him by others. Moreover, others not only must provide
for the monk, but in fact they do provide for him, and - as we have seen - with lavish hand’ (italics
in the original).
The almost complete absence of physical exercise coupled with the rich diet is probably the reason
for the abnormally high incidence of diabetes amongst older Sri Lankan monks. A study released in
2002 showed that the leading cause of death amongst Thai monks was smoking related illnesses.
Having little else to do they while away their time sleeping, chatting and puffing on Klongtips [cigarettes].
I wonder how it is for Japanese and western priests, most probably consuming a fairly typical modern diet with varying degrees of physical exercise.
Gassho, J (off to the exercise bike now)