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Welfare

The ASA has established a Sangha Welfare Fund for supporting monks and nuns in Australia who are in need of short-term assistance. All members of the ASA are welcome to apply for funds.

CONTENTS
1. Background
2. Sangha Welfare Fund

1. Background

The Sangha has always survived in a mutually supportive relationship with lay communities. The Sangha offer spiritual guidance, and to express their gratitude, the lay community offer food and other necessities. This relationship changes and adapts in different environments; but in every Buddhist culture, the community wishes to establish the monastic order so that it may pursue its main duties, of meditation, study, and service.

In a rapidly changing multi-cultural society such as Australia, the question of support for the Sangha becomes much more complex. It cannot be taken for granted that a good monastic who is intent on Dhamma, will be supported by the community.

This situation varies widely between different traditions. It partly depends on factors which have evolved within each tradition over the past thousands of years. For example, the Thai Buddhist Sangha relies on the spontaneous offerings of food into the monastics’ bowls on the daily alms round. This helps create the extraordinary culture of generosity in Thailand, which carries over to support for the Sangha in Australia. In Korea, on the other hand, the climate made daily alms round impractical, and so the monasteries became self-sufficient. The habit of daily support for the Sangha’s needs is accordingly not as prominent.

Another critical factor is immigration patterns. Australia has large numbers of Buddhists who originally came from traditional Buddhist cultures such as Sri Lanka or Vietnam. In such cases there is a large commulity pool of potential supporters. In contrast, there are relatively few Tibetans in Australia, so the tibetan Sangha has had to rely more on support from Australian new Buddhists. Since the culture of giving to support the Sangha is not part of Australian tradition, Tibetan centers typically use more Western-style methods for raising funds, such as charging for teaching courses.

However, these means are often not enough. Many monastics in Australia today do not receive sufficient support for their livelihood from their center or supporters. Some have a day job, such as driving a taxi or waiting on tables, while others rely on a pension or are supported by family. Monastics even have to pay to stay in the temple, and must buy their own food.

Part of the problem lies in our ability to adapt to a radically new environment. Buddhist leaders and teachers need to be aware of the situation, and consider ways it can be addressed; while Australian Buddhists should learn of the importance of monastic Sangha as a part of the whole Buddhist culture.

1. Sangha Welfare Fund

In recognition of this problem, the ASA has set up a Welfare Fund. the purpose of the fund is to provide short term funds for immediate Sangha needs. This might include:

  • Travel
  • Food
  • Education
  • Bills
  • Teaching

Any ASA members who are in need in these or other areas is invited to contact the ASA with a request for assistance. We have limited funds available and will try to help.

Please note the following conditions apply:

  • All decisions on granting funds are to be made by the ASA Management Committee. Their decision is final.
  • Funds are not available for building monasteries.
  • The ASA Management Committee may apply conditions to the funds as is sees fit, such as requiring evidence that the funds are used as specified.

If the Sangha wishes for the Australian lay community to support us in our new home we must support each other. The Welfare Fund is a small step in that direction.