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Why Give Alms?

We offer alms to monks so that they can sustain themselves. At the same time, it's also a way for lay people to practice giving and letting go.

When a monk has food to nourish his body and mind, he will have energy to go about his day. The main duties are studying, spreading the Buddha's teachings and practicing meditation to purify the mind.

Meditation is a combination of mindfulness and concentration. Regular practice leads to wisdom. After years of practice, the monks share their understanding with the lay community who is looking for guidelines on how to lead a happy and peaceful life.

Buddhist monks chanting at a wedding ceremony in Thailand
Thai monks also perform ceremonies at various social events including birthdays, weddings, funerals, death anniversaries, housewarmings and grand business openings.

These activities can take up quite a lot of their time, especially for monks living in city temples; as opposed to forest temples.

Alms-Giving Beliefs

Thai Buddhists believe in rebirth, which means that the spirit lives on after the body has died. After the spirit has left the human body, it's instantly reborn into another living form – as a human being, animal or angel, for example.

The only way to end the cycle of rebirth is by attaining nirvana.

Thai Buddhists often offer food to monks after a family member or friend has passed away because we believe that their spirits receive the food. As a result, many people offer the type of food their loved ones liked.

In addition, most Buddhists in the Thai tradition make a wish before offering the food to monks and share the merit with all beings. Many Thais also wish for wealth, good health, happiness and the attainment of nirvana.

How To Benefit From Alms Giving

It's important to have good intentions whenever you offer alms. Likewise, the money used for alms giving should be earned in an honest way.

Buddhist monks on alms round in Thailand
In order to benefit the most from alms giving, the donor should be joyful before, during and after the offering.

Always give alms of your own free will. It's not important how much you offer, it's your intentions that matter.

Only offer what you're able to give and feel comfortable with. Certain people give in to social pressures and end up offering more than they really can afford - this won't do you any good.

The Buddha called it the middle way, not too tight and not too loose.

Suggested Reading:   Buddhist Temples   Buddhism For Children

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