Wholesome Giving during Pindacāra (Alms-round)

4 August 2012

‘Pinda’ in the Pāli language means “a lump of food, especially of alms”. ‘Pāta’ refers to “bowl” whereas ‘cāra’ is “to move about”. Hence ‘pindapāta’ is “food received in the alms-bowl (of a monk)” whereas ‘pindacāra’ means “going on alms-round; wandering for alms”.

Many people doing their marketing at Taman O.U.G. morning market were pleasantly surprised to see three Buddhist monks walking through in single file, dignified and elegant, alms-bowls in hand. A team of Nalandians and volunteers helped to convey the purpose of this Pindacāra and how members of the public can participate in it. This was an opportunity for lay devotees to offer cooked food to monks, practise generosity, and gain much merit!

As the people started to understand the meaning and significance of giving alms, they stood in line to make their offerings with faith and goodwill.

There were significantly more people at the market who offered alms-food this round compared to June or July. Perhaps word has gone around in the neighbourhood about Nalanda’s monthly Pindacāra programme there.

Youthful devotion with care and mindfulness as this pair of children gently placed their offerings in the alms-bowl.

Upon the completion of the hour-long alms-round, many Nalandians, devotees and friends gathered at the NEO Centre in Happy Garden, where Bro. H S Tan gave a Dhamma teaching. He advised everyone to approach the Dhamma wisely. We should investigate the teachings in order to understand them, and not blindly accepting the doctrines as ‘fixed beliefs’. Buddhism he said, is an ‘education system’, and not a ‘belief system’.

Learning the Dhamma is not just about knowing the theory. We should also apply the lessons and practise them in our daily lives. We should also train ourselves to be mindful all the time. If we were not heedful, even when we performing good deeds, unwholesome (akusala) thoughts can still arise. Thus, a deed is only well done when the mind is also kept wholesome (kusala).

A packed Shrine Hall at NEO Centre where devotees were inspired by Bro. Tan’s insightful teachings

At a big pot of boiling oil, whether the person is male or female, young or old, monastic or lay, anyone’s hand would be scalded if it was placed inside!  No matter who we are, we are all subject to a certain degree of suffering. Let us therefore put in effort in order to achieve the cessation of suffering, and attain true freedom!