Mutual Support

This little excerpt from the Bahukara Sutta teaches the relationship of self-reliance the Buddha taught in the suttas. The laypeople support the monks and nuns in their practice and the monks and nuns support the laity.

Monks, laypeople are very important to your practice. They give you clothes, food, a place to live, and medicine. And if turn, you are very important to them. You teach the Dhamma that is good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good at the end. You teach the complete and perfect holy life with carefully chosen words. Monks and laypeople live supporting each other, helping each other to safely cross over the raging torrent and make an end to all suffering.
(Itivuttaka, Bahukara)

By the way, there are lay teachers in the suttas. While they are not all that common, they play an important role. For example in SN. 4.282, the layperson Citta taught Dhamma even to monks. What lay teachers were never in the suttas was paid. In my opinion it’s a shame that we’ve allowed capitalism to get a toehold in the dhamma by paying dhamma teachers. If someone really wants to follow the Buddhist path, they should take his teachings seriously. The monastic life wasn’t a byproduct of what the Buddha taught, it was central. He didn’t have to ordain. After his Liberation, he didn’t have to remain a monk. He didn’t have to found an order and spend most of his time teaching and nurturing it. We turn our back on this teaching at our peril and at the peril of the transmission to the West and to the modern world.


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