Posted by: Upāsaka | 04/19/2015

Adhamma on the Streets of NYC

Yesterday was a strange day for many reasons but perhaps the event that most knocked me off balance and which struck me the most was a chance encounter while waling down Park Ave with my  son. We had just come back from a walk and a breakfast sandwich at Madison Square Park on 23rd St and were walking down towards Union Square and the East Village where we live when I saw what initially appeared to be a Buddhist monk speaking with a doorman or bouncer at a club (he wasn’t dressed in a doorman’s typical uniform but it strikes me as strange that a bouncer would be working the door of a club on Park Avenue at 11:00am.

Whatever the case may be, I immediately recognized the erstwhile bhikkhu as an impostor. You see, there are some unscrupulous folks out there who dress up as monks and go around (usually midtown) asking for “donations.” As we were walking by I saw the doorman pulling out a crisp, folded twenty and handing it over to the monk as the monk wrote his name in a little notebook. Anger and resentment welled up and, before I knew I blurted out to the donor that “Real monks can’t accept money.”

The man, shocked, asked me “So this guy’s not a monk?” and I swiftly confirmed it for him once again. The fake monk just stood there frozen and my son and I kept walking. So, was I wrong? Should I have done more? Less? Frankly, I’m not too sure but it seems to me that the bhikkhu/ni Sangha fgetts enough of a bad rep without the help of these impostors.


Responses

  1. A good story to know. I didn’t know Buddhist monks could not accept money!

    • I’m glad it helps.

  2. I think it’s important to help people who are being taken advantage of, and also to educate people. Perhaps the man you helped will be more vigilant, and maybe he in turn will help someone else. A great story, and evidence that the teachings have taken root in you.

    • Thank you Lorien. It’s always so hats to discern what is help in moments that are so fraught but I appreciate the support. Be well!

  3. Dear NYC dayaka..surely without anger we can do better,but its never wrong to protect the beautiful,clear and true Dhamma of the Buddhas best as we can…my engl.sister and me guiding every wednesday from 3 to 5 changing groups of international volunteers and tourists to give them a first glimpse of Buddhism and meditation..one of the first things i do…i show them the alms bowl and explain how we live without using money- depending on the lay…and that they should never give money direct to a monk..if in temples they can do in donation box or to give to a lay person or if no way..but always can ask if monk/ nun had eaten (if its bfr 12)…st we can encourage small local news paper to print sth abt or or or…in any case your son learned a lot…METTA from The Island and my deepest respect and gratitude to Ven.Thanissaro,if you meet again…

    • Ayya,

      Thank you as always for your insight. If I see the Venerable Ajahn soon I will be certain to give him your regards. Mettaya.


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