The Buddha established a unique and profound relationship between the monastics and the lay community, which continues today in the Theravadan tradition. The monastic code requires the ordained Sangha to live in dependence upon the laity for all their physical needs. Because monks and nuns do not grow or prepare their own food and can only accept what is freely offered by laypeople, they cannot cut themselves off in a spiritual cocoon and must remain in a symbiotic relationship with society at large. This tradition has been successfully implemented for more than 2500 years.
The alms round or piṇḍapāta represents a tradition in which lay people offer food to monastics to support their spiritual practice for the day. Going for alms is not begging. Monks and nuns simply walk or stand silently, receiving what is given in kindness by those who feel inspired. Unable to handle money or store food, Clear Mountain’s monastics rely completely on such generosity for their one meal of the day, taken before noon.
On weekdays, food offerings may be made during the alms round at Pike Place Market from 7:10 – 7:40 am. On Saturdays, offerings may be made at the Saturday Morning Meditation, Teaching, & Potluck Brunch from 9:30 am – noon, during which all interested are welcome to gather in Volunteer Park in Capitol Hill, to the South of the Asian Art Museum. On Sundays, offerings may be made during visiting hours at the Southworth monastic residence from 8:30 – 10 am, during which those interested may also stay and visit with Tan Nisabho. On weekdays, offerings may also be made via food delivery to the Southworth monastic residence the day of at 9 am, or day before at 7 pm, in which case the residence stewards will receive the delivery and offer it the next morning.
To learn more and sign up to offer alms, visit the Daily Alms page.
Needed & Useful Material Items
Material requisites may be offered directly or sent by post to the address below. If you plan to offer, please email [email protected] so we can remove the item from the list and let you know when it arrives. Sadhu!
3739 Nokomis Rd SE
Port Orchard, WA 98366
In the spirit of Dhamma, all teachings are offered freely, with nothing expected in return. There are costs involved in providing for the shelter and basic living needs of resident monastics, and for other expenses such as renting retreat spaces. For this reason, people often ask if there is a way they may support our organization. Those who wish to donate may send funds to an account managed by Clear Mountain’s steward organization by clicking this link or the button below. Please note that, as the organization has yet to file as a non-profit, donations are not currently tax-deductible. If one wishes to give a larger amount or be notified when Clear Mountain gains 501(c)(3) status, please contact the email [email protected]
The History of Offering Help
During the past 2,500 years support for the monastic life has been entirely provided from lay supporters through daily acts of generosity. In this spirit, support in the form of work, money, foodstuffs, building materials or other help is both appreciated and needed. Your generosity allows the spiritual community to survive and to flourish.
Buddhism has managed to keep intact over the centuries the rich and vital interrelationship between lay and monastic communities set forth by the Buddha. Theravada monastics, although renunciants, are not permitted to be recluses. To ensure this the Buddha required that they be totally dependent upon the lay community for their physical support. Monks and nuns cannot handle money and they can only eat or drink that which is offered to them. At the same time, the monastic community provides an important function for the lay community by caring for their spiritual needs, and by providing moral and spiritual teachings and examples. The two communities, each essential to a balanced society, support and enrich one another.
For the lay community in the West, it is important to understand how the monks and nuns of the Theravada Buddhist sangha live from day-to-day. In Thailand the monastics are visible each morning, walking through the nearby villages with their almsbowls, receiving offerings of food for their daily meal. The Thai culture is one where the lay community fully acknowledges the dependence of the monastic community for physical needs such as food, cloth, and the requisites for their life. The monastics, because of their vows of renunciation, cannot buy these basic items for themselves. If the laypeople do not provide for them, they will go without. If we do not feed them, they will not eat. If we do not provide for their electricity bill, they will have no heat. If we value the presence of the monastic community it is important that we remember they need our support. The relationship that develops through this commitment to mutual support is a rewarding one, and the spiritual friendship between lay and monastic communities is a precious gift.