Panning with A850
China Town, Bangkok, Thailand
Sony A850 + Sony 28-75mm f2.8 SAL2875 lens
In Buddhism, alms or almsgiving is the respect given by a lay Buddhist to a Buddhist monk, nun, spiritually-developed person or other sentient being. It is not charity as presumed by Western interpreters. It is closer to a symbolic connection to the spiritual realm and to show humbleness and respect in the presence of the secular society.[note 1] The act of alms giving assists in connecting the human to the monk or nun and what he/she represents. As the Buddha has stated:
Householders & the homeless or charity [monastics]
in mutual dependence
both reach the true Dhamma....
—Itivuttaka 4.7[note 2]
In Theravada Buddhism, monks (Pāli: bhikkhus) and nuns go on a daily almsround (or pindacara) to collect food. This is often perceived as giving the laypeople the opportunity to make merit (Pāli: puñña). Money should not be accepted by a Buddhist monk or nun in lieu of or in addition to food, although nowadays not many monks and nuns keep to this rule (the exception being the monks and nuns of the Thai Forest Tradition and other Theravada traditions which focus on vinaya and meditation practice). In countries that follow Mahayana Buddhism, it has been impractical for monks to go on a daily almsround. In China, Korea and Japan, monasteries were situated in remote mountain areas in which the distance between the monastery and the nearest towns would make a daily almsround impossible. In Japan, the practice of a weekly or monthly takuhatsu replaced the daily round. In the Himalayan countries, the large number of bikshus would have made an almsround a heavy burden on families. Competition with other religions for support also made daily almsrounds difficult and even dangerous; the first Buddhist monks in the Shilla dynasty of Korea were said to be beaten due to their minority at the time.