And what good is it to scatter one’s wealth abroad by giving to the poor, even to become poor oneself, when the unhappy soul is thereby more given to pride in despising riches than it had been in possessing them? (Rule of St. Augustine, 8).
Each day the Buddhist monks, dressed in orange sarongs, leave their monastery in silence and file down to the village. Each one carries a small bowl. In all humility, they approach the houses of the people of the village, each monk holding out his bowl without saying anything. The people are waiting for them and fill their bowls, also in silence, with a little rice or something else to eat. All smile. The monks live off the solicitude of their neighbors. Their daily need to eat satisfied, the monks file back to the monastery to continue another day in sober and solitary prayer. Considering their style of life, they seem to be far from the people who feed them. But it is because of this daily act of begging that the people of the village say that the monks, despite their cloister, are their true brothers. There is an exchange between the inhabitants of the monastery and those of the village. In their interdependence, they live in a big community that goes beyond the evident differences of clothing, priorities and activities. How can I regularly hold out my bowl to my poor brothers and sisters to receive something vital from them that I lack in their service?