The Buddhist Sangha

For other Buddhists important contemporary leaders are usually members of the Sangha. Monks and nuns provide spiritual leadership through meditation classes and Dhamma / Dharma talks. In some communities they also provide social care for the poor and act as teachers for children. In Thailand, for example, most boys will spend at least a year as a novice monk and be taught by the Sangha. The teachings will range from basic literacy to extended doctrines.

Members of the Sangha represent spiritual and moral values through their undertaking of the vinaya rules and the 10 Precepts. Their appearance identifies them as leaders with saffron robes showing the abandonment of normal lay clothes and all this entails, shaved head illustrating the abandonment of vanity, and begging bowl illustrating their dependence on alms.

Members of the Sangha offer a means by which the laity can live a good life in contemporary society. The Sangha is viewed as a huge field of merit in that giving members alms or food, supporting academic studies and maintaining buildings is a means of generating enormous amounts of merit. Monks and nuns also help as guides to the laity, giving Dhamma / Dharma talks as well as taking meditation classes.

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