Buddhist Studies:

Monastic Community

Role of the Monastic Community in Society

The main task of the Buddhist monastic community is to preserve and practise the Teaching of the Buddha. The Buddha Himself had indicated that the survival of the Teaching depended upon the existence of the monastic community, whose members can devote all their time and energy to this important task. Having accomplished this, they can use their learning and wisdom to help society as a whole.

Although the members of the Buddhist monastic community have renounced the worldly life, they still have an important contribution to make to the welfare of the society. For instance, they help to solve the problems of the lay followers through counselling. Not being attached to the worldly conditions such as happiness and pain, gain and loss, they are more objective and farsighted in their outlook. They are therefore able to advise the lay followers on the best course of conduct. They also help lay followers to face the trials and sufferings of life, especially in times of distress such as when a serious illness or death occurs.

Finally, the members of the monastic community also help to provide various social services for the lay community. The Buddhist monasteries have an important role to play in the education of the young and even today, there are Buddhist schools functioning alongside state schools. In addition, Buddhist monks and nuns help in the running of free clinics, orphanages, homes for the aged and the sick, and other welfare organisations.