In both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism the Buddhist monk performs the pastoral role for the lay Buddhist community. The Buddhist ‘monk’ or ‘nun’ lies somewhere between the common notions of monk and priest in Christianity. His or her time of intensive training in the monastery equips him well to give guidance and support whenever called upon to do so. In times of difficulty such as sickness, dying and death, the person or the relatives would often seek out the valued help of a Buddhist monk or nun of their own tradition. It would be the Buddhist monk who would give confidence at the bedside; it would be the monk who advises on the necessary rites for the funeral; it would be the monk who officiates at the funeral and it would be the monk who strengthens the bereaved with kind counsel.
Contact details of different Buddhist organisations are listed at the back. It may not, however, be possible to obtain a monk from the appropriate tradition of a sick or dying person in a time of crisis. In this case many Buddhists would prefer monks or nuns from unfamiliar traditions rather than have no monks or nuns present at all.
Last Updated on Monday, 18 May 2009 22:04