Asking for alms

By Paulo Coelho

Part of the training of a Zen Buddhist monk is a practice known as takuhatsu – the begging pilgrimage. As well as helping the monasteries, which depend for their existence on donations, and teaching the student humility, this practice has another purpose too, that of purifying the town in which the monk lives.

This is because, according to Zen philosophy, the giver, the beggar and the alms money itself all form part of an important chain of equilibrium.

The person doing the begging does so because he is needy, but the person doing the giving also does so out of need.

The alms money serves as a link between these two needs, and the atmosphere in the town improves, since everyone is able to act in a way in which he or she needed to act.

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