JKhedrup wrote:Well it depends. I mean, if one trains as a translator, of teachings or texts, can contribute to the running of the centre, becomes a qualified teacher, or serves the lay community, there can be very great benefit.
We don't need monks or nuns for this. I cannot see at all any valid reason why supporting an ordained person is better than supporting a lay person in the same role. I mean, it is not like westerners are running to monasteries to have rites recited to improve harvests, prevent frosts, etc. The context of supporting monastics to generate merit is lacking. This works in India because Indians in general support sadhus and other kinds of renunciates. It is a part of their culture. America and Northern Europe, the dominate places where there is interest outside of Asia in Buddhism are also Protestant countries. We don't like celibate priests much; we do not trust them culturally, and regard them with suspicion. And especially in Tibetan Buddhism there is a strong tradition of a trained laity who can carry out all the necessary religious roles which may be needed.
Quite frankly, most Buddhist learning is anachronistic -- the study of Abhidharma is great, but is deeply hampered by the medieval India culture that engendered it. The Prajñāparamita tradition is equally obscure and hard to make relevant. Even Madhyamaka is not so useful to most folks. "Why should I support this guy in studying such weird stuff that is not at all relevant to me?" -- this is the question that the monastic establishment must answer in the West.
There are basically four forms of Buddhism spreading in the West:
1) Psychological & Secular Buddhism ala Batchelor, etc.
2) Technological Buddhism i.e. Vajrayāna, Bon, Dzogchen etc.
3) Contemplative Buddhism i.e. Vipassana, Zen, etc.
4) Evangelical Buddhism i.e. Nicherin, Pure Land, etc.
While there are various crossovers between these four, none of these requires the basis of a monastic Sangha.
2)People are meeting a lot of Western monks and nuns who are not qualified or behave badly, but if the standards improved they might be interested in assisting sincere practitioners who have an affinity for the path of ordination.
Western Buddhists who supports monastics in Asia general do so because of the "cute" factor, or because they have a personal connection with a monastery or a monastic. But it possible because it is cheap.