IT is a 21st-century solution to an age-old dilemma – how does a Buddhist monk forbidden from handling money accept cash donations?
Spiritual leaders at the Dhammapadipa Temple in Slateford have hit on an ingenious solution that will also help them achieve their plan to build a £1.3 million temple.
Buddha introduced the prohibition on monks accepting gold or silver and other forms of currency more than 2000 years ago to encourage them to live a life divorced from material concerns.
Now the answer to their prayers has arrived – in the form of an iZettle “point of sale card reader” which attaches to mobile phones so donations can be taken on the move, removing the need for cash transactions.
Abbot Watana Somboon, 36, said: “Monks are not allowed to touch money so this is a very modern way of getting around a very old problem. Ideally we would appoint lay people to use the card device, after which the monk blesses the person who has given the donation.
“But even if there is no lay person in the temple, the monks can use this.”
Monks are supposed to rely on what the community provides, with lay people from the Buddhist community buying them essentials such as food, clothing and even medicines.
The basic principle is that the community takes care of the monks and the monks take care of the temple.
Abbot Somboon added: “We survive purely on community donations. We have had a growing number of requests for patrons to donate money by using their credit or bank card.
“We could not really justify the monthly fees most companies charge so we contacted iZettle, who were delighted to help. They have no monthly charges. Moreover, it meant we did not have the added issue of storing the donated cash. This new modern method is a perfect fit for us.
“We also like the idea that we could be mobile with this service as we have many events around the country where donations are made so for as long as we had a mobile device with the downloaded app, we will be able to take secure and safe donations through the card reader.
“Our current temple location has become too small for us so we are currently fundraising to build an authentic Thai-style Buddhist temple in Edinburgh, so having the flexibility of a variety of donations method will be invaluable to us.”
Nina Fernstrom, strategic partnership developer at iZettle, said: “We’re delighted to be helping with the monks’ efforts to raise money for a new building in Edinburgh.
“It’s fantastic that this community, with its ancient roots, is embracing new technology.
“Smaller organisations used to be priced out of the market when it came to payment technology.
“Now they are able to manage their payments, make the most of opportunities and ultimately grow.
“Devices such as smartphones and tablets are allowing enterprising organisations to shed the shackles that traditional banking has kept them in and has opened up a whole new world of opportunity.”