Does age matter?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.

Does age matter?

Postby Stephen K » Thu May 03, 2012 7:26 am

It seems like most great monks ordained quite young, mostly in their early 20s. Does this mean that the younger one ordains the better, or is age completely irrelevant?
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Re: Does age matter?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu May 03, 2012 7:48 am

Who are you thinking of?

Age is not a matter to greatness, and there are monks I have met whom ordained in their 50's or 60's who in my opinion are great, yet not well known.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Does age matter?

Postby Kim OHara » Thu May 03, 2012 7:57 am

Stefan wrote:It seems like most great monks ordained quite young, mostly in their early 20s. Does this mean that the younger one ordains the better, or is age completely irrelevant?

It's probably more to do with social norms in traditionally Buddhist countries (boys going into monasteries and either ordaining or leaving around the time they reach adulthood) and the 'search for identity' among young Westerners who often spend the years from 15 - 25 working who they are and what they want to do, and then settling into whatever role they have chosen.
If Westerners radically change direction after the age of 35 it's called a mid-life crisis :tongue:

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Re: Does age matter?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu May 03, 2012 8:41 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:If Westerners radically change direction after the age of 35 it's called a mid-life crisis
That would be about right for Ajahn Sumedho.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Does age matter?

Postby David2 » Thu May 03, 2012 9:44 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:It's probably more to do with social norms in traditionally Buddhist countries (boys going into monasteries and either ordaining or leaving around the time they reach adulthood) and the 'search for identity' among young Westerners who often spend the years from 15 - 25 working who they are and what they want to do,


That's called quarter-life crisis.
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Re: Does age matter?

Postby Kim OHara » Thu May 03, 2012 10:05 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:If Westerners radically change direction after the age of 35 it's called a mid-life crisis
That would be about right for Ajahn Sumedho.

I did say it's *called* a mid-life crisis.

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Re: Does age matter?

Postby Goofaholix » Thu May 03, 2012 10:10 am

Stefan wrote:It seems like most great monks ordained quite young, mostly in their early 20s. Does this mean that the younger one ordains the better, or is age completely irrelevant?


Do you want to be great? wouldn't it be better to be content? I don't think any of these monks would consider themselves great, but I guess those who have been in robes longer have had more opportunity to teach and help others, that's not so much great but it's really nice.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Does age matter?

Postby Alobha » Thu May 03, 2012 12:35 pm

Stefan wrote:It seems like most great monks ordained quite young, mostly in their early 20s. Does this mean that the younger one ordains the better, or is age completely irrelevant?


The reason for becoming a great (=wise?) monk is not the age of ordination, but the deveolpment of panna, sila and samadhi througout life(s). One can develop these qualities regardless of whether one is ordained or not.

It may sound reasonable to think that western monks who ordain early, might have already been practicing very intense before ordination. I get the idea, but this is not necessarily the case.
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Re: Does age matter?

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu May 03, 2012 4:49 pm

In a Tricycle interview several years back, Thich Nhat Hanh is reported to have said that it is better to ordain young, before so many defilements and 'baggage' has set-in. I think that could be a good point, but I believe it has more to do with the individual person and the contents of the mind/consciousness. For example, a monk who ordains young at say age 12 or 13 might wonder and even regret about not trying out the householder life. Thoughts like 'what might I have been, what might I have achieved, what might it have been like to have a son or a daughter . . . '

The greatest monk I ever met and have known is Ven. Punnaji and he ordained at age 38 after a householder life as a physician.
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Re: Does age matter?

Postby alan » Thu May 03, 2012 5:32 pm

Ayya Khema ordained in her mid-fifties. I think her extraordinary life previous to becoming a teacher was one of the reasons she was so effective, and her writing so crisp.
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Re: Does age matter?

Postby alan » Thu May 03, 2012 5:52 pm

No disrespect to TNH, but "baggage" is something you deal with in real life--by accepting your shortcomings and working on them. Just seems way too easy to sit in the monastery without ever creating a life for yourself: Without ever finding what you do best, and how to go about doing it.
As for defilements, they can be worked on, too, in real life. Confronting the reality of our own weaknesses and desires as adults seems to me to be far more useful than hiding away in a monastic setting. When the time comes, and if it is right for your path, do it. Until then create your own peace in every moment. Put the teachings into practice, even when it is hot, noisy and crowded. Even when people really bug you. Even when you'd rather do something else!
A lifetime of sitting won't be of value if you can't do that.
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Re: Does age matter?

Postby David2 » Thu May 03, 2012 7:19 pm

alan wrote:Confronting the reality of our own weaknesses and desires as adults seems to me to be far more useful than hiding away in a monastic setting.


Well, seriously practicing monastics do confront the reality more than lay people do.
Still, the N8P is a gradual path, not every one is ready to jump into the deepest waters of the Dhamma-ocean in no time.
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Re: Does age matter?

Postby Buddha » Sun May 06, 2012 7:49 am

age doesnt matter,it only matter how much time you are meditating (1 year,2 years) and how.
Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without
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