Monasticim and parental permission

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

Re: Monasticim and parental permission

Postby vitellius » Fri Dec 11, 2009 1:21 am

Bankei wrote:Crosby, Kate 2005 "Only if you let go of that Tree: Ordination without Parental Consent according to Theravada Vinaya." Buddhist Studies Review


I have a hard copy of her article (it is not available online). Basically, it is translation and discussion of the relevant part of Samantapāsādikā (Commentary to Vinaya). Kate also compares text of Pali Samantapāsādikā to its Chinese abridged translation to clarify some points.

Bhante Dhammanando has posted his translation of the relevant fragment at the beginning of this thread.
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Re: Monasticim and parental permission

Postby suanck » Fri Dec 11, 2009 1:39 am

Thanks, Bhante Pesala, for the explanation.
I'd like to post my comments in 2 parts:

Part 1:

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
suanck wrote:In the present day, I wonder if this rule of seeking parents' permission is strictly applied, especially for mature adults who live independently from their parents?

In the present day, I sometimes wonder if any of the rules are strictly applied.


In my original question, I used the word "strictly", because in the past, I did attend to a number of bhikkhu ordination ceremonies in Southeast Asia, both in Theravada and Mahayana traditions. In most cases, the parents of the bhikkhu candidates were present, and I assumed they did give the permission to their sons to ordain.

Except 2 cases I personnally know the monks. They were both mature adults (in their late 20s) and had been living far away and independently from their parents, and did not maintain regular contacts with them. In one case, the bhikkhu candidate only wrote a letter informing his parents about his intention to ordain, and did not receive a reply from them. In the second case, the bhikkhu candidate only informed his parents a year or two after the ordination.

That's why I don't know if this rule is "strictly" applied in the present day.

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Re: Monasticim and parental permission

Postby suanck » Fri Dec 11, 2009 1:59 am

Part 2:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Living apart as a mature adult makes no difference. To understand this rule, you need to understand the Buddhist idea of indebtedness. Our parents give us life and endure great hardship in raising us and having us educated. Our debt to them is immeasurable.

It is not permissible to grant ordination to a candidate who is not free from debt. One's parents may rightly be expecting that they will be supported and cared for by their children in their old age.


Does it mean that once the bhikkhu candidate receives permission from his parents, he's free from the debt from them and he does not need to look after them? Is that mentioned anywhere in the Vinaya Pitaka or later Commentaries?

A side note: I have seen at some temples in Southeast Asia's rural areas, the abbot's old mother was staying there, usually as a white-robe nun (Theravada) or grey-robe nun (Mahayana). Presumably, that is a way for the abbot to look after his elderly mother.

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Re: Monasticim and parental permission

Postby BlackBird » Fri Dec 11, 2009 4:10 am

suanck wrote:That's why I don't know if this rule is "strictly" applied in the present day.


There's not a lot of rules that are.

Ven. Dhammika wrote:As with the locals, a Westerner can turn up at a Theravadin monastery in Asia and be ordained almost immediately. In keeping with the Vinaya, he will be asked whether he is a human, whether he is a male etc. But he will not be asked what most intelligent people would consider were more pertinent questions like; 'Do you have a criminal record?' 'Have you suffered from mental illness?' 'Can you read and write?' 'Is this really what you want to do?' Astonishingly, he won't even be asked if he is a Buddhist! Where else in the world would it be possible to become a clergyman in a religion before knowing anything about that religion?


source

There in lies part of the problem.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Monasticim and parental permission

Postby pink_trike » Fri Dec 11, 2009 4:43 am

he will be asked whether he is a human


One must be a human?
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Monasticim and parental permission

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Dec 11, 2009 5:05 am

pink_trike wrote:One must be a human?


"... Once a Naga, a powerful serpent who can take the form of a human being, was mistakenly ordained as a monk. Shortly after, when asleep in his hut, the naga returned to the shape of a huge snake. The monk who shared the hut was somewhat alarmed when he woke up to see a great snake sleeping next to him! The Lord Buddha summoned the naga and told him he may not remain as a monk, at which the utterly disconsolate snake began to weep. The snake was given the Five Precepts as the means to attaining a human existence in his next life when he can then be a monk. Then out of compassion for the sad snake, the Lord Buddha said that from then on all candidates for the monkhood be called 'Naga' as a consolation. They are still called 'Naga' to this day."

http://www.jendhamuni.com/buddhism/arti ... remony.htm

From a scholarly perspective, nagas are remnants from Hindu-Brahmanism mythology, pre-dating Buddhism.
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Re: Monasticim and parental permission

Postby vitellius » Fri Dec 11, 2009 11:39 am

And I have three more questions to Vinaya pundits :)

If a monk-to-be doesn't have a permission, is his ordination valid in following cases?

1) He knowingly lies that he has a permission (when asked in Pali at a formal ceremony).
2) He doesn't know that permission is necessary and just says "yes" in Pali as he was taught to, not understanding the meaning of question.
3) He wasn't asked about permission at the ordination (e.g. if preceptor has forgotten to ask that or knowingly omitted this question).

As far as I understand in third case preceptor commits a dukkata offenсe, but what about a newly-ordained bhikkhu then?
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Re: Monasticim and parental permission

Postby vitellius » Fri Dec 11, 2009 11:55 am

Another interesting and related topic is samanera ordination.

Samaneras are not asked about parental consent at ordination.

I wonder,

1) How samanera ordination was established?
2) Was it designed especially for children? If Buddha had banned children from becoming bhikkhus (because they could hardly bear ascetic lifestyle), why he let them ordain as a samanera? Then, what is the essential difference, making samanera ordination available for children?
3) May an adult ordain as samanera according to Pali canon and the Commentary? Were any such cases registered at that time? If no, when and why the practice of "adult samaneras" emerged?
4) Why samaneras are not asked about permission of their parents? Was it because it went without saying that they have it? Could a run-away kid become a samanera?
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Re: Monasticim and parental permission

Postby vitellius » Fri Dec 11, 2009 12:07 pm

suanck wrote:Does it mean that once the bhikkhu candidate receives permission from his parents, he's free from the debt from them and he does not need to look after them? Is that mentioned anywhere in the Vinaya Pitaka or later Commentaries?


As far as I remember it said in Vinaya that monks may share alms-food with their parents in the case of famine.

And - again, as far as I remember - Commentary says that they may take care of ill parents.
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Re: Monasticim and parental permission

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Dec 11, 2009 12:52 pm

Oleksandr wrote:1) How samanera ordination was established?

The Buddha ordained Rahula, his son, and his father (the Buddhas, Rahulas grandfather) complained that he lost two people dear to him

2) Was it designed especially for children? If Buddha had banned children from becoming bhikkhus (because they could hardly bear ascetic lifestyle), why he let them ordain as a samanera? Then, what is the essential difference, making samanera ordination available for children?

he didn't ban it as such, he agreed that a better course of action would be to give them a lesser ordination.

3) May an adult ordain as samanera according to Pali canon and the Commentary? Were any such cases registered at that time? If no, when and why the practice of "adult samaneras" emerged?

Yes, and all bhikkhus ordain as novices first, sometimes the two ordinations are done one after the other (litterally), other times a few weeks or days are between the ordinations, and other times they stay as novices, not everyone feels the need to take full ordination, this is more common in the west, or Sri Lanka than Burma & Thailand.

4) Why samaneras are not asked about permission of their parents? Was it because it went without saying that they have it? Could a run-away kid become a samanera?

They don't need to ask because they aren't bound by the same rules, they have allot of freedoms Bhikkhus & Bhikkhunis don't have, so can reletavely live a closer to normal life than full monastics, they have only really taken on 1 extra precept, that of relinquishing money, but the rest are the same as a Upasaka/Upasika, although they tend to follow the 75 training rules aswell, many of which wouldn't inhibit a lay life, and I believe lay Dhamma Teachers follow these as well.
Someone else may correct anything I have erred on here, but I believe this is essentially correct without looking up the relevant stuff! but there is a section in the Buddhist monastic code 2 which may answer this last question more (chapter 9 if I remember rightly)
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Re: Monasticim and parental permission

Postby Bankei » Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:15 am

Oleksandr wrote:And I have three more questions to Vinaya pundits :)

If a monk-to-be doesn't have a permission, is his ordination valid in following cases?

1) He knowingly lies that he has a permission (when asked in Pali at a formal ceremony).
2) He doesn't know that permission is necessary and just says "yes" in Pali as he was taught to, not understanding the meaning of question.
3) He wasn't asked about permission at the ordination (e.g. if preceptor has forgotten to ask that or knowingly omitted this question).

As far as I understand in third case preceptor commits a dukkata offenсe, but what about a newly-ordained bhikkhu then?


I ordained in Thailand without parental permission and I had debts at the time. No one asked me for my real situation at any stage. I was just taught to say yes when the questions arose during the ceremony. It may have been different for me since I was a foreigner, but I think a lot of Thais ordain with debt too.

And there are also frequent scandals in Thailand where monks are caught out having sexual relations. One was a abbot of a large temple near Bangkok. He was probably a parajika for a long time and he would have acted as a preceptor for many ordinations - as far as I know no questions have arisen about the validity of these ordinations.

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Re: Monasticim and parental permission

Postby vitellius » Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:27 pm

Thanks Manapa,

As far as I remember, Tathagata after talking with his father established a rule about parental consent, not about samaneras. Anyway, thanks, I will try to look up in the Buddhist monastic code.
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Re: Monasticim and parental permission

Postby vitellius » Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:32 pm

Hello Bankei, thanks for sharing!

In fact by "valid" I meant compliance with Vinaya and Atthakatha, - and Thai "common practices" sometimes are somewhat different...
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Re: Monasticim and parental permission

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:38 pm

Oleksandr wrote:Thanks Manapa,

As far as I remember, Tathagata after talking with his father established a rule about parental consent, not about samaneras. Anyway, thanks, I will try to look up in the Buddhist monastic code.


both happened at the same time, to my knowledge
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Monasticim and parental permission

Postby Biija » Sun Dec 01, 2013 3:08 pm

Hi, fellows! I'll become an anagaraka at Wat Pah Nanachat, Thailand. I'm 29 years old, have a sister almost two years older than me and my parents allow me to ordain. Although the full ordination is still an uncertain event, must I request to my parents an authenticated letter in which they give me permission for full ordination? Would it be valid? Or is my "yes" enough at the moment of ordination? Probably, my parents won't be present at the ceremony. :thinking:
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Re: Monasticim and parental permission

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Dec 01, 2013 8:51 pm

Biija wrote:Would it be valid?


I don't know what the policy is at Wat Bananas, but at most Thai wats they will just take your word for it (that is, if they even bother to ask you about it). At the few which require evidence a letter from your parents will suffice.
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Re: Monasticim and parental permission

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Dec 02, 2013 2:44 am

Dhammanando wrote:Wat Bananas
Heavens to Betsy.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Monasticim and parental permission

Postby Biija » Tue Dec 03, 2013 11:55 pm

Dhammanando wrote:
Biija wrote:Would it be valid?


I don't know what the policy is at Wat Bananas, but at most Thai wats they will just take your word for it (that is, if they even bother to ask you about it). At the few which require evidence a letter from your parents will suffice.


Dear Bhante, thanks for the information. I take the opportunity to say that the inspiring documentary "Act Normal" was of great importance for me.

with gratitude
_/\_
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