what is the maximum age if you want to ordain

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

what is the maximum age if you want to ordain

Postby konchokzopa » Fri Mar 21, 2014 10:17 pm

how old do you need to be to be refused ordination in theravada tradition?
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Re: what is the maximum age if you want to ordain

Postby daverupa » Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:30 pm

Here's something anecdotal:

There were suggestions that at 50 years old and with minor health issues, I may be too old to ordain at Na Uyana. But this wasn't a firm and final matter. I had confidence that were I to demonstrate determination and sincerity as a lay man for one or two years, there would be no problem ordaining. Some people suggested a way around this would be to ordain somewhere else and then return to Na Uyana to seek residence. That idea didn't appeal to me. I prefer to be straight forward.


This suggests to me that ~50 years of age approaches something of a soft barrier, and that this can really depend upon the context.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: what is the maximum age if you want to ordain

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:59 pm

konchokzopa wrote:how old do you need to be to be refused ordination in theravada tradition?


I don't think there is any limit, in Thailand it's not uncommon for monasteries to be retirement villages for people who don't have family to look after them in their old age. I think Wat Pah Nanachaat has a limit of 50, maybe others do depending on the circumstances and how rigged the lifestyle is.
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Re: what is the maximum age if you want to ordain

Postby Anagarika » Sat Mar 22, 2014 10:40 am

At my "home Wat" in Thailand, the Abbott ordained an elderly man ( he must be in his late 60's, or 70's) who asked to be ordained in his old age and his family could not house him. He is a very good monk, attends morning and evening chanting, very kind, and he spends much of his day sweeping the grounds of the temple. There may not be an age limit in Thailand, and much probably depends on the Abbot's approach to ordination, and whether the temple has the space and ability to take on new monks.
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Re: what is the maximum age if you want to ordain

Postby Monkey Mind » Sat Mar 22, 2014 4:39 pm

I asked this question in reference to Abhiyagiri monastery in California. I was told that 45 is considered the cutoff age for that monetary, but they have made exceptions for older applications under special circumstances. (There were two bhikkhus there who ordained older than 50.) I was told each monastery has it's own rules about this, and there are monasteries in Asia that will ordain older applicants.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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Re: what is the maximum age if you want to ordain

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Mar 22, 2014 4:47 pm

As far as I know, there is no Vinaya upper age limit, however, individual monasteries do have an upper limit. I think it might have something to do with health care costs and similar issues.

I believe there is a previous thread somewhere here of a monk in his 90s who ordained in North Hollywood, California. He was a former Christian minister who became Buddhist, ordained, lived a few more years at the temple and then passed away with the monks chanting at his side.
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Re: what is the maximum age if you want to ordain

Postby plwk » Sat Mar 22, 2014 4:50 pm

So, if the Vinaya is silent on the age limit, why do individual monasteries create and impose such?
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

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Re: what is the maximum age if you want to ordain

Postby gavesako » Sat Mar 22, 2014 5:45 pm

There are practical reasons for it if you consider the limited facilities in the West especially and what it takes to train a new monk so that they can later carry the duties of the monastery. If you had too many older men joining the Sangha in the West the monastery would quickly turn into a nursing home with not enough younger monks to run around and look after the old ones. Also it is hard to "teach an old dog new tricks" as they say...
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Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: what is the maximum age if you want to ordain

Postby Monkey Mind » Sat Mar 22, 2014 7:06 pm

plwk wrote:So, if the Vinaya is silent on the age limit, why do individual monasteries create and impose such?


The monk I interviewed cited several reasons for the rule at Abhiyagiri.

First of all, the monastery is built on a big hill. Every day the monks walk up and down that hill, with a steep grade, several times. Any monk there would need to be excellent health, and hopefully still be in excellent health 10 years from now.

The training for a beginning monastic is roughly a 5 year program. A monk is considered a leader in that community after about 15 years. The hope of the monastery is that junior monks will travel and stay at other monasteries worldwide as part of their training. It is also hoped that 15 year monks will move on, either to start new branch monasteries or function in leadership roles in monasteries world-wide. Consider a monk who ordains at age 30 versus a monk who ordains at age 60, regarding a 5-15 year program.

The monks care for eachother in times of illness, this is their social contract. But the monastery is not set up for long-term convolescence care, this would put a lot of burden on the other monks. So they try to have a mix of monks who are younger and older, so that they don't have too many monks reaching elderly ages at the same time.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

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Re: what is the maximum age if you want to ordain

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Mar 23, 2014 2:10 pm

konchokzopa wrote:how old do you need to be to be refused ordination in theravada tradition?


And how old do I need to be to ask? ;)
Well, oi dunno...
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Re: what is the maximum age if you want to ordain

Postby plwk » Sun Mar 23, 2014 3:00 pm

Thank you Bhante and MM. I am aware of such practical reasons but surely back then, they could have faced such too and similar measures should have been in place?
Just thinking aloud...
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

Anguttara-Nikaya: Ekanipata: Ekadhammapali: Pañhamavagga
VSM VMM WBB TBHT WTBT My Page
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Re: what is the maximum age if you want to ordain

Postby Monkey Mind » Sun Mar 23, 2014 3:37 pm

plwk wrote:Thank you Bhante and MM. I am aware of such practical reasons but surely back then, they could have faced such too and similar measures should have been in place?
Just thinking aloud...


Yeah, I'm just a parrot here. "Thus have I heard..." I would ordain today if it weren't for my student loan debt. I'm 42, so this interview clarified for me that ordination is probably not likely in this lifetime.

Although the Vinaya was not explicit on things such as age limits, my understanding is that it empowers a monastic community to be very selective about potential applicants.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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Re: what is the maximum age if you want to ordain

Postby gavesako » Sun Mar 23, 2014 4:05 pm

Nobody asked about the minimum age to be ordained yet. Well, he is less than 2 years old and he wants to be a monk already in Thailand:

10153688_10152095372510326_1148618610_n.jpg
10153688_10152095372510326_1148618610_n.jpg (69.06 KiB) Viewed 199 times
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Re: what is the maximum age if you want to ordain

Postby appicchato » Sun Mar 23, 2014 9:31 pm

The training for a beginning monastic is roughly a 5 year program. A monk is considered a leader in that community after about 15 years. The hope of the monastery is that junior monks will travel and stay at other monasteries worldwide as part of their training. It is also hoped that 15 year monks will move on, either to start new branch monasteries or function in leadership roles in monasteries world-wide. Consider a monk who ordains at age 30 versus a monk who ordains at age 60, regarding a 5-15 year program.


NWO...
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