Right Intention to ordain?

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

Right Intention to ordain?

Postby householder » Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:42 pm

Hi,

I began to self-study Buddhism last year (mainly the Pali canon) and did a 10-day Vipassana retreat after several months.

The retreat has unquestionably altered my view and has revealed (to a limited degree so far) the truth in, and benefits to, the content and application of what I've studied of the Buddha's teachings so far. It cemented my desire to follow the Path.

Initially I was involved in an FPMT centre near me. The more I have studied the Mahayana tradition, however, the less I am personally able to accept the intention behind and practice of Vajrayana and several other rituals and aspects of Mahayana, which causes me problems with the rest of the orthodoxy, practice and literature.

I enjoy reading the Pali canon and, from what I understand so far, feel that the Theravada tradition will be of more benefit to me in my progress along the Path.

I am currently a trainee in the professional services industry, and qualify in the next couple of years. I am told that I am good at what I do, give it my all, and was fortunate to secure the job as vacancies have become increasingly sparse and competition increasingly fierce. I could, I'm told, make a successful career of it, whatever success is.

However, whilst I am not averse to the work, I do not feel that I am benefitting others or myself sufficiently through this work, nor is this situation likely to change. It will simply lead to spending the majority of my life in an industry centred around striving to enhance the wealth of others whilst moderately increasing ones own wealth and responsibility, to whatever end one defines as having 'made it'. The environment is often conducive to intense pressure and great personal stress.

I watch this state arise and pass, and am aware that is rooted in a deep sense of dissatisfaction. The nature of the work and lifestyle also presents many hindrances and obstacles to practice. Whenever I apply mindfulness to the conventional activities I previously took pleasure in, I conclude that they are not conducive to progressing along the Path and in many cases simply hinder my progress or add additional material for the unsubdued mind to attach to.

The desire to ordain arises and passes on a regular basis. It is, however, increasing in frequency, intensity and duration.

I am single and have no financial attachments. I believe that ordaining will allow me to renunciate, reduce temptation and focus more fully on meditation, study and practice.

The practicalities of my situation are that if I do ordain, it will be after qualifying. When, I'm not yet sure. I am fully aware that the monastic lifestyle will not be a utopia in which one is free from all that plagues the human condition and can devote every waking moment to meditation, study and practice. Where there are people, there will be conflict and the things that arise when groups of people spend time together. I considered initially the possibility of the desire to ordain merely being a fantasy of escape from a dissatisfactory lifestyle. However, it is motivated by the desire to focus on meditation, study and practice in a conducive environment for the benefit of myself and others. I need to look more thoroughly into the whole 'package' of monasticism, and would be grateful for any resources in addition to the 'Going Forth' page of links posted elsewhere. The aspect of contributing to the community the monastery serves and is supported by, where I can, also appeals.

At present I strongly feel that the monastic life is the best option for me to engage in intensive meditation, study and practice. In particular, I intend to research ordination at monasteries in Thailand, and hope to embark on a couple of general recon/familiarisation trips over the next year or two, whilst simultaneously looking at the long-term implications of ordination on my family etc.

I gain pleasure and benefit from the study of the Suttas, my preliminary study of the Abbidhama and the practice of Vipassana, and would be grateful for recommendations as to which monasteries have good teachers and a good balance of both study and meditation. I have no preference whether the monastery has a large Western population. I'll adapt either way. Any other feedback on the above would be very valuable as well.

Metta
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Re: Right Intention to ordain?

Postby Vepacitta » Wed Aug 11, 2010 11:36 pm

Householder:

Only you can know if you've "received the call". From what you have posted - you certainly appear balanced and willing to look honestly at your intentions.

And you know - maybe one's intentions don't always have to be 'perfect'. If this is something you really want to do - and you have no obligations as to family or friends or pets (hey - animals count!) - then why not ordain? If this is something that is coming on stronger and stronger - take the opportunity - or else you may end up middle-aged - moderately wealthy - tied down by many obligations - and wondering "what if I had?" or "I should have" or "now I'm too scared to even consider it".

And if you find "wow - this wasn't for me" - you can disrobe. I'm not suggesting that you go into ordination with that caveat - I merely mean to say that - nothing's permanent (ahem).

You only have one life (as it were) - live it the way you wish - seek what you desire (this is a wholesome desire in this case - realisation of the dhamma). What could be better?

From Mt. Meru.

V.
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Re: Right Intention to ordain?

Postby householder » Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:21 pm

Thanks for your perspective vepacitta. Any recommendations on particular monasteries that blend study, meditation and community involvement in Thailand?
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Re: Right Intention to ordain?

Postby Vepacitta » Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:45 am

You're most welcome Householder.
As to recommendations re: viharas - I cannot make any. I am not knowlegeable in that area. Must you go to Thailand? Not that there's anything wrong with looking into that - but there are English speaking viharas in the UK, US, Australia, etc. Even if you feel the need to go to Thailand - you might contact English speaking viharas that are Thai branch monasteries - they could possibly assist you.

(I'm presuming you are an English speaker - if not actually English - although few Americans use "whilst" (although I do - but I had an anglo/Irish mum). If I'm mistaken, kindly accept my apologies.

In fact - I believe there are Bhikkus who post on this forum - although they may be on rains retreat now as well.

All the best to you in your quest,

YFNA,

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Re: Right Intention to ordain?

Postby pilgrim » Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:45 am

I have no experience in this matter but from my time spent reading these forums the most popular monasteries for westerners are Wat Pah Nanachat or its various branch monasteries and Na Uyana in Sri Lanka . Ven Dhammanando, I remember strongly recommends Wat Tamao in Lampang, Thailand for new bhikkhus who want a good grounding.
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Re: Right Intention to ordain?

Postby fabianfred » Sat Aug 14, 2010 4:32 am

Wat Rampoeng Chiangmai is a very good meditation temple and is used t6o many farang visitors...some do the ten day retreat and some the full 26 day one. Several farangs have ordained there in the past. Try a retreat there....learn Thai.... go for it...
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Re: Right Intention to ordain?

Postby householder » Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:33 pm

Many thanks for the replies and recommendations.

Vepacitta made a good point and, after research, I have read about Amaravati monastery in Hertfordshire.

I'm going to arrange for a one week visit in November. Has anyone stayed before?
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Re: Right Intention to ordain?

Postby householder » Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:03 pm

Reviving this thread:

I'll be spending a few months in Myanmar first, including time at monasteries. Due to the nature of the political/visa situation there, from what I understand, I'm not sure that ordaining would necessarily be a suitable long-term option.

For those who have spent time in monasteries in Thailand, discounting spending Rains at one monastery as a layperson (which I presume is possible), can one ordain and spend the Rains at one monastery as a bhikku and then visit other monasteries, or would this be leaving one's preceptor before the 5 years is up? If it's the latter, is there a stigma attached to disrobing from one monastery after Rains and re-ordaining at another for the long-term? Or is this sort of 'spiritual shopping' to be discouraged?

I'm a bit worried that, the more I read and do research and read accounts of other monks, the more my 'ideal' monastery changes in my head - not that there is a perfect monastery. The other issue, of course, is that my expectations of bhikku life as a lay person will not likely accord with bhikku life when actually a bhikku! I'd like to visit different monasteries before committing myself to 5 years at one (or one network if it's the Ajahn Chah lineage), for the current reasoning that having a strong relationship with a suitable teacher is crucial in the early days of being a bhikku.

My reasons for ordaining remain unswerving and are now stronger than ever, but I don't know the best way of practicing. There's danger in meticulously planning visits to each Wat well in advance, but by the same token there are some where one must necessarily make arrangements in advance.

With time now counting down (less than a year) before embarking on the journey, I fear I'm overanalysing it all and finding the logistics to be quite difficult to pin down. Any advice or suggestions would be much appreciated please?!
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Re: Right Intention to ordain?

Postby Vossaga (Element) » Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:56 am

Hello friend

My opinion is your spiritual path is progressing well. I personally cannot disagree with any of the choices you have made. Therefore:(1) finish your qualification; and (2) then head to Thailand.

However, if I may offer one piece of advice, which is, your current attitude to your work is not dhammic; it is not mindfulness.

Mindfulness is to bring to mind whatever dhamma is required for a situation. Mindfulness is not exclusively samadhi practise. So please try to change your attitude towards your work. Your work is your livelihood. Right mindfulness regards your work as a "duty".

With metta

:smile:
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