Why not ordain?

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

Re: Why not ordain?

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Jun 14, 2011 3:45 pm

I think it is a blessing to be ordained, not a curse, whatever the age, whatever the quality of teaching that they receive- to do something like that in your samsaric journey I believe can strongly 'bend it' towards enlightenment, at some point.

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Re: Why not ordain?

Postby beeblebrox » Tue Jun 14, 2011 3:58 pm

While it's true that some people seem to have the knack to be a monk, and others don't, it has nothing to do with age, or "life experience," which would be a kind of self-aggrandizement. (Even when it's well-intentioned, i.e., to keep someone from making a decision that you think he might regret... this is still based on a delusion, that your own life is exactly the reference point that everyone should work from.)

We all live in the same world... experiencing the same causes and conditions (more or less). The only difference is the kamma... the way we act, or react. For example, I'm deaf, but I would never think that I'm suffering more than someone who's not deaf, or that I'm more experienced than them in some areas. This would be delusional for me.

Of course, in the U.S. (or any other place where the monkhood is considered unusual), it's not really conductive for someone to be a monk... but that doesn't mean we should discourage someone if that's something he wants to do.

I also think that he should get all the support that we can give. (Not just dana, but also by sharing the Dhamma.) In exchange, that will be fruitful for everyone in the long run. (Just think about it...) Of course there still will be some failure, but that's life.

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Re: Why not ordain?

Postby Jhana4 » Tue Jun 14, 2011 5:54 pm

beeblebrox wrote:While it's true that some people seem to have the knack to be a monk, and others don't, it has nothing to do with age, or "life experience," which would be a kind of self-aggrandizement.


I'm not aggrandizing myself and I am not sure I understand how having an opinion would be an ego trip.

I've met extremely mature, extremely experienced 20 year olds. Even one genius. I remember a bit how I was when I was 20 and I still know a few people in that age range. My honest opinion is that it is more likely to be beneficial, at that age, to wait to ordain.

In the culture I come from a 12 year old is a child, legally and otherwise. I don't think it is right for a major life decision to be made for someone that age or have that person make it for themselves. True, such a person could always disrobe later, but that would be much harder to do if the order is all of what they have known as an adult and if they don't have any resources for dealing with lay world.

No disrespect meant to anyone about their views or their culture.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Why not ordain?

Postby beeblebrox » Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:47 pm

Jhana4 wrote:
beeblebrox wrote:While it's true that some people seem to have the knack to be a monk, and others don't, it has nothing to do with age, or "life experience," which would be a kind of self-aggrandizement.


I'm not aggrandizing myself and I am not sure I understand how having an opinion would be an ego trip.


One of the more difficult parts in the Dhamma to understand, in my opinion. The "self" is really a slippery thing. Many people don't seem to realize just how much this encompasses their experiences, and just how much dukkha that would cause.

In the culture I come from a 12 year old is a child, legally and otherwise.


No one said that 12 year olds should ordain... Ven. Gunaratana was just an example. 20 year old is considered a mature age in our culture... which incidentally, was the actual age that he ordained as a Bhikkhu. He entered as a novice at 12.

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Re: Why not ordain?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jun 14, 2011 7:28 pm

Interesting exchange...
beeblebrox wrote:
In the culture I come from a 12 year old is a child, legally and otherwise.


No one said that 12 year olds should ordain... Ven. Gunaratana was just an example. 20 year old is considered a mature age in our culture... which incidentally, was the actual age that he ordained as a Bhikkhu. He entered as a novice at 12.

Yes 20 is the age for full ordination (though I think it's sometimes counted from conception, rather than birth).

I know two monks who first ordained around 12 quite well. One ordained as a novice (in Bangladesh) for a meditation retreat and decided to remain in robes he thought very hard about whether to take full ordination, and didn't do that until he'd spent a few years studying Pali and Sanskrit in Sri Lanka. The other was from an orphanage in Bangladesh, spent a few years in our Wat here in New Zealand, and is currently in Bangkok studying at a university there.

There seems to be an underlying assumption in this thread that being a novice or a monk means that one gets no "life experience". This is true of certain aspects (the older of the monks above used to joke, when asking for questions, "Don't ask me about sex, I've no expertise in that area!") but bhikkhus get plenty of life experience in other areas. They have all the same sort of personal and organizational conflict stuff that any of us deals with in our life and work. They have schooling to get through. And they have to do this within the restrictions of the vinaya.

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Re: Why not ordain?

Postby BlackBird » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:57 pm

:goodpost:
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma | Ven. Bodhesako's essay on anicca
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Re: Why not ordain?

Postby Basileaux » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:22 am

mikeenz66:
There seems to be an underlying assumption in this thread that being a novice or a monk means that one gets no "life experience".


This is a good point. Prior to my trip out to Thailand, my step-mom and Dad would say that I'm just escaping from life by going to the monastery. I think that meant I wouldn't have to face life's hardness by being in the monastery, and thus any contentment I found there would be artificial b/c it would be based on an artificial environment, not contentment based on living in the "real world."

So anyway, I went anyhow and there was plenty of physical challenges- cold baths, one meal a day, sleeping on a thin mat on a wooden floor etc.

plenty of mental challenges: being with myself simply

and something else I've never experienced before. The community of monks is a tight one and members became sick, became old, and passed away. I'd never seen sickness and aging so up close before. It is really quite sterilized in our culture. There's the idea that sickness is contrary to the norm... but really after living w/ people so closely for so long it actually seems the opposite.

Being young and immature, I felt like my life was wasting away and that I should've been doing something external to create security for myself. This is probably a cultural element of my personality so the above discussion on cultures has validity in my case.

Anyhow we each have our Kamma, and we can't say what that is or what it is for another person. Most senior teachers in Thailand seem to have ordained very young, and there's no saying what seeds we have inside ourselves which will ripen within the monastery.
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Re: Why not ordain?

Postby manas » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:22 am

Hi Future Bhikkhu,
may I respectfully suggest that this question be directed exclusively towards those without young children. Those of us with lil ones - who are not only physically dependent on us, but also emotionally dependent - would be performing a selfish act to just 'up and leave'. This would not only hurt them in the short term, but quite possibly make them averse to Buddhism in the long-term. (Before anyone invokes the action taken by the Bodhisatta in this regard - please note - I'm not the Bodhisatta! Plus it's a different time and place...back then, perhaps fathers were often not so involved in the day-to-day rearing of younger children (?) - plus there would have been extended family around to make up for Siddhatta's absence...totally different situation for me right now, I'm needed on all levels!).

When my dear lil ones are older (maybe both in their late teens?), and only if my ex is able to manage with them on her own - then I would consider it.

When they have fully grown up and are independent, however - I will seek out an appropriate monastery willing to accept a novice who by then will be 52 years old (I'm now 42). I hope to be still physically able (for sweeping, cleaning etc), and hopefully debt-free! :twothumbsup:

In the meantime, however, I don't see why I cannot also make good progress as a layperson...so I don't intend to wait till I turn 52, when I might not even see out this day in one piece... :thinking: ...got to practice now, no time to wait for ideal conditions!

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Primum non nocere: "first, do no harm."
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Re: Why not ordain?

Postby beeblebrox » Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:12 am

manasikara wrote:may I respectfully suggest that this question be directed exclusively towards those without young children. Those of us with lil ones - who are not only physically dependent on us, but also emotionally dependent - would be performing a selfish act to just 'up and leave'.


I agree with this wholeheartedly. If someone abandons his children (or any other obligations, such as debt), I think it's pretty much guaranteed that this will come back to haunt him, and affect his practice... it's bad kamma, and a very easy one not to commit.

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Re: Why not ordain?

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Jun 15, 2011 6:38 am

The Bodisatta was different:

Thus, at the age of 29, in the prime of life, with his parents weeping, he cut off his hair and beard, put on the saffron robes of a mendicant, and entered upon the homeless life of renunciation. The developed Buddha biography adds that he left the palace on the very day that his wife gave birth to their only child, the boy Rahula.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el433.html

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Re: Why not ordain?

Postby shoel » Sat Jun 18, 2011 12:53 am

Future Bhikkhu wrote:I was interested in hearing why you do not ordain. I know that many of you are well versed and practiced but if you know that life is full of suffering, why do you not strive to end that suffering with the most effective way possible? All opinons are valid.

With metta,

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Well, all people haven't got the idea of becoming mind and their mind is not read to sacrifice to the Sangha or community of Monk. those who realize that the general life is suffering , then they will be ready to become ordained. Those who sees true vision, will realize the best path and get rid of suffering day by day.
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