Parents and Going Forth

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

Parents and Going Forth

Postby JackV » Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:45 pm

Obviously when one ordains they renounce worldly things and attachments, but I am curious about something. When you are a monk does this preclude any further contact with ones mum (or dad) ever? I mean would they be able to come to the temple you would be based at for example meditation practice or the offering of Dana or would this be something that the Abbot (or whoever) would advise against?
Also say your parents, or one of them were taken ill or had an accident or died, would ones renouncment of attachment extend as far as to ignore these things?
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Re: Parents and Going Forth

Postby Jhana4 » Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:52 pm

The Sri Lankan monk that runs one of the viharas in my area stays in regular contact with his family. I've met his sister, nephew, brother inlaw and a few other of his relatives. They moved to the U.S. and live in a nearby city.
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Re: Parents and Going Forth

Postby manas » Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:30 pm

As far as I know, one is allowed to care for one's parents if they are sick and or / dying (I would expect that in the latter case, most people would want to get to their parents somehow, and it would be rather heartless to deny them this!). What I am unsure about is whether one has to temporaily disrobe to do this (reordaining when the issue has passed), or if one is allowed to remain a Bhikkhu and do it, while still in robes. I tried looking for the Vinaya rule pertaining to it but my google search did not get any relevant result...

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Re: Parents and Going Forth

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:41 pm

In asia ones parents and siblings would generally regularly visit and provide dana, and are usually the primary means of support as far a requisites are concerned, I think in asia people would be horrified at the thought that becoming a monk meant cutting yourself off from your parents.

Monks often look after their parents in their old age, Ajahn Viradhammo is a good recent example.
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Re: Parents and Going Forth

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:47 pm

Agree with all of the above!

I've known several monks who went back to Asia to care for their sick parents.
[There's not much government welfare/medical support in many Asian countries.]

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Re: Parents and Going Forth

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:55 pm

Greetings,

What if the monk did not live close to his parents? What if they were 500 km away? What if they lived in another corner of the globe? Surely lay supporters could not be expected to fund such travel?

And what then of adherence to Vinaya when caring for sick parents? The Patimokkha contains many rules which would be impractical in such a context.

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Re: Parents and Going Forth

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:16 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

What if the monk did not live close to his parents? What if they were 500 km away? What if they lived in another corner of the globe? Surely lay supporters could not be expected to fund such travel?

And what then of adherence to Vinaya when caring for sick parents? The Patimokkha contains many rules which would be impractical in such a context.

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Retro. :)


There is a passage that says if someone carried their parents on their back for the rest of their lives they wouldn't repay their debt to them, so if they live 500km away then you move to be closer. This is not an issue for a monk over 5 vassa as they can live where they want and don't need to be in a monastery, I'm not sure what happens with younger monks still dependant on their teacher.

What rules do you think would be impractical in such a context?
"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: Parents and Going Forth

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:21 am

I think in some Zen traditions it is not allowed to visit with parents, but not sure. I remember hearing a Zen story of an abbot who had a monastery of 500 monks. His mother came to visit with him. The abbot instructed the spokesman to inform her that her son is not there. When she insisted, he again told the spokesman to tell her that he is not there. When she finally walked away, the wails of 500 monks could be heard crying for the woman who had 'lost' her son.

But in Theravada, there does not appear to be any such rule or requirement. The Buddha himself met with his mother, Maha Maya in the Tavatimsa heaven to teach her Abhidhamma (according to the Commentaries). He met with his step-mom, Maha Pajapati Gotami and gave her the going forth as the first bhikkhuni. He met with his father and taught him and his father became a sotapanna (Suttas) and according to the Commentaries, later an arahant.
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Re: Parents and Going Forth

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:25 am

Greetings Goof,

Goofaholix wrote:What rules do you think would be impractical in such a context?

A lot of them - those about alms and food, those about members of the opposite sex, those about money etc.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Parents and Going Forth

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:29 am

retrofuturist wrote:A lot of them - those about alms and food, those about members of the opposite sex, those about money etc.


I'm not convinced. Of course if your parents aren't Buddhist or are too unwell to provide requisites you'd need to arrange local lay supporters to provide these.
"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: Parents and Going Forth

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Nov 02, 2011 1:04 am

Greetings,
Goofaholix wrote:I'm not convinced. Of course if your parents aren't Buddhist or are too unwell to provide requisites you'd need to arrange local lay supporters to provide these.

And let's say the parents live nowhere near a Theravada vihara...

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Parents and Going Forth

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Nov 02, 2011 1:11 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,
Goofaholix wrote:I'm not convinced. Of course if your parents aren't Buddhist or are too unwell to provide requisites you'd need to arrange local lay supporters to provide these.

And let's say the parents live nowhere near a Theravada vihara...

Why all this theoretical stuff? Goofaholix and others are talking about is how it would work in Asia.
It would be practical (though of course not ideal for his development) for a Thai Bhikkhu, for example, to help to care for his parents with the support of local laity.

In the West there is generally tax-supported care, so there is less of a pressing issue...

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Re: Parents and Going Forth

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Nov 02, 2011 1:17 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:Why all this theoretical stuff?

Because the issue may well become a reality for me one day, so I would like to know.

mikenz66 wrote:Goofaholix and others are talking about is how it would work in Asia.

All well and good, but Jack did not define the topic in such a narrow ethnocentric fashion.

mikenz66 wrote:In the West there is generally tax-supported care, so there is less of a pressing issue...

Indeed, but it would still be an issue to be addressed. As per Jack's question, "Also say your parents, or one of them were taken ill or had an accident or died, would ones renouncment of attachment extend as far as to ignore these things?"

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Parents and Going Forth

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Nov 02, 2011 1:44 am

retrofuturist wrote:And let's say the parents live nowhere near a Theravada vihara...


There is no rule that a monk must live in a vihara, many don't, some live in houses, some in caves, some under an umbrella...
"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: Parents and Going Forth

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Nov 02, 2011 1:52 am

Greetings Goof,

Goofaholix wrote:There is no rule that a monk must live in a vihara, many don't, some live in houses, some in caves, some under an umbrella...

I didn't say there was. I was thinking about how supporters would support a monk, when there is no known lay Theravada presence to support that. As for the issue you raise here, though...

5. Should any bhikkhu lie down together (in the same dwelling) with an unordained person for more than two or three consecutive nights, it is to be confessed.

6. Should any bhikkhu lie down together (in the same dwelling) with a woman, it is to be confessed.

Source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... -pati.html

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Parents and Going Forth

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:25 am

retrofuturist wrote:I didn't say there was. I was thinking about how supporters would support a monk, when there is no known lay Theravada presence to support that. As for the issue you raise here, though...

5. Should any bhikkhu lie down together (in the same dwelling) with an unordained person for more than two or three consecutive nights, it is to be confessed.

6. Should any bhikkhu lie down together (in the same dwelling) with a woman, it is to be confessed.

Source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... -pati.html


My understanding is that same dwelling is considered to be under the same roof but without seperate doors, so an apartment building wouldn't count if in seperate apartments for example.

Why should he have to sleep under the same roof in order to look after his parents? a sleepout, a neighbouring flat, a caravan, a garage all would be considered luxury for a forst monk.

If they are so sick they need constant monitoring at night then they should be in a hospital or similar don't you think?
"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: Parents and Going Forth

Postby Bankei » Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:37 am

in Thailand it seems parents and family are still an integral part of the life of a monk. Monks go home to look after family members and even just to see family members.

In my family there is an uncle who is the Abbot of a Wat in Bangkok. Every Songkran he comes from Bangkok to his mother's house with the whole family and stays several days. During this period monks are invited for lunch from the Wat across the road into the house for lunch, but he doesn't join them, just sits separately. Its like his little holiday period.

Another young monk at my local wat arranges his sister to come everyday and he hands over extra food to her for the family.

Once I went to someone's house and there was a monk staying there. He was looking after the old grandfather who was dying and was planning to stay until the death.

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Re: Parents and Going Forth

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:36 am

Hi Retro,
Thank you for clarifying the various issues.
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:Why all this theoretical stuff?

Because the issue may well become a reality for me one day, so I would like to know.

Sure...
retrofuturist wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Goofaholix and others are talking about is how it would work in Asia.

All well and good, but Jack did not define the topic in such a narrow ethnocentric fashion.

Which is why I explained that in Asia a bhikkhu might, for practical reasons, have to look after parents if there was no other support for them, whereas in my country (I may be over-generalizing about "The West") they would generally get at least some basic care from our social welfare system:
mikenz66 wrote:In the West there is generally tax-supported care, so there is less of a pressing issue...

If the Bhikkhu was from somewhere were there was neither lay support, government support, or community support of some kind, then there would be some difficult decisions about whether one could actually continue as a bhikkhu. But no-one said that this would be easy, or that there is a "right to be a bhikkhu".
retrofuturist wrote:Indeed, but it would still be an issue to be addressed. As per Jack's question, "Also say your parents, or one of them were taken ill or had an accident or died, would ones renouncment of attachment extend as far as to ignore these things?"

OK, so there are actually two issues:
1. The practicalities of care.
    This has been discussed, somewhat, above.
2. The issue of whether, if the practicalities are not a problem, should one dissociate from one's parents?
    I would say that is a matter for the individual.

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