To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

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

To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby Ferox » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:26 pm

hello Dhamma friends!

As I've stated in my introduction thread, renouncing the household life is something that has felt like a calling of mine for a few years now and as the years go by I feel even more strongly in favor of doing so.

I rarely in life ever jump into a decision without knowing in my gut that it is the right thing to do, and this is especially true with life changing decisions such as this. I have spoken with a variety of monastics on the topic and have received some good advice. At this point I honestly feel that the only thing I would even come close to missing of the household life is being with my family and helping my nephew turn into a good upstanding person as I have acted as his father figure since birth pretty much. I feel I've always had a sense of dissatisfaction with what is considered "normal" in life, I've always had a feeling I was meant for something more important and these days I feel it is all coming together towards myself becoming a bhikhu.

In speaking with Venerable Dhammajiva, when he visited the states from Sri Lanka for a retreat I attended, he stated that " when not becoming a monk, and becoming a monk are the same in your mind, then this is the time to become a monk". At the same retreat I spoke with a young monk(he was a bit younger then me at 28, I'm 33) and he suggested that I first become involved in the daily life of a monastery and to see how the monks live and to help them out and this should help my decision. This has been very hard for me since the nearest Theravadan monastery is an hour away from me.

as for " when not becoming a monk, and becoming a monk are the same in your mind, then this is the time to become a monk". I've come to think this probably fits me in that I see that I would be giving up a lot but I also see how much I'd gain and I feel it will be the right decision in the end, anyone else have their own guess/explanation as to what the venerable meant?

Finally I attended a meditation retreat with Bhante Gunaratana at Bhavana Society over Thanksgiving and in my meditation interviews I spoke with Bhante G about becoming a monk. At first he sort of took my questions very lightly as apparently there are westerners in droves who think they want to become a monk, come for a few months, and leave, this, and a few other incidents with westerners, has lead to there being an age limit of 36 to ordaining. I think however towards the end of our talks Bhante G saw that I was pretty serious about it and I had a desire to spread the dhamma to westerners like myself who are searching for something, and he told me that the age limit is not a hard and fast thing and if I was serious and showed my dedication they would work with me through my one year as a resident, then one year as a novice monk and hopefully towards ordination.

I was raised catholic but never felt that it fit my world view, i always felt weird and out of place in terms of how I viewed things and my beliefs, it was not until I found Theravada Buddhism that I could say " yes, this is me". I feel that spreading the dhamma and showing that yes, westerners can be monks too, is a big part in helping others find their path as well, although admittedly I would probably be more of a loner monastic in the woods if I could rather then a preacher monastic If I had my choice, my ultimate goal in life has always been truth, and you can't get much more truthful then seeing things as they truly are.

I have read most of this book recommended by Ven. Yutta in one of his videos - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el027.html and I'm continuously searching for more advice on the subject. As I said my main concern, if any, is knowing that I am making the right decision for myself and I sure as heck do not want to be one of those guys who thinks, oh yeah I'm gonna be a monk!" then after 4 months they go back to the modern world lol.

I consider myself a bit of a survivalist so I'm use to being alone in the forest, I prefer being alone actually and I am comfortable with myself, I feel that I could do well as a monastic but I also feel that it is not something i'm going to rush into RIGHT now, as I still have some things to work on, like getting rid of a little more debt( I have under 1000 in old credit card debt and 2 years of car payments left, otherwise debt free). I am not married(widowed, wife died 6 years ago of cancer) and no kids. I feel at this point it's more a question of when then if and I do feel in my gut that it is the right thing to do for me.


so any advice would be helpful, thank you all !

oh and P.S. I would be ordaining and staying in the states if I had the choice, I feel no desire to stay in Buddhist countries like Sri Lanka and Thailand. It's kind of funny actually when Bhante G told me about the age limit I asked if there was an age limit in Sri Lanka he said I would not want to go to Sri Lanka because they become monks and sit in the temple doing nothing lol.. I guess when Buddhism becomes a culture you can get unskillful things like that but as I said I feel I am needed in my own country for those with " little dust in their eyes" who are searching for dhamma and don't even know it, like I was.
Last edited by Ferox on Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.
-just one more being treading the ancient path of Dhamma-
User avatar
Ferox
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:16 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:31 pm

Greetings Ferox,

Ferox wrote:I feel that I could do well as a monastic but I also feel that it is not something i'm going to rush into RIGHT now, as I still have some things to work on, like getting rid of a little more debt( I have under 1000 in old credit card debt and 2 years of car payments left, otherwise debt free). I am not married(widowed, wife died 6 years ago of cancer) and no kids. I feel at this point it's more a question of when then if and I do feel in my gut that it is the right thing to do for me..... so any advice would be helpful, thank you all !

- Use the incurred delay productively to research your possible life path
- Start considering the logistics
- Maintain a commitment to the practice of the Dhamma... one you will not regret if/when you do ordain
- If you have any questions, feel free to ask them here

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14650
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:42 pm

Sadhu! Anumodana Ferox! I wish you all the best and, were it not for my wife and kids, I would be in the same boat.
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

Uposatha Observance Club:http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=148031379279&v=info
Kiva-Theravada Buddhists:http://www.kiva.org/team/theravada_buddhists
Dana on the Interwebs:
http://greatergood.com
http://freerice.com
User avatar
Khalil Bodhi
 
Posts: 1622
Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2009 6:32 pm
Location: NYC

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby Ytrog » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:56 pm

Hi Ferox,

I recommend not rushing things while also considering that there is precious little time in this life to practice, so don't procrastinate either. I have pretty much the same desire and are working toward it as well.
I recently asked a related question which can be found here: viewtopic.php?f=30&t=10953

I would be ordaining and staying in the states if I had the choice, I feel no desire to stay in Buddhist countries like Sri Lanka and Thailand.

I feel the same about Europe.

Not to hijack the question, but what do you mean with
- Start considering the logistics

Retro? Could you elaborate a bit more on this?
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.
User avatar
Ytrog
 
Posts: 693
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:50 pm
Location: The Netherlands, near Arnhem

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:09 pm

Greetings,

Ytrog wrote:Not to hijack the question, but what do you mean with
- Start considering the logistics

Retro? Could you elaborate a bit more on this?

- What to do with your worldly possessions?
- Selecting the right monestary/teacher for you, by what criteria?
- How you will get to your new monastery (particularly relevant if it's overseas)?
- What will you do if they do not accept you for full ordination?
- What if you change your mind part way through and decide it's not for you?
- What about your taxation, superannuation?
- What about your utilities, bills, contracts etc.?
- (Not relevant specifically to Ferox but...) Child-support obligations 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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14650
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby Ytrog » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:17 pm

Thank you Retro. What would you do with your worldly possessions?
With superannuation you mean pension fund? That just stops when unemployed here.

The "What will you do if they do not accept you for full ordination" question is a hard one for everyone who wants to ordain I imagine. It is not an option you really want to consider.
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.
User avatar
Ytrog
 
Posts: 693
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:50 pm
Location: The Netherlands, near Arnhem

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:20 pm

Greetings,

Ytrog wrote:What would you do with your worldly possessions?

... would seem to be closely tied to the question of "What will you do if they do not accept you for full ordination". Give the possessions away? To who? Put certain things in storage?

Ytrog wrote:With superannuation you mean pension fund? That just stops when unemployed here.

Yes, but there's money in the fund. What to do with it? Who to set up as the delegate authority to do things in relation to it?

Thus not considering...
Ytrog wrote:the "What will you do if they do not accept you for full ordination" question is a hard one for everyone who wants to ordain I imagine. It is not an option you really want to consider.

... is quite a risky proposition.

There's a lot to consider, and perhaps by digging into the necessary questions now, ferox and others in such a situation can come to greater clarity on which path they want to go down.

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14650
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby Ferox » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:24 pm

I wouldn't even know what a superannuation was if not for watching far too many Ajahn Brahm dhamma talks! lol.. Thanks for everyone's reply so far and no worries about hijacking the thread, most of us appear to be in the same boat so I want to hear from everyone's perspective.

- What to do with your worldly possessions?
- Selecting the right monestary/teacher for you, by what criteria?
- How you will get to your new monastery (particularly relevant if it's overseas)?
- What will you do if they do not accept you for full ordination?
- What if you change your mind part way through and decide it's not for you?
- What about your taxation, superannuation?
- What about your utilities, bills, contracts etc.?
- (Not relevant specifically to Ferox but...) Child-support obligations etc.

I've actually been "lightening" my worldly possession load lately, throwing away what I don't need and giving a lot to my nephew. What I own currently can pretty much fit into one room so there wouldn't be too much to give away and most would go to my nephew. I am also renting so no real worries about mortgages and bills related to a house. The changing my mind part weighs heavily on me but I try not to think too much about " what ifs". I know that if I came back to the household life I have family that could help me for a brief period while I got back on my feet, I have my college education and photography skills that would not disappear if I became a monk. My photography equipment and probably my car, if I was fully paid off on it by the time I went in, I would probably just donate to the monastery, those are two things I'm sure every Monastery can use.

I'd prefer if at all possible to be in a forest monastery as I feel that is most conducive to the practice and I admittedly am a bad Buddhist in PREFERRING nature and mountains and forests to cities. Im not to familiar with any other forest monastery besides Bhavana Society , on the east coast anyways.
Last edited by Ferox on Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
-just one more being treading the ancient path of Dhamma-
User avatar
Ferox
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:16 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby Ytrog » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:26 pm

Ferox wrote:I wouldn't even know what a superannuation was if not for watching far too many Ajahn Brahm dhamma talks! lol.. Thanks for everyone's reply so far and no worries about hijacking the thread, most of us appear to be in the same boat so I want to hear from everyone's perspective.

Had to look it up as well ;)
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.
User avatar
Ytrog
 
Posts: 693
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:50 pm
Location: The Netherlands, near Arnhem

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby santa100 » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:29 pm

How about the most obvious question: What's the name of some good Therevada institutions in the US which accept Theravadin novices?
santa100
 
Posts: 1516
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:32 pm

Good advice above. Some other things to consider, if you have not already done so, include following the 8 precepts as much as possible; for example, not eating after 12 noon (when possible with work constraints), not watching movies or much tv shows, cutting back on some of the worldly hobbies and seeing how you do with the renunciation.
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8008
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby Ferox » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:42 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Good advice above. Some other things to consider, if you have not already done so, include following the 8 precepts as much as possible; for example, not eating after 12 noon (when possible with work constraints), not watching movies or much tv shows, cutting back on some of the worldly hobbies and seeing how you do with the renunciation.


taking the 8 is a good idea and I've been thinking how I could implement that into my life currently. One thing I definitely could not do much of in lay life is not eat after 12, I had weight loss surgery about a year ago and my stomach is very small so I can't eat much at one time, i usually eat 6-8 small meals a day. Obviously on retreat I have not been able to do this and it hasn't affected me too much, although admittedly I do bring granola bars(and was given permission to do so) to eat in case I get too hypoglycemic, If I don't get enough food and drink in me I can pass out. This can be especially true with a wilderness nut like myself who goes to a forest monastery and volunteers to cut wood every day for the fun of it haha.

as for entertainment and the like, where I go into the woods in vermont there is no electricity and not even cell phone service, I've gone a week with no modern entertainment or connection with little to no missing it, of course one week is different then for life, but in the end I really see the dissatisfaction involved in said entertainments and do not feel I would need to have them.
-just one more being treading the ancient path of Dhamma-
User avatar
Ferox
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:16 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby beeblebrox » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:57 pm

"If not being a monk and being a monk seems to be the same for you, then that's a good time to be a monk," seems like a good answer to me. :anjali:
User avatar
beeblebrox
 
Posts: 939
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:41 pm

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby Dan74 » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:03 am

Greetings Ferox :hello:

and I had a desire to spread the dhamma to westerners like myself who are searching for something


I think this is a noble aspiration but I hope this is your main reason for wanting to ordain.
_/|\_
User avatar
Dan74
 
Posts: 2626
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby Ferox » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:17 am

Dan74 wrote:Greetings Ferox :hello:

and I had a desire to spread the dhamma to westerners like myself who are searching for something


I think this is a noble aspiration but I hope this is your main reason for wanting to ordain.


you hope it is NOT you mean? and as I stated in my original post it is one of the reasons I would want to stay in my country and be available to people however my ultimate goal is to see things as they truly are ;). If I just wanted to teach westerners I could stay a lay person and open up a meditation center hehe.

beeblebrox wrote:"If not being a monk and being a monk seems to be the same for you, then that's a good time to be a monk," seems like a good answer to me. :anjali:


I agree, I have pondered on the meaning of that statement often.
-just one more being treading the ancient path of Dhamma-
User avatar
Ferox
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:16 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:19 am

Ferox wrote:I had weight loss surgery about a year ago and my stomach is very small so I can't eat much at one time, i usually eat 6-8 small meals a day. Obviously on retreat I have not been able to do this and it hasn't affected me too much, although admittedly I do bring granola bars(and was given permission to do so) to eat in case I get too hypoglycemic,


I'm afraid this is propbably going to put the kibosh on any ordination prospects.
"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
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1912
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:25 am

Goofaholix wrote:
Ferox wrote:I had weight loss surgery about a year ago and my stomach is very small so I can't eat much at one time, i usually eat 6-8 small meals a day. Obviously on retreat I have not been able to do this and it hasn't affected me too much, although admittedly I do bring granola bars(and was given permission to do so) to eat in case I get too hypoglycemic,


I'm afraid this is propbably going to put the kibosh on any ordination prospects.


Maybe not, since the tonics (certain foods) could be used for medicinal reasons? And in reality (although I am not saying it is right) many monks do consume some of these foods on many nights.
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8008
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby Ferox » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:28 am

Goofaholix wrote:
Ferox wrote:I had weight loss surgery about a year ago and my stomach is very small so I can't eat much at one time, i usually eat 6-8 small meals a day. Obviously on retreat I have not been able to do this and it hasn't affected me too much, although admittedly I do bring granola bars(and was given permission to do so) to eat in case I get too hypoglycemic,


I'm afraid this is probably going to put the kibosh on any ordination prospects.



it may, it may not, I haven't heard definitive answers on it either way to be honest so any further information may be helpful. as I said while I've been on retreats having breakfast and lunch with the monks has pretty much been enough, but in my daily life where i'm working long hours and running around, exercising and expending much energy, it's not very feasible. if I'm not mistaken monks can have extra meals while sick or when doing much manual labor no? that might be the only time I would really need more then the traditional two meals.
-just one more being treading the ancient path of Dhamma-
User avatar
Ferox
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:16 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:32 am

David N. Snyder wrote:Maybe not, since the tonics (certain foods) could be used for medicinal reasons? And in reality (although I am not saying it is right) many monks do consume some of these foods on many nights.


That makes 3 "meals" max, and if you are lucky you'll be allowed to keep some sweets in your kuti. I'm sure there a places where you can negotiate some flexibility but it's making things much harder for your right from the start.

I know a monk who had to disrobe a few years ago due to eating problems.
"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
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1912
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: To renounce or not to renounce.. that is the question.

Postby Dan74 » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:32 am

Ferox wrote:
Dan74 wrote:Greetings Ferox :hello:

and I had a desire to spread the dhamma to westerners like myself who are searching for something


I think this is a noble aspiration but I hope this is your main reason for wanting to ordain.


you hope it is NOT you mean? and as I stated in my original post it is one of the reasons I would want to stay in my country and be available to people however my ultimate goal is to see things as they truly are ;). If I just wanted to teach westerners I could stay a lay person and open up a meditation center hehe.


Yes! Sorry!!
_/|\_
User avatar
Dan74
 
Posts: 2626
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Next

Return to Ordination and Monastic Life

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests