I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

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

I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby James the Giant » Mon Apr 01, 2013 12:33 pm

I've been accepted to stay long-term at Ajahn Brahm's monastery, on the path to ordaining. (one year as anagarika, then hopefully apply to be accepted as a novice.)

Great news, although I am little apprehensive.
I stayed at Bodhinyana Monastery, Western Australia, for 9 days and joined in with the three anagarikas in preparing food, cleaning up, washing endless dishes, sweeping the monastery, and of course meditation.
In between long bouts of dish-washing, the main highlight was the opportunity to drive Bhante Sujato and several bhikkhunis to the women's monastery at Dhammasara (six hundred acres of forest!!). I didn't say much on the drive but I got an impression the guy. Verdict: awesome.
And I had a brief interview with the man himself, Ajahn Brahm. I was super-nervous.
I asked him if I could get on the waiting list to stay at the monastery long term, with the intention of becoming an anagarika.
He asked me three questions:
Can you cook?
Do you have a driver's license?
Can you dig ditches?

I said yes to all three, but added I was only an adequate cook. He laughed, and said 2.5 out of 3 was good enough.
He looked at he other monks and they nodded and said Yes also, and that was it, I'm on the waiting list.
The guest monk says I have priority on the list as I am living locally, have stayed at the monastery already, know the monks a bit, and have no visa issues to worry about. Usually the waiting list is around 8 months long, but they said I could get in faster... hopefully.
So, fingers crossed, I may spend the rains there and take the white. If they are full for vassa, I'll find another monastery in Australia for the rains, and come back to Bodhinyana after the vassa when they have room.

The fact that it is led by Ajahn Brahm was not a factor in choosing Bodhinyana. His dhamma talks are great, he clearly has attainments of various kinds, and he is caring and wise with his monks, but I was a little put off by the malarkey and the controversy.
I was also put off by the fact that he's a superstar. I am star-struck and get shy when he walks by. Also he's very often away from the monastery doing things overseas.
But the other senior monks take over seamlessly when he does leave, so that's ok.

So, why choose that particular monastery?
To be honest, at the beginning I was going to steer clear of it due to the bhikkhuni controversy.
But having been there and seen what the sangha is like there, I was converted.
The community, the monastic sangha, is the main reason.
There are 6 anagarikas, 5 novices, and the other 22 are venerables and ajahns. There is a lot of potential for learning different aspects of the life from different style monks.
There are meditation monks with jhanas and attainments, etc. You don't tend to see too much of them.
There are practical monks who are building the next lot of kutis and maintain the old ones.
There are study monks, teacher monks, and writer monks, such as the profoundly knowledgeable and sharp Bhante Sujato.
There is a monk who specialises in vinaya, and sutta studies.
There's a computer monk who is doing something to a next-generation Access-To-Insight type website coming soon.
There's an angry monk who tells people off. (ermm, maybe it's good to have an abrasive bastard around to help grind those rough edges off! Looking on the bright side here.) EDIT: actually, after getting to know him better, he is very kind underneath, just gruff on the surface.
And there is a social monk who often sits around and chats about dhamma with the laypeople.
Lots of variety to learn from.
:woohoo:
Last edited by James the Giant on Fri Aug 15, 2014 4:01 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby befriend » Mon Apr 01, 2013 12:58 pm

congratulations!!! thats awesome! good for you
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Re: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Apr 01, 2013 1:20 pm

Good on you. I hope you get to stay online to let us know how it is going for you. The angry monk sounds like a good job to have.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby plwk » Mon Apr 01, 2013 1:23 pm

Awesome mate :thumbsup:

Btw...any cats there? :tongue:
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: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby James the Giant » Mon Apr 01, 2013 1:42 pm

plwk wrote:Btw...any cats there? :tongue:

Actually yep, there were heaps before Ajahn Brahm got really strict and put up signs saying it was BAD KARMA to dump unwanted cats there.
Did you hear about that? Buddhists were bringing up their problem cats and leaving them.
Now there's only one cat, and it's not very friendly. The kangaroos are more friendly, but they have huge black claws and are slightly scary when they growl.
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saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
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Re: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby plwk » Mon Apr 01, 2013 1:49 pm

Yeah I remember hearing about cats getting dumped there.
Typical in many Asian monasteries and temples too: cats, dogs, unwanted statues of the Buddha and local deities and I was told once upon a time, unwanted babies as well, as if they are a halfway house...
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: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Mon Apr 01, 2013 2:12 pm

Anumodana! I'm very happy for you! :heart:
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Re: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby Ben » Mon Apr 01, 2013 2:15 pm

Well done, James!
A big congratulations for you, my friend.
A word of caution - keep your distance from the kangaroos. They can get agro and do people a lot of damage. The same with other endemic wildlife and feral animals.
I look forward to hearing more about your adventures.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby Buckwheat » Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:39 pm

Congrats, future Ven. Giant. I have a friend that stayed there, and he had so many good things to say. No matter what your future hold, I hope it leads quickly to great wisdom.

Ben wrote:A word of caution - keep your distance from the kangaroos. They can get agro and do people a lot of damage.

You had to go and ruin my idyllic fancy that kangaroos are little cartoonish sweethearts. Damn you, Reality!! ;)
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:50 pm

Congratulations!

It sounds like a great monastery and I know Ajahn Brahm and the other monks and nuns there are very good on following Vinaya.

Much mudita!
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Re: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby polarbuddha101 » Mon Apr 01, 2013 4:31 pm

That sounds awesome! I hope you live a fruitful Brahmacariya there and that you realize nibbana in this very life!!!

About the Kangaroos, there's a talk on dhammaloka where Ajahn Brahmali talks about how he always puts his leftovers out to feed the Kangaroos and that one Kangaroo kept coming closer until one time it just walked right up and tried to grab food out of the Ajahn's bowl. Venerable Brahmali covered the bowl with his arms and then the Kangaroo tried to pull apart his arms until finally Brahmali (who was in a state of minor shock at how much gaul this kangaroo had) got up and pushed the kangaroo away from him. Just thought I'd share the story.

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Re: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Apr 01, 2013 6:58 pm

Good to hear it m8
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby Billymac29 » Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:10 pm

Great news! That is wonderful to hear... Best wishes for you :woohoo: :toast:
"whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon will be the inclination of one's mind"
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Re: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby Modus.Ponens » Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:16 pm

Very cool! I'm happy for you. May you lay down the burden!
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:45 pm

Congratulations James, Sounds like a great place.

:heart:
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Re: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby BlackBird » Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:53 pm

I am so damn happy for you Jamie, with one caveat

James the Giant wrote:So, why choose that particular monastery?

There are meditation monks with jhanas and attainments, etc. You don't tend to see too much of them.


I hope this isn't an important reason for you.

Reason being that it was one of the main reasons I chose a particular monastery in Sri Lanka and later an important reason why I changed monasteries and the same reason I became disillusioned in both cases. You just cannot put your eggs in this basket because inevitably you may turn out to be wrong. There's no guarantee anyone at Bodhinyana has attainments, and every time I hear a lay person declare it with utmost confidence I cringe a little. Maybe some of them have got Jhanas, I think that much is inferable. But there's no such thing as an educated guess when it comes to whether someone is an Ariya.

Other than that, much mudita :D
Thoughts will be with you

metta
Jack
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby Gena1480 » Mon Apr 01, 2013 9:20 pm

Congratulations
James
may you stay on path
without ever returning.
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Re: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby Viscid » Tue Apr 02, 2013 5:34 am

Congratulations, I am excited for you. Tell us all about it when you can!

That next-generation Access to Insight that Sujato and that 'computer monk' are working on is quite exciting, also.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby manas » Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:40 am

Wow, James. This is greeat! :woohoo:

My two cents': remember that monks are human beings. Don't expect perfection from anyone. Of course you will meet many inspiring guides and practitioners of great virtue and wisdom, but remain centred. Remember the three refuges: the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Ariya Sangha - and that last refuge, while wonderful and still extant on this planet I believe, is hard to actually pinpoint in any particular individual.

I wish you the adventure of a lifetime.

This I say to you: Good luck to all assembled here! Dig up the root of craving, like one in search of the fragrant root of the birana grass. Let not Mara crush you again and again, as a flood crushes a reed.

Dhp 337

Go James! :anjali:
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Re: I've been accepted to stay at Ajahn Brahm's monastery

Postby Sylvester » Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:34 am

Have fun, James!
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