We can't all ordain...right?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby chownah » Thu Oct 24, 2013 7:09 am

hermitwin,
I agree that to think of this in terms of some specific avocation being over represented in society is not very likely and not very productive but the direction that technology is headed we very well could get to the point where half of the people on the world will not need to work......and it might not take a really long time for this to happen except for the fact that the present economy requires continual growth so the existing economy will have to change in some way it seems as technology takes over what are now human tasks. This is a situation which is sort of similar to the OP and one that is really more serious and plausible I think.......there are several issues that might be raised concerning how this might play out.
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Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby BlindJoeDeath » Thu Oct 24, 2013 1:17 pm

Thanks to everyone who answered this without being so critical. It wasn't a serious burning question of mine, just something I thought was interesting. I hardly see how it compares to being a teacher seeing as teachers have a salary. The whole point was that monks are reliant upon the lay community for purposes of food and nowadays donations as well. I never was under the belief that this would be happening at some point in the future.


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Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby Viscid » Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:26 pm

I've been meaning to ask this question generally for a while:

Would a monastery have to break totally from the Theravadin tradition if they wish to be self-sufficient? (Farming, perhaps, or selling products such as pottery or food.) I fantasize about a Theravadin monastery that operates much like a Trappist monastery to fund itself, rather than relying completely on laypeople. There seems to be a niche for it-- requiring a dedicated lay community seems unnecessarily prohibitive.
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Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby reflection » Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:53 pm

I don't know about breaking with Theravada, but it would break the monastic code on various grounds. But I don't see what is limiting about dependency on the lay people. It is good because it forces connection with the outside world, not turning into some insiders-only club.
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Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby Viscid » Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:16 pm

reflection wrote:But I don't see what is limiting about dependency on the lay people. It is good because it forces connection with the outside world, not turning into some insiders-only club.


I was thinking for geographically isolated areas, especially in the United States, where a dedicated Buddhist lay community is perhaps not viable.
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Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby kmath » Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:05 pm

Viscid wrote:I've been meaning to ask this question generally for a while:

Would a monastery have to break totally from the Theravadin tradition if they wish to be self-sufficient? (Farming, perhaps, or selling products such as pottery or food.) I fantasize about a Theravadin monastery that operates much like a Trappist monastery to fund itself, rather than relying completely on laypeople. There seems to be a niche for it-- requiring a dedicated lay community seems unnecessarily prohibitive.


This could be completely wrong but isn't that how Zen originally broke off from Theravada?
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Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby Anagarika » Sat Oct 26, 2013 10:31 pm

Viscid wrote:I've been meaning to ask this question generally for a while:

Would a monastery have to break totally from the Theravadin tradition if they wish to be self-sufficient? (Farming, perhaps, or selling products such as pottery or food.) I fantasize about a Theravadin monastery that operates much like a Trappist monastery to fund itself, rather than relying completely on laypeople. There seems to be a niche for it-- requiring a dedicated lay community seems unnecessarily prohibitive.


I've wondered about this, too. The majesty and brilliance of the Vinaya code is such that one would hesitate to mess with it in modern times, yet I have observed some Theravada monks make some small concessions in order to function in the west. These concessions are undertaken with some reluctance, but with a sense that certain functions would be impossible without some "tweaking" of the Code. For example, one of the monks is a Dhamma teacher, and he drives himself (old small car) to the various sanghas that support his Wat in the US. He has undertaken to drive because there is often no one to drive him from where he lives. He chooses to teach the Dhamma vs. stay at home and not teach.

Is it possible to endeavor to be a good Vinaya monk in the west, and still make some accommodations in order to survive and thrive? It seems to me that there needs to be an understanding that we can't let Theravada die out in the west over issues like transportation, food resourcing, and similar concerns. I recall one monk in the west relating that he had started a new monastery dependent on daily meal dana from some Asian locals in town. This small group of monks went for days without eating because the locals forgot to bring food. One of these monks is a Pali Dhamma scholar...I'd hate to think that he'd die in a remote cabin somewhere simply because in the west no one cared to remember to bring him a daily meal.

I don't want to see Theravada die off in the west, or see itself in a distant third place in the west behind the leading Mahayana sanghas. I personally see Theravada as the strongest link of the Buddhist chain, and it should never find itself imperiled due to an inability to function in modern western society.
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Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby reflection » Mon Oct 28, 2013 9:45 am

Viscid wrote:
reflection wrote:But I don't see what is limiting about dependency on the lay people. It is good because it forces connection with the outside world, not turning into some insiders-only club.


I was thinking for geographically isolated areas, especially in the United States, where a dedicated Buddhist lay community is perhaps not viable.

Monasteries seem to pop up here and there, so it seems sort of working.

I think monks & nuns also ordain to in future times be able to pass on their teachings. If there are few lay people around, where will new students come from? Monks & nuns who want to get away from everything and sit by themselves only, I don't know if I find that inspiring.

But there are also stories of monasteries that had a hard time getting support when they started out. I think most in the west had that issue. Still many seem to survive, so I don't think it is that much a problem.
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Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby hermitwin » Mon Oct 28, 2013 10:43 am

The highest rate of ordination was in Tibet and mongollia ,
The number was as high as 25% of the men before the communist took over.
The Mahayana school has solved the problem. They grow their own food.




reflection wrote:
Viscid wrote:
reflection wrote:But I don't see what is limiting about dependency on the lay people. It is good because it forces connection with the outside world, not turning into some insiders-only club.


I was thinking for geographically isolated areas, especially in the United States, where a dedicated Buddhist lay community is perhaps not viable.

Monasteries seem to pop up here and there, so it seems sort of working.

I think monks & nuns also ordain to in future times be able to pass on their teachings. If there are few lay people around, where will new students come from? Monks & nuns who want to get away from everything and sit by themselves only, I don't know if I find that inspiring.

But there are also stories of monasteries that had a hard time getting support when they started out. I think most in the west had that issue. Still many seem to survive, so I don't think it is that much a problem.
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Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby kilanta » Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:57 am

arijitmitter wrote:As far as continuation of human race goes there will have to be some sex for procreational purpose.


After giving some thought about this I fail to find any reason why continuation of human race would be something that necessarily should be endorsed from theravadan point of view. I'm not knowledgeable about the scripture at all, but isn't it so that this would actually just mean there is no craving at all as people simply have found a way to let go of this life and thus, at some point, the last one gives up and produces no future generations?
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Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby dagon » Sat Nov 02, 2013 1:41 pm

kilanta wrote:
arijitmitter wrote:As far as continuation of human race goes there will have to be some sex for procreational purpose.


After giving some thought about this I fail to find any reason why continuation of human race would be something that necessarily should be endorsed from theravadan point of view. I'm not knowledgeable about the scripture at all, but isn't it so that this would actually just mean there is no craving at all as people simply have found a way to let go of this life and thus, at some point, the last one gives up and produces no future generations?


You may find this link useful - while i do not support many of the ideas in the thread; arijitmiter is right to identify the need for the continuation of the human existence as it provides the best situation for the development toward the ultimate goal of Theravada Buddhism.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... /loka.html

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Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby arijitmitter » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:02 pm

kilanta wrote:
arijitmitter wrote:As far as continuation of human race goes there will have to be some sex for procreational purpose.


After giving some thought about this I fail to find any reason why continuation of human race would be something that necessarily should be endorsed from theravadan point of view. I'm not knowledgeable about the scripture at all, but isn't it so that this would actually just mean there is no craving at all as people simply have found a way to let go of this life and thus, at some point, the last one gives up and produces no future generations?


Extremely complex question. Not only from Theravadin point of view but of all of philosophy - does human race have the responsibility to continue itself ?

If there were no humans, then without us what will be role of God / Kamma / Fate (assuming we are the only planet with intelligent beings weak enough to be susceptible to Kamma).

If a 6 mile wide asteroid crashed into the earth next year and wiped us all out will Kamma be rendered null and void. If there is fate what will be it's role then.
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Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Nov 03, 2013 6:37 pm

arijitmitter wrote:If there were no humans, then without us what will be role of God / Kamma / Fate (assuming we are the only planet with intelligent beings weak enough to be susceptible to Kamma).

If a 6 mile wide asteroid crashed into the earth next year and wiped us all out will Kamma be rendered null and void. If there is fate what will be it's role then.


There are other world systems. Scientists have identified about 1,000 planets. Not all will have the right environment to support life, but surely at least a few will have the right conditions, like earth.

When a world system perishes (as all do eventually), rebirth will be to another world system, for those who have not made it to the higher planes, such as the suddhāvāsa.

As one perishes another eventually reconstitutes and is formed, according to Brahmajala Sutta and science:

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Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby arijitmitter » Mon Nov 04, 2013 2:08 am

David N. Snyder wrote:There are other world systems. Scientists have identified about 1,000 planets. Not all will have the right environment to support life, but surely at least a few will have the right conditions, like earth.


There are many millions of solar systems probably able to sustain life "otherwise it is an awful waste of space" (from Carl Sagan's Contact)

But the question is - does human race have an obligation to continue itself. If in a particular situation human race can take action and survive but does not and perishes, how will philosophy look at that (this is not shared as a Theravadin / Buddhist question but a general philosophical question).

Such as a virus appears which attacks female ovaries and makes it non functional. The virus is painless and a hard nut to crack. It will require all major governments to set aside a large percent of their GDP (say 3%) to develop a complete cure in a decade. But that never happens. Human race perishes in 200 years.

Was there an obligation on part of the governments to set aside resources from other tasks to fight this virus ? Do we have any obligation to survive as a species (since we are the only species which has some control over it's survival)

Question arises because philosophers have been strangely silent for last 30 years about problems of global warming, deforestation, species extinction and so on.

I realize this is completely off the Forum topic
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