Age limit for entering monastic life?

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

Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby shjohnk » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:46 pm

Are there any age limits for a person entering monastic life? My reading only seems to indicate that the candidate needs to satisfy general physical and mental health requirements; age doesn't seem to be mentioned. Does any one know about how this works in monastic orders that accept people from all countries? i.e: I know that in Myanmar or Thailand etc. some people choose to ordain after 70 and end their days as a monastic, but what about in the more international orders? Any age limits? Thanks for any input!
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Re: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby Individual » Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:10 am

Doubt it. In Thailand, young children are often ordained at a very young age, being raised to be monks from birth:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Categ ... f_Thailand

Image

Their status as novice monks, though, isn't exactly the same as a real bhikkhu, though, I guess. I'm not sure if there are any age limits for full ordination.
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Re: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby shjohnk » Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:28 am

Well, maybe the old-age tradition is in Myanmar. I know its one of the SE Asian countries. Nice photo :)
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Re: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:48 am

Before the age of 20, one is a novice. Full ordination must be at a minimum age of 20.

No maximum age. In North Hollywood, California a few years back there was an ex-Protestant minister who ordained at the age of 92 or 95, lived for a few years until his death at that monastery. Sri Lankan monks were at his bedside chanting while he passed.

:bow:

Currently they have another older monk who ordained at the age of about 85.
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Re: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Aug 12, 2009 4:28 am

Greetings,

TheDhamma wrote:No maximum age.


Thanks goodness for that.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby Ben » Wed Aug 12, 2009 4:33 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

TheDhamma wrote:No maximum age.


Thanks goodness for that.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Seconded!
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Re: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby cooran » Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:19 am

Hello all,

Do I notice a slight tendency in this thread for posters to assume it is only Males who may wish to ordain someday? :o

My understanding is that in many asian monasteries, females have to be under 50 years of age with very limited places.
Elsewhere - as at Ajahn Brahmavamso and Ajahn Vayama's monastery - numbers for females are extremely limited ... down to less than five.

However - there is hope - this is a response I had from a young friend who is presently an Anagarika at Santi Monastery, in New South Wales:

Taking Anagarika precepts (8 precepts) is actually not considered an ordination, believe it or not. You are still a layperson, just on 8 precepts with a bald head wearing white. However it is symbolic of your aspiration to eventually ordain. Here at santi the procedure for ordination is first you come along and stay as a short term lay guest. After 4 weeks stay you then are considered a "long term lay guest". After three months you are allowed to take anagarika precepts. After one year you can then take novice nun/monk precepts (10 precepts). After one year as a novice you can take higher ordination if you so wish. Currently at santi there is no higher ordination for women, but it is the monasterys goal for this to happen, and Bhante Sujato (abbot) is highly supportive of full Bhikkuni ordination.

Ordination rules vary greatly from monastery to monastery, the anagarika thing is purlely cultural (thai), the Buddha didn't do this. If you are interested i can send you info in more detail - i have a printout of a few pages of santi ordination info i can send to you, i am more than happy to do this for you.

Ordination is open to anyone regardless of their age, gender, background etc.

The santi website is http://www.santifm.org. I hope this helps.


metta

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Re: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby BlackBird » Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:48 am

I noticed a certain reluctance from some Western Monasteries to ordain older people.
I enquired about this to a certain Monk, because I thought it a little callous.

Apparently older people become more stuck in their ways, and so may have to spend more years in the white Anagarika robes, before they can recieve higher ordination. I don't think this a rule set in stone so much as a general proceedure.

It is something to think about, for all those out there who are considering Monastic life for their retirement...
I'd be careful about thinking in terms of actually living that long anyway, life is uncertain - But death is certain.
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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: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Aug 12, 2009 6:41 am

Hi Blackbird & All,
I have attached a PDF of a document I recieved from amaravati a while ago which talks about this procedure.

I think the general rule of thumb for western monestaries (those in the west run by westerners (those raised in the west) rememberin a western Buddhist thread) is taken from christian monasticism where the age limit applies, I believe, this is true according to some of the sites I have seen to do with ordination in christianity, but may be simlpy a case of them targeting the prime audiance?

Chris I don't think there is an asumption here about sex, it is simply the case of examples are going to be more prevelent from men due to the ordination problems women are having due to the female line dying off for what ever reason, the same would apply to anyone who can be ordained! the same would be true in medicine if we were talking about a breast cancer (which affects men also but to a lesser extent) the vast majority of examples are from women so it would be natural for women to be talked about more than men.

Retro I third that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
as you can probably tell from the attachment I have looked into ordination and would probably be a novice now if I hadn't met the love of my life! :woohoo:
Attachments
Angarikas-UK_EU.pdf
(80.92 KiB) Downloaded 209 times
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Re: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Aug 12, 2009 7:04 am

Hi Chris
just read your post again particularly the part I quote below, and from my experiance this is quite standard in the west, I think, well I have heard, that in asia you could get ordained straight away, this was in the 60's/70's so may of been or the norm at the time? but was from the FWBO files and one other place which the name escapes me, but certainly havn't heard anything which would directly correct this as most of the examples I hear or read from western monks who ordained in asia around this time or before don't talk about their anagarika days, and very seldomly their novice days. although I do think if this was the case it would of been peculiare to somewhere, and don't think it was lay to Bhikkhu but a certain period of Novice ordination would of been involved.

Chris wrote:However - there is hope - this is a response I had from a young friend who is presently an Anagarika at Santi Monastery, in New South Wales:

Taking Anagarika precepts (8 precepts) is actually not considered an ordination, believe it or not. You are still a layperson, just on 8 precepts with a bald head wearing white. However it is symbolic of your aspiration to eventually ordain. Here at santi the procedure for ordination is first you come along and stay as a short term lay guest. After 4 weeks stay you then are considered a "long term lay guest". After three months you are allowed to take anagarika precepts. After one year you can then take novice nun/monk precepts (10 precepts). After one year as a novice you can take higher ordination if you so wish. Currently at santi there is no higher ordination for women, but it is the monasterys goal for this to happen, and Bhante Sujato (abbot) is highly supportive of full Bhikkuni ordination.

Ordination rules vary greatly from monastery to monastery, the anagarika thing is purlely cultural (thai), the Buddha didn't do this. If you are interested i can send you info in more detail - i have a printout of a few pages of santi ordination info i can send to you, i am more than happy to do this for you.

Ordination is open to anyone regardless of their age, gender, background etc.

The santi website is http://www.santifm.org. I hope this helps.


metta

Chris
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Aug 12, 2009 7:26 am

Manapa wrote:
Ordination rules vary greatly from monastery to monastery, the anagarika thing is purlely cultural (thai), the Buddha didn't do this. If you are interested i can send you info in more detail - i have a printout of a few pages of santi ordination info i can send to you, i am more than happy to do this for you.

As far as I understand it's not even a Thai cultural thing, it's a cultural thing of this particular sub-tradition. Which I think is very sensible! It is certainly possible in Thailand to go straight from layman to full Bhikkhu (Though I believe that technically you take the novice ordination then the full ordination sequentially).

Metta
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Re: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:33 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Manapa wrote:
Ordination rules vary greatly from monastery to monastery, the anagarika thing is purlely cultural (thai), the Buddha didn't do this. If you are interested i can send you info in more detail - i have a printout of a few pages of santi ordination info i can send to you, i am more than happy to do this for you.

As far as I understand it's not even a Thai cultural thing, it's a cultural thing of this particular sub-tradition. Which I think is very sensible! It is certainly possible in Thailand to go straight from layman to full Bhikkhu (Though I believe that technically you take the novice ordination then the full ordination sequentially).

Metta
Mike


Hi Mike
Well I supose 30 mins is a time period :)
but I am leaning to the same 'conclusion'
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby Ben » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:21 am

Chris wrote:Do I notice a slight tendency in this thread for posters to assume it is only Males who may wish to ordain someday?

Sorry Chris.
I was just thinking about myself.
Thanks for the update re: Santi
Metta

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Re: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby BlackBird » Wed Aug 12, 2009 10:10 am

Manapa wrote:Hi Blackbird & All,
I have attached a PDF of a document I recieved from amaravati a while ago which talks about this procedure.


Thanks Manapa. This was an interesting read.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'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: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:18 pm

Chris wrote: Bhante Sujato (abbot) is highly supportive of full Bhikkuni ordination.

Ordination is open to anyone regardless of their age, gender, background etc.


:twothumbsup:

:clap:
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Re: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby genkaku » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:30 pm

I have looked into ordination and would probably be a novice now if I hadn't met the love of my life!


Hi Manapa -- Stick with the 'love of my life' and all the benefits imagined as arising from a monastic setting will gather around your feet.

Just my take.
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Re: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:28 pm

Chris wrote:Do I notice a slight tendency in this thread for posters to assume it is only Males who may wish to ordain someday?

Well this is a Theravada sub-forum and the Theravada bhikkhuni order died out a long time ago so... you want to discuss what the age limits were back when the bhikkhuni order still existed?
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Re: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:35 pm

genkaku wrote:
I have looked into ordination and would probably be a novice now if I hadn't met the love of my life!


Hi Manapa -- Stick with the 'love of my life' and all the benefits imagined as arising from a monastic setting will gather around your feet.

Just my take.


I still have moments of packing it all in and going to the monestery but I am the heir of my actions and quite content with how life is playing out for the majority of the time! it is quite good practice I find, having a partner that is!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby PhiloDhamma » Sat Apr 10, 2010 4:35 pm

I know that this thread is a little "stale," but I do have something to add to it--so far not mentioned by anyone else--so here goes.

1. I'm in Canada and I spoke to the Abbot of Birken Forest Monastery in Kamloops: Ajahn Sona, Thai Forest Tradtion. He informed me that as this monastery, the "cut-off age is 45." He was quick to add that it 'has to do with demographics." He didn't elablorate and I didn't puruse it, but I surmise it has to do with Dana. There's not a lot of lay support yet in Canada to support many monks, so perhaps he's concerned to see that support go to candidates with . . . more potential? I don't know. Anyway he suggested that if I wanted to go forth I should go to IMF in Thailand.

2. I once heard Ajahn Jayasaro speaking to a friend of mine who is perhaps 63 ish, and asking him if he hadn't thought of ordaining. My friend said that he thought we was too old. The Ajahn smiled and said: "you seem reasonably healthy..," and he more or less encouraged him to consider it, and put forth both Thailand and Sri Lanka as possibilities.

3. One monastic in the UK I was communicating with by email echoed that 45 is the age in the West.

So, there is a cut-off age in at least one Canadian monastery. That seems to be a broader limitation across much or all of the West. There is no cut-off age in Thailand or Sri Lanka.

The question I wonder at is: ok, so ordination at 53 (my age) in parts of Asia is a possibility--it's not excluded by rules or convention. But how "realistic" is it setting forth at my age? I'm seriously considering it since my family is mature and can spare me now, and since materially there would be no hardship. As it stands, I'm a teacher in a technical school with a pretty sweet opportunity for intensive summer practice during the 9 weeks annual vacation, then there's time off at Christmas, time off at spring break. The work isn't too demanding since I teach more or less the same courses each year, and it leaves enough time and energy for several hours of sitting each day. Yet the idea of going forth really, really appeals to me, and if the Buddha hadn't thought it was of value he wouldn't have recommended it. At the same time my present circumstances are pretty good, and I could move ahead as an 8 precept upasika with fairly generous--for lay life--opportunities for daily and extended practice. If I were 23, the answer would be clear, and I'd definitely go to Sri Lanka. But at 53, one is already grappling with decline to some degree, and materially there's no recovery time left if one goes forth and it's not what one thought it would be.

Aya Khema ordained at 54. But she returned to the West eventually. It seems that most do, doesn't it? Does anyone know of others who have ordained so late in life?

Friends, have you any thoughts? concerns? heckles? . . . moans?

Philodhama

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Re: Age limit for entering monastic life?

Postby Sobeh » Sat Apr 10, 2010 5:22 pm

There are two reasons I can think why there would be some guardedness around applicant age. The first has to do with a certain reticence to encourage ordination as a retirement program, but given your stability with respect to finances and everything else I don't think this is as likely as the second reason (although perhaps still played a part in the minds of those who didn't know you very well when you first asked about going forth).

No, I think the concern is probably more directly a practical one to do with being a medical burden on the lay supporters; besides this facet, I can see no other practical reason why ordination would be a problem. Perhaps there might be cut-off ages in the Forest Tradition because of the starker physical simplicity, issues related to access to health care that are generally not present in a more urban monastic setting? Asking this question of the monks might be more fruitful.

I have no pertinent information about the value of such a thing as Monk for a Month, but this might be something you're fantastically situated to do, something that can offer you an experience that will help ground your deliberations about going forth.

In any event, there are no Sutta-based age limits; wasn't there a bhikkhu who lived to something like 190, and ordained at age 80? Somewhere in the Majjhima Nikaya, I think...
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