Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

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

Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby happylotus1 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:49 am

I have a strong inclination of ordination to live a life without any burden and responsibilities of mundane life :computerproblem: . This interest of my renunciation life started around 10 years back when I was introduced to the teachings of the Buddha. Since then I have joined several meditation retreats and have tried to practice mindfulness in my daily life. Now I am in a situation that I can no longer remain happy with my life as a layman(not as a hate of being layman but feeling uneasy living with so many unnecessary distractions). When I expressed my desire to become a monk, my parents initially thoughts that I was joking, so they were not supportive. Time passed on, and my desire to become a renunciate could not be materialized. Recently with tune with my parent's wishes(I am from South Asian origin) I got married to a girl whom they chose to be fit in family. Still after marriage, I have a strong disconnection with family life and strong inclination towards monk life. Obviously, I am facing moral and psychological opposition from most of my relatives i.e. father, mother, brother, however, parents have recently given the verbal permission to join monastic discipline if I wanted after my continuous insistence.

So I was wondering if my thoughts of renouncing family life for a higher life as pointed out by the Buddha can be unwholesome? or in another way, suppose I left everything behind and went to monastic discipline to practice arduously the 227 precepts and meditation, is there any negative or unwholesome karma regarding renouncing my family (considering old parents and newly wed wife)? or it is more wholesome to remain with lay life (with discontent) to appease the family members for their psychological needs? :anjali:
A householder or householder's son, hearing the Dhamma, gains conviction in the Tathāgata and reflects: 'Household life is confining, a dusty path. The life gone forth is like the open air. It is not easy living at home to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair & beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?
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Re: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:00 am

If you read your text you are using words like desire, inclination, discontent. These kinds of emotional pulls probably have craving, aversion, and delusion at their root.

While the desire to awaken is always a wholesome thing, I don't think the desire to be a monk is always necessarily so. It's often fueled by aversion to one's current situation and the belief that the grass is greener on the other side, so aversion and craving. You may find once you get to the other side you might start to feel the grass is greener back where you came from.

In your case you married someone, and she will be hurt if you leave her, I'm guessing in your culture she may be regarded as used goods and have trouble remarrying. Just because the legend of the Buddha has him leaving his wife doesn't mean to say you should or that there is a kammic loophole whereby one can hurt someone one is supposed to love and not be troubled by the resulting kamma.

So my advice is be the best Buddhist and husband you can in your current situation, make a compromise with your family that if you are going to live the householder life you need them to give you room for meditation and retreats etc. Practise the path as fully as you can in your current situation before considering changing it because unless you can be the best Buddhist and husband you can how can you be sure you'll be any better at being a monk.
"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: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby SarathW » Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:28 am

I agree with Goff.
Observe as much precepts as you can as a lay person. (up to 10 precepts)
Practice virtu, concentration and wisdom to the fullest.
After all above if you are still adamant, I think you got a good case.
I think monk’s life is much harder than the lay life.
:shrug:
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Re: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby happylotus1 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:26 am

Thank you Goff and Sarathw,

I agree with you I have used words like desire, inclination, discontent and as you pointed out I do have craving, aversion, and delusion.

My intention of joining the monastic setting is not to increase these defilement further but to restraint and subdue them so that very few people (include me) will suffer in the future ...(lives)

I understand monk’s life is much harder than the lay life(but not in every sense) as I am already exposed to that setting as a participant of a long term retreat. and I feel confident, happy and encouraged to give a try experiencing that hardness. My concern here is not "will I be able to practice the monastic discipline?" If I cannot, I can anytime return to my normal family life.

My main concern is: " is it blameworthy for a family guy to give that a try? "

or in short which weighs more:

Kusala Kamma of 227 precepts monk or negative kamma of renouncing family responsibilities to practice 227 precepts monk?

:namaste:
A householder or householder's son, hearing the Dhamma, gains conviction in the Tathāgata and reflects: 'Household life is confining, a dusty path. The life gone forth is like the open air. It is not easy living at home to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair & beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?
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Re: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby lyndon taylor » Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:32 am

Why don't you ask your wife's opinion????
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby happylotus1 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:44 am

I have already asked about it.
A householder or householder's son, hearing the Dhamma, gains conviction in the Tathāgata and reflects: 'Household life is confining, a dusty path. The life gone forth is like the open air. It is not easy living at home to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair & beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?
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Re: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:57 am

lyndon taylor wrote:Why don't you ask your wife's opinion????


Lyndon is right, if your wife is happy with this then it's not blameworthy, I recall one Ajahn telling me they accept married men if the wife gives permission.

However I think you are missing a significant aspect of practice in that it's about finding a peace of mind that is there regardless of circumstances, you do this by practicing in situations that are uncomfortable and not ideal and finding that by stopping the search for happiness outside one can find it inside. The Monastic system is designed to do this by taking away the comforts people normally rely on, however for some people like you (and me if the truth be told) the opposite is true and monastic life offers the comforts we yearn for, in that situation using lay life as a practice environment can provide the challenge and going against the grain that is needed.

In short yes I think what you are proposing is more blameworthy.

You made your bed, you should lie in it and learn to practice in it as best you can, learn to make the most of the cards you've been dealt. Perhaps later on when there's more wisdom and less yearning a way might open up that doesn't have you conflicted on the relative blameworthiness of the path you want to choose.
"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: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:57 am

happylotus1 wrote:I have already asked about it.


Care to share the response?
"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: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby happylotus1 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:41 am

Goofaholix,

I am not afraid of being in comfortless zone as you have pointed out "Monastic system is designed to do this by taking away the comforts people normally rely on". What I think is that physical comfort has its trade offs; it comes with the cost of mental discomfort. For example, good house or nice car comes with the cost of taking burden and responsibilities of nice job that requires meeting deadlines and other associated discomfort (such as harsher treatment from the boss...etc ). No physical comfort means one does not need to dedicate his/her time on creating that comfortable condition. So I do have higher appreciation of monastic life without much material comfort as it that gives us ample opportunities for solitude, reflection, mental training and overall freedom.

As far as I read suttas, there were very few instances where householders were discouraged to enter into the monastic life. But most of the time, they were either encouraged to do so or praised for what they have done. Nanda, for example (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html) was encouraged to forget his fiance and strive for the practice. But most of the householder remained as householder because they wanted to remain so. Life is a flow and the process of marriage etc happens even without our strong inclination for it (at least in my case).

I once met a renunciate who left his home life into homelessness around 16 years of age told me...."it is almost impossible to get full coordination/cooperation from the family for renunciate life because of the different inclinations and priorities the members of the family have; so it is a matter of personal decision to take and not to take anyone's permission". He left his home around 16 years of his age avoiding any sort of contacts between his family for initial five- six years. As obvious, my wife does not have similar inclination for monastic life( I can say it is more a kind of antagonistic)

I rephrased your words replacing "you" as "I" and it read like this, "I made my bed, I should lie in it and learn to practice in it as best I can, learn to make the most of the cards I've been dealt. Perhaps later on when there's more wisdom and less yearning a way might open up that doesn't have me conflicted on the relative blameworthiness of the path I want to choose"

Certainly I am learning to practice in it as best I can from my current situation. But Is it reasonable to stick with our current situation and do not give a try for something that our heart is set upon ? especially considering the sutta......do haste in making good...and...'Household life is confining, a dusty path. The life gone forth is like the open air. It is not easy living at home to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair and beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?'
A householder or householder's son, hearing the Dhamma, gains conviction in the Tathāgata and reflects: 'Household life is confining, a dusty path. The life gone forth is like the open air. It is not easy living at home to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair & beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?
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Re: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby santa100 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:14 pm

happylotus1 wrote:..Obviously, I am facing moral and psychological opposition from most of my relatives i.e. father, mother, brother, however, parents have recently given the verbal permission to join monastic discipline if I wanted after my continuous insistence.

The monastic life is a noble goal. But some important questions to consider first: does your wife have the financial mean to support herself without you? Do you have young children that need your support?
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Re: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby happylotus1 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:29 pm

Santa100,

She has a full time job to support herself financially and there are no children.

Regards,
A householder or householder's son, hearing the Dhamma, gains conviction in the Tathāgata and reflects: 'Household life is confining, a dusty path. The life gone forth is like the open air. It is not easy living at home to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair & beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?
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Re: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby santa100 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:48 pm

Well, then the biggest hurdles have been cleared. Now you just have to be bloody honest with yourself that the monastic life is what you seriously want to do. Have a straight and honest talk with your wife. If you simply are not happy with your current situation, keeping the relationship would just be more suffering for her and for yourself. Also check with the Abbot of the of monastery where you want to ordain and ask for his insight on this matter. Good luck..
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Re: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:28 pm

I think there can always be mixed motivations when we do anything wholesome. There are two kinds of renunciates — those who renounce through faith (saddhāpabbajitā) and those who renounce through fear (bhayapabbajitā), that is for fear of earning a living in the world.

I don't see what's holding you back. Just do it wholeheartedly, and leave your wife free from legal problems over ownership of property, so that she is completely free to remarry if she wishes. Leave, and don't ever look back. It might be better to go to Burma or Thailand to put some distance between yourself and family ties.

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Re: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby happylotus1 » Wed Apr 09, 2014 4:04 am

Thank you Venerable Bhikkhu Pesala, Santa100, Goofaholix, lyndon Taylor, Sarathw for your valuable suggestions. :anjali:
A householder or householder's son, hearing the Dhamma, gains conviction in the Tathāgata and reflects: 'Household life is confining, a dusty path. The life gone forth is like the open air. It is not easy living at home to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair & beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?
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Re: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby Ananda26 » Fri Apr 11, 2014 2:22 pm

happylotus1 wrote:I have a strong inclination of ordination to live a life without any burden and responsibilities of mundane life :computerproblem: . This interest of my renunciation life started around 10 years back when I was introduced to the teachings of the Buddha. Since then I have joined several meditation retreats and have tried to practice mindfulness in my daily life. Now I am in a situation that I can no longer remain happy with my life as a layman(not as a hate of being layman but feeling uneasy living with so many unnecessary distractions). When I expressed my desire to become a monk, my parents initially thoughts that I was joking, so they were not supportive. Time passed on, and my desire to become a renunciate could not be materialized. Recently with tune with my parent's wishes(I am from South Asian origin) I got married to a girl whom they chose to be fit in family. Still after marriage, I have a strong disconnection with family life and strong inclination towards monk life. Obviously, I am facing moral and psychological opposition from most of my relatives i.e. father, mother, brother, however, parents have recently given the verbal permission to join monastic discipline if I wanted after my continuous insistence.

So I was wondering if my thoughts of renouncing family life for a higher life as pointed out by the Buddha can be unwholesome? or in another way, suppose I left everything behind and went to monastic discipline to practice arduously the 227 precepts and meditation, is there any negative or unwholesome karma regarding renouncing my family (considering old parents and newly wed wife)? or it is more wholesome to remain with lay life (with discontent) to appease the family members for their psychological needs? :anjali:


In Therevadan Buddhism one has to get permission from one's parents to become a monk. Buddha knew it is good to take care of one's parents.
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Re: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby happylotus1 » Fri Apr 11, 2014 4:54 pm

In my case, parent have given the verbal permission (although reluctantly) to join monastic discipline if I wanted.
A householder or householder's son, hearing the Dhamma, gains conviction in the Tathāgata and reflects: 'Household life is confining, a dusty path. The life gone forth is like the open air. It is not easy living at home to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair & beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?
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Re: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby Ananda26 » Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:20 pm

happylotus1 wrote:In my case, parent have given the verbal permission (although reluctantly) to join monastic discipline if I wanted.


It may be a very good idea to invite your parents to some Buddhist Community Activities so that they can see how to fit in nicely with the Buddhist Community.
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Re: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby happylotus1 » Mon Apr 14, 2014 12:13 am

Found one interesting quote from accesstoinsight
"There are two goals, the holy goal and the unholy goal. But what is the unholy goal? One, himself subject to birth, seeks what also is subject to birth; himself subject to old age, to sickness, to death, to pain, to defilement seeks what also is subject to old age, to sickness, to death, to pain, to defilement. But what is subject to birth, old age, sickness, death, pain and defilement? Wife and child are subject to birth, old age, sickness, death, pain and defilement; servant and maid, lamb and goat... gold and silver are subject to birth, old age, sickness, death, pain and defilement. Subject to birth, old age, sickness, death, pain, to defilement are these things. And allured, blinded, enchanted a man himself subject to birth, to old age, to sickness, to death, to pain to defilement seeks what also is subject to birth, old age, sickness, death, to pain, to defilement! This is the unholy goal. But what is the holy goal?

"One himself subject to birth, perceiving the misery of this law of nature, seeks that which is free from birth: the incomparable surety of Nibbana; subject to old age, to sickness, to death, to pain, to defilement perceiving the misery of this law of nature, seeks that which is free from old age, sickness, death, pain and defilement the incomparable surety of Nibbana. This is the holy goal.

"Formerly, when but a Bodhisatta, myself subject to birth, I sought what also was subject to birth; myself subject to old age, sickness, death, pain, defilement, sought what also was subject to old age, sickness, death, pain, defilement. And it occurred to me as follows: 'Why, myself subject to birth, old age, sickness, death, pain, defilement, do I seek what also is subject to birth, old age, sickness, death, pain, defilement? What, if now, myself subject to birth, perceiving the misery of this law of nature, I were to seek the incomparable surety of Nibbana free from birth: myself subject to old age, sickness, death, pain defilement perceiving the misery of this law of nature, I were to seek the incomparable surety of Nibbana free from old age, sickness, death, pain, defilement? And after a time while still young, with coal-black hair, possessed of radiant youth, in the prime of my life, against the wish of my weeping and wailing parents, I had my hair and beard shaved off, put on the yellow robe, and went forth from the household life to the houseless one..."
A householder or householder's son, hearing the Dhamma, gains conviction in the Tathāgata and reflects: 'Household life is confining, a dusty path. The life gone forth is like the open air. It is not easy living at home to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair & beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?
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Re: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby indian_buddhist » Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:06 pm

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Re: Can intention of renunciation ever be unwholesome?

Postby indian_buddhist » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:07 am

Ok so the decision to Ordination in your case........If you seen the 4 Noble Truths after you had already married then I could have understood you. But you had known his teachings before. I can only tell you my case. I am not interested to marry now knowing the 4 Noble truths. Now my decision is not to look for marriage......Meaning I am not at all looking any more.

If at all marriage is forced upon me then i will give up being a Monk in this life.

Everyone cannot compare their life to historical Buddha. The Historical Buddha is justified to leave behind his wife and child, Parents because someone had to discover the lost path. Someone had to show the way which everyone else can later follow.

You personally do not have such lofty goals. The path is already known. Surely following the path is not that difficult after we already know the path. How justified are you to leave behind your wife just to follow his path.........Thats a Moral decision you yourself have to decide. The Buddha's teaching will help you decide that better.

Yes i know that you are not craving for attachment towards your wife but does your wife think about it in the same way?. She had married you expecting that you will take care of her in her entire life.

Oh and no matter what anybody will tell you, Having Sex once in a while with your legally wedded wife is not wrong at all. It is only when you are obsessed about Sex and think about Sex all the time then it is completely wrong.

Anyway (its only my personal opinion) ......Unless you are in great physical danger by following the path or you do not have the means to survive (meaning you have no access to Food/clothing/home) etc where it will be difficult to just survive day to day means then you are justified in becoming a Monk.

My personal opinion is that apart from these 2 above reasons , the Buddha's path can be also followed by being a Layman.

By being a Monk how will experience the different facets of Suffering in entirety?. Suffering (the First Noble truth) has to be understood in its entirety to follow the path. I am not sure by being a Monk you can understand Suffering that well.

Oh and about craving, I think I already come far off from Food/ambition/Women and this has happened by being a Layman. Every person is different though. My only opinion is that Ordination is not absolutely necessary.
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