A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

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

A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby SDC » Wed Aug 25, 2010 10:02 pm

I would have preferred to have the title be "A Discussion of Therevadan Buddhist Monasticism in the West", but I couldn't fit it.

I decided to start this thread after reading the paper posted here: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=5261&view=unread#unread

I felt that what I wanted to bring up from that paper belonged in this forum, so here we are. You don't have to read the paper in order to be in this discussion, obviously, but it was definitely a good read. In fact, only a few things of which I am about to ask relate to the paper. Mods, although I do feel this topic fits in well here, it could work in the "Therevada in the Modern World" forum. Please move it if you feel it would be better suited there.

I would like to bring up a few questions about ordination and monasticism in general that I've been having for as long as I have been studying and practicing Buddhism (3 years). Specifically I would like to discuss how men and women from Europe, North/South America, Australia go about choosing where they ordain as a Therevadan monk or nun. Within this, I would like to discuss the current state of the overall Buddhist monastic tradition in western countries as it applies to the native people of those countries and what the options are for ordination in their own country.

This thread is for all of us. I do have opinions of what I am about to ask and I do have a few answers to these questions. I will gladly state them as this thread goes on, though I am by no means a scholar on the subject. In fact I know relatively little about most of this. Mainly, I just think that this is something that we can all benefit from, and correct me if I am wrong, I do not think we have a thread in which all these questions are addressed together.

Firstly...why does it seem, I say "seem" because it is the impression I've gotten from many directions, why does it seem that for serious ordination one must go to Southeast Asia (Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, etc.)? Why not in their own country? What are the difficulties of ordination in these western countries? Limited number of Therevadan monasteries? Lack of space? Lack of monasteries that accept westerners? Or is there such a limited amount of westerners looking to ordain and therefore there are few options in these western countries? Is it just that the western monastic tradition is still in its infancy?

Secondly...and this question has spawned from the paper in the other thread - what are the opinions of monasteries in western countries, with mostly western monks, that have abbots of western origin that maintain cultural traditions from the Southeast Asian countries in which they were trained? Do the junior monastics upset by these cultural influences have a good reason to be critical? Should they try to change the way the abbots run the monasteries to make them less culturally influenced? Or should they move along to a situation that better suits what they are looking for considering they knew they were entering a monastery in which is rooted in the Thai forest tradition?

Thirdly...what can be said of the overall western monastic tradition within western countries? Is there one to speak of? It seems very limited. Does it lack anything as compared to the eastern tradition? If so, why? Would the lack of awareness and participation by the majority of laypeople in these countries pose a problem? Although we are primarily concerned with Therevada, perhaps some information on the status of other Buddhist traditions can help this aspect of the discussion.

Fourthly...what does everyone think about the establishment of a less culturally influenced monastic tradition in these western countries. Is there one? Should there be one? In my very humble opinion, Buddhism has been affected by the different cultures in the various countries in which it is practiced. And therefore the monastic community in the different countries do have some differences. How does/will western culture positively or negatively affect the western monastic tradition/community as it develops? It begs the question - should culture be separated from monasticism as much as possible?

Lastly and a tad hypothetically speaking…would you rather ordain in your own country if you could? Would it be more comfortable? Would it be easier? What are some of the things you would like to see in a monastery in your own country? What can be done to develop a larger monastic tradition in the west? Where do we go from here?

I hope I have stated all these questions in a polite and uncomplicated manner. Feel free to expand beyond what I have asked as long as it pertains somewhat to the overall point of this thread.

So what say you, good people of dhammawheel? :smile:
Through many of samsara’s births I hasten seeking, finding not the builder of this house - pain is birth again, again. O builder of this house you’re seen, you shall not build a house again, all your beams have given away, rafters of the ridge decayed, mind to the unconditioned gone, exhaustion of craving has it reached.(Dhp - 153, 154)
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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby BlackBird » Wed Aug 25, 2010 10:27 pm

SDC wrote:Firstly...why does it seem, I say "seem" because it is the impression I've gotten from many directions, why does it seem that for serious ordination one must go to Southeast Asia (Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, etc.)? Why not in their own country? What are the difficulties of ordination in these western countries? Limited number of Therevadan monasteries? Lack of space? Lack of monasteries that accept westerners? Or is there such a limited amount of westerners looking to ordain and therefore there are few options in these western countries? Is it just that the western monastic tradition is still in its infancy?


There's certainly no shortage of postulants (in the good monasteries), but the problem is that the West is the frontier. Every monastery in the west is an oasis - If the water turns fetid (and it does, periodically) then where do you go?

In the East one can go where one likes essentially, if the conditions turn to custard, then it's really no problem - You just pack your bags and go to one of the other 100 places nearby. Almost the whole population are faithful of monks and yogis and are very willing to help you with any problems you might have. The East affords one a freedom of choice that is not found in the small number of Western sanctuaries.

The Ajahn Chah lineage certainly has a lot of money, and that has ensured that it's Monks who are 5+ vassa can essentially go where they like, but the wealth of the lineage is dependent upon conditions and I wouldn't be surprised if all of these lay-committees and associations that support them, will in time (due to worsening economic conditions and the scarcity of oil) be caught with their pants down. But what about the East? Well in many regions it's basically agrarian - The west could collapse altogether and in some places people wouldn't really bat an eye lid. So in my eyes at least it offers the prospect of long term sustainability in terms of the four requisites.

metta
Jack
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:00 am

Hi SDC,

Thank you for the interesting questions. Just a quick comment:
SDC wrote:Secondly...and this question has spawned from the paper in the other thread - what are the opinions of monasteries in western countries, with mostly western monks, that have abbots of western origin that maintain cultural traditions from the Southeast Asian countries in which they were trained? Do the junior monastics upset by these cultural influences have a good reason to be critical? Should they try to change the way the abbots run the monasteries to make them less culturally influenced? Or should they move along to a situation that better suits what they are looking for considering they knew they were entering a monastery in which is rooted in the Thai forest tradition?

It seems to me that it is tricky to figure out what aspects are "cultural" and what aspects are a sensible way of making sure that the newly-ordained bhikkhus get on the right track. It also seemt to me that when one "signs on" with a preceptor then one knows that one is signing on for a package.

One of my Dhamma friends here left for Thailand with a moderately famous Ajahn late last year, with the intention of ordaining in a few months. I was present at some of the clarifying discussions he had before making the decision (he wanted a couple of friends to be present in case there were questions he didn't think of). The message was basically that he was expected to follow the preceptor's directions for five years. After that he was free (and encouraged) to seek out alternatives. If he found it impossible to last the five years he was also free to leave, as long as he didn't expect to be able to come back later...

That seemed to me to be a rather sensible and transparent arrangement. My impression is that this is typical.

Mike
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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby Goedert » Thu Aug 26, 2010 2:28 am

Western people live a different cultural life.

In the west we have a culture based on democratic values, humanist values and CAPITALIST value all the way first!

Aristoteles in ancient times, already made a critic to the worst form of governament.

He believed that the political regiments existent in his time, could be compared with the wind regularity. There is a constance in their casting: always to the north or always to the south. However, there is irregularity of every type. In the same way it occurs with the political forms. We can imagine that some of them are permanents, as monarchism, aristocracy, politeia (constitucional governament), indeed existing the natural "corruptions", provoked by the erronious winds, that conduce us to other political organizations, worse then the ideals. In these worse forms of governament, Aristóteles pointed the tirany (the most wicked), the oligarchy and the DEMOCRACY (pointed by him as "the worst of the good forms, but the best in the bad variety", because the major accordance win, not the meritous one.

The human society, especially in the west, is too diverseficated, so is the behaviour of people. This tend to people be free as long they respect the law stablished in the present. In the western society lot of the ancient costumes are getting lost, such as respect to the old, respect to the wise, respect to relegion, this tend people go toward sientific materialism.

This kind of behaviour goes to the western monosteries also, maybe there is people going to a type of spiritual materialism or something like that in change of sientific materialism. Because of democracy, western don't like too much power to someone and they try to go to the texts as first guidance.

In the East you can ordain in any place, after full ordination one can live as wanderer/beggar/forester and go to any place. In my case, I'm waiting to accomplish higher wordly education in Bachaelor of Laws and finish doctorate, instruct my self very well on the principles and bases of the teaching such as Noble 8 path, brahma-viharas, 4 bases of concentration, paramis, et coetera and then go for ordination. This is to avoid any lack of instruction and guidance, we never know what gonna happen, so propper preparation is good. After full ordination and spending some time with the preceptor and teacher, I want to go to the forest, cave duelling, living as beggar. Don't want to spend much time in a monostary. Military service in Brazil teach how to live in this conditions, there is no problem living without furnishments and equipaments as long as get food from begging. (this paragrah is my personal view).
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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:00 am

14 years ago when I decided I wanted to ordain there was a very good Ajahn Chah monastery 15 minutes drive down the road from me. I could have gone there but the idea of spending a year as an anagarika bleaching my whites didn't appeal. Seriously though it wouldn't have felt like "going forth", going out on a limb, too close to everything I was familiar with and all the temptations I was used to. I also felt I'd be spending a lot of time on chores and building programs when really what I wanted was intensive meditation.

So I went to Thailand, and I've been to Thailand, Myanmar, and Malaysia many times since. I did eventually ordain but only for 3 months as a cultural pre-requisite to being married.

If I were to ordain proper (ie long term) some time in future I'd still probably choose asia even though I think the western approach to monastic practice is closer to original Buddhism, not swallowed up by culture, superstition, and tradition, not full of insincere monks.

The reason would be as before, in addition now I'm just as comfortable in the asian environment as I am here.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby SDC » Thu Aug 26, 2010 8:41 pm

BlackBird wrote:
SDC wrote:Firstly...why does it seem, I say "seem" because it is the impression I've gotten from many directions, why does it seem that for serious ordination one must go to Southeast Asia (Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, etc.)? Why not in their own country? What are the difficulties of ordination in these western countries? Limited number of Therevadan monasteries? Lack of space? Lack of monasteries that accept westerners? Or is there such a limited amount of westerners looking to ordain and therefore there are few options in these western countries? Is it just that the western monastic tradition is still in its infancy?


There's certainly no shortage of postulants (in the good monasteries), but the problem is that the West is the frontier. Every monastery in the west is an oasis - If the water turns fetid (and it does, periodically) then where do you go?

In the East one can go where one likes essentially, if the conditions turn to custard, then it's really no problem - You just pack your bags and go to one of the other 100 places nearby. Almost the whole population are faithful of monks and yogis and are very willing to help you with any problems you might have. The East affords one a freedom of choice that is not found in the small number of Western sanctuaries.

The Ajahn Chah lineage certainly has a lot of money, and that has ensured that it's Monks who are 5+ vassa can essentially go where they like, but the wealth of the lineage is dependent upon conditions and I wouldn't be surprised if all of these lay-committees and associations that support them, will in time (due to worsening economic conditions and the scarcity of oil) be caught with their pants down. But what about the East? Well in many regions it's basically agrarian - The west could collapse altogether and in some places people wouldn't really bat an eye lid. So in my eyes at least it offers the prospect of long term sustainability in terms of the four requisites.

metta
Jack


Good info, Jack.

mikenz66 wrote:Hi SDC,

Thank you for the interesting questions. Just a quick comment:
SDC wrote:Secondly...and this question has spawned from the paper in the other thread - what are the opinions of monasteries in western countries, with mostly western monks, that have abbots of western origin that maintain cultural traditions from the Southeast Asian countries in which they were trained? Do the junior monastics upset by these cultural influences have a good reason to be critical? Should they try to change the way the abbots run the monasteries to make them less culturally influenced? Or should they move along to a situation that better suits what they are looking for considering they knew they were entering a monastery in which is rooted in the Thai forest tradition?

It seems to me that it is tricky to figure out what aspects are "cultural" and what aspects are a sensible way of making sure that the newly-ordained bhikkhus get on the right track. It also seemt to me that when one "signs on" with a preceptor then one knows that one is signing on for a package.

One of my Dhamma friends here left for Thailand with a moderately famous Ajahn late last year, with the intention of ordaining in a few months. I was present at some of the clarifying discussions he had before making the decision (he wanted a couple of friends to be present in case there were questions he didn't think of). The message was basically that he was expected to follow the preceptor's directions for five years. After that he was free (and encouraged) to seek out alternatives. If he found it impossible to last the five years he was also free to leave, as long as he didn't expect to be able to come back later...

That seemed to me to be a rather sensible and transparent arrangement. My impression is that this is typical.

Mike


I felt the same way when reading the paper that was posted in the other thread. Essentially, they understood what the deal was at those monasteries.

Goedert wrote:In the western society lot of the ancient costumes are getting lost, such as respect to the old, respect to the wise, respect to relegion, this tend people go toward sientific materialism.


To be honest with you, Goedert, the thing that distinguishes the United States, where I live, and perhaps a few other western nations, is that there really aren't "ancient customs". We absolutely have some short term "traditions", but we by no means, collectively, maintain anything that could be considered ancient. I mean this statement in general, as far as there being any "ancient American customs". There is not even an idea of that in the United States. I think this is due to the fact that the US is still a relatively young culture that grew out of war, chaos, industry, innovation and imagination with the goal of abandoning old ways.

So I'm not saying I disagree with your above statement, but for the US at least, the general American mentality has always tended towards science and reason above religion and ancient wisdom. Just look at what has happened between 1776 and now as far as technology and economics. So I don't see that anything is getting lost, it was never really here...at least in the US. But, IMVHO, that time will come when we will be able to see some aspects of our culture as strong, long standing customs.

What I will say, and perhaps this is what you meant, is that upon emigrating to the US, and perhaps other western nations, many foreign cultures gradually disappear through the generations. My great grandparents on both sides were Italian and Sicilian immigrants, and as far as specific Italian customs, they are all but gone throughout my family.

Since the US seems to be a cultural wrecking ball, I think that environment could be a good thing for the the practice of Buddhism in western monasteries. I think it puts less around the practice and teachings so access is much easier and less confusing as far as having to distinguish what's a cultural aspect and what is the dhamma.

Goedert wrote:In the East you can ordain in any place, after full ordination one can live as wanderer/beggar/forester and go to any place. In my case, I'm waiting to accomplish higher wordly education in Bachaelor of Laws and finish doctorate, instruct my self very well on the principles and bases of the teaching such as Noble 8 path, brahma-viharas, 4 bases of concentration, paramis, et coetera and then go for ordination. This is to avoid any lack of instruction and guidance, we never know what gonna happen, so propper preparation is good. After full ordination and spending some time with the preceptor and teacher, I want to go to the forest, cave duelling, living as beggar. Don't want to spend much time in a monostary. Military service in Brazil teach how to live in this conditions, there is no problem living without furnishments and equipaments as long as get food from begging. (this paragrah is my personal view).


Sounds like a good plan. :smile:

Goofaholix wrote:14 years ago when I decided I wanted to ordain there was a very good Ajahn Chah monastery 15 minutes drive down the road from me. I could have gone there but the idea of spending a year as an anagarika bleaching my whites didn't appeal. Seriously though it wouldn't have felt like "going forth", going out on a limb, too close to everything I was familiar with and all the temptations I was used to. I also felt I'd be spending a lot of time on chores and building programs when really what I wanted was intensive meditation.

So I went to Thailand, and I've been to Thailand, Myanmar, and Malaysia many times since. I did eventually ordain but only for 3 months as a cultural pre-requisite to being married.

If I were to ordain proper (ie long term) some time in future I'd still probably choose asia even though I think the western approach to monastic practice is closer to original Buddhism, not swallowed up by culture, superstition, and tradition, not full of insincere monks.

The reason would be as before, in addition now I'm just as comfortable in the asian environment as I am here.


Right on, Goof. I would not want to ordain so close to my home either. But I would ordain out west here in the US. It is far enough away from NYC for there to be a separation.
Through many of samsara’s births I hasten seeking, finding not the builder of this house - pain is birth again, again. O builder of this house you’re seen, you shall not build a house again, all your beams have given away, rafters of the ridge decayed, mind to the unconditioned gone, exhaustion of craving has it reached.(Dhp - 153, 154)
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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:06 pm

Having read through the article I notice the author, being a Thai, does seem to to informed by the assumption that most Thais have that Thai culture is in harmony with Buddhism.

I notice whenever I tell Thais I am interested in Buddhism they automatically assume I'm interested in Thai culture, when in reality I don't see much overlap between the two and in some aspects they are totally opposite.

Having said that the main point of the article is about the hierarchical nature of Thai culture, this I don't really have an issue with. If you look at Mahayana Buddhism there is a much stronger emphasis of submission to a teacher, Myanmar is much the same as Thailand in this respect, maybe Sri Lanka is an exception I'm not sure. Maybe this all comes from the Hindu notion of a guru rather than the pali canon notion of a kalyanamitta but still it works.

So personally I don't see an issue with the hierarchical nature of Thai monasticism, but I can imagine those planning to have it as a life vocation might, it makes life simpler so that one can more easily settle ones mind to the task.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby householder » Sun Apr 24, 2011 7:44 am

Reviving this thread somewhat,

These were some very well-informed posts and discussions which I enjoyed reading.

What about the idea of ordaining and training at a Western monastery (bearing in mind Goofaholix's statement that Western monasticism is closer to the original teachings) so that one is able to focus the mind, speech and body on this until they reach 5+ vassa, THEN moving to Thailand or somewhere?

That way, one's monastic training involves focus on the 'pure' teachings without having to separate out those from the other aspects of the practice that are local to a particular country, as well as not having to grapple with getting used to the lifestyle, traditions and customs of a foreign land?
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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby rowyourboat » Fri May 06, 2011 10:11 pm

I think living under a good preceptor is good for challenging our egos. It seems to be a good training in it self. Individualism is often nothing more than ego in sheep's clothing.

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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby Ytrog » Thu May 19, 2011 3:33 pm

I would certainly consider the UK if you want to ordain. They have a few monasteries in the Ajahn Chah lineage.
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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby SDC » Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:06 am

Figured I would bump this up and see if anyone had anything to add.

Some additional questions expanding on some of the things I asked originally...

Would a monastic community be able to wander for alms in America? Do you think there is any aspect of the American public ready to embrace this? Does this currently go on anywhere in the US? I recall hearing something about it. Would the typical middle-class, American family be willing to support them?
Through many of samsara’s births I hasten seeking, finding not the builder of this house - pain is birth again, again. O builder of this house you’re seen, you shall not build a house again, all your beams have given away, rafters of the ridge decayed, mind to the unconditioned gone, exhaustion of craving has it reached.(Dhp - 153, 154)
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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:09 am

SDC wrote:Figured I would bump this up and see if anyone had anything to add.

Some additional questions expanding on some of the things I asked originally...

Would a monastic community be able to wander for alms in America? Do you think there is any aspect of the American public ready to embrace this? Does this currently go on anywhere in the US? I recall hearing something about it. Would the typical middle-class, American family be willing to support them?


There was a thread recently that showed Ajahn Thanissaro does go on alms round every day.

I assume however this is possible because supporters are already used to this and expect it at a ceratain location and time, I'm sure if they just turned up on Sunset Blvrd or Wall st they wouldn't get fed.

i have heard stories of Ajahn Chah monks on tudong in in the UK standing outside a supermarket or similar and receiving offerings, or abuse, or both. I think doing this in the west without prearranging supporters is really going out on a limb though.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby SDC » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:32 am

Goofaholix wrote:I think doing this in the west without prearranging supporters is really going out on a limb though.


Good point.

In addition it would be smart to take the time to make the local people aware of what they are looking to do. Education is important. Lay support for this work would be crucial.
Through many of samsara’s births I hasten seeking, finding not the builder of this house - pain is birth again, again. O builder of this house you’re seen, you shall not build a house again, all your beams have given away, rafters of the ridge decayed, mind to the unconditioned gone, exhaustion of craving has it reached.(Dhp - 153, 154)
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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby Virgo » Wed Mar 07, 2012 3:04 am

SDC wrote:Figured I would bump this up and see if anyone had anything to add.

Some additional questions expanding on some of the things I asked originally...

Would a monastic community be able to wander for alms in America? Do you think there is any aspect of the American public ready to embrace this?

You must be from the city. :) :tongue:

Where I live, being a lay-Buddhist and being open about your religion-- absolutely not a problem at all, people are very accepting. However, walking around begging for alms with strange, unseen before religious robes on and a shaved head? You would get your first gun drawn on you within a few days, no b.s. and would be very lucky to not get shot.

In my county, I could easily see a rifle being drawn on me on my first alms round, no problem.

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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 07, 2012 3:14 am

Virgo wrote:
SDC wrote:Figured I would bump this up and see if anyone had anything to add.

Some additional questions expanding on some of the things I asked originally...

Would a monastic community be able to wander for alms in America? Do you think there is any aspect of the American public ready to embrace this?

You must be from the city. :) :tongue:

Where I live, being a lay-Buddhist and being open about your religion-- absolutely not a problem at all, people are very accepting. However, walking around begging for alms with strange, unseen before religious robes on and a shaved head? You would get your first gun drawn on you within a few days, no b.s. and would be very lucky to not get shot.

In my county, I could easily see a rifle being drawn on me on my first alms round, no problem.

Kevin
That is a sad thing. Fortunately the monks in England were treated a bit better.
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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby Virgo » Wed Mar 07, 2012 3:22 am

tiltbillings wrote:That is a sad thing. Fortunately the monks in England were treated a bit better.

Plus the robes are the color of deer, which makes it worse! They could easily say, "I thought he was a deer" :tongue:

I am not trying to scare anyone though. I am sure there are many areas in the States where it is safe to go on alms round.
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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby thaijeppe » Wed Mar 07, 2012 4:12 am

Hello all.

Another interesting question in this discussion would be: How can Buddhist Monasticism develop in western countries?

There is a lot of interest for Buddhism in the west and there are some monasteries shattered around, but they are still few compared to how many
people in the west who are interested in Buddhisme.

Is it possible to transplant a South East Asian model to the west or would it be better to build a new Monastic tradition more aligned to western
traditions, of course without doing anything that goes against the Teaching.

And from a western perspective, you can also ask the question: Do we need Monasticism to practice Buddhisme?

It would be interesting to hear your views about the above mentioned.

I personally don't know so much about it, because I live in Thailand, and we have enough monasteries here, but I still think it is an interesting
question, due to the spread of Buddhism.
:anjali: Jeppe
If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you
let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace. If you let go completely,
you will know complete peace and freedom.
Ajahn Chah
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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby Virgo » Wed Mar 07, 2012 4:42 am

thaijeppe wrote:There is a lot of interest for Buddhism in the west and there are some monasteries shattered around, but they are still few compared to how many
people in the west who are interested in Buddhisme...

Here in the U.S. there are a few major issues. First of all, the government does not sponsor monasteries, they are only tax exempt, which makes them much harder to build and maintain than in other places. Adding to this, is the fact that our economy is in the hole. Thirdly, monks either have no health coverage or must somehow pay for it without an income. This is very problematic. Also, many Western monasteries will insist that the monks have some form of healthcare, to prevent being put in a tight spot when one of their bhikkhus comes down with a serious illness. Ironically, monasteries cost a lot of money, because of the society we live in. It's not like old India, ie. rich lay supporter (or a King) puts up the money for a monastery, they pay no taxes because the King supports religious sects, doctors/physicians who are faithful visit them and treat them, there is a large supply of food because of so many devout lay practitioners, etc. (and in general people can wander freely without breaking the laws of the land by doing so).

Here it is a situation where not many rich lay supporters can afford the huge costs of building and maintaining monasteries now, the government sees us as numbers not as important people, modern medicine and treatment can be expensive, there are fewer lay supporters to offer food and other requisites, and (in some places) you might get shot.

Kevin
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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby daverupa » Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:06 am

The only time I entertain the possibility that this is a degenerate age is when it turns out to cost money to go forth into homelessness.

:meditate:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: A Discussion of Western Buddhist Monasticism

Postby Cal » Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:28 am

daverupa wrote:The only time I entertain the possibility that this is a degenerate age is when it turns out to cost money to go forth into homelessness.

:goodpost:

Re. Tudong in the UK, this is an interesting site produced by a now-former Forest Sangha monk : -
http://www.blisteredfeet-blissfulmind.net/

I enjoyed the book of Tudong stories he wote.

Metta
Cal
Right Speech: It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will. [AN 5.198]

Personally, I seem to gain the most insight when I am under the most pressure, when life is at its most unpleasant. There is something in me on those occasions which feels that there is nothing left but to be aware of 'this'. Ajahn Sumedho - Don't Take Your Life Personally, p288
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