Afraid of completely letting go

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

Afraid of completely letting go

Postby mettafuture » Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:39 am

Hello Dhamma Friends,

For years now I've been thinking about going forth and ordaining. I've already renounced most of my possessions; my lifestyle is very simple and clutter free. And I don't see myself having a problem giving up everything else, like my computer, my iPod, or my hair. :) I don't have a girlfriend, kids, or a big social life. I don't fit in most social circles because I don't like partaking in idle chatter or reckless behavior. I was this way even before I started calling myself a "Buddhist."

But the one thing that stops me from completely letting go is fear...

  • I fear that I may miss my parents.
  • I fear that I may lose the handful of friends that I have.
  • I fear that I may miss out on career opportunities (even though they'll likely only lead to more dukkha and frustration)
  • And I especially fear the future.
As a monastic, there probably wouldn't be too many surprises left. And without surprises or distractions, life would become some what predictable, and my own death would become too easy for me to see. It would be like looking down an empty street, and seeing the end -- right there.

A side of me really wishes I could get over this hindrance because I know being free of it would lead to a greater happiness, and I could be more productive, and help spread the Dhamma and Metta to others. But I don't know...

What are your thoughts?
Last edited by mettafuture on Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:47 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby Dan74 » Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:43 am

James recently posted his experiences at a 6-month stay in Vipassana Meditation Centre (SN Goenka).

It might be a good idea to do an extended stay like this to see how "monastic-type" life (8 precepts?) and intense practice feels before plunging into ordination.
_/|\_
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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby mettafuture » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:04 am

Dan74 wrote:James recently posted his experiences at a 6-month stay in Vipassana Meditation Centre (SN Goenka).

I'd like to find a way to deal with my fears first before I do any more retreats. I still have some things I need to work on before I can begin making a full commitment.

It might be a good idea to do an extended stay like this to see how "monastic-type" life (8 precepts?) and intense practice feels before plunging into ordination.

I already - almost - follow 8 precepts.

I don't kill, steal, lie, or drink. I can live without sex or masturbation. I already eat on a schedule (trying to lose a couple more pounds). I don't dance, sing, wear perfumes, watch TV, or go to the movies anymore. I do play games on my iPod touch, but I don't absolutely need to. And I sleep on a small air mattress.
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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Oct 08, 2010 3:06 am

Greetings Mettafuture,

My perspective is that the more you let go, the more you'll see the benefits of letting go, and the more you'll see danger in clinging. This being so, it will come to be that you'll be concerned about actually "not letting go" (i.e. craving and clinging).

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Oct 08, 2010 4:12 am

mettafuture wrote:
  • I fear that I may miss my parents.
  • I fear that I may lose the handful of friends that I have.
  • I fear that I may miss out on career opportunities (even though they'll likely only lead to more dukkha and frustration)
  • And I especially fear the future.


1. Actually, most monks still have some contact with their parents (unless of course you move to a country very far away, but even then there might be internet and e-mail connections).

2. Monks have spiritual friends and most live in a community / monastery with other monks.

3. Being a monk is Right Livelihood too and can offer opportunities to help others on the Path.

4. 'Fear of the future'? then perhaps more reason than ever to ordain. :tongue:
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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby Jason » Fri Oct 08, 2010 5:19 am

Hm, now why does this seem familiar? :tongue:
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby mettafuture » Fri Oct 08, 2010 5:28 am

retrofuturist wrote:My perspective is that the more you let go, the more you'll see the benefits of letting go, and the more you'll see danger in clinging. This being so, it will come to be that you'll be concerned about actually "not letting go" (i.e. craving and clinging).

Interesting... I'll continue along the path, and see where it takes me.

Thank you.

David N. Snyder wrote:1. Actually, most monks still have some contact with their parents (unless of course you move to a country very far away, but even then there might be internet and e-mail connections).

That's good news.

2. Monks have spiritual friends and most live in a community / monastery with other monks.

I would love to have more spiritual friends. I enjoy discussing the dhamma.

3. Being a monk is Right Livelihood too and can offer opportunities to help others on the Path.

That's one of the top reasons why I'd like to ordain. :) I feel that I could be of more use to society. I'm always trying to help people.

4. 'Fear of the future'? then perhaps more reason than ever to ordain. :tongue:

:D

Thank you.

Jason wrote:Hm, now why does this seem familiar? :tongue:

Hahahaha. :D
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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby Ytrog » Fri Oct 08, 2010 7:04 am

Mettafuture, thanks for asking this question. I was wondering about these things too. I'm not doing 8 precepts daily yet. I do keep 5 though.

How do you keep yourself healthy while not eating after-noon each day? I understand that monks do have varied meals in the morning, because of the alms they receive. What do you have in the morning to keep you from getting malnutrition? I only breakfast with some sandwiches, so that wouldn't sustain me.
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:28 am

Looking at your list of fears all of these things could just as easily happen if you don't ordain.

I don't think fear is a good guide by which to choose to do or not to do something, fear is rarely rational. I think it would be worthwhile learning to look at your fears objectively to see if you can determine what is at the root of them, there might be some insight to be had.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby Jason » Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:50 pm

My response:

Well, if you're not ready, you're not ready, and it sounds like you're not ready [yet]. I would suggest waiting longer before seriously considering something like this. I once thought I was ready too, and lived at a monastery for about a month before realizing that I wasn't. As for your fears:

  • Depending on where you ordain, you can still see your parents. Most of the places I know of (predominately Thai Theravada temples in MI and CA) have no problem with you visiting relatives or having them come visit you. It may be more difficult, however, if you ordain overseas and/or at a very strict forest-style monastery.
  • If you lose your friends because of your decision, then they're not really your friends. If you're simply worried about not being able to see them because of restrictions placed upon you, just try to find a place where that won't be a problem, e.g., there's a temple three miles from my parent's house in MI where I could ordain and be near them and my friends if I ever decided to move back.
  • If you ordain, being a monk will be your career. It doesn't pay very well, but there are other benefits to a contemplative lifestyle than monetary gain. And if it doesn't work out, you can always disrobe and write a book about your experience.
  • I imagine that you'll still fear 'the future,' especially death, even if you don't ordain, so don't let that fear prevent you from doing what you think will make you happy. If you truly think that ordaining will make you happy and enable you to help others, go for it. If you're diligent in your practice and have a good teacher, death may very well cease to frighten you.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby Jason » Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:54 pm

Ytrog wrote:Mettafuture, thanks for asking this question. I was wondering about these things too. I'm not doing 8 precepts daily yet. I do keep 5 though.

How do you keep yourself healthy while not eating after-noon each day? I understand that monks do have varied meals in the morning, because of the alms they receive. What do you have in the morning to keep you from getting malnutrition? I only breakfast with some sandwiches, so that wouldn't sustain me.


Actually, it's not all that hard. You can easily consume all the calories and nutrition you require before noon, and the laity generally does a good job of making sure you have plenty to eat. I never had any problems, at least.
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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:15 pm

mettafuture wrote:As a monastic, there probably wouldn't be too many surprises left. And without surprises or distractions, life would become some what predictable, and my own death would become too easy for me to see. It would be like looking down an empty street, and seeing the end -- right there.


Hi Mettafuture,

I think you will run into this issue whether you become a monastic or not. Laypeople experience it too, particularly as we grow older. This is the seed of many a "midlife crisis".

Not ordaining won't cure it, in other words. And ordaining won't necessarily stop you from avoiding it (monastic life probably has its distractions as well). Has to be faced one way or the other.

:anjali:

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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby Ytrog » Fri Oct 08, 2010 3:51 pm

Jason wrote:
Ytrog wrote:Mettafuture, thanks for asking this question. I was wondering about these things too. I'm not doing 8 precepts daily yet. I do keep 5 though.

How do you keep yourself healthy while not eating after-noon each day? I understand that monks do have varied meals in the morning, because of the alms they receive. What do you have in the morning to keep you from getting malnutrition? I only breakfast with some sandwiches, so that wouldn't sustain me.


Actually, it's not all that hard. You can easily consume all the calories and nutrition you require before noon, and the laity generally does a good job of making sure you have plenty to eat. I never had any problems, at least.


I didn't mean in a monastic setting as a monk. I was referring to:
I already eat on a schedule (trying to lose a couple more pounds).

I interpreted this to mean no eating after noon and I was wondering how to keep yourself healthy this way while being part of the laity. For monks the "how" of this is completely clear to me.

Back to the question of Mettafuture ;)
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.
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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby Jason » Fri Oct 08, 2010 4:12 pm

Ytrog wrote:
Jason wrote:
Ytrog wrote:Mettafuture, thanks for asking this question. I was wondering about these things too. I'm not doing 8 precepts daily yet. I do keep 5 though.

How do you keep yourself healthy while not eating after-noon each day? I understand that monks do have varied meals in the morning, because of the alms they receive. What do you have in the morning to keep you from getting malnutrition? I only breakfast with some sandwiches, so that wouldn't sustain me.


Actually, it's not all that hard. You can easily consume all the calories and nutrition you require before noon, and the laity generally does a good job of making sure you have plenty to eat. I never had any problems, at least.


I didn't mean in a monastic setting as a monk. I was referring to:
I already eat on a schedule (trying to lose a couple more pounds).

I interpreted this to mean no eating after noon and I was wondering how to keep yourself healthy this way while being part of the laity. For monks the "how" of this is completely clear to me.

Back to the question of Mettafuture ;)



Looks like somebody needs to work on his reading comprehension. :D
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby mettafuture » Fri Oct 08, 2010 5:09 pm

Ytrog wrote:How do you keep yourself healthy while not eating after-noon each day? I understand that monks do have varied meals in the morning, because of the alms they receive. What do you have in the morning to keep you from getting malnutrition? I only breakfast with some sandwiches, so that wouldn't sustain me.

I still eat in the afternoon. My point was that I can control my eating when I want to.

Goofaholix wrote:I don't think fear is a good guide by which to choose to do or not to do something, fear is rarely rational. I think it would be worthwhile learning to look at your fears objectively to see if you can determine what is at the root of them, there might be some insight to be had.

That sounds like a good plan. Will do.

Dan74 wrote:It might be a good idea to do an extended stay like this to see how "monastic-type" life (8 precepts?) and intense practice feels before plunging into ordination.

This is a great idea. After I work out my fear and frustration issues, I'll definitely consider this.

Jason wrote:My response:

:toast:

Lazy_eye wrote:I think you will run into this issue whether you become a monastic or not. Laypeople experience it too, particularly as we grow older. This is the seed of many a "midlife crisis".

Not ordaining won't cure it, in other words. And ordaining won't necessarily stop you from avoiding it (monastic life probably has its distractions as well). Has to be faced one way or the other.

Very wise words, and very true. I'm 29, and I've slowly been chipping away at my fear of death for the last 14 or so years. If I were to become a monastic now, my cluttered street would probably be cleared too quickly, making the end too easy to see before I was ready to see it.

The more I think about it, the more I think I should wait. I'd like to at least 1) make more progress with my meditation, 2) have a greater understanding of the dhamma and Pali, and 3) overcome the majority of my fears, and gain a greater understanding of my frustrations.

I might (hopefully) be ready by the time I'm 35 or 40. :)

Thank you, everyone else, for your replies.
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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby Ytrog » Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:48 pm

I still eat in the afternoon. My point was that I can control my eating when I want to.

Ah, thanks for clearing that up. I don't eat after noon on Uposatha days. In fact: I'm hungry as I'm writing this, because of that. :P

The more I think about it, the more I think I should wait. I'd like to at least 1) make more progress with my meditation, 2) have a greater understanding of the dhamma and Pali, and 3) overcome the majority of my fears, and gain a greater understanding of my frustrations.


I don't believe point 1 and 2 are really important. In the days of the Buddha people would sometimes ordain just after hearing the Dhamma for the first time. Where better to learn it all than in a monastery?
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.
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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby J_W » Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:20 am

Mettafuture,

A few years ago I also was inclining towards ordination, but partly due to fears that I wasn't ready did not do so. Now I am working to clear a debt so I can finally take the plunge. I would say that the opportunity to ordain is very rare, if you have the inclination and meet the requirements you should consider trying it out. Many traditions would want you to spend time as an anagarika anyway; the Western Ajahn Chah monasteries want you to spend two years - one as an anagarika and one as a samanera - before ordination. You won't clear up all of your fears completely until attaining arahantship, so why not stay at a monastery for a few months and see how that affects your practise? It is uncertain when such an opportunity might arise again.

Mettaya,

Jeff
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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby Hanzze » Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:27 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 6:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby Dan74 » Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:31 am

J_W wrote:Mettafuture,

A few years ago I also was inclining towards ordination, but partly due to fears that I wasn't ready did not do so. Now I am working to clear a debt so I can finally take the plunge. I would say that the opportunity to ordain is very rare, if you have the inclination and meet the requirements you should consider trying it out. Many traditions would want you to spend time as an anagarika anyway; the Western Ajahn Chah monasteries want you to spend two years - one as an anagarika and one as a samanera - before ordination. You won't clear up all of your fears completely until attaining arahantship, so why not stay at a monastery for a few months and see how that affects your practise? It is uncertain when such an opportunity might arise again.

Mettaya,

Jeff



Hear, hear! :twothumbsup:

It is easy (for most of us) to take a wrong turn and then another and to end up far from the thought of even practicing seriously, let alone ordaining. What a missed opportunity this would be!

On the other hand, one has to be ready and it has to be "right". It's not right for a lot of people who can still practice effectively (like some on this forum).

Whatever you do, mettafuture, consider carefully!
_/|\_
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Re: Afraid of completely letting go

Postby Hanzze » Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:34 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 6:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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