Temporary ordination practicalities

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

Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:33 am

Hello All

As some of you might know (or not) Sri Lanka does not have a practice of temporary ordination. We either go for it or not at all (unfortunately I think). However I have been toying with the idea of getting this practice started maybe a few years in the future. However my concern is one of practicalities- how do people in other countries (Thailand, Burma) take time off from their duties for a few months (years?) to do this? Would love to hear how people have done it/known to do it.

Thanks!

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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby Ben » Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:41 am

Hi RYB

I imagine one either goes before one has significant responsibilities or after those responsibilities have left home (following retirement).
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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:45 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Hello All

As some of you might know (or not) Sri Lanka does not have a practice of temporary ordination. We either go for it or not at all (unfortunately I think). However I have been toying with the idea of getting this practice started maybe a few years in the future. However my concern is one of practicalities- how do people in other countries (Thailand, Burma) take time off from their duties for a few months (years?) to do this? Would love to hear how people have done it/known to do it.

Thanks!

with metta

RYB

Hi RYB.Thailand has a long history of temporary ordination so I do not see that people would have many problems with taking time out from their busy lives.Wives are especially supportive of their husbands when they do this.Remember that there is a whole merit making side of this that is strongly entrenched within Thai culture.Some people may even ordain for the weekend.I believe a lot of men do this during the rainy season as well when there may not be so much work to do.
The problem I want to throw up at you(kind of devils advocate)is that in Sri Lanka you may be going against a social norm and the idea may not be appreciated.Maybe something to look into if you are seriously thinking about taking this plan further.
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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby pilgrim » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:25 am

I know of a reputable centre in Sri Lanka that does temporary ordinations - the Buddhist Cultural Centre
http://buddhistcc.net/
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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:44 am

pilgrim wrote:I know of a reputable centre in Sri Lanka that does temporary ordinations - the Buddhist Cultural Centre
http://buddhistcc.net/

Thanks for the link.It looks like a good place.
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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby pilgrim » Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:11 am

and heres a link to an article about temporary ordination in Sri Lanka
http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php ... 44,0,0,1,0
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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby Ytrog » Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:19 pm

Why would a temporary (as in intentionally very short-lived, not as impermanent) ordination be a good thing? In my view ordination is a commitment you take for the rest of your life and you only disrobe if you see no other option.

Why introduce such a thing? I know it is tradition in some countries, but it seems a bit dishonest to me to ordain while knowing in advance that you are going to disrobe.
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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:26 pm

Ytrog wrote:Why would a temporary (as in intentionally very short-lived, not as impermanent) ordination be a good thing? In my view ordination is a commitment you take for the rest of your life and you only disrobe if you see no other option.

Why introduce such a thing? I know it is tradition in some countries, but it seems a bit dishonest to me to ordain while knowing in advance that you are going to disrobe.

Hi Ytrog.I hope this can clear things up a little for you.
For some people ordaining full time is not an option at this stage in their lives.
Consider the married man with children who have to be fed,clothed,housed and put through school.
This man wishes to spend a short period of his time as a monk as he feels that this is one of the highest ways to show respect to the Buddha.Part time ordination may be his only option at this stage.
Many people who do ordain temporarally often go on to lead better lives as lay people and others come back at a later stage to ordain full time.The intention to ordain part time I believe is an honest one.There are some full time monks who have ordained for all the wrong reasons and while some of them do go on to be good monks,others are there for the free ride.This in my opinion is more dishonest and does more to bring the noble sangha into disrepute at times than anything else.
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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 30, 2010 7:23 am

rowyourboat wrote:Hello All

As some of you might know (or not) Sri Lanka does not have a practice of temporary ordination. We either go for it or not at all (unfortunately I think). However I have been toying with the idea of getting this practice started maybe a few years in the future.
And how would you do that?
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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Oct 30, 2010 7:46 am

tiltbillings wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:Hello All

As some of you might know (or not) Sri Lanka does not have a practice of temporary ordination. We either go for it or not at all (unfortunately I think). However I have been toying with the idea of getting this practice started maybe a few years in the future.
And how would you do that?


Well over the past 4 years I have built up a group of meditators at a temple in UK who are very seriously into the practice and are gradually 'attaining distinction' as the translations go. We had two annual retreats, both of which were fully booked with 30 people attending. Next years' one is fully booked as well, with the same number. A monk that I know is keen for the Sri Lankan community in UK to develop temporary ordination from what I can see. I think it is worthwhile cause. The average lay person can benefit from an injection of a monastic experience. I think culturally we are ready for it. It would draw attention to the spiritual life as a significant event anyone could participate in, and perhaps dissolve some of that lay-ordained divide, which would be helpful to making the dhamma more accessible to some segments of the community. So I am going to stay on the ball with this, play it over in my mind over the coming months and years and take action when it is time. :)

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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 30, 2010 7:54 am

Thanks, and good luck. It will interesting to see how it received among the monastic powers that be.
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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Oct 30, 2010 9:13 am

tiltbillings wrote:Thanks, and good luck. It will interesting to see how it received among the monastic powers that be.


Oh, I'm just making this particular head monk's wish to come true :smile:
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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:00 pm

I think it is a good cause in any case..

I wondered if there was a minimum time period over which one can take on robes. I wonder if any learned person can help me out?

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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:09 pm

In Thailand it is common to ordain for as little as a few days. I think a week would be the normal minimum. Unless you have a reasonably large number of monks then full ordination is not possible, so at my local Wat those temporarily ordained are novices. However, if it's only going to be for a few days or weeks then I don't see a lot of practical difference between novice and full ordination and personally I'd feel a bit uncomfortable about taking on full ordination for a short time.

I used to look on temporary ordination as just a cultural thing that Thai men have to do to be considered suitable for marriage, and so on. That's still clearly a reason for many ordinations, but I have talked to some of the local Thai men who have done it and they did find it very helpful. And one of my teachers (who is American, not Thai) was quite positive about it, assuring me that I'd learn things about myself by being a novice for a few weeks that I wouldn't otherwise learn by doing retreats or helping out at a Wat. His rather mind-blowing suggestion was to ordain in NZ (so it could be a family thing here) then fly to Thailand to see how it felt arriving there in the robes, then spend a few weeks at a meditation-oriented Wat. That would be great if I could find the time...

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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Nov 01, 2010 4:42 am

In general I think temporary ordination is a bad thing and only contributes to reducing the quality of the monastic sangha. However I did ordain for 3 months before getting married because I knew it would mean a lot to my wifes family and because it was a good opportunity for a long retreat which I knew would be more difficult to have later on.

I learned a lot from the experience but that has more to do with the choice of Wat I stayed in and with my state of mind than it did with the extra rules I followed and the robes I wore.

One can live in a monastery as an Anagarika or a layman and I think there's nothing wrong with that and it should be good enough for someone who is only planning to be there for a short time.
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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby Paññāsikhara » Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:29 am

Remember that the spirit - if not the absolute letter - of the eight uposatha precepts is that of living the life of the renunciant. So, when it comes to minimum time, this practice is already established. One could go the other way, and suggest rather than short term ordination, long term eight precept uposatha. Though probably most people would prefer the former, for various reasons. Though really, there is very little difference at all.
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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby appicchato » Mon Nov 01, 2010 10:22 am

His rather mind-blowing suggestion was to ordain in NZ...then fly to Thailand to see how it felt arriving there in the robes…

No question about it, mind-blowing is the term…the deference shown to the robes (in Thailand), no matter who is in them, can be overwhelming...
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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:35 pm

appicchato wrote:
His rather mind-blowing suggestion was to ordain in NZ...then fly to Thailand to see how it felt arriving there in the robes…

No question about it, mind-blowing is the term…the deference shown to the robes (in Thailand), no matter who is in them, can be overwhelming...

I will be heading to Thailand next week.The monks who have gone from here to Thailand on visa runs say things change at the border.Priority getting seen,half price bus fares and of course the thrill the Thai people get when they spot Phra Falang.
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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:45 pm

Nanadhaja wrote:... and of course the thrill the Thai people get when they spot Phra Falang.

Yes, should be interesting. I found it mind-blowing enough just being on alms round with my American teacher in Bangkok (in the role of carrying what was offered after it had been into his bowl). We came back to the Wat with about three shopping bags full of food...

Even being on 8 precepts at my local Wat I can get a small taste of this. Apparently last weekend people were competing to be able to bring a meal to my kuti... And I had to share two thirds of the meal with the birds, otherwise I'd be asleep all afternoon :popcorn:

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Re: Temporary ordination practicalities

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Nov 02, 2010 4:30 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Nanadhaja wrote:... and of course the thrill the Thai people get when they spot Phra Falang.

Yes, should be interesting. I found it mind-blowing enough just being on alms round with my American teacher in Bangkok (in the role of carrying what was offered after it had been into his bowl). We came back to the Wat with about three shopping bags full of food...

Even being on 8 precepts at my local Wat I can get a small taste of this. Apparently last weekend people were competing to be able to bring a meal to my kuti... And I had to share two thirds of the meal with the birds, otherwise I'd be asleep all afternoon :popcorn:

Mike


Anybody would get the impression that Thais have heard that merit was a finite resource and they'd better get in quick before it runs out.
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