Is it possible and would be ok to become a monk with a serious mental problems

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
Post Reply
moment
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2015 10:07 pm

Is it possible and would be ok to become a monk with a serious mental problems

Post by moment »

Hello.
As in topic name, is it possible and would be reasonable to become a monk and live in a monastery for one that have some mental problems like very bad memory, concentration or some degree of an autism or alzheimer that prevent one from achieving, learning anything, from any development. Wouldn't that be a waste of lay people, monks and other people dana, time, energy? Wouldn't one worsen the situation in greater perspective or even end in hell?
User avatar
The Thinker
Posts: 806
Joined: Sun Nov 08, 2015 6:12 pm
Location: UK

Re: Is it possible and would be ok to become a monk with a serious mental problems

Post by The Thinker »

Hello moment :thumbsup: ,

Mental problems cover a very broad subject, the symptoms you describe, confuse me a little, but taking it, that the individual wanted to enter a monastery, then one would conclude he/she could remember the teachings that had triggered the resulting action of that craving for learning?

I am not connected to a monastery and not qualified in the workings and laws, but I could imagine a kindly establishment being helpful.


Now the individual may have to be assessed medical records etc?), the problems for the sangha can be enormous if an individual gets himself into serious problems in the outside world,causes violence etc, this can be devastating for any religion/educational institution, much negative publicity, etc, but I will leave you with this passage: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .budd.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

142. Even though he be well-attired, yet if he is poised, calm, controlled and established in the holy life, having set aside violence towards all beings — he, truly, is a holy man, a renunciate, a monk.
you can be a monk without entering a monastery :namaste:
"Watch your heart, observe. Be the observer, be the knower, not the condition" Ajahn Sumedho volume5 - The Wheel Of Truth
User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 7600
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: Is it possible and would be ok to become a monk with a serious mental problems

Post by Aloka »

moment wrote:Hello.
As in topic name, is it possible and would be reasonable to become a monk and live in a monastery for one that have some mental problems like very bad memory, concentration or some degree of an autism or alzheimer that prevent one from achieving, learning anything, from any development. Wouldn't that be a waste of lay people, monks and other people dana, time, energy? Wouldn't one worsen the situation in greater perspective or even end in hell?
I'm not sure that it would be a good idea to ordain as a monk if one had mental health problems which were already diagnosed such as alzheimer's, for example, because it could cause a lot of difficulties for others in a monastery. A person can, with advancing alzheimers, become very irrational, forget who they are, not recognise others, sometimes even become aggressive, and then usually needs professional care .

However, the monks who are members of Dhamma Wheel will be able to answer your questions better than I could. Meanwhile, the Bhikkhus Rules- A guide for Laypeople might be useful:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... guide.html

:anjali:
User avatar
JamesTheGiant
Posts: 1599
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:41 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Is it possible and would be ok to become a monk with a serious mental problems

Post by JamesTheGiant »

In the western monasteries I have lived at, most of them would ask for a report from a psychologist, before accepting anyone who had a severe and active mental illness. Once the psychologist says they are okay to pursue a monastic life, then the sangha discusses it.
I have met a monk who has schizophrenia, and the abbot was happy with ordaining this person because the illness was well medicated and under control.
I myself suffer from depression, and I have other monk friends who are on antidepressants or seeing counsellors about it.

One of the main problems with accepting people with severe mental illnesses as monastics, is that we are not health professionals. We are not doctors or psychologists or therapists, and to be honest the best we can do when someone has mental trouble is drop them off at the nearest hospital.
We just don't have the ability or training to treat or intensively look after someone with mental health issues.
The job of a bhikkhu is not to look after sick people, (although we look after each other when we are sick, of course) and the role of a monastery is not to be a hospital or psychological inpatient treatment centre.

A further problem with ordaining while suffering serious mental problems, is that even if you did find an abbot willing to ordain you, you become a monk and suddenly you have no money, and no ability to pay for treatment. The monastery is usually expected to pay for all your medical costs, and that can be a real burden on a monastery.

Sorry if this all sounds a bit negative.
Best wishes!
moment
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2015 10:07 pm

Re: Is it possible and would be ok to become a monk with a serious mental problems

Post by moment »

Thank You all for the answers.
Bhante Lucky wrote:Sorry if this all sounds a bit negative.
It doesn't for me. It's logical, I thought I will see such replies.

Fortunately the case I'm interested in, is not about making anyone some additional problems. The only thing is that probably I will never make any normal progress because of my memory.

At first I apologize for my english, it isn't my native language. Beside that I also have some problems with writing, putting things into words, but will do my best.
I was about to write more detailed post, what in this case I mean by such mental problems, but after I finished I found it to long, to chaotic, unnecessary.
In shortcut.
By such mental problems I mean some kind of brain damage that happened to me, that because of it for example, I quite don't remember my past, don't know who am I, don't have stable image of myself(and therefore my way of seeing things, being, acting may vary).
I'm also almost not able to learn anything new. Like I can read some book but will remember only some of the content of it for few days maybe and If I won't recall this book from time to time, or write down most important things and conclusions and look at them systematically I will probably forget most of it. But it's kind strange because some things get remember for longer even very well, for all the time and it's seems random what gets remembered.
Because of that I also have difficulty to remember peoples names, what they have told me, what I have learned, what I have learned from someone, what happened and when(if I can recall when asked, some event from the past, it's hard for me to determine when it happened, like week ago or was it a months?).
Also because of such memory I might look like careless, negligent person, because I might not remember where I put something(not big problem when being a monk I think, because of not having much things).
To all of that there come another hindrance. It's concentration, fabrication, internal dialog, ability to think, to know things, to know what is happening, to know what I fell or think, to be honest with myself. It seems that I don't have much control over it. It seems(for my self when analyzing what is experiencing) that I'm somehow dead inside and much energy goes for maintaining personality, for being someone. It seems that my mind got totally shattered into pieces. Hard to do anything with such/that.
It's very hard for me sometimes to read anything, or to think. Things, words just doesn't get together, doesn't make one. Words are foggy, I don't know... Therefore my best achievement in meditation is being focused on breaths, now, like for few seconds I think.
To all that also comes some kind of depression, not having much energy. But it's kind obvious why is that. Also it's not a big deal for me, I'm strong guy :jedi:
That's in shortcut. That's what I meant when saying that probably I won't be able much to learn, to develop, to develop in Dhamma.
It's not that bad because before all that happened I was for about ~5 years more or less studding suttas, reading books, meditating, developing on the path, and was preparing to become a monk, but all that happened and it all gone(It happened I think 2 years ago and in that time I tried different things to do something about it, to fix it or something but nothing helped and because of some things it even got worse I think).
Some things stayed, sometimes I have more or less glimpses for a while, insights in to past, into those things, into who I was, into what it mean to develop, to walk the path, to unbind.

I don't want to go in detail, what and for how long and with what result I was trying and done about it, let's just assume that nothing more can be done.

Here it's relatively hard for me to live(not even mentioning a dhamma practice), it's also hard to see what I'm doing, knowing that I'm much not able to practice according to dhamma with my living, it's hard to to remember some things and not remember others.
It's hard because most of the time I spend in work, being with other people. It's hard to do, to remember, hold some, same image of my self for other people, it takes me much effort, energy, it's very stressful. There is not much energy and time to practice.
Among others that's probably why it seemed to me that it would be much more better, easier, I would like fell much more relaxed in a monastery etc..
But when was thinking about it, a thought came to me that I read somewhere maybe, that in some situations(and maybe not being able to develop, not made almost any development through whole life being a monk, is one of such) one may worsen his situation in broader perspective or even and up in hell.
Don't know what to think...
I'm from Europe, in my country there are no monasteries, monks. Before all that happened and now also I was thinking about Sri Lanka.
User avatar
Dhammanando
Posts: 6371
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Mae Wang Huai Rin, Li District, Lamphun

Re: Is it possible and would be ok to become a monk with a serious mental problems

Post by Dhammanando »

moment wrote:That's in shortcut. That's what I meant when saying that probably I won't be able much to learn, to develop, to develop in Dhamma.
Most abbots, when considering whether to accept a candidate for ordination will be concerned mainly with whether he will be able to conform to the monastery's standard of discipline and how much of a burden he is likely to be for the community. As for the candidate's ability to make progress in Dhamma, this is not a live issue in most places for it's something that's virtually impossible to assess. As for his ability to study, this would be a live issue only in those pariyatti monasteries where every monk is required to be engaged in either full-time study or teaching.
moment wrote:It's hard because most of the time I spend in work, being with other people. It's hard to do, to remember, hold some, same image of my self for other people, it takes me much effort, energy, it's very stressful. There is not much energy and time to practice.
Among others that's probably why it seemed to me that it would be much more better, easier, I would like fell much more relaxed in a monastery etc..
There are many monasteries where you could live as a layman observing the eight precepts and without being required to ordain. I think that might be the best way for you to start.
Rūpehi bhikkhave arūpā santatarā.
Arūpehi nirodho santataro ti.


“Bhikkhus, the formless is more peaceful than the form realms.
Cessation is more peaceful than the formless realms.”
(Santatarasutta, Iti 73)
User avatar
Lucas Oliveira
Posts: 1516
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:07 pm

Re: Is it possible and would be ok to become a monk with a serious mental problems

Post by Lucas Oliveira »

It is good to know that antidepressants do not prevent someone from being a Bhikkhu, maybe even help.
if I'm not mistaken the 4 supports a Bhikkhu need are robes, food, shelter and medicines.


moment

when a person wants to be a Buddhist monk, it is common for people to advise him to develop a strong base of study and practice of Buddhism for some time.
if that person can keep that discipline in your home, it's likely that she will adptar life in a monastery.


:anjali:
I participate in this forum using Google Translator. http://translate.google.com.br

http://www.acessoaoinsight.net/
nimbleembodiment9
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2021 10:41 pm

Re: Is it possible and would be ok to become a monk with a serious mental problems

Post by nimbleembodiment9 »

@moment,

I wish you good fortune and happiness despite the misfortune you've fallen into. I resonate with your situation, after having suffered an episode of psychosis myself and not feeling quite "back to normal" still. I know you will probably never see this post, but I wanted to put the message out there. May you be happy-minded, continue to progress in the dhamma, and never worry about hell, I am sure you are on your way to a happier destination.

:buddha1:
Post Reply