Buddhist practice as a monastic in another religion?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
Mr. Seek
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Buddhist practice as a monastic in another religion?

Post by Mr. Seek »

Opinions will be greatly appreciated. It's a complicated topic, but I'll try to be as short and as clear as possible.

Let's say you've come across the Dhamma, say via the internet; you've contemplated it, meditated actively, and after plenty of samvega eventually convinced yourself that the only worthwhile thing left to do in life is go forth and practice the holy life as proclaimed by the Buddha. But, you're facing two major problems: 1) you live in the middle of nowhere, say in Eastern Europe, where there is absolutely no active and proper Buddhist sangha, let alone lay community; and, 2) you've come to the firm conclusion that moving to the other side of the globe just to meditate has its dangers, uncertainties, and drawbacks.

At that point, of course, if you're determined enough and have good grasp of the dhamma, you can go forth as a lone-seeker, practically a samana, in this middle-of-nowhere country that you're in. But, even then, you'd still be facing a couple of problems: social norms, weather, economic conditions, political regime, attitude of people towards monastics, etc., all of these things may not be in alignment with Buddhist practice; they may impede you. Also, there's the fact that you've been raised in an age where the focus is not on practical skills and survival: you may not be physically and mentally equipped to go forth solo.

But, nonetheless: the country you're in has other religions in it, e.g. Christianity, and you may have the opportunity to become a monk in some serious Christian monastery or order, if you wish to do so--let's say in some secluded rock monastery that's next to a wilderness. And, obviously, such conditions would be ideal for Buddhist practice, i.e. seclusion, sense restraint, mindfulness, meditation, unbinding, etc. However way you look at it, such conditions seem much better for serious practice than living like your typical city-dwelling householder.

So, what do you think? Does going forth and dwelling among Christian monks and monasteries right if you can keep the fact that you're practicing Buddhism a relative secret? We're all seekers at the end of the day. Of course, you wouldn't lie to anyone, you'd just try to live a pure life, much like the people around you. And, of course, you'll find an excuse, one way or another, to not join rituals or other habits and practices that don't align with Buddhist dhamma. You'd just be a silent samana, one who meditates all the time. Maybe you'll try to pull off a couple of dhutangas, be a little more ascetic than your peers, etc., but that's about it, you'll just meditate and meditate and meditate, ignoring what everyone else is doing and just doing your own thing. You won't try to proclaim anything, you won't try to mimic your peers, or whatever, you'll just try to somehow live with them, whilst practicing Buddhist dhamma.

Of course, there are negatives, not just positives. For example, your Christian peer monks might actively and or passively influence you. Also, what about the whole spiritual, energetic side of things--would dwelling among Christian monks expose you to the wrong kind of vibe? I don't know, maybe Maras, Brahmas, or whatever? Obviously, it'd be good for you to stay around like-minded, somewhat-pure people and places (much more than staying around householders who indulge in sensual pleasures and try to make you indulge in them as well), but still... from a spiritual, mind-body point of view, would you be exposing yourself to dangers by trying to attempt any of this? Your energy being sapped, for example, or you being attacked by spirits, or whatever? I don't know, but you probably get what I'm trying to say here. Dwelling near spiritual people and places who proclaim a different dhamma probably has its 'dangers'... Speaking of that, where do you think Christianity, particularly Eastern Orthodoxy, stands in the spiritual, energetic side of things, from the viewpoint of Buddhism?

Yeah, what are your thoughts? Crazy idea, I know, but we live in crazy times. Have to adapt and survive...

Looking forward to hearing your comments! Sorry if any of this sounds too weird lol.
Snp 5.11—"Having nothing, free of clinging: That is the island, there is no other."
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Re: Buddhist practice as a monastic in another religion?

Post by befriend »

is it possible for you to move near a Buddhist monastery? And help the monks as a lay man? And learn from them?
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rightviewftw
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Re: Buddhist practice as a monastic in another religion?

Post by rightviewftw »

No it's not ok to lie in order to be given food. People give according to their faith. If one not being a Buddhist, not planning to train according to Buddhist manuals, if ordained as a Buddhist to get food, maintained appearance and ate almsfood given in good faith, then that one is a thief imo.

I do understand your predicament and why you would consider it but keep in mind that not all buddhist monasteries and communities are a fit for one who wants to train. How much less so a non-buddhist community.

As to the solution, there are plenty of moves but it depends your character, willingness and circumstances. Take refuge in the sangha in general.
Last edited by rightviewftw on Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
'Bhikkhus, possessing three qualities, a bhikkhu is practicing the unmistaken way and has laid the groundwork for the destruction of the taints. What three? Here, a bhikkhu guards the doors of the sense faculties, observes moderation in eating, and is intent on wakefulness. He should develop perception of unattractiveness so as to abandon lust... good will so as to abandon ill will... mindfulness of in-&-out breathing so as to cut off distractive thinking... the perception of inconstancy so as to uproot the conceit, 'I am.
Mr. Seek
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Re: Buddhist practice as a monastic in another religion?

Post by Mr. Seek »

rightviewftw wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 5:04 pm No it's not ok to lie in order to be given food. People give according to their faith. If one not being a Buddhist, not planning to train according to Buddhist manuals, if ordained as a Buddhist to get food, maintained appearance and ate almsfood given in good faith, then that one is a thief imo.

I do understand your predicament and why you would consider it but keep in mind that not all buddhist monasteries and communities are a fit for one who wants to train. How much less so a non-buddhist community.
Nah, no one has the intention of lying, like I said in my post. I'm merely theory-crafting, trying to figure out how one would be able to seek out a secluded dwelling and livelihood, proper for training and practice, in the conditions that I outined. Again, no lying, no false vows, no anything like that, please don't misunderstand. Just being a seeker among other seekers. At the end of the day, both Christians and Buddhists and whatever other faith-followers are out there are seeking one and the same thing, i.e. purity, the ultimate, whatever you want to call it. The difference is in the methods, techniques, beliefs or lack thereof, and of course the end results, or lack thereof. Rest assured, my intentions are absolutely pure--no lying is intended, just trying to figure out how to adapt and live the holy life in line with the Buddhist dhamma when there is absolute no active sangha nearby, and when going to the other side of the globe has too much drawbacks and negatives. We're all seekers at the end of the day.

You're absolutely right that not all Buddhist monasteries are fit for one who wishes to train, much less non-Buddhist monasteries, thank you for reminding me that; but nonetheless, there are probably some strict religious seekers and orders out there that one can hang out with while meditating, no?
befriend wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 4:47 pmis it possible for you to move near a Buddhist monastery? And help the monks as a lay man? And learn from them?
Note that I'm merely theory-crafting with this topic, trying to consider the possibilities. No, it's not possible for me to move near a Buddhist monastery, there are no such nearby--plus there'd be many drawbacks and negative sides to doing any of that, even if possible. Plus, as the post above this one reminded me--not all Buddhist monasteries or teachers practice (in line with the Dhamma), so there's absolutely no guarantee in anything. About learning from someone... I've already learned the basics, there's no more to learn I think, just practicing (meditating) is needed; have no intention to become a scholar or study texts in detail.

Again, this is merely theory-crafting! Also, to all, by 'monk' in this topic I'm not referring to the type of monk that goes around blessing people and places. I'm talking about the type of monk that keeps secluded to himself, actually practicing.
Last edited by Mr. Seek on Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buddhist practice as a monastic in another religion?

Post by coconut »

Mr. Seek wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 4:06 pm Opinions will be greatly appreciated. It's a complicated topic, but I'll try to be as short and as clear as possible.

Good post Mr. Seeker

All you need to practice right here and now is the barebones right view, I think this is a great sutta that shows the barebones right view:

https://suttacentral.net/sn55.3/en/sujato

That means if you know of the four noble truths, dependent origination, five aggregates, 3 characteristics and 5 precepts, then you know enough theory, and learning more theory isn't going to do much, and you should now focus on attaining jhanas as much as you can.

As per the Dhamma Viharin sutta, one who dwells in the dhamma spends the day trying to attain jhanas and then going over dhamma theory. So let's just say 75% of effort trying to attain jhanas, 25% reading the suttas.

An example schedule for me is:

- Wake up 5-6am
- Morning Meditation 1-3 hours
- Do chores/work/householder living stuff
- Evening Meditation 1-3 hours
- Read and understand suttas
- Go on forums/web to do discuss dhamma
- Don't forget to observe uposotha days

Really the country I'm in is irrelevant, all that I need is a quiet secluded spot for meditation and my ebooks of the nikayas, that's all.
Mr. Seek
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Re: Buddhist practice as a monastic in another religion?

Post by Mr. Seek »

coconut wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:00 pmAll you need to practice right here and now is the barebones right view, I think this is a great sutta that shows the barebones right view:

https://suttacentral.net/sn55.3/en/sujato

That means if you know of the four noble truths, dependent origination, five aggregates, 3 characteristics and 5 precepts, then you know enough theory, and learning more theory isn't going to do much, and you should now focus on attaining jhanas as much as you can.

As per the Dhamma Viharin sutta, one who dwells in the dhamma spends the day trying to attain jhanas and then going over dhamma theory. So let's just say 75% of effort trying to attain jhanas, 25% reading the suttas.

An example schedule for me is:

- Wake up 5-6am
- Morning Meditation 1-3 hours
- Do chores/work/householder living stuff
- Evening Meditation 1-3 hours
- Read and understand suttas
- Go on forums/web to do discuss dhamma

Really the country I'm in is irrelevant, all that I need is a quiet secluded spot for meditation and my ebooks of the nikayas, that's all.
You're absolutely right! I have enough of theory, now I just want to keep practicing, because who knows I might die tomorrow or whatever. So yeah, just theory-crafting, trying to figure out the positives and negatives of the idea that I mentioned.

The country is indeed irrelevant. Or the place, or whatever, so long as it's conductive to meditation. All you need is the information in your head and the intention to practice. Thank you for the inspiring post. Would love to hear your opinion on some of the other points that I mentioned in my original post, maybe you have some alternatives to suggest. Basically I'm just trying to figure out what would be the ideal way I can dedicate most of my time to practice, because being your typical city-dwelling householder has some serious drawbacks, I've found lately.
Last edited by Mr. Seek on Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Snp 5.11—"Having nothing, free of clinging: That is the island, there is no other."
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Re: Buddhist practice as a monastic in another religion?

Post by coconut »

Mr. Seek wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:08 pm
coconut wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:00 pmAll you need to practice right here and now is the barebones right view, I think this is a great sutta that shows the barebones right view:

https://suttacentral.net/sn55.3/en/sujato

That means if you know of the four noble truths, dependent origination, five aggregates, 3 characteristics and 5 precepts, then you know enough theory, and learning more theory isn't going to do much, and you should now focus on attaining jhanas as much as you can.

As per the Dhamma Viharin sutta, one who dwells in the dhamma spends the day trying to attain jhanas and then going over dhamma theory. So let's just say 75% of effort trying to attain jhanas, 25% reading the suttas.

An example schedule for me is:

- Wake up 5-6am
- Morning Meditation 1-3 hours
- Do chores/work/householder living stuff
- Evening Meditation 1-3 hours
- Read and understand suttas
- Go on forums/web to do discuss dhamma

Really the country I'm in is irrelevant, all that I need is a quiet secluded spot for meditation and my ebooks of the nikayas, that's all.
You're absolutely right! I have enough of theory, now I just want to practice, because who knows I might die tomorrow or whatever. So yeah, just theory-crafting, trying to figure out the positives and negatives of the idea that I mentioned.

The country is indeed irrelevant. Or the place, or whatever, so long as it's conductive to meditation. All you need is the information in your head and the intention to practice. Thank you for the inspiring post. Would love to hear your opinion on some of the other points that I mentioned in my original post, maybe you have some alternatives to suggest. Basically I'm just trying to figure out what would be the ideal way I can dedicate most of my time to practice, because being your typical city-dwelling householder has some serious drawbacks, I've found lately.
I read your thread, maybe repeat the question you want me to answer.

However, If you want to accelerate your progress

- Observe the uposotha (look up suttas on that)
- Become celibate
- Eat once a day (intermittent fasting)
- Sleep on a harder surface
- Let go of sensual desires

In the long run, you'll naturally want to get away from noisy environments. I used to live in a city 15 years ago, and now live in the mountains in nature, in a beautiful quiet place, I could live here until I die and be absolutely happy.
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Re: Buddhist practice as a monastic in another religion?

Post by dharmacorps »

I have relatives who used to be nuns and monks in the Christian tradition. Based on the stories they have told me, you absolutely have to make public commitments to Jesus, the Christian religion, other monks, ritual objects (even in silent practice you would have to demonstrate fealty), and reject other religions. Routinely. So, you would have to lie frequently to continue to get food, solitude, and a place to live.

Maybe focus more on what you are ready to let go of rather than what you are ready to effectively steal. Specifically let go of doing things on your terms. To ordain you'd have to leave the country which yes may be difficult, but immensely easier than what you are suggesting.
Mr. Seek
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Re: Buddhist practice as a monastic in another religion?

Post by Mr. Seek »

dharmacorps wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:37 pm I have relatives who used to be nuns and monks in the Christian tradition. Based on the stories they have told me, you absolutely have to make public commitments to Jesus, the Christian religion, other monks, ritual objects (even in silent practice you would have to demonstrate fealty), and reject other religions. Routinely. So, you would have to lie frequently to continue to get food, solitude, and a place to live.

Maybe focus more on what you are ready to let go of rather than what you are ready to effectively steal. Specifically let go of doing things on your terms. To ordain you'd have to leave the country which yes may be difficult, but immensely easier than what you are suggesting.
Thanks for the input, gives a realistic perspective. Damn, routinely... But then again, there are different Christian monastic traditions out there, and even every monastery is different, much like in Buddhism. Oh well. Making public comments like that would indeed be lying though, wouldn't want to do any of that, not even in silence. Main interest is not in free requisites, more like proper environment and conditions for practice--you know, keep silent and do jhana (which in reality is the same goal that Christian monks have, they just have totally different views, habits and practices, from what I can tell).

Again, thanks for the input!

Edit: Ah, your post brought something to mind--Christian holidays and rituals. Obviously the other monks would be observing them and would insist on everyone observing them. Darn habits and practices.
Last edited by Mr. Seek on Fri Nov 13, 2020 7:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buddhist practice as a monastic in another religion?

Post by Inedible »

A Catholic monastery might let you stay to practice Buddhism, but you would have to pay to be there and receive support.
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Re: Buddhist practice as a monastic in another religion?

Post by Mr. Seek »

Inedible wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 7:27 pm A Catholic monastery might let you stay to practice Buddhism, but you would have to pay to be there and receive support.
At the end of the day, externally, our practices are the same, no? Keep silent and do jhana. How is anyone going to know you're a practicing Buddhist? The only strange thing from the viewpoint of Christian monks would be that you prefer seclusion 100% of the time, and would rather not indulge in rituals, habits, and practices. It's not like you would hanker around Buddha statues with you, so who would know, hmm... Plus, the precepts are practically the same, and we as Buddhists don't have any weird rituals or habits to do, so essentially you'd be incognito, unless you like talking much about what your views are.

Thanks for the input! Visiting such places could be useful, even if not living in them long-term.
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Re: Buddhist practice as a monastic in another religion?

Post by rightviewftw »

Mr. Seek wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 5:55 pm
rightviewftw wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 5:04 pm No it's not ok to lie in order to be given food. People give according to their faith. If one not being a Buddhist, not planning to train according to Buddhist manuals, if ordained as a Buddhist to get food, maintained appearance and ate almsfood given in good faith, then that one is a thief imo.

I do understand your predicament and why you would consider it but keep in mind that not all buddhist monasteries and communities are a fit for one who wants to train. How much less so a non-buddhist community.
Nah, no one has the intention of lying, like I said in my post. I'm merely theory-crafting, trying to figure out how one would be able to seek out a secluded dwelling and livelihood, proper for training and practice, in the conditions that I outined. Again, no lying, no false vows, no anything like that, please don't misunderstand. Just being a seeker among other seekers. At the end of the day, both Christians and Buddhists and whatever other faith-followers are out there are seeking one and the same thing, i.e. purity, the ultimate, whatever you want to call it. The difference is in the methods, techniques, beliefs or lack thereof, and of course the end results, or lack thereof. Rest assured, my intentions are absolutely pure--no lying is intended, just trying to figure out how to adapt and live the holy life in line with the Buddhist dhamma when there is absolute no active sangha nearby, and when going to the other side of the globe has too much drawbacks and negatives. We're all seekers at the end of the day.

You're absolutely right that not all Buddhist monasteries are fit for one who wishes to train, much less non-Buddhist monasteries, thank you for reminding me that; but nonetheless, there are probably some strict religious seekers and orders out there that one can hang out with while meditating, no?
I mean if you find christian ascetics who will feed and accomodate you knowing that you are of other persuation, that's fine if it's otherwise suitable.

I doubt that you will find such a place nor am i convinced that it's a good idea because not being aligned in view is a cause for conflict.

Also do you have enough training to be on your own? Do you need internet and books? If you do need these things then it's making you more difficult to support as you are not independent. This again lowers chances of this working out.

It's not easy to live among monastics, people have defilements.. living in close quartets is going to be near militant and regulated as a prison and living alone in the forest is basicaly isolation which is very hard to enjoy.

Finally, Sangha is not necessarily your local group of people. There are people around the world who would easily support a person who inspires faith.

In general if you can go into the forest and easily attain jhana then what need is there to seek a group. Just make videos or collect bottles for food & clothing or something like that. One such as this is of few wishes and easy to support.

If you can't go attain jhanas without difficulty then you probably better off doing some retreas because monasticism is no joke and one ill prepared won't easily find comfort in homeless life and that especially if surrounded by people from other sects.
'Bhikkhus, possessing three qualities, a bhikkhu is practicing the unmistaken way and has laid the groundwork for the destruction of the taints. What three? Here, a bhikkhu guards the doors of the sense faculties, observes moderation in eating, and is intent on wakefulness. He should develop perception of unattractiveness so as to abandon lust... good will so as to abandon ill will... mindfulness of in-&-out breathing so as to cut off distractive thinking... the perception of inconstancy so as to uproot the conceit, 'I am.
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Re: Buddhist practice as a monastic in another religion?

Post by DooDoot »

Mr. Seek wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 4:06 pm Opinions will be greatly appreciated.
Lots of original/historical Christian monasticism & Sufi mysticism appeared to be Buddhism in disguise. The bottom line is you will still have to find a Christian monastery that accommodates mysticism rather than superstition. Once this can be done then in communication one simply uses the terms "Holy Spirit" for "Pure Consciousness" or "Breath Consciousness" and "Heavens" for "Jhanas", etc. It is not rocket science. You can only be a Buddhist in disguise if you understand the New Testament and are able to interpret its terminology in terms of Buddhism. Then you won't engage in false speech.
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Re: Buddhist practice as a monastic in another religion?

Post by SarathW »

It is not easy to practice what Buddha taught, even in some Buddhist monasteries
Imagine this forum as a Buddhist monastery.
Can you see the diversity even in this forum?
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Re: Buddhist practice as a monastic in another religion?

Post by confusedlayman »

If u want to ordain, then do it in buddhist monestry

Or else its not ordination...

As a layman u can practice anywhere comfortable...

If u ordain in christian monestry u are not faithful to both christians and buddhist lineage ... imagine sariputta ordaining in jain monestry but following buddhism... it doesnt happen that way
I may be slow learner but im at least learning...
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