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Trying out the life of a monk.

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  • #16
    That's awesome! 70 years old; Wow. Both 'wow' he is going that route at his age, and 'wow' you are open to it. To see the vibrancy of the monastery in this way really encourages me.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Valeria Ferreira View Post
      I understand you said it is possible for lay people to spend some time on the monastery? I want to know, how exactly does that work? For example, (a very naive question! ) can females visit the men's monastery? And usually, how long would a lay visitor stay? (Is there a minimum, maximum period of time?) During specific times of the year, for example, during the rains retreat are the rules different ?

      If there is a web page about those things on the dhammaloka website you can just refer me to it, I looked for but didn't find any.
      Valeria, all the BSWA centres are listed in the sidebar of the Dhammaloka website. (This by the way is the Dhammaloka Community, the *virtual* lay centre)

      What's wrong with our Dhammasara (nun's) monastery? Bhikkhus or Bhikkhunis, there's no difference! One of our senior nuns, Venerable Nirodha speaks German.

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      • #18
        Venerable Ajahn Brahmali,

        It is a long story. I don't know where to start. I am in a general state of confusion, I do not understand whether what I have done is wrong or right, I am also unsure of how I should proceed.

        A long time ago I suggested to my parents that I want to try and see if I can ordain as Buddhist monk. I told them that I will need their approval. At the time they accepted it and said that if this is my way they will support me. I brought it up again a few times. And they said that if I finish a Master, so that my future would be ensured, they will accept if I still decide to follow this path. My mother hoped it was a passing phase.

        In the meantime I got accepted at a private university in Germany for a Master in International Management. I applied for a scholarship but I only got a 25% scholarship which was not enough. I applied for a loan but it was denied. Yesterday my father angrily decided that he would pay for my tuition from his retirement savings account. I realized that it would be a financial stretch for my parents, so I asked what they would do if after finishing this Master I would still decide to try to become a monk.

        The result was almost unexpected. They panicked. My father at first accused me of being a coward and trying to run away from reality. Later he accused me of trying to manipulate them. Then he said he was afraid of snakes and poisonous spiders, furthermore possible diseases etc. Than he said he was jealous because he didn't have such opportunity when he was young. They said at one point that they'd let me go and try it out for a couple of weeks but that I'd still have to come back and that doesn't mean that they'd give me approval even then. Then they said I had to work for my plane ticket. Then they said that they are afraid of such a rapture and that they don't think they deserve it. Then they got afraid of who'd take care of them when they got old. At one point my father asked me for contact information, because he was afraid you were some kind of cult and that he'd want to contact you. I don't remember everything they said and the exact order.

        But as a result my father seems pretty upset and depressed. My mother is scared but will probably accept it because she loves me too much. And my sister is the only one that accepted it instantly, but with tears in her eyes. This morning my mother asked me to wait a few more years, get a job and follow a Master - a cheaper one (back to trying out "real life"), unfortunately she can't guarantee my fathers approval.

        Could you please guide me in how I should treat this situation? Also could you point me to where I might read more about "parent approval" for ordination?

        Metta,
        Daniel.

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        • #19
          Dear Daniel,

          The whole issue of parents/family and ordination can be quite tricky for those of us who do not come from a Buddhist background. In the end, if you want a good life, you are going to have to follow your heart.

          But please keep in mind that Buddhist monastic life may not be for you. You should really try it out first of all, at least for a few weeks. The idea and reality of monastic life are very different for most people. Once you have tried it out, it is possible that you can eliminate that option, and all your problems with your parents will be over. On the other hand, perhaps you will find out that this is what you really want to do in life. If that is the case, perhaps you forgo that Master's program in Germany altogether, and thus avoid depleting your father's savings.

          I think your parents will probably give you their approval if you are passionate and fully committed. Most people with a European background will not try to control their children's life choices. They usually realize they are just creating misery all round if they try to exert such control.

          It is often difficult for a child to teach his parents. It may be wise to get a third party to help you. Perhaps you know of a person who is knowledgeable about Buddhism, and whom your parents respect, who could speak to your parents about Buddhism. Often, all parents need is some sort of assurance that their children will be ok, and that they will be leading a good life. Once they have that assurance they are unlikely to stand it the way of anything you wish to do.

          Allow things to settle down a bit. Take a step back and calm yourself in meditation. Don't make any decision before you have to. Stand back and get some clarity. Suddenly, and when you least expect it, it will become clear what you need to do.

          Regarding parents approval, there really isn't much to say. Parents' approval is just that, nothing more, nothing less. It is a requirement in the Vinaya. I have heard of cases where this requirement has been waived. But if it can be obtained, I think that is certainly preferable.

          I hope this helps.

          With metta.

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          • #20
            Dear Ajahn Brahmali,

            I understand that monastic life may or not be for me, and that I will never truly know unless I try it out. You have told me so in this very thread and I have not forgotten your advice. The issue here is, I think, that they are afraid to let me try it out ... for now. They still want me to have a masters degree and try out "real life" before I even try monastic life. On one side they are not ready to let go of me and on the other side they don't understand that I am already mature, despite having proven it many times.

            Anyway despite me having told them this before I think this is the first time they realized I was serious about it. I need to give them time to adjust. In the end I think it will turn out alright.

            My problem and the reason I posted back in this thread was that I saw them suffering when I told them about it. I was afraid that I was at fault for their suffering. They had other expectations of me, and they were shocked. I wasn't planning on bringing this up so soon but circumstances pressed me, I think I would have been wrong not to tell my father of my future intentions when he was about to spend a lot of money from his savings.

            Anyway it is also hard for me sometimes because I have no anchor. Whenever my mind is clouded I don't have anyone with a clear mind that I can rely on (I sometimes rely on my parents for advice). Adding to that I don't know anybody with a Buddhist background, so my parents definitely don't know anyone that they respect that has any understanding of Buddhism (except for myself).

            Anyway, thank you very much for your advice. It seems I need to let things follow their flow and hope that my decisions are correct.

            With metta,
            Daniel.

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