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  • Daniel Ionita
    started a topic Trying out the life of a monk.

    Trying out the life of a monk.

    Venerable sirs,

    My first contact with Buddhism was a quote i found 2-3 years ago on the internet. i did some light research on Buddhism but I let it aside because there was a greater conflict in me, wether to be a Christian or and Atheist.

    This summer on the other hand I don't know out of what reason I decided to research Buddhims in depth. At a very fast pace, reading through whatever I could find (the Dhammapada being my all time favorite), I fell into agreement with 80% of what i read (a percentage which grew overtime). More than that it felt like it was unlocking understanding which I already had. Not to mention it helped me lift doubt and anger from my thoughts (not completly, but it felt like crawling from underneath a boulder). Sooner or later I found out about talks on the internet and also began researching different practices. In my weighing of what i researched I found out this community to have the most in common with my personal beliefs.

    Since then my life had changed a lot, my view of life seemed to have matured somehow, unloked from the burdens of doubt. But I found myself in a world that would hear me but not understand me. There is almost no Buddhism in my country. I found myself looking at people and trying to show them what i see, I found Buddhism more and more difficult to express, I later understood the meaning of conditioning and how many are not yet able to comprehend life in the Buddhist way.

    I've been contemplating a lot on the subject, and the life of a monk actually became appealing to me. But i still have my fears and doubts about it. I was wondering , and this is my actual question, if it would be possible for me to come all the way from Romania and try out the life of Buddhist monks?

    I am currently finishing my studies in Business Administration (the irony) and I also have plans to get employed or follow a master's degree. But the irony is that following the Buddhist teachings i slowly begin to loose interest in money, personal gain and career (which were my main motivation through my studies). So I do not know when it will be possible and for how long, but i want to break free from my lay life and try following the monks and their way of life. Of course I would have my parents permission.

    With Metta,
    Daniel.

  • Daniel Ionita
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ajahn Brahmali
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Daniel Ionita
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bo Schafers
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Andrew Jones
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ajahn Brahmali
    replied
    Dear Roland,

    Our monastery is essentially open to everyone. What is important is that you try out monastic life. You will soon find out that the idea and reality of monasticism are quite different. It is quite possible that will find out that this is not for you. On the other hand, if you do like it, and you are able to follow the monastic routine and discipline, age should not be a barrier. In the end it is up the Sangha of any particular monastery to decide if you should or should not be ordained. The only problem at our monastery is that it is quite full at the moment, and I cannot guarantee we will be able to fit you in.

    By the way, tonight we are ordaining a 70 year old man as a novice monk!

    With metta.

    Leave a comment:


  • Roland Zeitler
    replied
    dear ajahn brahmali,
    i am a teacher (still), 62 years of age and practicing vipassanna meditation for half of my life at various meditation centers (retreats) and in my home. i always wanted to become a monk because i think only in such environment one can really advance. but i have been a married houdeholder, too weak, with many worldly desires and resulting duties.
    is it still possible at least for a couple of years? or am i too old? do i have to formally divorce for that?
    i feel that a somewhat older man who maybe not comitted for life (because of care for the sangha in case i get sick - i am in good health now) might not realy be welcomed as my physical strength can not compare to young ones.
    what is your opinion about my wish.
    thank you
    roland

    Leave a comment:


  • Jo Tummers
    replied
    Thank you, it is now also clear to me what the reason behind it is. Makes perfect sense to me.

    With metta, Jo

    Leave a comment:


  • Ajahn Brahmali
    replied
    Dear Jo,

    I think the best I can do is simply to cut and paste from information available at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/a...mc2.ch14.html:

    Undesirable. Applicants falling into the following categories should not be given the Going-forth.
    ...
    5) Those who are physically handicapped, feeble, or deformed. The following list is from the Canon, with passages from the Commentary in brackets: an applicant with a hand cut off [C: at least from the palm] ... a foot cut off [C: at least from the ball of the foot].. a hand and foot cut off ... an ear cut off ... a nose cut off ... an ear and nose cut off [C: in the case of ears and nose, if the cut-off part can be reconnected, the applicant may go forth] ... a finger or toe cut off [C: so that nothing of the nail appears] ... a thumb or big toe cut off .. a cut tendon ... one who has webbed fingers [C: if the fingers are separated by surgery, or if a sixth finger is removed, the applicant may go forth] ... a bent-over person [C: bent-over forward (a hunchback), bent-over back (a swayback), bent-over to either side; a slight crookedness is to be expected in all candidates, as only a Buddha is perfectly straight] ... a dwarf ... one with a club foot (or elephantiasis) [C: if the foot is operated on so as to become a normal foot, he may go forth] ... one who disgraces the assembly [C: through some deformity; (the list here is very long and includes many seemingly harmless characteristics, such as connected eyebrows, a lack of a beard or moustache, etc. This is one area where the Commentary seems to have gone overboard)] ... one who is blind in one eye ... one who has a crooked limb [C: limb = at least a hand, foot, or finger] ... one who is lame ... one half-paralyzed [C: paralyzed in one hand, one foot, or down one side] ... a cripple [C: one who needs a crutch or stool to move along] ... one feeble from old age ... one who is blind... dumb [C: unable to speak or with such a bad stutter that he cannot pronounce the Three Refuges clearly]... deaf ... blind and dumb ... blind and deaf (ยง โ€” not mentioned in BD) ... deaf and dumb ... blind and deaf and dumb.

    Again, some people have questioned the compassion behind these prohibitions, but the point of the prohibitions is to keep the bhikkhus from being burdened with looking after those who are a burden or an embarrassment to their families. There is at least one case in the Canon of a dwarf who ordained and became an arahant (Ud.VII.1-2), but apparently he, like Aṅgulimāla, was accepted into the Community by the Buddha himself. If it so happens that a bhikkhu develops any of these handicaps after his ordination โ€” e.g., he goes blind or loses a limb โ€” he need not disrobe, and his fellow bhikkhus are duty-bound to care for him (see Chapter 5).
    With metta.

    Leave a comment:


  • Jo Tummers
    replied
    Dear Ajahn Brahmali,

    Thank you for your clear reply. Indeed, I don't remember exactly where I've read or heared it, that people with a serious disability can't ordain but I kind of knew this in the back of my mind. Just to satisfy my curiousity, do you know why those rules exist? Mayb because disabled or seriously ill people are too dependent of material things like medicine, wheelchairs or other facilities which can interfere with practice?

    I think you're very right that ordaining or not is not that important when it comes to practice. In fact, I find myself setting more time aside to practice in my current environment, which feels very good to me.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ajahn Brahmali
    replied
    Dear Jo,

    Unfortunately, it is unlikely that you will be able to ordain. There are rules in the monastic discipline against ordaining someone who has a serious illness or handicap.

    However, you may well be able to stay at a monastery for an extended period as a lay visitor. At Bodhinyana Monastery in Perth we do not have wheelchair facilities for the male guests (although we do have them for female guests, since the female accommodation was built more recently). Otherwise we would have been most happy to have you as a guest. However, there may be other monasteries that have the appropriate facilities.

    Whether one ordains or stays in a monastery as a long term guest may not make too much difference. As long as one is able to make proper use of the facilities, one should be able to make good progress on the path.

    with metta.

    Leave a comment:


  • Jo Tummers
    replied
    What a coincedence that I stumble upon this beautiful subject. (as far as there is any coincedence) :-) I just finished a reply to a member, stating that there have been times in my life I would want to become a monk. And to be very honest, that feeling is still inside me. I have contemplated that a lot, but as for the others that replied to this subject, I have questions. As for me, being dependent of a wheelchair all the time, would it even be possible? If I look back at my life so far, I cannot say anything else than that I had to depent on material things a lot, as best example my wheelchair.
    Like Daniel, my interest in material things subsides quickly. I will lose my car in a few months which on one hand makes me sad because the car always has given me a certain freedom to go wherever I like, but on the other hand I do not panic (as I did some years ago when there was a chance I would lose it).
    I find that my increasing practice is changing me (for the better). Although I have to rely on books only as I stated in a previous post here, I feel that the need to put the knowledge that I gain into practice, becomes stronger and stronger.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ajahn Brahmali
    replied
    Dear Valeria,

    We have three rooms for women at Bodhinyana Monastery, and the maximum stay for overseas visitors is 1 month (no minimum). If you come for the rains retreat then you would normally stay for the full three months. However, it is quite difficult to get a room for that period.

    With metta.

    Leave a comment:


  • Valeria Ferreira
    replied
    Venerable Ajahn Brahmali,

    I will just jump in this thread to ask some little questions too!

    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.

    Thank you!
    With metta,
    Valeria

    Leave a comment:

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