ordaining as a monk
Bodhinyana is the largest Buddhist training monastery in Australia with considerable interest from men wanting to ordain both from within Australia and abroad. Ordaining as a Buddhist monk is a big commitment and requires aspirants to pass through stages which require greater degrees of commitment and higher standards of monastic discipline (vinaya), which include no contact with money, the opposite sex, and require harming no animals or even insects.
Before the monastery can consider new applicants for ordination, we require them to first come and stay with us as a guest for up to one month. That way they will be able to get to know the community, our environment and the standard of practice at Bodhinyana without making any long term commitments. For more information about staying at our monastery as a guest click here.
The Waiting List
After spending some time getting acquainted with us, typically we ask the applicant to leave the monastery and go back to lay life. Having let us know that they wish to pursue ordination we will add them to the ordination waiting list. The list is often very long as there is only so much space available for community members. In addition to the long list, we are required by law to give preference to Australian citizens and permanent residents. Thus if you are from overseas it may take a very long time before an opportunity arises. In any case, patience and persistence is a good quality to develop.
Sooner or later as applicants move up the waiting list, the monastery will get in contact and offer a space. After returning to the monastery, and after an initial trial month the Anagarika candidates can ask Ajahn Brahm and the Bodhinyana Sangha for approval to be ordained as an eight precept Postulant.
Life as an Anagarika
The men with shaven heads and wearing white, while keeping the eight precepts, are called Anagrikas. It is their intention to become a 10 precept novice monk in the near future.
There is quite a lot of work involved, supporting the monks and doing various jobs around the monastery. This includes:
- Working in the kitchen – cooking, cleaning and washing up.
- Driving – there are many trips each week into Perth and the surrounding areas.
- Weeding, digging and gardening jobs.
- Construction of various projects.
- Sweeping around the monastery grounds and generally keeping the place tidy and presentable.
There are four rooms available in the Anagarika block. Each room has a walking meditation path and provides privacy and peace for the resident. When these rooms are full, rooms in the nearby male guest block may be provided.
Training is also provided and includes:
- Vinaya classes – learning the monastic rules.
- Dhamma talks – when Ajahn Brahm is in the monastery he gives a talk each week on various aspects of the Buddha’s path.
- Sutta classes – Ajahn Brahmali often fills in when Ajahn Brahm is away and gives a reading from the Buddhist scriptures with explanation and the opportunity for asking questions.
- Pali classes – This is optional and allows residents to learn the ancient language in which the Buddhist scriptures are written in. There is also a homework component to this.
After one year as an Anagarika it is possible to ordain as a novice monk – a Samanera. This is subject to the approval of the whole Sangha of the monks at Bodhinyana Monastery. The following should be noted:
- In keeping the ten precepts, samaneras are prohibited from handling money. Cash and assets can be given away, or transferred into the hands of a trusted friend or family member.
- White clothing is exchanged for monks’ attire – the brown robes.
- Meals and evening tea are taken with the other novices and fully ordained monks.
- A separate monk’s hut (“kuti”) is provided for each novice as soon as possible.
Full ordination as a Bhikkhu is possible after a year as a samanera. Again this is subject to approval by the whole sangha. With full ordination comes the responsibility to keep all the rules of the vinaya. This is the last stage of ordination and the monk is now a member of the sangha.