Can foreigners ordain in China?

Can foreigners ordain in China?

Postby Dexing » Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:00 pm

Lately I've seen some pictures of both black and white monks in China. I know a lot of them actually ordain in Taiwan, and may perhaps go to the mainland. But I wonder if it is possible for a foreigner to ordain in mainland China and continue a monastic life there. Might anyone know? I suspect they may require first to obtain citizenship there.
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Re: Can foreigners ordain in China?

Postby Wesley1982 » Sun May 27, 2012 9:22 pm

I'd say it depends on the rules of the instructors/teachers.
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Re: Can foreigners ordain in China?

Postby Huifeng » Mon May 28, 2012 12:57 am

Dexing wrote:Lately I've seen some pictures of both black and white monks in China. I know a lot of them actually ordain in Taiwan, and may perhaps go to the mainland. But I wonder if it is possible for a foreigner to ordain in mainland China and continue a monastic life there. Might anyone know? I suspect they may require first to obtain citizenship there.


The short answer is "No".

[quote=Wesley]I'd say it depends on the rules of the instructors/teachers.[/quote]

Again, no, it doesn't.

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Re: Can foreigners ordain in China?

Postby Will » Mon May 28, 2012 2:31 am

It is possible for non-Chinese to ordain in the Chinese tradition outside China, but even that is not a simple affair.
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Re: Can foreigners ordain in China?

Postby Huifeng » Mon May 28, 2012 4:27 am

Will wrote:It is possible for non-Chinese to ordain in the Chinese tradition outside China, but even that is not a simple affair.


Very true, Will. There are only a few of them / us.

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Re: Can foreigners ordain in China?

Postby Wesley1982 » Mon May 28, 2012 4:49 am

Does this have to do with ordination to a Sangha order? if so, then I don't know.
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Re: Can foreigners ordain in China?

Postby Indrajala » Mon May 28, 2012 5:44 am

Will wrote:It is possible for non-Chinese to ordain in the Chinese tradition outside China, but even that is not a simple affair.


I think what turns off a lot of non-Chinese is the fact they insist above all else you learn Mandarin (and learn it well) and attend a very long seminary program (three to four years and then they'll burn your head with incense) which includes elements really only relevant to Chinese culture. In effect, a lot of it won't be Dharma for liberation, but social etiquette, language classes and skills largely irrelevant outside the Chinese Buddhist cultural sphere. There are a lot of social expectations laid on Chinese monastics, too. You have to look and act the part.

Ordination in a Tibetan or Theravada lineage also will probably provide a lot more freedom, albeit at the cost of not having guaranteed material support.

It isn't really hard to become a monk in a Chinese tradition, but it seems sticking around is most difficult for foreigners.
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Re: Can foreigners ordain in China?

Postby Dexing » Tue May 29, 2012 6:06 pm

Huifeng wrote:
Dexing wrote:Lately I've seen some pictures of both black and white monks in China. I know a lot of them actually ordain in Taiwan, and may perhaps go to the mainland. But I wonder if it is possible for a foreigner to ordain in mainland China and continue a monastic life there. Might anyone know? I suspect they may require first to obtain citizenship there.


The short answer is "No".


And the reason being what? Citizenship/visa issues?... anyway, I'd assume government?

My Chan master has been a monk in China since the mid-80's and is currently restoring a couple monasteries in another province and will take abbotcy/management of them. I'll bring this question up with him next time we meet.

Very true, Will. There are only a few of them / us.


In your organization, you must mean...
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Re: Can foreigners ordain in China?

Postby Huifeng » Wed May 30, 2012 2:58 am

Dexing wrote:
Huifeng wrote:
Dexing wrote:Lately I've seen some pictures of both black and white monks in China. I know a lot of them actually ordain in Taiwan, and may perhaps go to the mainland. But I wonder if it is possible for a foreigner to ordain in mainland China and continue a monastic life there. Might anyone know? I suspect they may require first to obtain citizenship there.


The short answer is "No".


And the reason being what? Citizenship/visa issues?... anyway, I'd assume government?


The basic reason is that non citizens cannot study at Buddhist colleges there, and in a way, really can't even live in the monasteries in the same way as the monastics (would have to be in a separate guest house, or equivalent).

My Chan master has been a monk in China since the mid-80's and is currently restoring a couple monasteries in another province and will take abbotcy/management of them. I'll bring this question up with him next time we meet.

Very true, Will. There are only a few of them / us.


In your organization, you must mean...


Very few in this, or any other organization, by my count. Note, original point was "It is possible for non-Chinese to ordain in the Chinese tradition outside China, but even that is not a simple affair." Cf. Theravada, Zen, Tibetan traditions, etc.

How many do you count? <-- not a rhetorical question, I really am curious. :smile:

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PS: I think the word you were looking for is "abbacy" (?).
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Re: Can foreigners ordain in China?

Postby Dexing » Wed May 30, 2012 5:45 am

Huifeng wrote:The basic reason is that non citizens cannot study at Buddhist colleges there, and in a way, really can't even live in the monasteries in the same way as the monastics (would have to be in a separate guest house, or equivalent).


That's odd...

How many do you count? <-- not a rhetorical question, I really am curious. :smile:


I don't have an exact count, but definitely more than a few. I've seen dozens of different white and black monks attending Dharma assemblies and events at monasteries in China right along with the Chinese monks. That's why I started this thread.

I also once saw two white and black "Hui" monks from FGS in Taiwan in a Chinese newspaper in the U.S.. I don't recall their names, but they were not you. :tongue:

PS: I think the word you were looking for is "abbacy" (?).


Dictionary.com lists "abbotcy" and "abbotship" as related forms of "abbot", so I chose one and went with it. :shrug: But "abbacy" appears to be a valid form as well.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/abbot?s=t
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Re: Can foreigners ordain in China?

Postby Huifeng » Wed May 30, 2012 11:30 am

Sorry, by "few" I was thinking "no more than a few dozen". Again, relative to other traditions.
As for abbotcy - thank you, learnt something new today. :tongue:

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Re: Can foreigners ordain in China?

Postby Dexing » Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:35 am

Huifeng wrote:Sorry, by "few" I was thinking "no more than a few dozen". Again, relative to other traditions.
As for abbotcy - thank you, learnt something new today. :tongue:

~~ Huifeng


Thanks. I "learned" something too! (I thought you were originally American..?) :tongue:
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Re: Can foreigners ordain in China?

Postby Huifeng » Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:24 am

Dexing wrote:
Huifeng wrote:Sorry, by "few" I was thinking "no more than a few dozen". Again, relative to other traditions.
As for abbotcy - thank you, learnt something new today. :tongue:

~~ Huifeng


Thanks. I "learned" something too! (I thought you were originally American..?) :tongue:


No, not American at all.
Not Taiwanese or Chinese, either.

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Re: Can foreigners ordain in China?

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:57 pm

For those seeking monastic ordination in a traditional monastery of the Chinese tradition,
I can highly recommend the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in California. Although the vast
majority of monastics are of Asian origin, the place has also produced several influential
Western monastics including Venerable Heng Sure and Venerable Heng Chih, who teaches
at a university in Australia.

The monastery is very traditional, includes rising early, the morning and evening recitations,
thorough Vinaya training for would be bhikshus and bhikshunis, classes and strict meditation
retreats. You will not get closer to a traditional style Chinese monastery in the Western world.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
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