Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby maybay » Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:46 pm

Indrajala wrote:In the absence of a sustainable social mechanism for supporting mendicancy, we can only speculate.

What about begging?
People will know nothing and everything
Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
- Machig Labdron
User avatar
maybay
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:12 pm

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby kirtu » Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:30 am

Indrajala wrote:In the absence of a sustainable social mechanism for supporting mendicancy, we can only speculate.


Early retirement (not so early in reality > 62.5) to India and Nepal with social security income.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
User avatar
kirtu
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4530
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby Indrajala » Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:52 am

maybay wrote:
Indrajala wrote:In the absence of a sustainable social mechanism for supporting mendicancy, we can only speculate.

What about begging?


In many places this would be an issue legally, unless you were a registered charity and were "canvassing". Still, I don't know how much a tin of spare change will go.

If I recall correctly, when I was at Antai-ji in Japan, Muho the abbot said it took about US$10,000/year for the place to operate. They grew their own food (rice included) and received some donations, but during the summer they did takuhatsu (begging) around Osaka and elsewhere, pouring all the money into the temple's fund.

Something on a similar scale might be possible in a western country.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5964
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby maybay » Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:17 pm

Indrajala wrote:
maybay wrote:
Indrajala wrote:In the absence of a sustainable social mechanism for supporting mendicancy, we can only speculate.

What about begging?


In many places this would be an issue legally, unless you were a registered charity and were "canvassing". Still, I don't know how much a tin of spare change will go.

If I recall correctly, when I was at Antai-ji in Japan, Muho the abbot said it took about US$10,000/year for the place to operate. They grew their own food (rice included) and received some donations, but during the summer they did takuhatsu (begging) around Osaka and elsewhere, pouring all the money into the temple's fund.

Something on a similar scale might be possible in a western country.

No, I mean you can ask people to give you money for the things you need.
People will know nothing and everything
Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
- Machig Labdron
User avatar
maybay
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:12 pm

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby Indrajala » Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:20 pm

maybay wrote:No, I mean you can ask people to give you money for the things you need.


Many monks already do that, but with limited success and/or the inability to secure enough funds to run a proper monastery of even a small scale (food, shelter, clothing, bills, etc.).
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5964
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby maybay » Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:25 pm

Indrajala wrote:
maybay wrote:No, I mean you can ask people to give you money for the things you need.


Many monks already do that, but with limited success and/or the inability to secure enough funds to run a proper monastery of even a small scale (food, shelter, clothing, bills, etc.).

You might have more luck.
People will know nothing and everything
Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
- Machig Labdron
User avatar
maybay
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:12 pm

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby JKhedrup » Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:01 pm

The bottom line is although it is possible to have functioning Western Sangha communities with well trained monastics if there is support (ie the Ajahn Chah forest sangha), Western lay practitioners of Vajrayana for the most part are not interested in sponsoring the necessary training and institutions in the West. Part of this is simply pragmatism-you can sponsor 5 in India for the cost of one Westerner. Part of it is that TB can be quite expensive and people want to pay for their own retreats, courses etc rather than sponsor a monk or nun to participate.

Rather than try to fight these realities, which doesn't help and makes one sound like a complainer, I decided to build my own skills so I had sonething people needed. In this way I became a staffmember with room, board and small pocket money rather thsn someone asking for help. I am not saying this is fair, but it is how things are, and I don't see them changing in my lifetime. It is important would be ordinands in TB understand this reality, otherwise what I see happen is they get depressed and disrobe or become resentful due to the unfairness, which then perpetuates the problem.
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
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2326
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:35 pm

His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the importance of the Monastic Community:

http://www.thubtenchodron.org/BuddhistN ... god_08.pdf
As it is stated in
our Mahayana treatises, it was not the case that Buddha had afflictions
that needed to be abandoned, and that he then newly
attained Buddhahood. However, in order to guide his subsequent
disciples, he first lived in a family as a royal prince and later went
forth to become a monk. This is how it was. In the interest of the
Buddhadharma, one of the most favorable conditions for
preserving, nourishing and propagating the Buddhadharma is monastic
ordination. This being the case, Buddha himself established the
system of monastic ordination.
And within this, Buddha himself,
as the master of his own words, implemented two orders, that of
monks and that of nuns (rabjungpa and rabjungma). This is
how it was.
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
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2326
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby Indrajala » Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:40 pm

There were widespread lay priesthoods in India, which are largely forgotten. The bodhisattva movement was largely tied to them. Yijing mentions in the 8th century "black robed" students who strictly studied sutra, but were not monks. There are references to priests in works like Xuanzang's journal, too.

I think monasticism is worthwhile, but a lay priesthood has a lot of benefits, too. It is also arguable more resilient in many ways. That Newari Buddhism has survived as long as it has despite being oppressed says a lot.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5964
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby maybay » Thu Aug 22, 2013 4:08 pm

JKhedrup wrote:The bottom line is although it is possible to have functioning Western Sangha communities with well trained monastics if there is support (ie the Ajahn Chah forest sangha), Western lay practitioners of Vajrayana for the most part are not interested in sponsoring the necessary training and institutions in the West. Part of this is simply pragmatism-you can sponsor 5 in India for the cost of one Westerner. Part of it is that TB can be quite expensive and people want to pay for their own retreats, courses etc rather than sponsor a monk or nun to participate.

Rather than try to fight these realities, which doesn't help and makes one sound like a complainer, I decided to build my own skills so I had sonething people needed. In this way I became a staffmember with room, board and small pocket money rather thsn someone asking for help. I am not saying this is fair, but it is how things are, and I don't see them changing in my lifetime. It is important would be ordinands in TB understand this reality, otherwise what I see happen is they get depressed and disrobe or become resentful due to the unfairness, which then perpetuates the problem.

I don't think Westerners are interested in sponsoring anything more impersonal. We have enough souless governments, agencies and institutions as it is. Become acquianted with lay people and then ask them simply and sincerely for support. Whether they give you money or not, I don't think you will be disappointed.
People will know nothing and everything
Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
- Machig Labdron
User avatar
maybay
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:12 pm

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Aug 22, 2013 4:34 pm

Hi there,

Due to my own conditioning, I have never been comfortable asking directly. Fortunately, though, there has been unexpected kindness from a couple of laypeople as mentioned above.

One of the benefits of a system like Ajahn Chah's monasteries is that it ensures equality of the monks and nuns- people donate to the Sangha as a whole. In Tibetan Buddhism individual Sangha have actually always been responsible to some degree for their own sponsorship (the monastery provides a shared room maybe and only the most basic foods). Traditionally in Tibet families sponsored their relatives who were monks and nuns in their study. This leads to a tremendous gap between haves and have-nots, that continues in the modern period with the relatives of teachers in the West being well taken care of while others cannot buy books. (Fortunately, these days the food is of much higher quality and people are well fed, so there has been progress).
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
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2326
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby kirtu » Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:10 pm

JKhedrup wrote: Western lay practitioners of Vajrayana for the most part are not interested in sponsoring the necessary training and institutions in the West.


Yes and this has to change. However one of the issues is that Westerners are going through an economic depression and their ability to help others has been drastically diminished.


Part of this is simply pragmatism-you can sponsor 5 in India for the cost of one Westerner. Part of it is that TB can be quite expensive and people want to pay for their own retreats, courses etc rather than sponsor a monk or nun to participate.


Yes, but if we could find a way to sponsor a small number of monastics (to start with) for a small donation we could build on that. Does anyone know of a website or an organization where one can donate $1 on up for the western TB sangha?

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
User avatar
kirtu
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4530
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:42 pm

Sravasti Abbey, Gampo Abbey, FPMT's IMI Lama Yeshe Sangha Fund and Samye Ling in Scotland all have resident monks and nuns living in stable environments where they are really doing retreat, study or service. There are probably more examples that I just don't know about.

The best supported Vajrayana monastics I have met are ironically students of a lay master, Sogyal Rinpoche, they live at Lerab Ling in France and for example the centre arranged their airfare to India for full ordination with HH Dalai Lama, and also covers all living expenses.
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
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2326
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby kirtu » Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:32 pm

JKhedrup wrote:Sravasti Abbey, Gampo Abbey, FPMT's IMI Lama Yeshe Sangha Fund and Samye Ling in Scotland all have resident monks and nuns living in stable environments where they are really doing retreat, study or service. There are probably more examples that I just don't know about.

The best supported Vajrayana monastics I have met are ironically students of a lay master, Sogyal Rinpoche, they live at Lerab Ling in France and for example the centre arranged their airfare to India for full ordination with HH Dalai Lama, and also covers all living expenses.


Lerab Ling's activity is fantastic. I often forget about such things. Perhaps we should put something together, pin it and update it occasionally?

I was aware of the Lama Yeshe Fund as I used to give to it. But no kind of universal Lama Yeshe Fund for monastics yet exists does it? It's true that there are lots of little groups raising money for nuns and monks in various places including on life-long retreat. But it would be good to create a kind of universal fund.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
User avatar
kirtu
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4530
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Aug 23, 2013 7:23 am

I agree. Since the economic crisis the Lama Yeshe Sangha Fund has not been as able to assist either. I was very grateful for it while in India studying Tibetan, as I would not have been able to cover my expenses without it. Now, I have a job at the centre where I can offer an essential service, thanks to that fund. Otherwise it would not have been possible. A small investment from them during my studies meant I can now offer a service to the practitioners who attend our courses.
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
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2326
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby maybay » Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:18 am

Economic depression, universal funds, monks being of service. Let me just drop out now.
People will know nothing and everything
Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
- Machig Labdron
User avatar
maybay
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:12 pm

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:01 am

We have to live in the real world- if doing translation work that enables people to receive the teachings gets me judgement from some quarters, I can live with that.

I lived for 2 years as an alms mendicant in Thailand-this is possible in a Buddhist country that understands monasticism. It will not work in the West- monks will simply be seen as homeless people- as happened recently in Toronto's Chinatown. We have to deal with the real situation, unless conditions change.

At least universal funds ensure that there is a minimum amount available for people to live on, rather than some having several sponsors and others on the verge of destitution, as is the case now.

Being of service is no crime, especially according to the Mahayana ideals. One can build up one's accumulation of merit while operating in a role that requires the study and practice of the dharma in an environment that allows one to maintain one's vows. It is not like there are people lining up to sponsor monks in retreat.
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
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2326
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby greentara » Fri Aug 23, 2013 2:21 pm

The truth is that life is unsatisfactory whether you are a monk or layman, obviously in different ways but suffering is still there. Some monks beg and feel as free as a bird, others feel more hesitant. People intuitively sense when they are drawn to a teachers feet.....it happens spontaneously. The old saying still applies "When the flower blooms, the bees come uninvited"
greentara
 
Posts: 927
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2012 4:03 am

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby kirtu » Fri Aug 23, 2013 5:30 pm

I've unlocked the thread. I think we have a good discussion going but participants need to be reminded to be respectful of one another.

Do not attack one another and do not attack the monastics. Personal experiences and esp. reasoned, respectful dialogue is always welcomed (remember Shakyamuni's admonitions regarding Right Speech).

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
User avatar
kirtu
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4530
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Aug 24, 2013 7:45 pm

By wearing monks robes and living like a lay person you put your body, speech and mind out of whack: you think one thing, say something else, and do another.


I maintain my vows and serve the dharma and my teachers. I do not accumulate wealth, and live in a dharma community. I wear my robes all the time, with all that entails living in a Western society.

BTW- according to strict Vinaya monks cannot ask directly to laypeople for material offerings anyways, so you idea about restoring the original Sangha lifestyle is not in accord with the scriptures anyway. Monks in Thailand simply walk with their bowls and the laypeople call to them. If a monk were to approach a layperson and directly ask them for money for a retreat it would be inappropriate according to strict interpretations of the Vinaya.

You are holding monks to an idealized idea of the sramana lifestyle that does not have a solid basis in scripture or history, but is rather based on your own expectations.



Until Arhatship, you're on borrowed merit.



That doesn't make any sense- our karma is our own, the weight of our own actions both positive and negative. We can't borrow merit. The merits we accumulate through our own positive actions and the 6 perfections are what carry us through and allow us to work towards the ultimate goal, which for Mahayana monks and nuns is not arahantship but evolution according to the bodhisattva path. HHDL, the Karmapa and others encourage monastics who are engaged not only in meditation but also service, teaching, translation and social work with a compassionate motivation as you can read for yourself in transcripts of their teachings.
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
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2326
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

PreviousNext

Return to Personal Experience

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests

>