Preparing for Ordination

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Dharmasherab
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Preparing for Ordination

Post by Dharmasherab » Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:22 am

I am making this thread not only on behalf of myself but also on behalf of my friends who are interested as well as any lay Buddhist in DharmaWheel who might be considering ordination in the future who are looking for advice.

It is about collecting all types of ideas on how to best prepare as a lay Buddhist before making the decision of ordaining as a monastic with a view to making that a lifetime commitment (and not a trial). I am aware there are monastics who are highly aware of the difference between the lay life and monastic life and I will be very thankful for their advice. I can also appreciate there could be lay Buddhists who are already optimising themselves before ordination and I will be thankful for their tips and suggestions too.

It would be great to have advice on a broad level encompassing the Mahayana - Vajrayana continuum but however feel free to also give advice and tips on how to prepare from a school/sect specific viewpoint too.

Names of books, documents, websites, links to web articles and videos will be highly appreciated (as long as their within the boundaries of ToS).

Thank you.

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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by conebeckham » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:02 am

Well....I don't have much to offer, but in the Tibetan traditions one can take SoJong vows. Taking these vows in the morning, before the rising of the sun, is a method of Vinaya that is applicable to all laypeople, and certainly would be an initial step for someone considering any sort of ordination in a Tibetan lineage.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
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དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by DGA » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:50 am

Dharmasherab wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:22 am
how to best prepare as a lay Buddhist
Find a trustworthy teacher.

Listen with care to that teacher's instruction.

Follow the guidance you are given to the very best of your ability.

Go on like this.

Keep going...

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Indrajala
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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by Indrajala » Tue Nov 21, 2017 9:28 am

If you're not independently wealthy or have a reliable source of income that you can earn remotely (translation for example), then the biggest obstacle will be financial. Some monks have sponsors, but unless they're very reliable people long-term, you might have to go around requesting assistance from multiple people.

Nothing comes for free, however, and there will be expectations laid upon you if you take money from someone. Your behavior and speech will be constantly scrutinized by arbitrary standards.

Some Buddhist organizations, mostly Theravadin or Chinese, would be willing to take care of your basic needs (dental care, visa costs, etc), but it might not be what you imagine, especially the latter. Basically nobody from the West lasts in the Chinese sangha. The cultural differences are enormous. There is also a hierarchical structure that is entirely undemocratic.

The Tibetan sangha seems to be a lot more accommodating, although financially you'll be on your own. Some monks work as translators, but not everyone can do this. Others are qualified to teach and run programs, usually in South Asia, for visiting students. Again, not everyone can do this. Some end up in graduate school, but again not for everyone (and secular academia is not always so kind in its interpretation of Buddhist philosophy and history).

You could also read the vinaya in detail and decide whether this is for you. There are rules governing all sorts of behaviors.
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Dharmasherab
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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by Dharmasherab » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:31 pm

Thank you for all these posts.

As in how about the best way to optimise oneself as a lay Buddhist?

Such as what sort of milestones to set for oneself before considering ordination? (Like Dhyana for example)
Number and duration of retreats? What type of retreats?

What kind of empowerments to take and how long to practice them? Such as how many cycles of Ngondro? Whether do do Lamdre, Dzogchen or Mahamudra for sometime? Number of hours of meditation, zazaen?

Generic as well as specific answers are all welcome!

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Grigoris
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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by Grigoris » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:21 pm

You could take lay (ngakpa) vows if you want to remain a lay practitioner and yet be more "serious" about your dedication to practice.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by Nyedrag Yeshe » Tue Nov 21, 2017 3:45 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:21 pm
You could take lay (ngakpa) vows if you want to remain a lay practitioner but be more "serious" about your dedication to practice.
I might be wrong, but the OP seems to have some calling for renunciation!I think Nagpas are not renunciates, as mantris they actually must not practice any sort of renunciation besides pure view?
“Whatever has to happen, let it happen!”
“Whatever the situation is, it’s fine!”
“I really don’t need anything!
~Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (1161-1211)
ओं पद्मोष्णीष विमले हूँ फट । ओं हनुफशभरहृदय स्वाहा॥
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔ ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།

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Nyedrag Yeshe
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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by Nyedrag Yeshe » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:18 pm

What are you really interested in getting ordination? More commitment, renunciation? Because there are many levels of ordinations, in different traditions that you might consider. For example, in many Japanese traditions, ordinations are based on bodhisattva vows and in general don`t entail external renunciation. For Chinese and Tibetan, monks must follow Vinaya. As Cone mentioned, you might try to keep the eight precepts that have a higher level or renunciation (by including celibacy and avoidance of entertainment) that is normally given to the standard lay five precepts! If your intention is to have more commitment to practice, specifically Vajrayana, then three-year retreat and Ngpagpa ordination might be the best option for you. But the ngagpa path is not a path of renunciation, it's a commitment to secret mantra! Usually, after the three-year retreat, your teacher might give you the permission to teach, and you can be formally a Lama! In Japanese Vajrayana, the curriculum includes ordination, then the Vajrayana empowerments and training that I think might take a year, then, after all, you can reverse to lay life and continue practicing, or keep as a monk and run a center or temple. There are training and ordination programs for westerners in the USA, for both Tendai and Shingon. I don`t know any of TB in the US, I think that for TB ordination you should go probably to India or Nepal.
Last edited by Nyedrag Yeshe on Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“Whatever has to happen, let it happen!”
“Whatever the situation is, it’s fine!”
“I really don’t need anything!
~Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (1161-1211)
ओं पद्मोष्णीष विमले हूँ फट । ओं हनुफशभरहृदय स्वाहा॥
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔ ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།

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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by Aryjna » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:23 pm

Nyedrag Yeshe wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:18 pm
What are you really interested in getting ordination? More commitment, renunciation? Because there are many levels of ordinations, in different traditions that you might consider. For example, in many Japanese traditions, ordinations are based on bodhisattva vows and in general don`t entail external renunciation. For Chinese and Tibetan, monks must follow Vinaya. As Cone mentioned, you might try to keep the eight precepts that have a higher level or renunciation (by including celibacy and avoidance of entertainment) that is normally given to the standard lay five precepts! If your intention is to have more commitment to practice, specifically Vajrayana, then three-year retreat and Ngpagpa ordination might be the best option for you. Usually, after the three-year retreat, your teacher might give you the permission to teach, and you can be formally a Lama! In Japanese Vajrayana, the curriculum includes ordination, then the Vajrayana empowerments and training that I think might take a year, then, after all, you can reverse to lay life and continue practicing, or keep as a monk and run a center or temple. There are training and ordination programs for westerners in the USA, for both Tendai and Shingon. I don`t know any of TB in the US, I think that for TB ordination you should go probably to India or Nepal.
What kind of training programs are there for Shingon? I do not practice or intend to practice in that traditions, but this sounds interesting so I am curious.

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Nyedrag Yeshe
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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by Nyedrag Yeshe » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:24 pm

Aryjna wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:23 pm
Nyedrag Yeshe wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:18 pm
What are you really interested in getting ordination? More commitment, renunciation? Because there are many levels of ordinations, in different traditions that you might consider. For example, in many Japanese traditions, ordinations are based on bodhisattva vows and in general don`t entail external renunciation. For Chinese and Tibetan, monks must follow Vinaya. As Cone mentioned, you might try to keep the eight precepts that have a higher level or renunciation (by including celibacy and avoidance of entertainment) that is normally given to the standard lay five precepts! If your intention is to have more commitment to practice, specifically Vajrayana, then three-year retreat and Ngpagpa ordination might be the best option for you. Usually, after the three-year retreat, your teacher might give you the permission to teach, and you can be formally a Lama! In Japanese Vajrayana, the curriculum includes ordination, then the Vajrayana empowerments and training that I think might take a year, then, after all, you can reverse to lay life and continue practicing, or keep as a monk and run a center or temple. There are training and ordination programs for westerners in the USA, for both Tendai and Shingon. I don`t know any of TB in the US, I think that for TB ordination you should go probably to India or Nepal.
What kind of training programs are there for Shingon? I do not practice or intend to practice in that traditions, but this sounds interesting so I am curious.
What are you referring to? The Japanese or the one implanted in the US?
“Whatever has to happen, let it happen!”
“Whatever the situation is, it’s fine!”
“I really don’t need anything!
~Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (1161-1211)
ओं पद्मोष्णीष विमले हूँ फट । ओं हनुफशभरहृदय स्वाहा॥
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔ ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།

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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:27 pm

DRBA founded by Master Hsuan Hua had 30+ Western bhikshus & bhikshunis starting around 1968. At present there may be only a handful left, not sure if any new ones have ordained since his death in 1995.

FPMT has the most? and Zopa Rimpoche seems a good leader (but getting old). The other Tibetan monastic lineages also are open to Westerners.

Start here: https://fpmt.org/centers/sangha/firstletter/
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
Nietzsche

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Aryjna
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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by Aryjna » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:29 pm

Nyedrag Yeshe wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:24 pm
Aryjna wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:23 pm
Nyedrag Yeshe wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:18 pm
What are you really interested in getting ordination? More commitment, renunciation? Because there are many levels of ordinations, in different traditions that you might consider. For example, in many Japanese traditions, ordinations are based on bodhisattva vows and in general don`t entail external renunciation. For Chinese and Tibetan, monks must follow Vinaya. As Cone mentioned, you might try to keep the eight precepts that have a higher level or renunciation (by including celibacy and avoidance of entertainment) that is normally given to the standard lay five precepts! If your intention is to have more commitment to practice, specifically Vajrayana, then three-year retreat and Ngpagpa ordination might be the best option for you. Usually, after the three-year retreat, your teacher might give you the permission to teach, and you can be formally a Lama! In Japanese Vajrayana, the curriculum includes ordination, then the Vajrayana empowerments and training that I think might take a year, then, after all, you can reverse to lay life and continue practicing, or keep as a monk and run a center or temple. There are training and ordination programs for westerners in the USA, for both Tendai and Shingon. I don`t know any of TB in the US, I think that for TB ordination you should go probably to India or Nepal.
What kind of training programs are there for Shingon? I do not practice or intend to practice in that traditions, but this sounds interesting so I am curious.
What are you referring to? The Japanese or the one implanted in the US?
Aren't they connected? The curriculum you mentioned is something that is done traditionally in Japan or are you talking about specific programs in the US?

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Nyedrag Yeshe
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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by Nyedrag Yeshe » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:41 pm

Aryjna wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:29 pm
Nyedrag Yeshe wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:24 pm
Aryjna wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:23 pm


What kind of training programs are there for Shingon? I do not practice or intend to practice in that traditions, but this sounds interesting so I am curious.
What are you referring to? The Japanese or the one implanted in the US?
Aren't they connected? The curriculum you mentioned is something that is done traditionally in Japan or are you talking about specific programs in the US?
Both! There is a specific curriculum that can be done for the most part in the US, I think that you only need to go to Japan for Empowerment. But the rest is done in the US. You would receive teachings, receive monastic ordination and practice meditations like ajikan. Before empowerment, they also do some purification practices that involve prostrations, offerings etc, much like ngondro, it takes 100 days! Ordination may be given by any temple, but for full esoteric transmission, you still must go to Japan! I'm now in doubt if there is any program of ordination in the US now, but Tendai for sure still offers ordination in Hawaii!
“Whatever has to happen, let it happen!”
“Whatever the situation is, it’s fine!”
“I really don’t need anything!
~Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (1161-1211)
ओं पद्मोष्णीष विमले हूँ फट । ओं हनुफशभरहृदय स्वाहा॥
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔ ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།

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Aryjna
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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by Aryjna » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:48 pm

Nyedrag Yeshe wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:41 pm
Aryjna wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:29 pm
Nyedrag Yeshe wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:24 pm


What are you referring to? The Japanese or the one implanted in the US?
Aren't they connected? The curriculum you mentioned is something that is done traditionally in Japan or are you talking about specific programs in the US?
Both! There is a specific curriculum that can be done for the most part in the US, I think that you only need to go to Japan for Empowerment. But the rest is done in the US. You would receive teachings, receive monastic ordination and practice meditations like ajikan. Before empowerment, they also do some purification practices that involve prostrations, offerings etc, much like ngondro, it takes 100 days! Ordination may be given by any temple, but for full esoteric transmission, you still must go to Japan! I'm now in doubt if there is any program of ordination in the US now, but Tendai for sure still offers ordination in Hawaii!
Is there a specific organization or monastery through which this is done for Shingon? Any websites with information etc?

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Nyedrag Yeshe
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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by Nyedrag Yeshe » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:57 pm

Aryjna wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:48 pm
Nyedrag Yeshe wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:41 pm
Aryjna wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:29 pm


Aren't they connected? The curriculum you mentioned is something that is done traditionally in Japan or are you talking about specific programs in the US?
Both! There is a specific curriculum that can be done for the most part in the US, I think that you only need to go to Japan for Empowerment. But the rest is done in the US. You would receive teachings, receive monastic ordination and practice meditations like ajikan. Before empowerment, they also do some purification practices that involve prostrations, offerings etc, much like ngondro, it takes 100 days! Ordination may be given by any temple, but for full esoteric transmission, you still must go to Japan! I'm now in doubt if there is any program of ordination in the US now, but Tendai for sure still offers ordination in Hawaii!
Is there a specific organization or monastery through which this is done for Shingon? Any websites with information etc?
The Shingonji Temple offered a program, they had a website that is currently down for now. The Shingon Institute website also has some texts about this, and has the contact of Rev. Eijun Bill Eidson for more information on ordination! http://shingon.org/sbii/training/Training.html

If you are interested in Shingon in general, Rev. Alcvin Ramos has a website and youtube channel for talks and QA. https://www.shingonbuddhism.org/blog/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_MS0H ... D-AncPThqw
“Whatever has to happen, let it happen!”
“Whatever the situation is, it’s fine!”
“I really don’t need anything!
~Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (1161-1211)
ओं पद्मोष्णीष विमले हूँ फट । ओं हनुफशभरहृदय स्वाहा॥
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔ ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།

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Aryjna
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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by Aryjna » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:04 pm

Nyedrag Yeshe wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:57 pm
Aryjna wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:48 pm
Nyedrag Yeshe wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:41 pm


Both! There is a specific curriculum that can be done for the most part in the US, I think that you only need to go to Japan for Empowerment. But the rest is done in the US. You would receive teachings, receive monastic ordination and practice meditations like ajikan. Before empowerment, they also do some purification practices that involve prostrations, offerings etc, much like ngondro, it takes 100 days! Ordination may be given by any temple, but for full esoteric transmission, you still must go to Japan! I'm now in doubt if there is any program of ordination in the US now, but Tendai for sure still offers ordination in Hawaii!
Is there a specific organization or monastery through which this is done for Shingon? Any websites with information etc?
The Shingonji Temple offered a program, they had a website that is currently down for now. The Shingon Institute website also has some texts about this, and has the contact of Rev. Eijun Bill Eidson for more information on ordination! http://shingon.org/sbii/training/Training.html

If you are interested in Shingon in general, Rev. Alcvin Ramos has a website and youtube channel for talks and QA. https://www.shingonbuddhism.org/blog/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_MS0H ... D-AncPThqw
Thanks, it seems the ordination process is relatively straightforward.

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Nyedrag Yeshe
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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by Nyedrag Yeshe » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:07 pm

Aryjna wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:04 pm
Nyedrag Yeshe wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:57 pm
Aryjna wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:48 pm


Is there a specific organization or monastery through which this is done for Shingon? Any websites with information etc?
The Shingonji Temple offered a program, they had a website that is currently down for now. The Shingon Institute website also has some texts about this, and has the contact of Rev. Eijun Bill Eidson for more information on ordination! http://shingon.org/sbii/training/Training.html

If you are interested in Shingon in general, Rev. Alcvin Ramos has a website and youtube channel for talks and QA. https://www.shingonbuddhism.org/blog/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_MS0H ... D-AncPThqw
Thanks, it seems the ordination process is relatively straightforward.
Yes, but the process can take some time if you want to go further, a practitioner might even learn more than 100 rituals and practices. The usual process takes the auspicious number of 108 days, including the ascetic training and receiving precepts etc.
“Whatever has to happen, let it happen!”
“Whatever the situation is, it’s fine!”
“I really don’t need anything!
~Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (1161-1211)
ओं पद्मोष्णीष विमले हूँ फट । ओं हनुफशभरहृदय स्वाहा॥
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔ ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།

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Vasana
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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by Vasana » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:18 pm

I think it makes sense to trial it out for a year before commiting.
"The changing cycle of joy and sorrow, like the changing seasons –
As a time of suffering will surely come around to me,
May I truly practice the sublime teachings."
- Dudjom Rinpoche

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Dharmasherab
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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by Dharmasherab » Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:51 pm

Thanks everyone,

I am speaking from the viewpoint of lay Buddhists who are willing to optimise their practice in Buddhism prior to ordaining where they make that decision from their own will but at the same time to develop their practice well enough during their life so they can confidently make the decision of taking up robes and minimise the probability of any thoughts of looking back and disrobing.

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Lobsang Chojor
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Re: Preparing for Ordination

Post by Lobsang Chojor » Fri Nov 24, 2017 2:35 pm

I forgot you created this thread when I made my other post :emb:

As someone who is considering ordination I can tell you that it's essential to have a close teacher as the guidance is very personal (I know the advice I've received is different to others).

Although in a more general statement I'd say that some retreat is a good idea, and taking the day long 8 Mahayana vows are essential. Also it's good to have experienced the world so you know what you're giving up and have no regrets.
ༀ་ཨ་ར་པ་ཙ་ན་དྷཱི༔ Oṃ A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhīḥ

"Morality does not become pure unless darkness is dispelled by the light of wisdom"
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