We can't all ordain...right?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

We can't all ordain...right?

Postby BlindJoeDeath » Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:24 pm

I was thinking today about the many commendable things people do within their own particular careers. Whether it be working as a doctor,nurse, farmer and so on, somebody has to do these things. We need engineers, contractors, construction workers and so on if we want to keep living the way we do. These choices are valued and appreciated daily, without a doubt. However, I know that the choice to ordain as a monk is also considered a very noble decision.

Regarding ordination, I want to propose a hypothetical question that came to me earlier. What if monks somehow became the majority? We would have to seriously re-shape how we live our lives, no? If everyone wanted to be a monk that would be great (assuming they were doing it for the right reasons), but who would work these other jobs mentioned above? We would either have to go back to a much simpler way of life, or advise that individuals study and work in the world before being allowed to ordain (like the Ashram system in Hindu thought). I know this isn't likely to ever happen, but I think it's worth thinking about anyway. It certainly makes me appreciate the reciprocity of the monk/lay person relationship.

I know that in certain Mahayana temples the monks do take care of their own food and basic necessities, and in some sense they are a sustainable mini-community of their own. However, I am pretty sure (correct me if I'm wrong) that the whole concept of monk-hood in early Buddhism relies on there being a lay community to sustain them (via alms round).

This might be rather jumbled, but as I said, it's worth thinking about IMO. Thoughts?
User avatar
BlindJoeDeath
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:14 pm

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby reflection » Wed Oct 23, 2013 12:08 am

Why is a hypothetical situation that will never happen worth thinking about?
User avatar
reflection
 
Posts: 1115
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby SarathW » Wed Oct 23, 2013 12:32 am

Hi BlindJ
Good question!
Do you know monkhood is a job which requires you to work 18 hours a day without pay?
:)
SarathW
 
Posts: 1315
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby BlindJoeDeath » Wed Oct 23, 2013 12:42 am

reflection wrote:Why is a hypothetical situation that will never happen worth thinking about?


Wikipedia wrote:"A thought experiment or Gedankenexperiment (from German) considers some hypothesis, theory or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences. Given the structure of the experiment, it may or may not be possible to actually perform it, and, in the case that it is possible for it to be performed, there need be no intention of any kind to actually perform the experiment in question. The common goal of a thought experiment is to explore the potential consequences of the principle in question."


I think there are plenty of hypothetical situations (that will never happen) that get thought about on a daily basis. Schrödinger's cat, Maxwell's Demon, the list goes on. I don't think one should dwell on them too long, but anything that makes us contemplate and evaluate our situation can't be worthless IMO.
User avatar
BlindJoeDeath
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:14 pm

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby BlindJoeDeath » Wed Oct 23, 2013 12:47 am

SarathW wrote:Hi BlindJ
Good question!
Do you know monkhood is a job which requires you to work 18 hours a day without pay?
:)


Certainly! Though if we take the Merriam Webster definition of "the work that a person does regularly in order to earn money," then we'd have to change the term. I think ordination is a wonderful thing, and I didn't mean to put it down if I came across that way. I was simply curious to hear your thoughts on the notion.
User avatar
BlindJoeDeath
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:14 pm

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby SarathW » Wed Oct 23, 2013 12:55 am

Hi BlindJ
Ok. If you want me to be more specific, In fact they are paid by kind.
The consideration is Nirvana.
:)
SarathW
 
Posts: 1315
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby arijitmitter » Wed Oct 23, 2013 1:28 am

Quite possible for most people to ordain. Kind of like an Israeli Kibbutz lifestyle meets Theravada. But yes you cannot then expect an MRI or a smart phone.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kibbutz (disregard the guns that they had for protection against terrorists)

But then why will monks have need for a smart phone or MRI.

As far as continuation of human race goes there will have to be some sex for procreational purpose. That can be done by junior monks and nuns. The child can be child of the community.

Yes possible. But given human nature is it probable. No.
arijitmitter
 
Posts: 118
Joined: Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:24 am

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby daverupa » Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:13 am

While we can't (won't) all ordain these days, much more of the holy life could become available to people, in certain scenarios.

Growing populations combined with limited food resources enforce a timeline on developing alternative food sources before inevitable social collapse(s), which simply buys time in the face of a primary concern over population containment.

If this is successful, technology may be able to streamline nutrition in unforeseeable ways, allowing for most people to subsist without earning it through work in the modern sense, or any sense; in this situation, we could indeed all ordain.

Of course, flaming ruins while the dribbling remnants of humanity subsist on ésxatos-rats is another.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 3699
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby chownah » Wed Oct 23, 2013 3:53 am

BlindJoeDeath,
Since you stipulate that the monks would ordain for the right reasons can we assume than that they eat one meal a day and spend most of their time studying dhamma and meditating?........with no need for tv radio clock computer table chair car bling and all the rest of the stuff most people have? If this is correct then as the world transitioned (I'm assuming it will take many years for the demographic change you describe to happen) to a majority monk population the economic system would already have to change drastically because the present economic system is based on continual growth and it seems almost certain that as the percentage of monks increased there would be a corresponding decrease in consumers and consumption.

As daverupa pointed out, there may be an upside to the majority monk scenario....my question is that regardless of whether people actually ordain or simply adopt the lifestyle of a monk the change requires the economic system to change dramatically.....and....perhaps more importantly....the need for the economic system to change in this way may be inevitable. And to follow on to daverupa's two scenarios, the change may be forced by the "benefits" of technology resulting in a rosy world of leisure for all......or it might come about by simply redefining "poverty" as "monkhood" and then we need only through them a bowl of food waste once a day and expect them to keep their eyes closed most of the time and to not complain.

For me the really interesting thing is that right now we are on the cusp for change......technologies are emerging at incredible speed which is only increasing......right now is the time for forward thinkers to act......a new vision of the social structure is needed........there will be a restructuring.....it's only a matter of time it seems..........
.........I guess.........don't know for sure............
chownah
chownah
 
Posts: 2410
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:07 am

It would be the end of the human species for sure (parajika 1) assuming they were all good monks and nuns, following the Vinaya.

Everyone is at different levels, stages on the path, so it would be highly improbable that everyone on the planet would want to ordain. The only remote possibility would be married clergy like you find in some Mahayana traditions and perhaps they all worked in some communal agriculture economy such as the kibbutzes, as mentioned above. However, this would not be recognized as clergy (ordination) by Theravada.

It would have the same likelihood, for example, as if everyone wanted to be a civil engineer and no one wanted to do any other profession. The human population is diversified enough in interests and aptitudes to make that never happen.
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
 
Posts: 7667
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby SarathW » Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:13 am

Ok. I can make this assumption even more absurd.

Say I am the only human in a lonely island.
I want to be a Buddhist monk.

How can I get my food, shelter and clothing?
SarathW
 
Posts: 1315
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby arijitmitter » Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:15 am

At this stage a story from real life is best -

There was a soldier in Indian Army called Anna Hazare. He was a truck driver and narrowly escaped death after a shell exploded near him during Indo Pak war of 1965. He took retirement from army in mid 1970s and returned to his native village, Ralegan Siddhi described as "one of the many villages of India plagued by acute poverty, deprivation, a fragile ecosystem, neglect and hopelessness"

Anna Hazare set about to change the village (he remained a bachelor through his life). With the help of villagers he banished alcohol, dug lakes to hold water (for droughts) and built a school. Today after 40 years, there is no unemployment in Ralegan Siddhi, no poverty, no crime (because there is no need for crime). Yes he is dictatorial in some ways. There are rumors that love affairs are frowned on, but in no way is it a patriarchal society. Quite the opposite with all women knowing how to read and write. Perhaps I feel the villagers themselves have become wary of love affairs since they know it causes envy, lust, jealousy and after quarter of a century in lap of peace get annoyed if someone tries to break the pattern.

Also alcohol and tobacco are banned in the village. In exchange people get cradle to grave security, loan, free education till high school, good health care. The World Bank Group has concluded that the village of Ralegan Siddhi was transformed from a highly degraded village ecosystem in a semi-arid region of extreme poverty to one of the richest in the country.

It is not impossible to imagine Theravada based Kibbutzes (above is but an Indian version of Kibbutz, though in a Kibbutz private land ownership is not allowed) of the above type. It can ideally happen if a Theravadin billionaire can purchase a large island for Theravadins (for say 10,000 people). These 10,000 have to accept eight precepts before entering. They will be farmers and cooks as well as monks. Tasks will rotate. Those above 50 and 60 will be allowed freedom to meditate 24 hours a day. Those below 25 will be allowed to have sex to procreate but under very tight restrictions.

If anyone has such a place in mind please let me know. I am willing to eat one meal every 4 days, if I can somehow escape this world which has gone to hell in a handbasket. I will clean toilets, plough the field and look after the cows. I am also a good cook.

:anjali: Arijit
Last edited by arijitmitter on Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
arijitmitter
 
Posts: 118
Joined: Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:24 am

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:17 am

SarathW wrote:Say I am the only human in a lonely island.
I want to be a Buddhist monk.


You can't. There is no one to ordain you. As I understand it, only a samma-sam-buddha can "self-ordain". The rest of us need a preceptor, etc. But you could be a Paccekabuddha (I think).
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
 
Posts: 7667
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby SarathW » Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:25 am

How about if we assume this lonely person is an ordained monk?
SarathW
 
Posts: 1315
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:27 am

arijitmitter wrote:These 10,000 have to accept eight precepts before entering.


Those below 25 will be allowed to have sex to procreate but under very tight restrictions.


:shock:

:oops: I guess it would be 7 precepts for those under 25?
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
 
Posts: 7667
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby arijitmitter » Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:32 am

Yes Mr Snyder. I guess there are 2 possible choices

a ) no sex and in that case new members will have to come from outside world

b ) supervised sex for procreation and 7 precepts for those under 25 (trainee monks, shall we say)

But it is possible even if we accept that 8 precepts only for those above 25. Perhaps if such a community can be established where there is no commercial activity, people exist only for good of their fellow beings (or be thrown out of the island) and for attaining Nibbana, in time the world will change (maybe a few thousand years) by seeing the example.

Enough energy has gone into making cell phones with 15 MP cameras. We are no happier than when phones had no cameras or when we had no phones. Human race has to reevaluate its options or perish.

Sole problem - one can either be a Theravadin (practicing) or a billionaire. Theravadin billionaire is an oxymoron of sorts.
arijitmitter
 
Posts: 118
Joined: Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:24 am

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:42 am

supervised sex


:shock:
Must resist temptation to ask . . . .

arijitmitter wrote:a ) no sex and in that case new members will have to come from outside world


Aren't you in India? See my post here:
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=18841&p=265161#p265161

How far are you from Shravasti? There is a center similar to what you are requesting right there.
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
 
Posts: 7667
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby arijitmitter » Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:52 am

By supervised sex I meant sex for procreation and not recreation. Recreational sex has potential to upset monks by bringing in lust followed by envy, jealousy and so on. I understand this is the sticky part of my hypothesis and needs more work.

I am not very far from Shravasti, maybe 500 miles. I have plans to visit Bodh Gaya coming January and then Sarnath sometime next year. Thank you for giving me my third destination. In the nature of Shravasti there are many Hindu ashrams. Some quite large, although not for 10,000 people. Maybe few hundred.

But it is no where close to being a nation by itself. A spiritual nation with no commerce, currency, private ownership. Where people exist solely for attaining Nibbana.
arijitmitter
 
Posts: 118
Joined: Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:24 am

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby reflection » Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:38 pm

BlindJoeDeath wrote:
reflection wrote:Why is a hypothetical situation that will never happen worth thinking about?


Wikipedia wrote:"A thought experiment or Gedankenexperiment (from German) considers some hypothesis, theory or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences. Given the structure of the experiment, it may or may not be possible to actually perform it, and, in the case that it is possible for it to be performed, there need be no intention of any kind to actually perform the experiment in question. The common goal of a thought experiment is to explore the potential consequences of the principle in question."


I think there are plenty of hypothetical situations (that will never happen) that get thought about on a daily basis. Schrödinger's cat, Maxwell's Demon, the list goes on. I don't think one should dwell on them too long, but anything that makes us contemplate and evaluate our situation can't be worthless IMO.

Sure, but usually in a thought experiment, there is a reason behind it. I'm trying to see what your reasons are for this, because I can't think of any myself.

But that aside, if we all ordained monks/nuns would take over the jobs. 10 preceptors are ordained, but are allowed to do many things still. Also there are Mahayana monks/nuns who don't follow all the precepts and farm and cook. Construction and other things not included in the precepts are things all monks/nuns already do a lot.
User avatar
reflection
 
Posts: 1115
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm

Re: We can't all ordain...right?

Postby hermitwin » Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:45 am

Your argument is flawed.
If my son wants to be a teacher, then I ask him,
"what if everyone wants to become teachers?"
Then, there would be no farmers and doctors.

You see how foolish this type of question is?




BlindJoeDeath wrote:I was thinking today about the many commendable things people do within their own particular careers. Whether it be working as a doctor,nurse, farmer and so on, somebody has to do these things. We need engineers, contractors, construction workers and so on if we want to keep living the way we do. These choices are valued and appreciated daily, without a doubt. However, I know that the choice to ordain as a monk is also considered a very noble decision.

Regarding ordination, I want to propose a hypothetical question that came to me earlier. What if monks somehow became the majority? We would have to seriously re-shape how we live our lives, no? If everyone wanted to be a monk that would be great (assuming they were doing it for the right reasons), but who would work these other jobs mentioned above? We would either have to go back to a much simpler way of life, or advise that individuals study and work in the world before being allowed to ordain (like the Ashram system in Hindu thought). I know this isn't likely to ever happen, but I think it's worth thinking about anyway. It certainly makes me appreciate the reciprocity of the monk/lay person relationship.

I know that in certain Mahayana temples the monks do take care of their own food and basic necessities, and in some sense they are a sustainable mini-community of their own. However, I am pretty sure (correct me if I'm wrong) that the whole concept of monk-hood in early Buddhism relies on there being a lay community to sustain them (via alms round).

This might be rather jumbled, but as I said, it's worth thinking about IMO. Thoughts?
hermitwin
 
Posts: 144
Joined: Fri Feb 25, 2011 11:35 pm

Next

Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: SarathW and 12 guests