I wanted to ask a few questions about the monastic life, particularly in Thailand. I am 32 years old, living in the UK, and considering to travel to a monastery to possibly ordain. For about one year I have been practicing the Dhamma and am intensely drawn to release all cravings and pursue a life towards full liberation. I would like to ask for advice on the following matters regarding life as a monk:
1. Can one keep a savings bank account in one's home country (UK and USA) in case one eventually wants to return to "the world", or is it necessary to give up everything one has and owns everywhere?
2. Is it usually necessary to register at a monastery far ahead of time, or can one just travel to Thailand with a few monasteries in mind and then visit them and stay at one that has space and seems like a good fit?
3. Would it be possible to access the internet to study the Dharma, through for example Access to Insight, Dharma Wheel, or other websites, or is there usually no internet access? How about e-mail?
4. Do monasteries usually have a library for studying the Dharma in great depth (mainly Pali scriptures and commentaries)? I am an academic by training and would consider it very important to study the teachings in depth, perhaps even to learn Pali.
5. Much of my meditation happens through journaling every day. Is that something one can continue doing as a monk, or is writing not allowed? (I understand that the question might sound silly
6. I was wondering if this timeline seems reasonable: This year (2014), attend 2-3 retreats here in the UK and continue to study, meditate, etc daily. Also get involved with the local monastery (Amaravati). Early next year travel to Thailand to stay at a monastery for 3-4 weeks. If the lifestyle seems suitable, fly back to the UK once more to dissolve all commitments here before flying back to Thailand for the long-term.
7. Can one be visited by friends and family?
8. Lastly, and probably most importantly, I am currently married without children. The marriage is ok, but no longer strikes me as meaningful as the path to liberation. Does anybody have experience or know of people who left behind their wife for the Path (besides Buddha himself)? I know that this would cause pain to someone and feel quite conflicted about whether Buddha would support such a decision.
And just one more (nr 9, added after posting): Do monks exercise? This seems important to maintain mind and body strong for mindfulness and meditation.