Does anyone have any information about Wat Tha Ma O? I cannot locate a website which may suggest it wouldn't be easy to ordain there as an english speaker..
Apawang wrote:It looks as if there hasn't been activity on this thread for a bit, but any relevant response is appreciated!
I am 44 years old and married with young(er) children. I'm waiting for my kids to grow up and finish school. I have always intended to ordain in Thailand since visiting there and doing retreats there many years ago. I recently read on WPN website that they have a age cutoff of 50. This is very disappointing since my kids won't be finished with school before I turn 50.
I'm confused about this because I was under the impression that it was common for laypersons to ordain after their children were grown. I had heard that this is common in many countries including Thailand. I also don't understand why the Sangha would turn their back on older people who want to ordain. This doesn't seem to be in keeping with stories I had read about the Buddha and his disciples.
At any rate, if I'm not able to ordain in one of the English-speaking Wats in Thailand, are there other good suggestions? I am trying to teach myself Thai at the moment but I'm not sure how that will progress without living in Thailand.
Thanks for your kind responses!
I do not believe that there is a strict age restriction in Thailand.
Apawang wrote:I'm confused about this because I was under the impression that it was common for laypersons to ordain after their children were grown. I had heard that this is common in many countries including Thailand.
I also don't understand why the Sangha would turn their back on older people who want to ordain. This doesn't seem to be in keeping with stories I had read about the Buddha and his disciples.
appicchato wrote:Basically any type of 'non-immigrant' visa will suffice...once ordained you will get a 'bisuti', and with that you can get the paperwork to obtain the one year extensions to that visa...there is no 'monk visa'...
I don't really keep close tabs on the regs although I've been getting year long extensions since '06 (7?), and that was with a single entry non-immigrant ('O') visa...a Caucasian ordained where I reside (Wat Thewasangkharam, Muang Kanchanaburi) last year with nought but the same...I've been getting uninterrupted Thai visas since the seventies (whew)...I don't think he will have a (major) problem with just a non-immigrant visa...but, as this is Thailand, that thought is not chiseled in stone...
mr.c wrote:Hi everyone.
This thread starts with a reference to the homonymous one from E-Sangha, that isn't available anymore. I "discovered" the old thread back in 2009. I was then. and still am. interested in ordaining. I was very eager to read it but it was rather lengthy, so... I made a print out of it! Until some time ago I forgot where it was or if still existed, but some months ago I found it by chance.
It has taken me some time to transcribe it into electronic form again (a few minutes every day), but here it is once more. It covers from its first post on 6/aug/2006 until 25/jan/2009.
I hope someone still finds it useful, or has some value as a "historical" document...
I have lately been getting quite a few PM's enquiring about practical details of ordaining as a bhikkhu in Thailand. Rather than replying to each separately I will just post to this thread and henceforth direct enquirers to it.
It used to be the case that foreigners could get ordained in Thailand very easily, indeed almost at the drop of a hat, but owing to abuse of the system (e.g., hippies getting ordained just so that they could get a long-term visa) new regulations where introduced that made bhikkhu ordination somewhat more difficult.
A non-thai that wishes to ordain in Thailand and stay here for long-term now needs to enter the country with a special “monk-to-be” visa. Strictly speaking, are prohibited to ordain a foreigner who does not have one of these visas. In practice a lot of abbots outside Bangkok and the larger cities are ignorant of this rule (or else they know about it, but don't give a damn!) and will ordain foreigners who don't have it. However, if you ordain in this way it's likely that you'll run into problems when you apply for a visa extension. Therefore it's best to do things by the book.
To be elegible for a monk-to-be visa you will need to obtain a letter from an abbot in Thailand certifying that he is willing to ordain you. You will also need a letter of sponsorship from a Thai layman. (At some embassies it is sufficient to give the layman's name and address). This person will be making quite a big commitment, for he will be responsible for your behaviour and for repatriating you if you go insane, commit a crime or whatever.
So, given this new regulations, there are two ways that one can proceed. The better course, imo, is to come out to Thailand on a normal visa and spend a few months traveling about, visiting temples, going to retreats, questioning ajahns, making aquaintances, etc., until you find some place or teacher that clicks with you. The notify the abbot of your wish to ordain and follow whatever procedures are in place there. These will vary a lot, some abbots may write you a letter and find a lay sponsor for you straight away; if that happens then you just need to go to Laos or Malaysia, get the special visa, re-enter Thailand and you might be a bhikkhu by the end of the week. Other abbots will expect you to go throught some king of program, e.g., spending so many months as an 8-precept layman, then so many months as a samanera, before being elegible for bhikkhu ordination. If that's the case then you might need to enter and leave the country several times during your training, as the normal visas only last for
Another way to proceed is to start attending a Thai temple in your home country and befriending the monks there. If they like you and trust that you're sincere they may be willing to arrange for an abbot in Thailand to issue a letter and find you a sponsor. I wouldn't myself recommend this procedure, however, for it has the drawback that you'll be committing yourself in advance to ordaining at a temple and with an abbot that you'll now nothing about. (Bear in mind that once ordained, your preceptor can insist that you stay with him for five years, so you really ought to select the man with some care). On the other hand, if you are only planning for a temporary ordination this might be the better way to go.
Once you have been ordained as a bhikkhu, you will be elegible to apply for a one-year visa. This can be extended every year without needing to leave the country.
Regarding the best place to ordain for foreigners, this is a matter on which opinions will differ (and sometimes heatedly!). Obviously if you already have some faith in one or another of the Theravada sub-traditions (e.g., Mahasi-style vipassana, the forest tradtion of Ajahn Mun or its off-shoot, the Ajahn Chah tradition, or Ajahn Buddhadasa, or Ajahn Naeb or whatever) then the choice will be dictated by that. For example, to train with Ajahn Maha Boowa you'll need to be ordained in the Dhammayuttika Nikaya, to be a monk of the Ajahn Chah tradition you'll probably need to start at Wat Pah Nanachat, etc. On the other hand, if you don't have any such prior commitment, the my own suggestion is that you start off at some place where you'll be trained properly in Vinaya. As fas as I know this really cuts down the choices to three:
1) A Dhammayuttika Nikaya temple. In general de Vinaya observance is stricter in this Nikaya than in the Mahanikaya. The drawbacks, however, are that as a Dhammayuttika monk you'll miss out much of the richness of Thai Buddhism, you'll only be able to stay at about 5% of the temples in Thailand, Dhammayutt Abhidhamma scholarship is poor, and the one and only practice tradition is that of Ajahn Mun, with its eternalist doctrine of the “citta that lives for ever.” Also the Vinaya observance tends in some respects to be pharisaical rather than virtuous; e.g., the Dhammayutts take pride of not using money, but in fact most of them do have bank accounts, even including some of the Ajahn Mun forest monks. They differ from money-using Mahanikaya monks only in that they don't physically handle the money.
2) Wat Pah Nanchat (sic). This is Ajahn Chah's branch wat for training western monks. Their Vinaya training in this wat is quite thorough and not prone to Dhammayutt-style hypocrisy. The drawback is that you are not likely to learn very much Dhamma or to get competent guidance in meditation. Also, I don't think it's very healthy to be living with other western monks during one's formative years of training; too much time gets wasted on gossiping and squabbling.
3) Wat Tha Ma O; this is the Burmese monastery in Lampang of my own Pali teacher Sayadaw Dhammananda. Though the wat is primarily a Pali and Abhidhamma study centre, the sayadaw is also a meditation master and he gives his monks at least as good Vinaya training as they'd get at Wat Pah Nanacha, but with much else besides. This is nowadays the only place in Thailand that I can wholeheartedly recommend for a western would-be bhikkhu.
Well, that's all I can think off for now. If you have any questions on this matter I'd prefer that they were posted hehe rather than sent by PM, unless they concern a matter that really needs to be kept private.
Best wishes, Dhammanando Bhikkhu
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