in the united states?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.

in the united states?

Postby dhammastudier » Wed May 26, 2010 4:12 pm

so i wanted to ordain for a long time and i know there are a lot of temples in the states but i have no idea what that entails. does it cost a lot of money? i am quite poor and so this would be difficult :broke: . do any temples allow people to just pay some money and stay for a few months or a year or so? i could probably save up enough for something like that depending on how much it would cost. in america one couldn't even decide to just be a wandering monk and beg for food as it's illegal to be homeless! you have to work and in order to work you have to have a residence and a car (no mass transit in my area). it's so hard to give up attachment to things when you are required by law to work, get and then pay for these things! it seems that without a big wad of cash i'm probably doomed to live in a situation where i'm forced to work to pay for my car, house, etc. and am therefore quite attached...? and yes i realize that one could give up mental attachment while still doing this but come on! who is it easier for to give up attachment to a car, house, job, etc. a guy living in a temple where these things aren't even offered and you would have to leave the temple to get them or someone who is living in the world where these things are essentially (unless you come from money) required by law? blah, any ideas are welcome, thanx :smile:
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Re: in the united states?

Postby Sobeh » Wed May 26, 2010 7:49 pm

I live in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S. and am going to Bundanoon, NSW, Australia to ordain in November (of course, I'll be anagaraka for all of 2011, but I'm ordaining for life). I could have chosen the life of a college professor in comparative religion (got my MA-ABT right here), and I've been married, so I know what sort of successful secular life I could have led. However, there comes a time when you see enough of the Dhamma for yourself that cars and houses and computers and the whole shebang is simply boggling, as opposed to attractive.

Anyway, to do this I first settled all of my credit card debt, a sizeable sum coming out of grad school. That took a couple of years, but that sort of debt being unresolved is considered a theft (student loans are often not considered this way - your mileage may vary, check local listings). After that, I sent an application to Santi Forest Monastery and laid out my intentions, which were accepted.

These days I am slowly divesting myself of 'the stuff' we all accumulate, because when I leave in November I'm basically packing all of my remaining belongings. In this, I am guided by the advice and rules for what is and is not allowed at the monastery - they are happy to ease my transition into the community, all I have to do is ask important questions (for example, washroom facilities - am i going to be charging my electric razor, or do I need to pack a straight razor). Real basic stuff. It does allow me to be in a position to donate a lot of what I used to own - the computer I'm using right now, for example, will be donated to a good friend of mine who won't be able to afford one for a while otherwise.

So what is it all costing me? New passport fees, the Australian visa fee, the plane ticket (the big ticket item), one night in a hotel to fix jet lag, and a train ticket from Sydney to Bundanoon. Now, mind you there are a lot of places I could have gone, including one monastery in California that offers ordination (Thanissaro lives there, Metta Forest Monastery I think), but I chose Santi because I was lucky enough to be able to make the journey, and I prefer the environment and overall gestalt of Santi (for example, even the stars at night will be different than what I'm used to, highlighting the fact that I'm taking refuge solely in the Triple Gem).

In any event, local ordination ought to be possible - aside from California, I know there's a temple out in West Virginia of all places, so surely something can be found. Once you do, start making phone calls or writing letters, and while waiting for a response take some inventory of your financial obligations and decide how best to extricate yourself from them.

My only advice to you is patience.
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Re: in the united states?

Postby Agent » Thu May 27, 2010 1:36 am

Sobeh wrote:Anyway, to do this I first settled all of my credit card debt, a sizeable sum coming out of grad school. That took a couple of years, but that sort of debt being unresolved is considered a theft (student loans are often not considered this way - your mileage may vary, check local listings).


Having an absurdly large student loan debt that has kept me from seriously considering ordination, I am curious about this. Do you know why is it they are often not considered this way?
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā.
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Re: in the united states?

Postby Agent » Thu May 27, 2010 2:28 am

zac wrote:so i wanted to ordain for a long time and i know there are a lot of temples in the states but i have no idea what that entails. does it cost a lot of money? i am quite poor and so this would be difficult :broke: . do any temples allow people to just pay some money and stay for a few months or a year or so?


I would recommend starting with finding a nearby monastery and then go down and check it out.
If you like it find out more about what type of retreat options they offer.

These directories may help with your search:
http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/
http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/Category:World_Buddhist_Directory
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā.
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Re: in the united states?

Postby Sobeh » Thu May 27, 2010 2:30 am

(Anything I know about it pertains only to the United States)

Student loans are considered to have upped your earnings potential and over many years of working in the chosen field the extra earnings you get from doing that, instead of some other job that paid less, are first directed at loan repayment, and then towards your own financial aggrandizement. In this, the student loan is different from other loans because the repayment is expected to happen as a result of increased earnings, as opposed to it being a payday advance, simple credit, or other loan. Since monks do not earn any income, and since they also are not making a living on their degree(s), the final state of things is that your student loan is in permanent default, but you're then free to ordain.

This can be bad if you ever think you'll be rejoining secular society. Being in default means the government can garnish up to 15% of your wages to repay the loan, and in addition to that will garnish all income tax refunds as well. Finally, you are barred from accessing government funds like Social Security or Medicare. The loan might eventually be abandoned by the Department of Education after something like 25 years in default, but don't count on it.

But that's it. There is no debtor's prison. Basically, if you have a student loan and want to ordain, you just need to be doubly damned sure it's what you're doing with the rest of your life, because clawing your way back into society after renouncing it is a long row to hoe.
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Re: in the united states?

Postby Agent » Thu May 27, 2010 1:24 pm

Hmm. That's interesting and does make a lot of sense. In a way I think it may not apply to my specific circumstance, though, as the majority of my student loans are private, not federal. The government penalties would probably be less of a problem, but I don't think private student loan defaults are handled or viewed in the same way as gov't student loan defaults. In any event I know I'm not ready to ordain at this time, but it does somewhat change my view of the possibility down the road. Thanks for the info.

My apologies to the OP for getting a bit off topic here.
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Re: in the united states?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu May 27, 2010 10:18 pm

Hi Agent,
Agent wrote:Having an absurdly large student loan debt that has kept me from seriously considering ordination, I am curious about this. Do you know why is it they are often not considered this way?

In some places, such as New Zealand, you only have to pay back student loans when you earn above a certain income, so it's really just like having a higher tax rate. Since there is no penalty for not paying it off (it is forgiven if/when you die), it could be argued that there is therefore no moral need to pay it off if you have no income, any more than there would be a need to pay off the money that universities get directly from the government (which is more than twice the tuition fee that the student has to pay).

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Re: in the united states?

Postby dhammastudier » Fri May 28, 2010 3:42 pm

Sobeh wrote:I live in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S. and am going to Bundanoon, NSW, Australia to ordain in November (of course, I'll be anagaraka for all of 2011, but I'm ordaining for life). I could have chosen the life of a college professor in comparative religion (got my MA-ABT right here), and I've been married, so I know what sort of successful secular life I could have led. However, there comes a time when you see enough of the Dhamma for yourself that cars and houses and computers and the whole shebang is simply boggling, as opposed to attractive.

Anyway, to do this I first settled all of my credit card debt, a sizeable sum coming out of grad school. That took a couple of years, but that sort of debt being unresolved is considered a theft (student loans are often not considered this way - your mileage may vary, check local listings). After that, I sent an application to Santi Forest Monastery and laid out my intentions, which were accepted.

These days I am slowly divesting myself of 'the stuff' we all accumulate, because when I leave in November I'm basically packing all of my remaining belongings. In this, I am guided by the advice and rules for what is and is not allowed at the monastery - they are happy to ease my transition into the community, all I have to do is ask important questions (for example, washroom facilities - am i going to be charging my electric razor, or do I need to pack a straight razor). Real basic stuff. It does allow me to be in a position to donate a lot of what I used to own - the computer I'm using right now, for example, will be donated to a good friend of mine who won't be able to afford one for a while otherwise.

So what is it all costing me? New passport fees, the Australian visa fee, the plane ticket (the big ticket item), one night in a hotel to fix jet lag, and a train ticket from Sydney to Bundanoon. Now, mind you there are a lot of places I could have gone, including one monastery in California that offers ordination (Thanissaro lives there, Metta Forest Monastery I think), but I chose Santi because I was lucky enough to be able to make the journey, and I prefer the environment and overall gestalt of Santi (for example, even the stars at night will be different than what I'm used to, highlighting the fact that I'm taking refuge solely in the Triple Gem).

In any event, local ordination ought to be possible - aside from California, I know there's a temple out in West Virginia of all places, so surely something can be found. Once you do, start making phone calls or writing letters, and while waiting for a response take some inventory of your financial obligations and decide how best to extricate yourself from them.

My only advice to you is patience.


so the temple you are joining is taking you in for free??
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Re: in the united states?

Postby Agent » Fri May 28, 2010 4:59 pm

There is no fee to ordain.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā.
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Re: in the united states?

Postby Sobeh » Fri May 28, 2010 5:21 pm

In other words, it doesn't cost money to renounce money, but it can take a lot of time.
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Re: in the united states?

Postby dhammastudier » Sat May 29, 2010 3:09 am

Sobeh wrote:In other words, it doesn't cost money to renounce money, but it can take a lot of time.


in your statement about ordaining you said the only cost was air fare, hotel, etc. so ordaining and living in the temple is free???
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Re: in the united states?

Postby dhammastudier » Sat May 29, 2010 3:11 am

Agent wrote:There is no fee to ordain.


awesome that's the basis of my post. if i went to a temple somewhere then, they should let me join, after i fulfill whatever requirements there are, without involving any money?

i know in the past in china one had to be sponsored monetarily in order to ordain. this is not true any more? how to temples survive? charity?
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Re: in the united states?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat May 29, 2010 3:33 am

Hi zac,
zac wrote:how to temples survive? charity?

That is how the Sangha have always survived.

In traditional Buddhist countries families will usually make donations when one of their family members ordains. This will probably involve a variety of reasons: They think it's the right thing to do, it is good merit, they would be embarrassed if they didn't, etc. I think that this is especially the case for short-term ordinations. If I ordained for a short time I would want to have made a significant donation (just as I make donations when I go on retreats).

You might find it helpful to visit a few temples. I couldn't imagine making a decision to ordain without having some previous contact with the Sangha and lay people. And you would want to find out some information about wherever you intended to ordain. The sort of Temple that would be suitable for someone who on'y speaks European languages may well have waiting lists.

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Re: in the united states?

Postby dhammastudier » Sat May 29, 2010 6:44 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi zac,
zac wrote:how to temples survive? charity?

That is how the Sangha have always survived.

In traditional Buddhist countries families will usually make donations when one of their family members ordains. This will probably involve a variety of reasons: They think it's the right thing to do, it is good merit, they would be embarrassed if they didn't, etc. I think that this is especially the case for short-term ordinations. If I ordained for a short time I would want to have made a significant donation (just as I make donations when I go on retreats).

You might find it helpful to visit a few temples. I couldn't imagine making a decision to ordain without having some previous contact with the Sangha and lay people. And you would want to find out some information about wherever you intended to ordain. The sort of Temple that would be suitable for someone who on'y speaks European languages may well have waiting lists.

Mike


well the language issue should be fine if it's an american temple and i doubt there's a crazy waiting list. an english speaking temple in thailand would have a long list for the small american population though.

and yeah i would definitely get to know the abbot and other monks/nuns before i tried to join up or anything! i think most would only take you if they knew about you, no? and if not getting stuck in a place that is not what you had in mind would be a horrid nightmare! that's how you accidentally end up in a cult that was claiming it was a buddhist temple lol! got to do your home work!
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Re: in the united states?

Postby alan » Sat May 29, 2010 6:46 am

Zac,
I'm sorry but you are making a big mistake if you read posts like this. Don't you know real Dhamma isn't cheap? I mean, let's face it, you get what you pay for. What good teacher would work for free?
I don't ever pay attention to those cheap monasteries. You know, the ones what rely on charity. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, dammit!
If you want good Dhamma, PAY. Cheap Dhamma isn't worth the paper it was written on.
As my Guru always says: Bring your own bread or don't even bother!
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Re: in the united states?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat May 29, 2010 7:02 am

Hi Zac,
zac wrote:well the language issue should be fine if it's an american temple and i doubt there's a crazy waiting list. an english speaking temple in thailand would have a long list for the small american population though.

Depends what you mean by an "American" temple. There are a number of Theravada monasteries in the West which are mostly populated by Thai or Sri Lankan monks (like the local monasteries in my city). They exist mainly to support their local ethnic communities and while they are probably happy to have others turn up, if you don't speak Thai or Sinhalese you may feel a bit lost at times.

There are a rather small number of Theravada monasteries in the US and Canada that have been set up primarily for Westerners, such as Abhayagiri http://forestsangha.org/index.php?optio ... s&Itemid=9 or Metta Forest Monastery http://www.watmetta.org/. Those are the sort of places I mean when I talk about waiting lists.

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Re: in the united states?

Postby cooran » Sat May 29, 2010 7:12 am

Since the Buddha's time, the teachings have traditionally been given away free of charge, passing freely from teacher to student, from friend to friend. The teachings are regarded as priceless, and have been conveyed to us across the centuries by an unbroken stream of generosity — the very foundation of all the Buddha's teachings. I would investigate closely anyone charging for the Buddha's teachings, and I would completely avoid anyone charging dearly for them.

It may be that, if a private venue has been hired, that separate charges are made for accommodation - but the Dhamma Teachings should always be freely given.

As an example, Bodhi Tree Monastery (the home of Buddhanet.net), like most Theravada monasteries, does not impose a charge for Retreats - food, accommodation or Teachings. Most yogis, of course, give Dana generously - but this is by choice, and no note is taken of who gives and who does not.

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Re: in the united states?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sat May 29, 2010 7:24 am

Regards student loans, the main point is that during ordination one has to certify that one is not in debt. Those in debt who wish to ordain, often considered from ancient times as a way out of debt, is not permissible in the Buddha's sasana. Such is my understanding.
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Re: in the united states?

Postby dhammastudier » Sat May 29, 2010 4:57 pm

alan wrote:Zac,
I'm sorry but you are making a big mistake if you read posts like this. Don't you know real Dhamma isn't cheap? I mean, let's face it, you get what you pay for. What good teacher would work for free?
I don't ever pay attention to those cheap monasteries. You know, the ones what rely on charity. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, dammit!
If you want good Dhamma, PAY. Cheap Dhamma isn't worth the paper it was written on.
As my Guru always says: Bring your own bread or don't even bother!
:lol: [url][/url]


wow, thanx for the thought but that's against a lot of what i believe and what buddhism is about. sorry. the buddha took in poor people and taught them so i think it's wrong to only teach people with money to pay for teachings.
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Re: in the united states?

Postby dhammastudier » Sat May 29, 2010 5:02 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Zac,
zac wrote:well the language issue should be fine if it's an american temple and i doubt there's a crazy waiting list. an english speaking temple in thailand would have a long list for the small american population though.

Depends what you mean by an "American" temple. There are a number of Theravada monasteries in the West which are mostly populated by Thai or Sri Lankan monks (like the local monasteries in my city). They exist mainly to support their local ethnic communities and while they are probably happy to have others turn up, if you don't speak Thai or Sinhalese you may feel a bit lost at times.

There are a rather small number of Theravada monasteries in the US and Canada that have been set up primarily for Westerners, such as Abhayagiri http://forestsangha.org/index.php?optio ... s&Itemid=9 or Metta Forest Monastery http://www.watmetta.org/. Those are the sort of places I mean when I talk about waiting lists.

Mike


oh ok thanx.
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