Disrobing defeat or progress?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
dharmacorps
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Re: Disrobing defeat or progress?

Post by dharmacorps » Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:55 pm

Baranek13 wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:15 am
dharmacorps wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 6:27 pm
I don't think it is ever described positively. Every Sutta I can think of on the subject seems to describe it as "returning to the lower life", meaning they stopped practicing.
I don't think lower life means stopping practicing. It is (hopefully) still practicing but in lower, lay realm.
I agree, but there is no example of this in the canon that I have ever seen. A good reminder that not everything is in there. It seems obvious to me, disrobing but continuing to earnestly practice is preferable to disrobing and not practicing. :anjali:

bhante dhamma
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Re: Disrobing defeat or progress?

Post by bhante dhamma » Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:28 pm

Thank you all for your insightful answers.

To be honest I used to look down on monks when they would disrobe, i guess being young and idealistic, i used to think anything is better than disrobing. But now having been a monk for over a decade, and having gone through or am going through a period of time where it's not exactly clear if being a monk is the best thing to do in terms of continuing to grow in Dhamma, i have changed my outlook.

Some things I have been pondering are...

The sectarian nature of buddha-dhamma in the present day era makes it difficult to live as a monk and be free from things like religious institutions that function to preserve the status quo.

The ideal of the Sangha is not the same as reality. Good monks, good communities are almost non existent.

The bhante-avuso system is a double edged sword. Every monastery has an abbot, which often causes disfunction internally.

When you ordain you are more of less indirectly forced to become apart of a sect or group, which involves alot of politics.

Tradition is a paradox. Without it Buddhism would have died,but to keep it going often times goes against what is practical, real, and logical.

Samana Johann 3
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Re: Disrobing defeat or progress?

Post by Samana Johann 3 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:45 pm

Don't think so, Bhante, don't think so. There are only three reasons why people disrobe: drunken in health, youth and life.

Never should you think to disrobe as long as living in an augspicious life!

(maybe someone wishes to contact Bhante personal, so he would not do foolish things if not already done).
Last edited by Samana Johann 3 on Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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budo
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Re: Disrobing defeat or progress?

Post by budo » Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:51 pm

The thai forest monestaries in the west that I've visited didn't seem like that. I stayed at them for a few weeks at a time, the schedule was pretty good. They'd go for alms, come back, do morning puja/chanting, everyone eats, and the rest of the day was completely open for doing whatever you wanted, either meditating, reading, fixing furniture, going for walks in nature, or whatever it is you wanted to do. Felt like an awesome lifestyle to live, and especially enjoyed the forests and natural beauty around the monastery. Sometimes a group of visitors would come in the evening and they were given a dhamma talk, that's about it for the extent of irregularities. I could see myself living that lifestyle if I had no spouse or worldly desires.

SavakaNik
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Re: Disrobing defeat or progress?

Post by SavakaNik » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:45 pm

rightviewftw wrote:
Mon Dec 31, 2018 4:55 am
I think one absolutely should remove oneself from toxic environments and unfortunate conditions even if it means disrobing. I also think it is better to be a good layman than a bad monk. A lay person may even be an Anagami whereas a bad monk may be headed to Niraya hell, i think it is obvious which is better.
Thank you, I’ve had personal experience with this, it’s why I disrobed as a Samanera instead of continuing toward full ordination.

Ordination is not initiation into the Buddha’s sangha anyway, only understanding is (stream entry).

If you can’t find an equal or better, better to go alone.

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Re: Disrobing defeat or progress?

Post by bhante dhamma » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:33 am

bhante dhamma wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:28 pm
Thank you all for your insightful answers.

To be honest I used to look down on monks when they would disrobe, i guess being young and idealistic, i used to think anything is better than disrobing. But now having been a monk for over a decade, and having gone through or am going through a period of time where it's not exactly clear if being a monk is the best thing to do in terms of continuing to grow in Dhamma, i have changed my outlook.

Some things I have been pondering are...

The sectarian nature of buddha-dhamma in the present day era makes it difficult to live as a monk and be free from things like religious institutions that function to preserve the status quo.

The ideal of the Sangha is not the same as reality. Good monks, good communities are almost non existent.

The bhante-avuso system is a double edged sword. Every monastery has an abbot, which often causes disfunction internally.

When you ordain you are more of less indirectly forced to become apart of a sect or group, which involves alot of politics.

Tradition is a paradox. Without it Buddhism would have died,but to keep it going often times goes against what is practical, real, and logical.

Ongoing health issues...GERD and insomnia

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Re: Disrobing defeat or progress?

Post by DooDoot » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:38 pm

bhante dhamma wrote:
Mon Dec 31, 2018 2:43 am
as a layman/woman who has seen it directly happen also maybe, what were/are your thoughts and feelings regarding this phenomenon.
I lived for a number of years as a (meditating) layman in a monastery & saw many Western and Asian men disrobe. However, I must say the monastery was a teaching monastery so often men were robed for a 'career or preaching purpose' or actually visited the monastery before disrobing (given it was a famous yet unconventional monastery).

When I first arrived at the monastery and started meditating for the first time in my life, I made pretty good progress and during my 3rd monthly retreat the Western monk who was closest to "my teacher" came by my new hut in the forest and called out: "I'm going back to Germany". Suddenly the penny dropped about the restless frustrated German lady who was living in the monastery. He disrobed and left. He inspired a few guys to ordain. Two remain monks, where one is a big Ajahn Abbot. When I read your post a few days ago, I looked him up on the internet. He is still involved in Buddhism and saw a picture of him with his wife (the same German lady). A few years ago I spoke to them by phone. He is as crazy as always; still believing he is a dhamma expert & forceful guru.

I also looked up another (famous) career monk who disrobed, who still earns a living from teaching. He was cuddling up to his cozy lady. He looked so much more happier to me than when he was monk.

Then I looked up an ex-Thai monk on Facebook. He was smiling the same as always. He is charming and has plush jobs. I am not sure he is still married to the German girl he met in the monastery since I did not see her anywhere. That was kind of my fault she stayed in the monastery :mrgreen: although I certainly was not involved in their match-making. I generally kept my distance from those types. I recall for a while they were both lay dhamma teachers working in the "wellness" industry.

My feelings towards the above is it was meant to be; following how Dhamma created the disposition in these beings. Suchness.
bhante dhamma wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:28 pm
The sectarian nature of buddha-dhamma in the present day era makes it difficult to live as a monk and be free from things like religious institutions that function to preserve the status quo. The ideal of the Sangha is not the same as reality. Good monks, good communities are almost non existent. The bhante-avuso system is a double edged sword. Every monastery has an abbot, which often causes disfunction internally. When you ordain you are more of less indirectly forced to become apart of a sect or group, which involves alot of politics. Tradition is a paradox. Without it Buddhism would have died,but to keep it going often times goes against what is practical, real, and logical.
The above can certainly be real & true. Theravada monasticism at times can be disappointing. However, i doubt it is a reason to disrobe. The impact of the above is generally not too often in a day & a chance for patience & non-attachment. The rest of the day there should be happiness from solitude. I think if the mind is not strongly inwardly happy, its difficult. Ultimately, the purpose of the Holy Life is happiness.
bhante dhamma wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:33 am
Ongoing health issues...GERD and insomnia
There is nothing wrong with disrobing, imo. It is certainly not a "defeat". In fact, to live the Holy Life for 10 years is an honorable praiseworthy thing. If my memory is accurate, I recall seeing a video of DW's own Venerable Dhammanando returning to the lay life but then it appears he ordained again. You can always ordain again if necessary. Its important to take care of your health. :)

Lonely upasaka
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Re: Disrobing defeat or progress?

Post by Lonely upasaka » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:54 pm

bhante dhamma wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:28 pm
Thank you all for your insightful answers.

To be honest I used to look down on monks when they would disrobe, i guess being young and idealistic, i used to think anything is better than disrobing. But now having been a monk for over a decade, and having gone through or am going through a period of time where it's not exactly clear if being a monk is the best thing to do in terms of continuing to grow in Dhamma, i have changed my outlook.

Some things I have been pondering are...

The sectarian nature of buddha-dhamma in the present day era makes it difficult to live as a monk and be free from things like religious institutions that function to preserve the status quo.

The ideal of the Sangha is not the same as reality. Good monks, good communities are almost non existent.

The bhante-avuso system is a double edged sword. Every monastery has an abbot, which often causes disfunction internally.

When you ordain you are more of less indirectly forced to become apart of a sect or group, which involves alot of politics.

Tradition is a paradox. Without it Buddhism would have died,but to keep it going often times goes against what is practical, real, and logical.
You don't have time to practice? Do you think you can grow better in Dhamma when spending most of your layman time at work?
Impermanent are all formations;
Their nature is to arise and vanish.
Having arisen, they cease:
Their appeasement is blissful.

cookiemonster
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Re: Disrobing defeat or progress?

Post by cookiemonster » Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:37 pm

This topic reminds me of something I read (in the Buddha and His Teachings by Narada Thera) about laymen who are also true monks:

"Concerning a minister who attained arahantship while seated on an elephant decked in his best apparel, the Buddha remarked:

Even though a man be richly adorned, if he walks in peace,
If he be quiet, subdued, certain and pure,
And if he refrains from injuring any living being,
That man is a Brahmin, that man is a hermit,
That man is a monk.

—Dhp 142."

So, for me, being a skillful layman > being an unskillful monk.

chownah
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Re: Disrobing defeat or progress?

Post by chownah » Fri Jan 11, 2019 2:39 am

Re: Disrobing defeat or progress?
It really depends on each instance of this happening doesn't it?....it really depends on how the individual proceeds doesn't it? It really means what you mean by "defeat" doesn't it? (Likewise the meaning of "progress".)
chownah

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Re: Disrobing defeat or progress?

Post by bhante dhamma » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:12 am

SavakaNik wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:45 pm
rightviewftw wrote:
Mon Dec 31, 2018 4:55 am
I think one absolutely should remove oneself from toxic environments and unfortunate conditions even if it means disrobing. I also think it is better to be a good layman than a bad monk. A lay person may even be an Anagami whereas a bad monk may be headed to Niraya hell, i think it is obvious which is better.
Thank you, I’ve had personal experience with this, it’s why I disrobed as a Samanera instead of continuing toward full ordination.

Ordination is not initiation into the Buddha’s sangha anyway, only understanding is (stream entry).

If you can’t find an equal or better, better to go alone.
Would you care to elaborate further SavakNik as to what specifically made you discontinue as a samanera...?

SavakaNik
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Re: Disrobing defeat or progress?

Post by SavakaNik » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:12 pm

bhante dhamma wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:12 am
Would you care to elaborate further SavakNik as to what specifically made you discontinue as a samanera...?
Perhaps in a private message, if you're willing to message me a little background about yourself and what truly motivates your interest in that question, I've considered telling my story and posting it publicly in the Personal Experience section as it may benefit some genuine seekers, but I have some reservations ...regardless I am going to start writing it down autobiographically and at least keep it to myself, what I'll do with it? *shrugs*. However I am on the lookout for a suitable preceptor, so far the only candidate on my list is in Sri Lanka (my previous experience was with the Thai sangha)...

I won't go back unless it's to a suitable preceptor. Till then I work I.T. in the States.

As for OP's post, as having gone through the disrobing process myself, I can say that you can't tell much externally about a person just because they are in robes or not, or if they get into robes or not, or if they get out of robes or not - at least not in and of itself, context is everything.

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