I disrobed and returned to "normal" life

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
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Mr Man
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Re: I disrobed and returned to "normal" life

Post by Mr Man » Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:32 pm

Zom wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:07 pm

The stages themselves require certain level of behavior and mental clarity/strength, which itself can correspond to "very worldly lay people" and "advanced ascetic renunciates" and no matter if you are officially ordianed or not.
Hi there
Well you can make that correlation but it is not supported by sutta, as far as I know. There were certainly a number of monastics whose behaviour was not great even when the Buddha was still teaching. Are there instances of the Buddha telling someone not to go forth due to being not advanced enough?

I'm sure there are plenty who spent time in the robe & during that time refrained from evil & developed wholesomeness. And during that time they also gave the opportunity for others to develop wholesomeness.

I'll mention it again the Buddha did make it allowable to ordain the return to lay life and then ordain again.
Last edited by Mr Man on Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SarathW
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Re: I disrobed and returned to "normal" life

Post by SarathW » Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:34 pm

Isn't it supposed to take several lifetimes to get rid of all craving, to become enlightened?
Here I am thinking about observing simple five precepts.
You do not have to get rid of all cravings to observe five precepts.
This is just discipline.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: I disrobed and returned to "normal" life

Post by ryanM » Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:22 pm

Zom wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:16 pm
If you want, I can go in details.
Would you please elaborate?
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Re: I disrobed and returned to "normal" life

Post by Zom » Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:50 pm

Well you can make that correlation but it is not supported by sutta, as far as I know. There were certainly a number of monastics whose behaviour was not great even when the Buddha was still teaching. Are there instances of the Buddha telling someone not to go forth due to being not advanced enough?
Yes, it is not too well articulated, but still the evidences are there in the texts. The very idea of gradual approach actually speaks for itself in this case. No need to introduce it if there was/is no such correlation. As for the instances... well, I'll go into details then, especially that ryanM also asked. This won't be short, though :D

So, how did that happen, that in all serious monasteries you are not allowed to ordain as soon as you like - while, as you notice, Buddha allowed that. Why is that?

Here is my answer. As we know from suttas, Buddha didn't want to teach at first, however, he surveyed the world and saw that there are many, who "can see Dhamma". That means, many spiritually developed people. And yes - as soon as he started, he almost immediately "made" more more than 1000 arahants. As it seems (and Commy confirms that) all those people were there because of their excellent past kamma and paramis (and even direct past-life connections with the Buddha and best disciples personally). That is, their minds were strong and clean, while defilements, clingings, delusions - very weak. Almost no dust in the eyes (c). They were ready, they were waiting, and he came to pick them up -) There were also others - "more difficult cases", as they say.. ))). This was no one minute work for him. It required much more time and patience to grow them up into arahants. But he still succeeded, because he was an omniscient Buddha, he knew how to do it and that it is possible to do. With the most difficult, but highly potent people, he dealt himself directly. The best example here is such unthinkable and abnormal case like Angulimala story. But there were also others - who could make it to arahantship in their very life without Buddha's personal interference. They could make it (relatively easily) but only in the right circumstances - like monkhood. Buddha knew that, saw that, and understood that he just can't handle it all alone - handle all those personal instructions and so on. So he established Sangha and opened its gates for everyone. Ehi bhikkhu! 8-) He knew many would fail, I think, he even knew, some would fall in hell because of their misdeeds.... but still he wanted those many potent people from different regions to reach arahantship or non-returning as soon as possible - so they could stay in the world and keep Dhamma pure and clean, helping many more people around and in the future.

Short answer: he could make restrictions, this would certainly make Sangha more "clean", but at the same time that would slow down the increment of arahants. Actually on a certain moment of history he did start to introduce "restrictions" to keep the balance, but it didn't work too well anyway (not because Buddha miscalculated, but because those "spiritually potent people" simply came to an end). In MN 65 there is a VERY interesting conversation: "Venerable sir, what is the cause, what is the reason, why there were previously fewer training rules and more bhikkhus became established in final knowledge? What is the cause, what is the reason, why there are now more training rules and fewer bhikkhus become established in final knowledge?” - That is how it is, Bhaddli. When beings are deteriorating and the true Dhamma is disappearing, then there are more training rules and fewer bhikkhus become established in final knowledge".

This passage is very important, because it shows that fact of tangible decrease of "potent people" already during Buddha's lifetime. Beings are deteriorating ---> this is what he said. Less and less arahants. All those who were ready to start their practice with the highest stages of the path and fulfil them in no time, thus reaching final goal - they all made it and less and less such people remained to be found.

Now, if we extrapolate that (deplorable) trend in the future, and up to the present time... well... no words are needed here - everything is on the blackboard ))).

From here one can understand why all these monasteries - unlike Buddha - introduced "sandboxes" for modern sincere spiritual seekers allowing them to receive bhukkhu status only after years of supervision. The absense of this "defence" showed one thing: Sangha is being filled to the brim with spiritually weak people - while (ideally) it should be filled with exemplary ones, those, who could (like in good old times) pick up jhana practice and become an arahant in 7 days! 8-) . By the way, in Korean Zen monasteries it is even stricter: one needs to spend not less than 10 years before he'll be granted the full ordination. Again, the answer is short: "people are coming, but they are not ready". Gone are the days when people put on ochre robes and became enlightened in 7 days or at least 7 years. Sandboxes, though not too efficient, at least block the most unprepared spiritual seekers, making it easier for the community of those who are at least somehow prepared. It is not that senior monks and abbots are elitists or smth - no. It is just life dictates these rules.

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Re: I disrobed and returned to "normal" life

Post by SarathW » Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:46 am

What is the big deal of getting an ordination?
Can't I just join a temple and be an Arahant?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: I disrobed and returned to "normal" life

Post by pilgrim » Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:16 am

SarathW wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:46 am
What is the big deal of getting an ordination?
Can't I just join a temple and be an Arahant?
How does one do that? It is like attending a university without enrolling as a student.

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Re: I disrobed and returned to "normal" life

Post by SarathW » Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:37 am

pilgrim wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:16 am
SarathW wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:46 am
What is the big deal of getting an ordination?
Can't I just join a temple and be an Arahant?
How does one do that? It is like attending a university without enrolling as a student.
That is what I exactly meant.
If you can get the university education why do you have to enroll?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: I disrobed and returned to "normal" life

Post by Zom » Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:44 am

If you can get the university education why do you have to enroll?
James already presented a list of benefits one can get in the monkhood - this is why. For a prepared person monkhood can offer best conditions for advancing further. However, it is not obligatory, as we see from the suttas (yes, I mean all those non-returners, Citta was the best of them and hailed as "standard" by the Buddha himself), so if you are good (and may be lucky) enough, you can make similar good conditions for further advancing in your own lay life.

On youtube one can find captivating stories about people who intentionally dropped their common laylife and became hermits, living alone in the wilderness - for quite some time, like 5, 10, 20 years or even more. And some (though not everyone) look happy enough ). For example, I'm watching with interest video diaries of our "russian hobbit", he lives like that on one place for 6 years already: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWn9x6WD5Hc I doubt that his conditions are worse for spiritual advancement than those most of monks have. And for someone, living alone in such uncomfortable conditions, he is surprisingly happy and well-wishing.

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Re: I disrobed and returned to "normal" life

Post by Mr Man » Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:13 pm

Zom wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:50 pm
Well you can make that correlation but it is not supported by sutta, as far as I know. There were certainly a number of monastics whose behaviour was not great even when the Buddha was still teaching. Are there instances of the Buddha telling someone not to go forth due to being not advanced enough?
Yes, it is not too well articulated, but still the evidences are there in the texts. The very idea of gradual approach actually speaks for itself in this case. No need to introduce it if there was/is no such correlation. As for the instances... well, I'll go into details then, especially that ryanM also asked. This won't be short, though :D

So, how did that happen, that in all serious monasteries you are not allowed to ordain as soon as you like - while, as you notice, Buddha allowed that. Why is that?

Here is my answer. As we know from suttas, Buddha didn't want to teach at first, however, he surveyed the world and saw that there are many, who "can see Dhamma". That means, many spiritually developed people. And yes - as soon as he started, he almost immediately "made" more more than 1000 arahants. As it seems (and Commy confirms that) all those people were there because of their excellent past kamma and paramis (and even direct past-life connections with the Buddha and best disciples personally). That is, their minds were strong and clean, while defilements, clingings, delusions - very weak. Almost no dust in the eyes (c). They were ready, they were waiting, and he came to pick them up -) There were also others - "more difficult cases", as they say.. ))). This was no one minute work for him. It required much more time and patience to grow them up into arahants. But he still succeeded, because he was an omniscient Buddha, he knew how to do it and that it is possible to do. With the most difficult, but highly potent people, he dealt himself directly. The best example here is such unthinkable and abnormal case like Angulimala story. But there were also others - who could make it to arahantship in their very life without Buddha's personal interference. They could make it (relatively easily) but only in the right circumstances - like monkhood. Buddha knew that, saw that, and understood that he just can't handle it all alone - handle all those personal instructions and so on. So he established Sangha and opened its gates for everyone. Ehi bhikkhu! 8-) He knew many would fail, I think, he even knew, some would fall in hell because of their misdeeds.... but still he wanted those many potent people from different regions to reach arahantship or non-returning as soon as possible - so they could stay in the world and keep Dhamma pure and clean, helping many more people around and in the future.

Short answer: he could make restrictions, this would certainly make Sangha more "clean", but at the same time that would slow down the increment of arahants. Actually on a certain moment of history he did start to introduce "restrictions" to keep the balance, but it didn't work too well anyway (not because Buddha miscalculated, but because those "spiritually potent people" simply came to an end). In MN 65 there is a VERY interesting conversation: "Venerable sir, what is the cause, what is the reason, why there were previously fewer training rules and more bhikkhus became established in final knowledge? What is the cause, what is the reason, why there are now more training rules and fewer bhikkhus become established in final knowledge?” - That is how it is, Bhaddli. When beings are deteriorating and the true Dhamma is disappearing, then there are more training rules and fewer bhikkhus become established in final knowledge".

This passage is very important, because it shows that fact of tangible decrease of "potent people" already during Buddha's lifetime. Beings are deteriorating ---> this is what he said. Less and less arahants. All those who were ready to start their practice with the highest stages of the path and fulfil them in no time, thus reaching final goal - they all made it and less and less such people remained to be found.

Now, if we extrapolate that (deplorable) trend in the future, and up to the present time... well... no words are needed here - everything is on the blackboard ))).

From here one can understand why all these monasteries - unlike Buddha - introduced "sandboxes" for modern sincere spiritual seekers allowing them to receive bhukkhu status only after years of supervision. The absense of this "defence" showed one thing: Sangha is being filled to the brim with spiritually weak people - while (ideally) it should be filled with exemplary ones, those, who could (like in good old times) pick up jhana practice and become an arahant in 7 days! 8-) . By the way, in Korean Zen monasteries it is even stricter: one needs to spend not less than 10 years before he'll be granted the full ordination. Again, the answer is short: "people are coming, but they are not ready". Gone are the days when people put on ochre robes and became enlightened in 7 days or at least 7 years. Sandboxes, though not too efficient, at least block the most unprepared spiritual seekers, making it easier for the community of those who are at least somehow prepared. It is not that senior monks and abbots are elitists or smth - no. It is just life dictates these rules.

Hi Zom

My original point is that there are not certain specific and identifiable "preliminary stages" which need to be developed/reached before ordaining. What work has been done in the past and what barami has been accumulated is not always clear. That someone has the opportunity, the aspiration and meets the requirements in itself could possibly show that a certain amount of work has been done and barami accumulated. Wait for the perfect time and it may not come.

From Ajahn Chah
We all have had the good fortune to be born as human beings and to hear the teachings of the Buddha. This is an opportunity that millions of other beings do not have. Therefore do not be careless or heedless. Hurry and develop merits, do good and follow the path of practice in the beginning, in the middle and in the highest levels. Don't let time roll by unused and without purpose. Try to reach the truth of the Buddha's teachings even today. Let me close with a Lao folk-saying: ''Many rounds of merriment and pleasure past, soon it will be evening. Drunk with tears now, rest and see, soon it will be too late to finish the journey''.
The "sandboxes", as far as I know are mainly for non native Bhikkus in Thailand and are only at some monasteries (originating at Wat Nong Pha Pong, I believe). Perhaps it has changed

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Re: I disrobed and returned to "normal" life

Post by Zom » Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:41 pm

My original point is that there are not certain specific and identifiable "preliminary stages" which need to be developed/reached before ordaining.
Well, easily maintained (for a long period of time, without a lapse) wholesome bodily, verbal, mental behavior is specific enough and observable. Also, the level of positive and negative mental qualities is also specific and observable. While this knowledge doesn't guarantee that you are ready for high level practice, you can still see if you are really ready for that or if you just want that because of desire, while ignoring the very question about whether you are fit for that or not.
The "sandboxes", as far as I know are mainly for non native Bhikkus in Thailand and are only at some monasteries (originating at Wat Nong Pha Pong, I believe). Perhaps it has changed
It depends on tradition. In Thailand most of monks don't even consider monkhood as a condition to take up advanced practice. Most of them know they will disrobe for sure, most of them don't meditate, don't pick up ascetic practices, etc.. and don't even interested in Dhamma. In Thailand Buddhism is strongly intertwined with social life and traditions, where monkhood is more a social role rather than a personal spiritual way of life.

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Re: I disrobed and returned to "normal" life

Post by Dhammanando » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:18 am

Zom wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:41 pm
In Thailand Buddhism is strongly intertwined with social life and traditions, where monkhood is more a social role rather than a personal spiritual way of life.
I think the kind of Thai monks you're talking about would probably reply that you're presenting a false dichotomy here. They would say that their "personal spiritual way of life" consists in accumulating merit as they don't believe themselves to have the paramī to attain anything higher in the present life. And that the way they aim to accumulate merit is by devoting themselves to this or that approved social role: sangha administration (in the case of urban bureaucrat monks), monastic education (in the case of Pali teachers, Abhidhamma teachers, etc.) or preaching dāna and sīla, performing apotropaic rituals, interceding in village disputes, etc. (in the case of village monks).

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Re: I disrobed and returned to "normal" life

Post by Spiny Norman » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:57 am

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:33 pm
Buy a sailboat! Live on it, and sail a lot. I would like a huge yacht, but my budget probably extends only to a 8.5m keeler, with one bedroom, a kitchen-lounge, and shower and toilet. It's like living in a big caravan, except it floats.
That sounds great! How about getting a big boat eventually and running "sailing retreats"? :woohoo:
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream."
Dairy Lama

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Re: I disrobed and returned to "normal" life

Post by Zom » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:00 pm

I think the kind of Thai monks you're talking about would probably reply that you're presenting a false dichotomy here. They would say that their "personal spiritual way of life" consists in accumulating merit
Most of thai monks I met, talked to, and knew personally didn't really have that goal. They used their monkhood as a way to get education, get higher social position (which is based on respect) so to get better job later. All of them disrobed eventually after being in robes (including samanera years) for some 10-15 years. One more is still in robes for more than 20 years, but has a very bad reputation and use his monkhood as a way to earn big money, fooling rich thai sponsors. One more uses his monkhood just to travel around the world (western world, preferably). He is fine with "chantings", but strongly resists talking about Dhamma in any way. Obviously, there are those monks you are talking about - but I'm not really sure they are a majority. I may be mistaken though - because you know the situation much better than I do, ofc.

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Re: I disrobed and returned to "normal" life

Post by rolling_boulder » Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:48 am

Bhikkhu_Jayasara wrote:
Sun Dec 03, 2017 9:47 pm
For some time since coming to the monastery I would compare my meditation here to when i was in lay life, and I would see that my meditation in lay life seemed much better, much more productive, calm, and peaceful.

...

it's not easy.
Seconding this, as a mere lay 8-precept monastery resident.

It is easy to imagine that life at a monastery is so blissful and carefree, but actually at times the mental anguish of just existing in such an environment can be so intense that you want to cry, scream, or vomit. (This is at a cozy Western monastery with plenty of sensual indulgences available.)

It's also easy to imagine that if one comes to the monastery to live or ordain, it's because "That's it! I'm done with sensuality forever."
Coming to the monastery is really only the beginning of the training. The Five Hindrances are not so easily destroyed.

For me as well, hearing of monks disrobing causes intense self-doubt, because I also have an aspiration of eventually ordaining "for life."
But I don't think it is appropriate to criticism a monk for disrobing.

Good luck, James.

RB
The world is swept away. It does not endure...
The world is without shelter, without protector...
The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind...
The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving.

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Re: I disrobed and returned to "normal" life

Post by Cittasanto » Tue Dec 12, 2017 4:26 am

Welcome back James :anjali:
I am sure you made the best choice for your development. Sometimes asthetic life is not suited for everyone all the time and it is better to be true to the path you walk than develop discord in yourself due to mismatching paths even if they are close.

I look forward to seeing you from time to time.

BTW I was called manapa initially.

Dy firrinagh focklagh
In Truth
Cittasanto
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: I disrobed and returned to "normal" life

Post by Cittasanto » Tue Dec 12, 2017 4:26 am

Welcome back James :anjali:
I am sure you made the best choice for your development. Sometimes asthetic life is not suited for everyone all the time and it is better to be true to the path you walk than develop discord in yourself due to mismatching paths even if they are close.

I look forward to seeing you from time to time.

BTW I was called manapa initially.

Dy firrinagh focklagh
In Truth
Cittasanto
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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