Unsure where to go

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

Post by DavidMetta » Fri Sep 19, 2014 6:42 pm

Hello all,

I have a dilemma that I need help solving. :thinking: I am in my last year of high school and I have decided that a year prior to going to university I want to live the monastic life, but I have no idea where no go. I have looked through many documents and websites speaking of places to go, but I am still unsure. Thailand and Burma tend to be the most appealing to me, but most of all I care about learning from a good master. If any of you have information or recommendations of monasteries it would be much appreciated.

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martinfrank
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Re: Unsure where to go

Post by martinfrank » Fri Sep 19, 2014 8:16 pm

An easy place to go is Wat Sriboonruang

http://www.templeretreatthailand.com/

A good master is Ajahn Dtun

http://www.watboonyawad.com/new/books/T ... -07-13.pdf

Beware of Internet monastery shopping! Ultimately the success or failure of your stay will be decided by your attitude and whether you'll make Dhamma friends at the monastery you stay. Don't fall into the error of believing that as a first year monk student you need the most famous meditation master in the world to teach you. What you need is a kind teacher who understands first year monk student problems and more than everything else, monk brother friends.

It would be best for you to shortlist three to five monasteries and then go to Thailand and visit the monasteries to see where you are welcome. There are thousands of good monasteries in Thailand alone, and many more in Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh.

If you are a student of Mahasi Sayadaw style Vipassana meditation, then you'll find in Myanmar famous meditation centers and monasteries which teach in this tradition.

If you are a fan of the International Forest Monastery Tradition, you would have to ask yourself why you don't join a monastery of this lineage in your own country and later proceed from there if you want to go to Thailand.

If you want to join a vegetarian monastery the options are fewer but there are good vegetarian Theravada monasteries in Thailand and maybe also in other countries... (maybe in Vietnam).

You should be aware that majority Buddhist countries have strong local traditions. If you have a positive attitude towards the local culture, native Buddhism will enrich your spiritual life. If you have a negative attitude towards the local culture, native Buddhism could annoy you.

Please don't fall into the error to believe that only the strictest Vinaya and the most traditional lineage will do for you. It is best to listen to the advice of monks you respect. You need to find a place where you can grow into a reasonably good first year monk. If later you want to stay in a cave or in the heart of the jungle, nobody will stop you.
The Noble Eightfold Path: Proposed to all, imposed on none.

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appicchato
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Re: Unsure where to go

Post by appicchato » Sat Sep 20, 2014 12:16 am

Greetings,

Some good (for the most part) info from martinfrank here...even though it's not clear whether you want to 'live the monastic life' or ordain as a monk...either way be aware, generally, repeat, generally speaking the monastic communities of Southeast Asia are not particularly Caucasian friendly (tolerant at best)...Laos you can forget...Burma has restrictive and arduous (although not insurmountable) visa requirements...Cambodia's monastic support could (by some) be classified as lacking...Thailand has just introduced some extremely prohibitive visa regulations, monastics included (after forty years here I'm (relunctantly) about to vacate)...Sri Lanka, dubious...so, as I certainly wouldn't want to dissuade anyone from pursuing such an endeavor, and I'm sure there will be those who disagree, I feel a need to forewarn since I have been to all of these countries (both as a lay person and as a monk), and speak from personal experience...again, I'm confident that not all will agree with this assessment...it's just one person's personal observation over the past few years...all the best...

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martinfrank
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Re: Unsure where to go

Post by martinfrank » Sat Sep 20, 2014 3:43 pm

appicchato wrote:Greetings,

Some good (for the most part) info from martinfrank here...even though it's not clear whether you want to 'live the monastic life' or ordain as a monk...either way be aware, generally, repeat, generally speaking the monastic communities of Southeast Asia are not particularly Caucasian friendly (tolerant at best)...Laos you can forget...Burma has restrictive and arduous (although not insurmountable) visa requirements...Cambodia's monastic support could (by some) be classified as lacking...Thailand has just introduced some extremely prohibitive visa regulations, monastics included (after forty years here I'm (relunctantly) about to vacate)...Sri Lanka, dubious...so, as I certainly wouldn't want to dissuade anyone from pursuing such an endeavor, and I'm sure there will be those who disagree, I feel a need to forewarn since I have been to all of these countries (both as a lay person and as a monk), and speak from personal experience...again, I'm confident that not all will agree with this assessment...it's just one person's personal observation over the past few years...all the best...
Dear Ven. Apicchato

You have much more experience than I have and knowledge about the conditions in the majority Buddhist countries in South-East Asia. Thank you also for saying that these countries are not particularly Caucasian friendly. I have heard similar observations from long-time Western monks in Thailand who speak Thai and did their best to conform to Thai expectations. My experience with Thai monks is that you have to find a place where you are welcome and where you find monk friends. Few South-East Asians have a multi-cultural education. The foreigner has to adapt to the local culture and customs (whether he likes them or not).

Do you think every monk-to-be should read Bhante Dhammika's "Broken Buddha" to understand that the life of a Buddhist monk is not an endless meditation retreat?

I believe that in all these countries there are serious monks and abbots and communities who support them. A Western Buddhist will probably feel a "guest monk" until he takes up local Buddhism with its spirits, devas, ghosts, amulets, protective spells and chants.

Why do you judge Laos and Cambodia so severely?

What do you think about Wat Mahathat and Wat Bowon in Bangkok?

Would you recommend Wat Pah Pateeparam in Uttaradit? http://www.watpahpateeparam.com/home

What about Wat Tama O in Lampang?

Would you rather recommend a young monk to stay in a FMT Monastery in a Western country?

I will visit Wat Bo Pradoo in Songkhla again next month. For me it is almost paradise.

Martin
The Noble Eightfold Path: Proposed to all, imposed on none.

Feathers
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Re: Unsure where to go

Post by Feathers » Sat Sep 20, 2014 4:12 pm

If you're only going for a year, and assuming you don't have tons of money just out of high school, might it make more sense to look for somewhere in your own country?
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Sanjay PS
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Re: Unsure where to go

Post by Sanjay PS » Sat Sep 20, 2014 4:36 pm

Hello David ,

As a prelude to the monastic life , one can consider doing a 10 day course in Vipassana at a centre nearest to ones location.

http://www.dhamma.org, gives details of a centre nearest to your location , with the monthly schedule of courses , giving details of the code of conduct and decorum. After doing the 10 days , one can continue on to give service , should such a volition arise, and then again do 10 day course , cycling the same for a good period of time ( this really helps ) . There are no charges of any kind , and one lives on the charity given by others . Once you have developed a flair and liking of such a life , then you can gradually easy into a full fledged monastic life .

Humbly proud of you ; at a young age you have such a great calling and will . May you be very successful in your aspirations of Dhamma , and may you be a wonderful flag bearer of this very universal path of freedom from all and every kind of ills and sufferings .

sanjay
The Path of Dhamma

The path of Dhamma is no picnic . It is a strenuous march steeply up the hill . If all the comrades desert you , Walk alone ! Walk alone ! with all the Thrill !!

U S.N. Goenka

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nekete
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Re: Unsure where to go

Post by nekete » Sat Sep 20, 2014 6:51 pm

Why don't you try Wat Pah Nanachat? You will have to start being an Anagarika first and Samanera later but I think you will not find the problems mentioned above.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Pah_Nanachat

battle in my mind
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Re: Unsure where to go

Post by battle in my mind » Sun Sep 21, 2014 9:32 am

I am a Thai native living in Chon Buri, Thailand.
- In Chon Buri, Ajahn Dtun at Wat Boonyawad is the best for foreigners and many western monks there. For Thai, he specifes not more than 7 days staying; but I am not sure about staying for foreigner. Wat boonyawad is so far away from town, about 70 Kms from Chon Buri.
- In Pak Chong-Wang nam Kheaw, Nakorn Rajasima, there are several ferest monasteries; for example Wat Pa Rattana Wan ( Ajahn Nyanadhammo), Wat Khoa Yai Chareondham (Ajahn Utai Siritharo, Thai) or Wat Sang Dham Wangkhokaew (Ajahn Sopha Samano)
- In Udorn Thani, Wat Pa Baan Taad, there is western monk there, Ajahn Abhijeto that his last birth has been believed.
etc.
If you want more information about Thai Forest Monastery and Monks, I can give you.

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appicchato
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Re: Unsure where to go

Post by appicchato » Sun Sep 21, 2014 1:10 pm

martinfrank wrote:Dear Ven...
In a nutshell...for Caucasians in Asia the situation, any situation, be it lay or ordained, is always, always, tenuous at best...from day one to the last...we are not accepted, we are tolerated...and should any (even the slightest) situation head south, it's over...

Although there are friendly temples and abbots, unless particularly designated as 'international' (Wat Pah Nana Chat, Wat Map Pra Chan(sp), etc., where the Westerner is 'catered' to)..it's all ducky until the novelty wears off, and then it's watch out...sure, there are the Sumedho's and the Jayasaro's, but they're special, and receive special treatment...and deservedly so...they, and others of good repute will have no problem remaining (in Thailand)...for the regular adherent, it's soon to be a rougher row to hoe...monetarily as well as bureaucratically...

Haven't read Broken Buddha for a few years, but even though recalling it being negative, nonetheless pretty much true...

Laos...any ordained of note?...anywhere?...Cambodia, ditto...

Wat Mahathat does not have a glowing rep...though not necessarily a bad one...Wat Bowon is a complete madhouse (to me)...never ending construction on every square meter, and elbow to elbow walking on what few paths remain, morning to night...heard of Wat Tama O, but haven't visited...can't imagine it being too much different than most, but always willing to be surprised...

Not familiar with temples in the West, but reading of the basic regimen of most, and being rebuffed by Thanissaro Bhikkhu at Wat Metta, don't care to be...

Jeez, re-reading this is a bit of a downer...don't mean to sound this way...was asked, I'm replying...this from a more or less self- proclaimed recluse, who's content with his own company, and his own practice...and while pushing seventy is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain that status while remaining in the robes...

To all those contemplating this path (in reference to the OP)...please don't let this post dissuade you...I'm certain there are some regulars on this website that will totally (and more than likely rightly so) disagree with this synopsis...go for it...

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Sekha
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Re: Unsure where to go

Post by Sekha » Sun Sep 21, 2014 4:04 pm

appicchato wrote:after forty years here I'm (relunctantly) about to vacate
If not indiscreet, Bhante, where will you go?
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

DavidMetta
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Re: Unsure where to go

Post by DavidMetta » Sun Sep 21, 2014 4:17 pm

I do hope I can find a place where they will accept me. I will try my best to adapt to the thai culture. The last thing I want is to feel like an intruder. I checked out and contacted some of the recommendations above, they seem very promising. Thank you very much all. I still have a few more questions. How was your experience with the visa process and is it possible to get a visa for a year? I tend to see that many of the monasteries have a limited time that I may be there. I was hoping for a location I could stay for many months. Once again thank you all for your help.

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martinfrank
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Re: Unsure where to go

Post by martinfrank » Sun Sep 21, 2014 9:02 pm

appicchato wrote:
martinfrank wrote:Dear Ven...


Jeez, re-reading this is a bit of a downer...don't mean to sound this way...was asked, I'm replying...this from a more or less self- proclaimed recluse, who's content with his own company, and his own practice...and while pushing seventy is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain that status while remaining in the robes...
Dear Ven. Appicchato

Your reply means a lot to me. Thank you very much for it.

I hope you agree that for a young man to stay one year in a Wat in Thailand is not particularly difficult. There will be problems (visa, sponsor, mosquitoes, diarrhea, culture shock, heat etc.) but he is not the first to survive them. All in all, it will be a valuable first step for him. In an impermanent world there are no permanent solutions (except Nibbana). Life proceeds from one messy situation to the next, not least in a country like Thailand

I will write you a Personal Message.

May you and all beings become happy!

Martin
The Noble Eightfold Path: Proposed to all, imposed on none.

Derek
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Re: Unsure where to go

Post by Derek » Mon Sep 22, 2014 12:58 pm

I hope you know that you must be at least 20 years of age to become a monk. Younger than that, you can only become a novice.

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martinfrank
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Re: Unsure where to go

Post by martinfrank » Mon Sep 22, 2014 6:19 pm

DavidMetta wrote:I do hope I can find a place where they will accept me. I will try my best to adapt to the thai culture. The last thing I want is to feel like an intruder. I checked out and contacted some of the recommendations above, they seem very promising. Thank you very much all. I still have a few more questions. How was your experience with the visa process and is it possible to get a visa for a year? I tend to see that many of the monasteries have a limited time that I may be there. I was hoping for a location I could stay for many months. Once again thank you all for your help.
Of course you will get accepted. It is totally normal in Thailand to say "I would like to ordain for two weeks" (or two months) and then stay only these two weeks in that temple... or stay two years. Thais are cool about temporary vs. long-term ordination. Some "international" or famous monasteries in Thailand are not cool about temporary ordinations.

If you are not yet 20 years old you ordain as a samanera (monk-apprentice) which should fit you fine. You get the same haircut, robes, food as a monk without yet being expected to follow 227 rules. If you are 20 years old some abbots will allow you to ordain immediately as a monk, some will not. Thai monasteries are not standardized. They all follow Vinaya but different abbots have (very) different views about what is important and what not.

Don't worry about your visa. Most probably you don't need a visa at all for the first three months. Use this time to find a place where you are welcome and feel comfortable. Once you know where you want to stay, ask for a visa extension.

Your monk brother friends will try to teach you Thai manners. Try to soak it up! Imitate and copy what you see! For Thais good manners are Thai manners.

PS: Here is another wonderful monastery http://watwangplado.com/. The Teacher, Ven. Sopako, is from the same monastery (Wat Mahathat in Bangkok) and tradition as my teacher and he knows the Western mind.
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DavidMetta
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Re: Unsure where to go

Post by DavidMetta » Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:48 pm

Thank you all so very much for your kindness! I will start preparing my travel plans.

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