Do you think I'm crazy for thinking about monastic life at 16?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
forestdwelling
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Do you think I'm crazy for thinking about monastic life at 16?

Post by forestdwelling » Thu Aug 13, 2015 3:24 am

I've followed the dhamma for nearly three years now, but I'm now seriously considering becoming a nun at some point after I graduate from university. My question is: is this crazy (from a relative, worldly standpoint)? I was just talking to an older friend about my thought process, and he basically said that I was crazy for thinking about it. It really hurt my feelings honestly, lol! He also said that it basically meant I'd be running away from the world. I agree with this to an extent, but at the same time, I feel like I'd be a good nun: my favourite things are studying, meditating, and serving others. While I don't think I'd want to be ordained for the rest of my life as I do want children of my own, I don't think it's *that* batty of an idea. What do you think?

SarathW
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Re: Do you think I'm crazy for thinking about monastic life at 16?

Post by SarathW » Thu Aug 13, 2015 3:46 am

I was thinking about monastic life when I was 12 years old!
I am still thinking. :thinking: :thinking: :thinking: :thinking: :thinking:
:)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Goofaholix
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Re: Do you think I'm crazy for thinking about monastic life at 16?

Post by Goofaholix » Thu Aug 13, 2015 3:49 am

As you’ve already identified that this is temporary and you want to have a family etc then it depends on how long you are thinking of ordaining for.

A lot of young people have a gap year or overseas experience, military service, peace corps etc so it sounds like this might be your version of this.

It’s pretty common for young men in Asia to do a temporary ordination, not so common for women.

Just make sure it doesn’t interfere with your education and employment prospects.

You may want to consider staying in retreat centres or monasteries as a laywomen though as you’d have more flexibility and options.

I don’t see why such an experience should be considered crazy.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Do you think I'm crazy for thinking about monastic life at 16?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Aug 13, 2015 4:16 am

Has your older, “wiser” friend ever been a nun? Has he even spent a month or two as a temporary monk?

You can safely ignore his comments. At 16 it would be crazy not to consider all of your options for your future happiness.

Being a monk or a nun is not an easy choice. Most people run away from the truth of suffering for their entire lives — frantically pursuing sensual pleasures in many different ways. It would be much better if every young person could spend a year, or at least three to six months, as a temporary monk or nun or as a lay meditator/helper in a meditation centre. This is not an unusual practice in Burma or Thailand. Most do not remain in the Sangha for their entire life, but at least they have a much better understanding of Buddhism and appreciation for the Sangha after having lived the celibate life for a short period. It is much easier to learn new skills while young than it is after retirement when one's health is deteriorating, and one's views are more fixed.

Once you start work or get married, the opportunity for serious meditation is hard to come by. Therefore, in Burma they call temporary monks "Dullabha" which means “difficult to obtain.” The arising of a Buddha in the world is extremely rare. Hearing his teachings is even more rare even though it is freely available — there are many more who know little or nothing about his teachings than those who have heard or read it in detail. Having learnt what the Buddha taught, most do not understand its significance — they remain content with ordinary meritorious deeds such as giving charity, worshipping images of the Buddha or Pagodas, or reciting a few suttas. Among the devout Buddhists who take up the practice of the Dhamma in earnest by attending a 10-day meditation course, or ordaining for a longer period, most do not gain deep insights. All who practice sincerely will gain significant benefits by gaining stable confidence in the Buddha's teachings, but many struggle to gain concentration and insight.
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Cittasanto
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Re: Do you think I'm crazy for thinking about monastic life at 16?

Post by Cittasanto » Thu Aug 13, 2015 6:21 am

I do not think you are crazy. remember most westerners are somewhat disillusioned by monasticism now due to the huge controversies that have happened within Christianity.

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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 …
...
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mal4mac
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Re: Do you think I'm crazy for thinking about monastic life at 16?

Post by mal4mac » Thu Aug 13, 2015 10:23 am

Cittasanto wrote:I do not think you are crazy. remember most westerners are somewhat disillusioned by monasticism now due to the huge controversies that have happened within Christianity.
I don't think that's true. Westerners can distinguish between 'a few rotten priests' and some 'interesting, good monastics'. Even the UK, which suffered the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, makes positive prime-time TV programmes about them:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monastery_(TV_series" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;)

A few old guys might dismiss the idea as "crazy", but many will not, talk to a few others...
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seeker242
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Re: Do you think I'm crazy for thinking about monastic life at 16?

Post by seeker242 » Thu Aug 13, 2015 12:43 pm

Do you think I'm crazy for thinking about monastic life at 16?
Most certainly not! But, some people will say you are of course. However, the people who say that are most likely fully immersed in ignorance and don't even realize there is a way out, so to speak. They may think if you become a nun, you will be missing out on something important or substantial. For example, "how could you give up having sex?! Having sex is sooo good!", etc, etc.

It's better to not take advice of those people. Better to take advice from wise ones like the Buddha, who know that you aren't going to be missing anything.

:anjali:

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Aloka
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Re: Do you think I'm crazy for thinking about monastic life at 16?

Post by Aloka » Thu Aug 13, 2015 12:51 pm

forestdwelling wrote:I've followed the dhamma for nearly three years now, but I'm now seriously considering becoming a nun at some point after I graduate from university. My question is: is this crazy (from a relative, worldly standpoint)? I was just talking to an older friend about my thought process, and he basically said that I was crazy for thinking about it. It really hurt my feelings honestly, lol! He also said that it basically meant I'd be running away from the world. I agree with this to an extent, but at the same time, I feel like I'd be a good nun: my favourite things are studying, meditating, and serving others. While I don't think I'd want to be ordained for the rest of my life as I do want children of my own, I don't think it's *that* batty of an idea. What do you think?
I think its a good idea to stay at some monasteries or retreat centres first, before making any decisions. I wanted to be a (Tibetan Buddhist) nun, after reading some books when I was a teenager. However, after going to university & getting teaching qualifications, and after staying and studying at some TB centres & a monastery over a period of time, I decided I would remain a lay practioner. Eventually I changed traditions too - and now I follow Theravada.

My point is, take your time, investigate carefully first. If you go to university you could stay at Dhamma centres during the holidays to get a better idea of what its like.

Wishing you all the best,

Aloka :anjali:

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robdog
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Re: Do you think I'm crazy for thinking about monastic life at 16?

Post by robdog » Thu Aug 13, 2015 7:58 pm

I do not think it is crazy at all, i know an Anagarika who has just turned 19 and they seem very happy. I wish you well with what ever you decide to do :anjali:

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Zom
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Re: Do you think I'm crazy for thinking about monastic life at 16?

Post by Zom » Thu Aug 13, 2015 10:35 pm

While I don't think I'd want to be ordained for the rest of my life as I do want children of my own, I don't think it's *that* batty of an idea. What do you think?
This desire is likely to deepen a lot in your 20-ies and will probably turn into despair in your 30-ies (if you ll have no kids at this time). I saw and know personally many cases like that. You can try ordaining though for some 1-3 years and see how it goes, but nowadays there are very few who really succeed in meditation and many disrobe because after several (or even many) years they don't see those results they expected, so they are striken with inner crisis - no appreciable results in spiritual development from one side and losing lay life opportunities from another side. So keep this in mind whatever you decide.

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Alex123
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Re: Do you think I'm crazy for thinking about monastic life at 16?

Post by Alex123 » Fri Aug 14, 2015 3:13 pm

Zom wrote: and losing lay life opportunities from another side. So keep this in mind whatever you decide.

And people who are very highly successful in lay life often have depression, may turn to drugs or alcohol, and some even commit suicide.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Aloka
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Re: Do you think I'm crazy for thinking about monastic life at 16?

Post by Aloka » Fri Aug 14, 2015 4:47 pm

Alex123 wrote:
And people who are very highly successful in lay life often have depression, may turn to drugs or alcohol, and some even commit suicide.
I'm sorry the people you come into contact have such difficulties, Alex, because I know plenty of successful people who aren't depressed , don't do drugs or alcohol & haven't commited suicide.


:anjali:

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Lucas Oliveira
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Re: Do you think I'm crazy for thinking about monastic life at 16?

Post by Lucas Oliveira » Fri Aug 14, 2015 5:23 pm

When I started thinking about being a monk I thought I was going crazy. After researching more and read some Suttas, I saw that the best thing I could do is be a Bhikkhu.

The argument that appears in the suttas is quite simple.
The thought occurred to him, "As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it's not easy, living at home, to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, a shell polished. What if I, having shaved off my hair & beard and putting on the ocher robe, Were to go forth from the household life into homelessness? " - MN 82 - Ratthapala Sutta
but nowadays there are very few who really succeed in meditation and many disrobe because after several (or even many) years they don't see those results they expected
The happiness of renunciation is very good
no appreciable results in spiritual development from one side and losing lay life opportunities from another side.
Itivuttaka 91 - Jivika Sutta


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Alex123
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Re: Do you think I'm crazy for thinking about monastic life at 16?

Post by Alex123 » Fri Aug 14, 2015 5:31 pm

Aloka wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
And people who are very highly successful in lay life often have depression, may turn to drugs or alcohol, and some even commit suicide.
I'm sorry the people you come into contact have such difficulties, Alex, because I know plenty of successful people who aren't depressed , don't do drugs or alcohol & haven't commited suicide.


:anjali:
Hopefully those people will be happy.

It is not over until it is over. Some people may be happy one day, and jump out of the window the next day. Uncertain!

Anicca vata saṅkhāra...
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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waterchan
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Re: Do you think I'm crazy for thinking about monastic life at 16?

Post by waterchan » Fri Aug 14, 2015 8:52 pm

forestdwelling wrote:What do you think?
What do you think, and why do you think it? Have you had a taste of the monastic life, perhaps by going on an extended retreat for a month or more? Or do you merely picture it as ideal in your head?
Lucas Oliveira wrote:When I started thinking about being a monk I thought I was going crazy. After researching more and read some Suttas, I saw that the best thing I could do is be a Bhikkhu.

The argument that appears in the suttas is quite simple.
The thought occurred to him, "As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it's not easy, living at home, to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, a shell polished. What if I, having shaved off my hair & beard and putting on the ocher robe, Were to go forth from the household life into homelessness? " - MN 82 - Ratthapala Sutta
Yes, it is very simple, but that doesn't mean people are prepared to practice it. In the Anguttara Nikaya, book of ones, there is a sutta where the Buddha says "I do not recommend existence for even as long as a fingersnap.", but most people aren't ready for that. We can't know whether we are truly ready for something until we try.

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