When to ordain

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

Post by Yong Fa » Mon Sep 28, 2015 1:33 am

Dear Dhammawheel,

Hello my name is Yong Fa. I'm 22, graduated from college last December, and live in NYC with my parents. I'm at a crossroads right now and would very much appreciate some advice from you all.

Right now, I am considering two paths:

1) Continue onto medical school for Chinese and western medicine, perhaps practice for a while, then decide whether to ordain.
I've heard many stories about monks getting sick and having their practice obstructed by this, so I wanted to learn medicine first as a means of health maintenance after ordination. The vinaya may place limits on what I can do, but simply having the knowledge base would be useful.

Specifically, how would having a base of medical knowledge benefit me as a monk?
The concept of this works out in my head, but I'd appreciate some concrete instances where you'd see this so I can judge whether the degree would be worth the effort. If not, I'd consider studying medicine on my own as a monk.

As for the execution of this plan, I'm currently intent on attending school in China or Taiwan where I can learn integrated medicine and have much less tuition to pay. Since I'm considering ordination, I don't wish to ask my parents for tuition and may get a job to pay for everything myself while living at home. The tuition in Asia is rather low, but it may still take me 3-5 years to amass the funds on my own, although I also have scholarship potential. I may also take out a loan, and would appreciate some advice on borrowing money on my own.

2) Ordain ASAP, without spending the time on a medical degree.
This route may also take a few years, since I have many questions about the teachings. If I took this route, I'd probably move out to be independent of my parents as much as possible.

Thank you all very much for your input.

With metta,
Yong Fa

SarathW
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Re: When to ordain

Post by SarathW » Mon Sep 28, 2015 1:47 am

Why do you want to ordain.
Why don't you practice as a lay person?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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ryanM
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Re: When to ordain

Post by ryanM » Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:28 am

Yong Fa wrote: This route may also take a few years, since I have many questions about the teachings. If I took this route, I'd probably move out to be independent of my parents as much as possible.
If you decide to go to school, then trying to get out debt free would be a good idea so that it won't hinder your ordination efforts. I wouldn't rush into the robes though. There's still lots of practice to have in lay life. Maybe you could try doing a temporary ordination for 3 months or so before you decide to really commit? Anumodana for your efforts nevertheless!

smiley face

Ryan
sabbe dhammā nālaṃ abhinivesāya

"nothing whatsoever should be clung to"

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samseva
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Re: When to ordain

Post by samseva » Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:39 am

I think you need to rethink many of the things you describe in your post. These are very complex areas and mostly only you can know what it is you want or need. Whatever we say won't change much for you.

Look over each option with how many years it would take, how you would repay your debts, how many years of study would it actually take to obtain a degree, how much it would cost, how much money you would need to save up, how many hours you would need to work, and so on. The more questions you ask yourself and the more you answer them, the clearer all this will be. Also take into consideration that you might not remain in robes. What will you do if you disrobe?

Regarding medical knowledge and the health of monks, it is different from country to country. For the country I know, in Thailand monks can receive free medical care in Bangkok and other places. Either the monastery pays for medicine or you need to ask it from laypeople, which is an allowance for sick monks. Your knowledge of medicine could be useful to treat yourself. To what degree depends on what you are treating, since you have no medical equipment, nor medicine at your immediate disposal.

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Stiphan
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Re: When to ordain

Post by Stiphan » Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:12 pm

I have the same dilemma as you do: to ordain as soon as possible or to pursue, in my case, a web design education and career before ordaining some time in the future. My teacher said that no one can answer that question for me -- only I can; I have to decide for myself. And I think the same goes for you -- you alone have to decide when to ordain, no one can make that decision for you.

In my case, I have decided to remain a layman for at least another 2 years -- maximum 5 -- and then look to ordain, either in England or Thailand.

Whatever you decide, I wish you best of luck!
You can call me "Stiphan" (correct spelling: Sṭīphan) or Stephen. May you be well and happy. :heart:

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pilgrim
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Re: When to ordain

Post by pilgrim » Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:35 pm

I remember reading in this forum, someone posted advice from a monk who said that if one wishes to ordain, he should try to do so as soon as possible. The longer one waits, the more one will become entangled with the affairs of the world. :juggling:

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samseva
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Re: When to ordain

Post by samseva » Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:56 pm

pilgrim wrote:I remember reading in this forum, someone posted advice from a monk who said that if one wishes to ordain, he should try to do so as soon as possible. The longer one waits, the more one will become entangled with the affairs of the world. :juggling:
Rushing it and then disrobing not long after is not better than waiting or preparing and actually remaining in robes.

santa100
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Re: When to ordain

Post by santa100 » Mon Sep 28, 2015 4:28 pm

Yong Fa wrote:Right now, I am considering two paths:...
That's a very noble goal. But also notice that monkhood is not an easy path. The precepts are a lot stricter than those for lay-people, like completely abstaining from all sexual activities, eating only 1 meal before noon, wake up early to start training, etc. Many monks disrobed because they couldn't handle such rigorous training. This's by no mean to discourage you but just to help you prepare in a realistic way. While waiting to make a decision, why not trying to "test the water" by attending long retreats and Uposatha occasions(Eight-Precept Observant Periods). Also a lay person can choose to live a completely celibate life and observer precepts beyond the Five Precepts. DN 29 calls this type of lay people "householders of the white robe who are holy livers". Bottomline is that the more you prepare and align your lay-life to model after that of a monk, the more comfortable you'll feel when joining the Order AND the better the chance you'll remain being a monk long after that..

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Lucas Oliveira
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Re: When to ordain

Post by Lucas Oliveira » Mon Sep 28, 2015 6:42 pm

It is important to develop a very firm practice before trying to go to a monastery.
Turn monk anyone turns, stay monk, almost anyone. http://muditobhikkhu.weebly.com/blog/so ... -monastica

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Yong Fa
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Re: When to ordain

Post by Yong Fa » Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:22 pm

Thank you all for the responses, very rarely do I have a chance to speak with anyone about this topic.

Right now, I'm considering working a year while I apply to school, then perhaps taking temporary ordination before my studies.

I calculated my expenses and how long it'd take me to go through with the plan without any debt.

8 years education + ~5 years residency + 1-2 years of practice to pay everything off = ~14.5 years.

Assuming I don't get a scholarship, I'll have about $55k in debt after graduation, not including interest. Medical residents make about $55k a year.

$55k/year salary
-$35k/year living expenses, including $5k for savings
-$10k/year taxes
$10k/year free to pay off debt

Anything I can't pay during residency would likely be taken care of by a year's salary as a doctor.

Yong Fa
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Re: When to ordain

Post by Yong Fa » Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:27 pm

samseva wrote:
pilgrim wrote:I remember reading in this forum, someone posted advice from a monk who said that if one wishes to ordain, he should try to do so as soon as possible. The longer one waits, the more one will become entangled with the affairs of the world. :juggling:
Rushing it and then disrobing not long after is not better than waiting or preparing and actually remaining in robes.
After reading this and another article, I'm planning to experience the world as a working adult before I decide to be a monk. I'd like to know what I'm renouncing before I actually renounce it.

Have any of you come across any stories where someone is able to practice better as a layperson than as a monk?

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samseva
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Re: When to ordain

Post by samseva » Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:45 pm

Yong Fa wrote:Thank you all for the responses, very rarely do I have a chance to speak with anyone about this topic.

Right now, I'm considering working a year while I apply to school, then perhaps taking temporary ordination before my studies.

I calculated my expenses and how long it'd take me to go through with the plan without any debt.

8 years education + ~5 years residency + 1-2 years of practice to pay everything off = ~14.5 years.

Assuming I don't get a scholarship, I'll have about $55k in debt after graduation, not including interest. Medical residents make about $55k a year.

$55k/year salary
-$35k/year living expenses, including $5k for savings
-$10k/year taxes
$10k/year free to pay off debt

Anything I can't pay during residency would likely be taken care of by a year's salary as a doctor.
You should continue refining your plans much further. This life plan is very long and complex. 15 years is a long time. Many things can happen and change; or most importantly, turn out differently than you expected, which happens very often. Both waiting to see what you are actually renouncing and especially taking temporary ordination are good ideas.

Continue refining your plans more and more in detail; thinking things through thoroughly.

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Sovatthika
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Re: When to ordain

Post by Sovatthika » Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:07 am

ordaining is so much more than any worldly goal. wrap up your finances in the timeliest manner if you want to go forth, and go forth; you have nothing to lose but dukkha
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

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