bad knees. want to ordain. is it possible?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
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edructor@yahoo.com
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bad knees. want to ordain. is it possible?

Post by edructor@yahoo.com » Sat Jun 23, 2018 5:54 pm

Hello,
This is my first post.My name is Ed. Ive been practicing for close to ten years. First in the Rinzai Zen tradition and spent some time in a local monastery then in the Thai Forest tradition and I lived in a new Ajahn Chah branch monastery in NewHampshire 3 separate times for a few months each time.
I noticed after longer periods of living in monasteries that my knees were in very bad shape. The pain went away after sitting in a chair for a few weeks. I have flat feet, little girly legs with no muscle, and Ive been a runner most of my life. I also have tights hips which isnt helping either. Ive been trying yoga too and it helps and I quit running long distance and I do more strength training but any crosslegged sitting or kneeling messes my knees up.
Now for my question. For a lay practitioner this doesnt really matter. I never minded sitting in a chair. But my dream is to ordain. Especially after living in monasteries for a while there is nothing else in my life I can see myself doing. The asian tradition of sitting on the floor seems to be total throughout all traditions. In the west its much more common to see a lay person sitting in a chair above a monk but ive never seen a monk sitting in a chair. I asked the Ajahn and he said I couldnt possibly ordain without sitting on the floor. He said there was a monk at Abayagiri in CA who sat in a chair but this was only after a diagnosis from a doctor and there was a monk at the same monastery I was at in NH who did the same thing before I arrived. He said until I get a diagnosis from a doctor I couldnt sit in a chair.
Why should I wait until my knees are destroyed to sit in a chair? Are there any suttas or vinaya rules that specifically state you must sit on the ground? Does anyone know of any tradition in which this is more acceptable?? Ive been searching for a while now and cant find any direct answers.Im going to thailand in November to look for places to ordain the and I plan on trying to ordain the following year. Im still doing yoga and exercises but I fear this condition while prevent me from doing so. I have not yet seen a doctor which I must do but I also refuse to sit to the point of destruction of the joint which Ive heard does happen. Its sad that regional traditions would bar a person from ordaining. Ive also seen this happen in the west because of age or sex. This is also something i have a hard time with. The buddha would not approve of our foolish traditional reasoning.
Any insight or suggestions would be great.

thank you with metta
-Ed

rightviewftw
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Re: bad knees. want to ordain. is it possible?

Post by rightviewftw » Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:07 pm

I can't answer your question about ordination but definitely don't ruin your knee. The thing i wanted to say is that if you are doing walking meditation, the way you turn might be causing problems in the knee if you are constantly twisting it in a slightly wrong way.

edructor@yahoo.com
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Re: bad knees. want to ordain. is it possible?

Post by edructor@yahoo.com » Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:14 pm

I appreciate the suggestion but its def not from that. The pain comes from the direct kneeling that we do during chanting in what yoga practitioners would call the "thunderbolt" position. Ive read articles by doctors who say this position is what causes knee damage in yoga practitioners. Its also comes from burmese style sitting, full or half lotus, or regular "indian" style cross legged sitting. Sitting on the knees with mats under the butt also cause problems because this is basically the same as thunderbolt position. Whenever I eliminate these positions the pain goes away after a few weeks. I still did walking meditation after I eliminated these other positions and it doesnt cause any problems.

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Dhammanando
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Re: bad knees. want to ordain. is it possible?

Post by Dhammanando » Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:37 pm

There are plenty of monasteries in Thailand where meditation practice is an entirely solitary activity, undertaken in the privacy of one's kuti, and so you would be free to sit in a chair. In such a place the only times you would need to sit on the floor would be during the fortnightly Pātimokkha recital, which takes about 45 minutes, and (in wats where communal eating is mandatory) during the morning meal, which would be for about 20 minutes.

edructor@yahoo.com
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Re: bad knees. want to ordain. is it possible?

Post by edructor@yahoo.com » Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:44 pm

Thank you thats exactly what Im looking for. Can you point me in some direction. Names of Wats? Traditions? etc etc. I figured there was places like that somewhere.

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Dhammanando
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Re: bad knees. want to ordain. is it possible?

Post by Dhammanando » Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:32 pm

edructor@yahoo.com wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:44 pm
Thank you thats exactly what Im looking for. Can you point me in some direction. Names of Wats? Traditions? etc etc.
Most wats affiliated with Burmese dry insight traditions like that of Mahasi Sayadaw, and quite a number of wats affiliated with the Dhammayutt forest tradition of Ajahn Mun, would fit the description I gave in my earlier post. But as to which particular wats would be good for Westerners to train in, I'm afraid I can't really advise you. I've been living mostly alone and isolated for some years, have seldom travelled anywhere or met any other Western monks; consequently I'm completely out of the loop and behind the times with regard to suitable and unsuitable wats.

SarathW
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Re: bad knees. want to ordain. is it possible?

Post by SarathW » Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:18 am

I've been living mostly alone and isolated for some years, have seldom travelled anywhere or met any other Western monks; consequently I'm completely out of the loop and behind the times with regard to suitable and unsuitable wats.
Why don't you share your wisdom with us?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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DooDoot
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Re: bad knees. want to ordain. is it possible?

Post by DooDoot » Sun Jun 24, 2018 11:41 am

edructor@yahoo.com wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 5:54 pm
I asked the Ajahn and he said I couldnt possibly ordain without sitting on the floor. He said there was a monk at Abayagiri in CA who sat in a chair but this was only after a diagnosis from a doctor and there was a monk at the same monastery I was at in NH who did the same thing before I arrived. He said until I get a diagnosis from a doctor I couldnt sit in a chair.
Then why don't you get a diagnosis from a doctor? Personally, my left knee has no anterior cruciate ligament therefore it wouldn't be so difficult.
edructor@yahoo.com wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 5:54 pm
Ive been trying yoga too and it helps
I would take care with yoga because it often appears to help but it can cause insidious (sneaky) gradual imbalances. If you are dedicated to Buddhist meditation, I suggest to avoid yoga. Trust me, here.
edructor@yahoo.com wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 5:54 pm
Why should I wait until my knees are destroyed to sit in a chair?
Sit in a chair. Don't harm the body.
edructor@yahoo.com wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:14 pm
rightviewftw wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:07 pm
The thing i wanted to say is that if you are doing walking meditation, the way you turn might be causing problems in the knee if you are constantly twisting it in a slightly wrong way.
I appreciate the suggestion but its def not from that.
Its sounds like you are ready to ordain. Your patience & gentleness above appears boundless.
edructor@yahoo.com wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:14 pm
The pain comes from the direct kneeling that we do during chanting in what yoga practitioners would call the "thunderbolt" position. Ive read articles by doctors who say this position is what causes knee damage in yoga practitioners. Its also comes from burmese style sitting, full or half lotus, or regular "indian" style cross legged sitting. Sitting on the knees with mats under the butt also cause problems because this is basically the same as thunderbolt position. Whenever I eliminate these positions the pain goes away after a few weeks. I still did walking meditation after I eliminated these other positions and it doesnt cause any problems.
I was an athlete and ruptured my ACL in what was due to by my 3rd last match prior to leaving the West. I left and 2 months later discovered meditation in Asia. After 6 six months of very long sittings, my leg starting locking up (I couldn't straighten it after sitting) so I started sitting in a chair and I would do very long sessions of standing meditation (over 1 hour). Sitting in a chair & standing meditation did not hinder the meditation development that was occurring at all. But I returned to the West to study, I was also busy working and starting doing yoga for my leg. This caused certain problems although it took a while to notice this. If you are a typical Western sportsman, your lower back will have poor extension and your hips will lack rotation. In other words, yoga requires good lower back extension (natural spinal elongation) and good hip rotation. Working on the knees without a naturally extendible lower pain and good hip rotation will cause harm. Yoga is a huge superstition. It harms many people.

This article is written is with a honest yoga teacher: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/maga ... -body.html

There are two basic postures below. The 1st has elongation in the lower spine and coccyx that points skyward. The 2nd doesn't not. Its very difficult to train the lower spine from the 2nd short lower back to the 1st elongated back. Yet any good sitting meditation posture must have a naturally erect back.
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Dorje Shedrub
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Re: bad knees. want to ordain. is it possible?

Post by Dorje Shedrub » Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:25 pm

So if you had a note from a doctor, this would solve the problem? I would think that you could get a note based on your condition saying that type of sitting was harmful to your health and proscribed against.

I am in a similar situation. I asked my physical therapist how I could sit on the floor to meditate without knee pain and he said, ",no, no, no!" I asked when and he told not now and maybe never. I too have had aspirations of ordination, but this is a hindrance.

Metta,
DS
"Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings;
Radiating kindness over the entire world:
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,"

~ From the Karaniya Metta Sutta (Sn 1.8)

dharmacorps
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Re: bad knees. want to ordain. is it possible?

Post by dharmacorps » Sun Jun 24, 2018 5:49 pm

You have to know what is going on with your knees medically before you can think about any of this. It might be that it is not something that is worsened by sitting. Go see a doctor and figure out what is going on so you can make some informed decisions.

edructor@yahoo.com
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Re: bad knees. want to ordain. is it possible?

Post by edructor@yahoo.com » Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:11 am

"I was an athlete and ruptured my ACL in what was due to by my 3rd last match prior to leaving the West. I left and 2 months later discovered meditation in Asia. After 6 six months of very long sittings, my leg starting locking up (I couldn't straighten it after sitting) so I started sitting in a chair and I would do very long sessions of standing meditation (over 1 hour). Sitting in a chair & standing meditation did not hinder the meditation development that was occurring at all. But I returned to the West to study, I was also busy working and starting doing yoga for my leg. This caused certain problems although it took a while to notice this. If you are a typical Western sportsman, your lower back will have poor extension and your hips will lack rotation. In other words, yoga requires good lower back extension (natural spinal elongation) and good hip rotation. Working on the knees without a naturally extendible lower pain and good hip rotation will cause harm. Yoga is a huge superstition. It harms many people. " -DooDoot

I completely agree. I also thing some of my knee problems might stem from past experiences with Yoga , pushing myself too hard into positions that are unsafe. Everything you said about the lower back and hips is correct. I noticed my lower back being a slight hindrance to my breathing.
Im very very careful with yoga now. I only do very slow flows and mostly only positions that open the hips and help the core. There are alot of poses that are bad for the knees and even seasoned teachers overlook them. As of now Im just taking it easy. Im not doing any crosslegged meditation and Im slowly going to learn Thai over the next few years to try to find a place to ordain that can meet my handicap. If I can find a place in the west that can accommodate me I would ordain here. I might be going for a stay at Bhavana Society soon. Maybe I will find what im looking for there or at least find some answers. Im glad there are some others who share in my problem. I was thinking I was being a baby for a while. Some monks tend to act rude to me because of it, as if I was trying to get out of attending Puja or something. Thats the whole reason I go to these places. ANd like I said as lay person for now, it doesnt really matter. BUt the future I envision for myself needs to have some adjustment.
Thank you for all the feedback for all who responded and please keep the comments coming. Id like to hear more opinions.

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Mkoll
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Re: bad knees. want to ordain. is it possible?

Post by Mkoll » Mon Jun 25, 2018 8:21 am

For those experienced with yoga, could you list those poses you know of that lead to knee pain?

:thanks:
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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DooDoot
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Re: bad knees. want to ordain. is it possible?

Post by DooDoot » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:44 am

edructor@yahoo.com wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:11 am
. I might be going for a stay at Bhavana Society soon.
Sounds wise. I would suggest to join Sutta Central and mention your situation to Ajahn Sujato there (who has dodgy knees also). But as I suggested, the body thing is unimportant. Standing or sitting in a chair does not hinder deep meditative development. But yoga can ruin it; particularly displacement of the sacrum (lower spine), which can cause the natural function of the breathing diaphragm to become distorted. The natural function of breathing must be protected. Best wishes
Mkoll wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 8:21 am
For those experienced with yoga, could you list those poses you know of that lead to knee pain?
Yoga never caused pain to my knees. But it moved my dodgy knee & other parts of the body followed. Has taken lots of wasted time to rectify it.

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