Ordaning Now or Studying Abroad (Dilemma)

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
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unseeingdog
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Ordaning Now or Studying Abroad (Dilemma)

Post by unseeingdog » Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:10 pm

Hello everyone,

I have resorted to making this post because I am heavily in doubt regarding probably the most important choice of my life.

Since before I started practicing buddhism, my dream has been to study abroad. I live in Central America and here we don't really have a lot of opportunities for the field I wish to get into (software engineering/computer science), so I have always wanted to move to a place where I could have better education and job opportunities. Fortunately the dream seems to be coming true - me and my parents have been able to get everything we needed to make it happen this year. I should be leaving around the 31st of August.

On the other hand, ever since I began practicing meditation, I knew I wanted to become a monk. But I always imagined it in the far future.
The past few months however, my confidence and dedication to the Dhamma has grown unexpectedly fast, which caused me to lose desire for almost everything which motivated me to study abroad in the first place. I don't claim to be enlightened but I think I have come a long way in developing dispassion.

So I now feel like there's no point in leaving to study, making my parents pay for all that if I'm basically just going to become a beggar in a couple years. I would even feel obliged to pay them back for what they gave me, just so they don't feel I wasted their money and time. That would mean I would have to postpone ordination even further. I'm not even sure to what extent work life (and just living in the world in general) is a compromise to the practice, but I think there's no doubt one is better off without it if one truly wishes to go all in, which I do.

The problem is though, we've gone through a lot just to make this happen for me, and it would be troublesome, not to mention a disappointment for everyone, for me to change my mind at this point. I'm not sure what to do, so any advice is appreciated.

Thank you all in advance and sorry if this was a bit long.
Engagement is death, results in death, implies death; it makes you liable to death. You wouldn't be killed if somebody comes and shoots you in the head—that's in itself not death. Death is sending your mind back down the rabbit hole of the sensesthat's how you get killed. Because if you take your mind away from the senses, you surmount sensuality, even if somebody comes and shoots you in the head, "you" are not killed.

Ajahn Nyanamoli Thero
Guided Contemplation on Awareness

budo
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Re: Ordaning Now or Studying Abroad (Dilemma)

Post by budo » Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:26 pm

Tough call. I would say unless you have zero drive/motivation to go to school, I would go abroad and study. Your understanding of the dhamma will not wither, but your window of opportunity in the school and job world may pass. I would do the 4 +/- years of school, make some money, and then when you live on your own you can decide to be a monk.

However if you have zero motivation or drive that you will fail in school, then you should not go. Some people are 100% driven by passion, and if that passion goes then they fail. Some people have strong work ethics and will get good grades even in subjects they don't like much.

SarathW
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Re: Ordaning Now or Studying Abroad (Dilemma)

Post by SarathW » Sun Jun 23, 2019 11:07 pm

What are things you can't practice as a layperson opposed to a monk?
Do you have a teacher (if you become a monk) who can help to attain your goal?
How confident that you spend your parent's money and make a successful carrier?
You always can become a monk (almost any time) but you can't always be a successful layperson.
Perhaps marriage and children make more restrictions than the carrier.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

santa100
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Re: Ordaning Now or Studying Abroad (Dilemma)

Post by santa100 » Sun Jun 23, 2019 11:53 pm

unseeingdog wrote:So I now feel like there's no point in leaving to study, making my parents pay for all that if I'm basically just going to become a beggar in a couple years. I would even feel obliged to pay them back for what they gave me, just so they don't feel I wasted their money and time. That would mean I would have to postpone ordination even further. I'm not even sure to what extent work life (and just living in the world in general) is a compromise to the practice, but I think there's no doubt one is better off without it if one truly wishes to go all in, which I do.
Some factors to check: how strong are you with math and comp.sci. right now? If your parents have to work very hard to invest in your future, it's fair to expect some return on investment, that you have a decent chance of getting good grades, become a highly skilled, successful engineer, make good money, and pay them back. It's also important to know that while software engineering has a very lucrative career path, it is very competitive and requires full-on dedication and committment. One just can't do it half-heartedly in school because there're always 10 or 20 other brilliant kids from India, China, or Russia willing to work ten times harder so that they can take your future job. The same thing you should ask yourself about your readiness for monkhood, like are you able to live a celibate life, able to observe the standard five precepts, to live a quiet life with minimal to zero entertainments, without much difficulty right now? Monkhood is no free easy ride. It'd require an even higher degree of effort and dedication than any of those worldly academic fields you plan to study. Last but not least, are your family members financially dependent on you? Will they be ok financially to live with you becoming a monk? Don't take it the wrong way though. Just some facts and reality checks so that you're more aware and better prepared before making any decision.

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unseeingdog
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Re: Ordaning Now or Studying Abroad (Dilemma)

Post by unseeingdog » Mon Jun 24, 2019 12:38 am

budo wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:26 pm
Tough call. I would say unless you have zero drive/motivation to go to school, I would go abroad and study. Your understanding of the dhamma will not wither, but your window of opportunity in the school and job world may pass. I would do the 4 +/- years of school, make some money, and then when you live on your own you can decide to be a monk.

However if you have zero motivation or drive that you will fail in school, then you should not go. Some people are 100% driven by passion, and if that passion goes then they fail. Some people have strong work ethics and will get good grades even in subjects they don't like much.
Thank you budo. I hadn't looked at it that way. I am sure I would be able to perform relatively well regardless, so that's something to consider.
Engagement is death, results in death, implies death; it makes you liable to death. You wouldn't be killed if somebody comes and shoots you in the head—that's in itself not death. Death is sending your mind back down the rabbit hole of the sensesthat's how you get killed. Because if you take your mind away from the senses, you surmount sensuality, even if somebody comes and shoots you in the head, "you" are not killed.

Ajahn Nyanamoli Thero
Guided Contemplation on Awareness

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unseeingdog
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Re: Ordaning Now or Studying Abroad (Dilemma)

Post by unseeingdog » Mon Jun 24, 2019 12:53 am

SarathW wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 11:07 pm
What are things you can't practice as a layperson opposed to a monk?
For me it's not really a matter of not being able to practice certain things, I'm just convinced that being a layperson cannot have any advantages in comparison with going forth if one's sole aim is to achieve the goal, especially if one has no worldly obligations.
SarathW wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 11:07 pm
Do you have a teacher (if you become a monk) who can help to attain your goal?
I have not had contact with any teachers as of yet, but I have an idea of places where I would go.
SarathW wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 11:07 pm
How confident that you spend your parent's money and make a successful carrier?
Not to sound conceited, but very confident. The only reason why they are doing this for me is they know I have potential.
SarathW wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 11:07 pm
You always can become a monk (almost any time) but you can't always be a successful layperson.
Perhaps marriage and children make more restrictions than the carrier.
Right, but I wouldn't want to wait too long, especially since I plan on becoming a forest monk, which might not be so exciting to take up at 50.

Thank you for your post Sarath.
Last edited by unseeingdog on Mon Jun 24, 2019 1:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
Engagement is death, results in death, implies death; it makes you liable to death. You wouldn't be killed if somebody comes and shoots you in the head—that's in itself not death. Death is sending your mind back down the rabbit hole of the sensesthat's how you get killed. Because if you take your mind away from the senses, you surmount sensuality, even if somebody comes and shoots you in the head, "you" are not killed.

Ajahn Nyanamoli Thero
Guided Contemplation on Awareness

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unseeingdog
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Re: Ordaning Now or Studying Abroad (Dilemma)

Post by unseeingdog » Mon Jun 24, 2019 1:02 am

santa100 wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 11:53 pm
Some factors to check: how strong are you with math and comp.sci. right now? If your parents have to work very hard to invest in your future, it's fair to expect some return on investment, that you have a decent chance of getting good grades, become a highly skilled, successful engineer, make good money, and pay them back. It's also important to know that while software engineering has a very lucrative career path, it is very competitive and requires full-on dedication and committment. One just can't do it half-heartedly in school because there're always 10 or 20 other brilliant kids from India, China, or Russia willing to work ten times harder so that they can take your future job. The same thing you should ask yourself about your readiness for monkhood, like are you able to live a celibate life, able to observe the standard five precepts, to live a quiet life with minimal to zero entertainments, without much difficulty right now? Monkhood is no free easy ride. It'd require an even higher degree of effort and dedication than any of those worldly academic fields you plan to study. Last but not least, are your family members financially dependent on you? Will they be ok financially to live with you becoming a monk? Don't take it the wrong way though. Just some facts and reality checks so that you're more aware and better prepared before making any decision.
Don't worry, I didn't take it the wrong way. Good point about the dedication required. Again not to sound arrogant but I do think I have what it takes for both things, which is what makes the choice so hard... :weep: As for the precepts I am already keeping 7, the only one left is not eating after noon, which I plan to sort out as soon as I live alone.
Thank you for your post santa100.
Engagement is death, results in death, implies death; it makes you liable to death. You wouldn't be killed if somebody comes and shoots you in the head—that's in itself not death. Death is sending your mind back down the rabbit hole of the sensesthat's how you get killed. Because if you take your mind away from the senses, you surmount sensuality, even if somebody comes and shoots you in the head, "you" are not killed.

Ajahn Nyanamoli Thero
Guided Contemplation on Awareness

dharmacorps
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Re: Ordaning Now or Studying Abroad (Dilemma)

Post by dharmacorps » Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:53 pm

Consider visiting some monasteries while you travel. It is easy to idealize monastic life. Spend some time around monks and try following the 8 or 10 precepts for a while.

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unseeingdog
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Re: Ordaning Now or Studying Abroad (Dilemma)

Post by unseeingdog » Mon Jun 24, 2019 10:15 pm

dharmacorps wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:53 pm
Consider visiting some monasteries while you travel. It is easy to idealize monastic life. Spend some time around monks and try following the 8 or 10 precepts for a while.
Thank you very much for this suggestion. I hadn't really considered that there will be monasteries where I'm going, and a couple of them seem really interesting. If I find a good place I could try ordaining there before I invest a significant amount of time in my studies, and at least my parents wouldn't be as mad.
Engagement is death, results in death, implies death; it makes you liable to death. You wouldn't be killed if somebody comes and shoots you in the head—that's in itself not death. Death is sending your mind back down the rabbit hole of the sensesthat's how you get killed. Because if you take your mind away from the senses, you surmount sensuality, even if somebody comes and shoots you in the head, "you" are not killed.

Ajahn Nyanamoli Thero
Guided Contemplation on Awareness

eto
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Re: Ordaning Now or Studying Abroad (Dilemma)

Post by eto » Tue Jun 25, 2019 2:06 pm

I donno man, the river of samsara is deep and powerful and it's easy to be both lured into, and swept up by it. I feel that if you know for sure you want to follow the path of purification wholeheartedly, and particularly when you're in a position where you have no worldly burdens (e.g., wife, debt etc), then to make that active decision to step out of the river and head towards the stream can only be beneficial. The world is always there, and will happily suck you back in if you so decide, but if you are in the most fortunate position where you have the dhamma, and you have the conviction and freedom to go far in it - I would say to go for it! :)

Remember, opportunities for practicing the dhamma are diminishing over time - we must make use of them while we have them.

tamdrin
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Re: Ordaning Now or Studying Abroad (Dilemma)

Post by tamdrin » Tue Jun 25, 2019 10:44 pm

I would study now while keeping the precepts and a practice of meditation at least two times a day. Go on retreats or more in depth meditative practice when you have the opportunity. Really develop your ability of samadhi before ordaining.

Just my 2 cents.

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Akashad
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Re: Ordaning Now or Studying Abroad (Dilemma)

Post by Akashad » Tue Jun 25, 2019 11:51 pm

unseeingdog wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 10:15 pm
dharmacorps wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:53 pm
Consider visiting some monasteries while you travel. It is easy to idealize monastic life. Spend some time around monks and try following the 8 or 10 precepts for a while.
Thank you very much for this suggestion. I hadn't really considered that there will be monasteries where I'm going, and a couple of them seem really interesting. If I find a good place I could try ordaining there before I invest a significant amount of time in my studies, and at least my parents wouldn't be as mad.

Yes I would advise the same.Bhikku Samahita spent 1 year meditating in a forest alone as a lay person before he ordained to really make sure that he could keep the 8 precepts and could be alone and go forth.Test the waters and set parameters for example keeping the 8 precepts for a year.Renouncing certain things.Giving away stuff.If you can do these things for a year and it brings you a lot of happiness then you know for sure your ready.Not everybody can go forth as we are bound to our karma for example having to take care of parents,illnesses,old age so do things that will improve your karma such as meditation,sila,making merits and then make aspirations.The wishes of people who keep the sila generate greater weight than just wishing to be this or that.If you truly want to become a monk then let your parents know,remember that wishes,feelings are temporary you might change your mind next week or next month nothing is static so don't make life changing decisions based on temporary states of feelings.you might think becoming a monk is 100% what you want to do but it can change to becoming sone thing else 100% so don't use feelings as your decision maker.Focus on the outcome make decisions based on the outcome :do I want to deepen dhamma practice,do I want to work to support my parents,do I want to support my parents as a lay person while I practice dhamma.ultinately only you kn ow what's best for you.🙏

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unseeingdog
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Re: Ordaning Now or Studying Abroad (Dilemma)

Post by unseeingdog » Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:19 am

Hello everyone, I'm glad to tell you that I have made a decision.

I just talked it through with my mom and we've decided to cancel the trip. Some money will be lost, but I can pay it back to my parents with my savings. We concluded that it's best for all of us, since I'm in doubt about something so important, to not take such a huge risk. We've decided I will stay in my home country for now, and I will continue studying at a university here. In the meantime I will try to find work and save some money, and of course I will continue my practice. If I am still bent on going forth in the future, I could use those savings to pay for a trip to wherever I want to ordain or to just find a place in general, and of course pay for my expenses there while I'm a novice. Otherwise I can just continue studying, be it here or even somewhere else.
The point is, in either case I would be the only one involved, and wouldn't be pressured by the fact that others have invested in me, and causing them disappointment because I changed my mind. I feel a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

Thank you all again for your kind advice, and may we all be able to find the right path.
Engagement is death, results in death, implies death; it makes you liable to death. You wouldn't be killed if somebody comes and shoots you in the head—that's in itself not death. Death is sending your mind back down the rabbit hole of the sensesthat's how you get killed. Because if you take your mind away from the senses, you surmount sensuality, even if somebody comes and shoots you in the head, "you" are not killed.

Ajahn Nyanamoli Thero
Guided Contemplation on Awareness

SarathW
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Re: Ordaning Now or Studying Abroad (Dilemma)

Post by SarathW » Wed Jun 26, 2019 2:32 am

Welcome back to the miserable lay life and never ending suffering.
:sage:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

eto
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Re: Ordaning Now or Studying Abroad (Dilemma)

Post by eto » Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:55 pm

Great news! I feel happiness in my heart!! Well done :)

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