Mom dejected about my decision to ordain

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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Mom dejected about my decision to ordain

Post by unseeingdog » Mon Jul 15, 2019 7:22 pm

Hello everyone,

Thanks again to all of you who've helped me on my previous posts. I've since decided to try ordaining at Na Uyana in Sri Lanka before the end of this year. Initially, when I told my mom about it she was relatively calm—not exactly jumping for joy of course—but at least she concluded she'd have to take it if that's what'll make me happy. She still thinks like that, but I guess after contemplating the issue a bit more, it's hitting her very hard emotionally.

Before I decided to do this, we already had plans for me to go study abroad, which, although certainly not easy, was fine for her. But of course, that's not the same as becoming a monk. She thinks she's going to lose me forever, and I honestly wouldn't dare to assure her that I would ever disrobe, but I certainly would keep in contact, even just so she knows I'm fine. It's also the fact that it's so far away from where we live, pretty much on the antipodal point of the globe, in a culture and place completely unknown to her. I should point out that I'm still 19, so maybe that's a factor as well—she still thinks of me as her boy. Sadly, my mom once told me she thinks it's due to mistakes she's made in my upbringing that I've ended up feeling that life is suffering and wanting to fix that.

My stepdad has already tried to convince me many times to stay a few more years and maybe get a degree, and I've considered it too, but I don't see that it would make a difference. After all, they'd never be glad to let me go, and my mom wouldn't be happy to see me doing something she knows I find pointless. Furthermore, why assume that I will live "a few more years"? Anicca doesn't follow one's plans. What if I die before then without taking this great opportunity to devote my life to the Dhamma, choosing to please other's worldly desires instead? I would also like to be able to teach her Dhamma properly because I think she might get something out of it, and we all know that's a better reward than anything else I could give her, and also a better use for my life. But I just can't feel at ease knowing that I'm causing her to suffer so much, even if I know she shouldn't be. How do people who ordain deal with issues like this?
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.

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Re: Mom dejected about my decision to ordain

Post by Zom » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:04 pm

What if I die before then without taking this great opportunity to devote my life to the Dhamma, choosing to please other's worldly desires instead?
What if your monkhood will fail, lets say, in 10-15 years? Will you have an opportunity to get a degree?

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Re: Mom dejected about my decision to ordain

Post by unseeingdog » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:12 pm

Zom wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:04 pm
What if I die before then without taking this great opportunity to devote my life to the Dhamma, choosing to please other's worldly desires instead?
What if your monkhood will fail, lets say, in 10-15 years? Will you have an opportunity to get a degree?
Sure, but even if it fails I think it would be much more valuable. Aside from that, wouldn't a degree be pointless anyway? I find myself becoming more and more dispassionate towards those things. Even now I feel like I would be content with an unskilled job, let alone if I had the chance to practice more intensely as a monk for a couple years.
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.

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Re: Mom dejected about my decision to ordain

Post by Zom » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:16 pm

I find myself becoming more and more dispassionate towards those things.
You can change your mind in these 10-15 years.

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Re: Mom dejected about my decision to ordain

Post by unseeingdog » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:18 pm

Zom wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:16 pm
I find myself becoming more and more dispassionate towards those things.
You can change your mind in these 10-15 years.
And what if I change my mind about ordaining in the 4-5 years of getting a degree? Wouldn't that be worse?
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.

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Re: Mom dejected about my decision to ordain

Post by Zom » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:22 pm

Wouldn't that be worse?
Of course not. There are a lot of things that need to be done in personal practice even while you are a layman.

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Re: Mom dejected about my decision to ordain

Post by unseeingdog » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:28 pm

Zom wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:22 pm
Wouldn't that be worse?
Of course not. There are a lot of things that need to be done in personal practice even while you are a layman.
Right, "even while", but isn't it better to not be a layman at all if one can help it? I'm curious to understand where you're coming from. I thought the Buddha encouraged whoever had the chance and the desire to go forth. Would he encourage further entanglement in the world like getting a degree?
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
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Re: Mom dejected about my decision to ordain

Post by binocular » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:19 pm

Getting a degree takes a lot of hard work; gaining any other employment qualification also takes work, not rarely, also a lot of hard work.
Are you 100% sure that by ordaining, you're not trying to avoid that hard work?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: Mom dejected about my decision to ordain

Post by Zom » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:25 pm

I'm curious to understand where you're coming from.
One should understand if he is advanced enough to be a monk, because simply becoming a monk doesn't make you a better person, while the level of training is far more advanced (if you are going to be a good monk, of course). That simply means that for most of people lay level of practice is more than enough and taking up "homeless" level of practice can bring even less overall results and together with that one is missing certain worldly opportunities and so may regret after. I don't say that will be that way in your case, but the truth is - majority of monks eventually disrobe and have to find themselves in lay life (which becomes a tough task for them).
Buddha encouraged whoever had the chance and the desire to go forth. Would he encourage further entanglement in the world like getting a degree?
Did he, really? In some canonical cases yes, but in some - I'm not so sure. The main question still remains unanswered for me here: what is better in kammic sense - to be a good lay man all your life, or to try to be a monk (such intention is obviously a very good kamma) and then to intentionally disrobe (obviously, not so good kamma, which Buddha even called "death in spiritual life"). Same question is unanswered for me concerning temporary ordination. Some see it as kammically good. But some see it as kammically bad.

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Re: Mom dejected about my decision to ordain

Post by unseeingdog » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:40 pm

binocular wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:19 pm
Getting a degree takes a lot of hard work; gaining any other employment qualification also takes work, not rarely, also a lot of hard work.
Are you 100% sure that by ordaining, you're not trying to avoid that hard work?
I've definitely thought about it a lot since it's always brought up, but I'm sure that I'm not. I do not consider monastic life, especially the ascetic practices I plan to undertake, to be easier than the life I could otherwise have. Especially since (don't get me wrong, hate bragging) I've been quite blessed in the intellectual department and have always been, and still am (currently in uni) the best in my class, and I would argue it wouldn't be such hard work for me to finish the degree either.
Last edited by unseeingdog on Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:04 pm, edited 2 times 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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Re: Mom dejected about my decision to ordain

Post by unseeingdog » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:47 pm

Zom wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:25 pm
I'm curious to understand where you're coming from.
One should understand if he is advanced enough to be a monk, because simply becoming a monk doesn't make you a better person, while the level of training is far more advanced (if you are going to be a good monk, of course). That simply means that for most of people lay level of practice is more than enough and taking up "homeless" level of practice can bring even less overall results and together with that one is missing certain worldly opportunities and so may regret after. I don't say that will be that way in your case, but the truth is - majority of monks eventually disrobe and have to find themselves in lay life (which becomes a tough task for them).

Did he, really? In some canonical cases yes, but in some - I'm not so sure. The main question still remains unanswered for me here: what is better in kammic sense - to be a good lay man all your life, or to try to be a monk (such intention is obviously a very good kamma) and then to intentionally disrobe (obviously, not so good kamma, which Buddha even called "death in spiritual life"). Same question is unanswered for me concerning temporary ordination. Some see it as kammically good. But some see it as kammically bad.
I certainly agree with you there. I've actually read many of your posts and I like your emphasis on gradual training. What is, in your opinion, a good way to tell if someone is ready for monastic life? I believe being able to abstain from most if not all indulgence in sense pleasures and desires for distraction, i.e. solid sense restraint, would be a good one. Better than how long one can sit in meditation or something like that.
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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Re: Mom dejected about my decision to ordain

Post by DNS » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:22 pm

unseeingdog wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:40 pm
Especially since (don't get me wrong, hate bragging) I've been quite blessed in the intellectual department and have always been, and still am (currently in uni) the best in my class, and I would argue it wouldn't be such hard work for me to finish the degree either.
In that case, all the more reason that you should seriously consider finishing your degree. That way, you'll have something to fall-back on should you decide to disrobe later. Many monks nowadays have degrees either before they ordained or went to uni after they ordained. I wouldn't rely on the idea that you could just find any unskilled job some 15 years or so down the road. Some are saying that robotics and automation will replace many of those jobs. Earning a degree requires a certain amount of discipline, something you'll need in being a good monk anyway. You could always study something somewhat related to the monk's life, for example, history, philosophy, foreign languages, etc.

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Re: Mom dejected about my decision to ordain

Post by unseeingdog » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:32 pm

DNS wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:22 pm
unseeingdog wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:40 pm
Especially since (don't get me wrong, hate bragging) I've been quite blessed in the intellectual department and have always been, and still am (currently in uni) the best in my class, and I would argue it wouldn't be such hard work for me to finish the degree either.
In that case, all the more reason that you should seriously consider finishing your degree. That way, you'll have something to fall-back on should you decide to disrobe later. Many monks nowadays have degrees either before they ordained or went to uni after they ordained. I wouldn't rely on the idea that you could just find any unskilled job some 15 years or so down the road. Some are saying that robotics and automation will replace many of those jobs. Earning a degree requires a certain amount of discipline, something you'll need in being a good monk anyway. You could always study something somewhat related to the monk's life, for example, history, philosophy, foreign languages, etc.
That's an argument that's been going through my mind, if only for my parents' peace of mind. Frankly, I would do it if I could be sure that my desire to ordain will remain intact no matter what I do, but can I really? I've seen examples of people making similar choices of postponing ordination and ending up entangled in worldly life to this day, willingly or not. I also feel uncomfortable assuming that I will live a certain amount of time. Too much Marananussati, perhaps.
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.

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Guided Contemplation on Awareness

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Re: Mom dejected about my decision to ordain

Post by Zom » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:42 pm

What is, in your opinion, a good way to tell if someone is ready for monastic life? I believe being able to abstain from most if not all indulgence in sense pleasures and desires for distraction, i.e. solid sense restraint, would be a good one. Better than how long one can sit in meditation or something like that.
Well, if you followed my posts then you should know about the stages in gradual training Buddha gave. These should be really well developed up to the level where you have to guard your sense doors, which is mostly a practice that must be undertaken in right circumstances (that is, monkhood). I guess this is the main criterion. At this level your inner demons aka defilements (which are diverse), should be weak enough for efficient and successul practice as a monk.

As for abstraining from sense pleasures - this alone is not an indicator, simply because one may abstrain from sense pleasures forcefully, not naturally (and may not even notice this). Later (and this may continue for many years, depending on "fuel"), when his idealistic energy fades (and it will fade), one loses his ability to abstrain from sense desires, realizes that he was not really ready for monkhood, and disrobe.

But this is all good in theory. In real life - situation is personal and complex. Different (and maybe even unpredictable) things will keep you in monkhood or will drag you out of it. And they may and will change - year after year, they will appear and disappear. For this reason I'd better consider if being a monk in your particular case will be ...mm.. "comfortable". Nowadays in many cases ordaining means certain obstacles for personal practice - obstacles that don't exist in lay life. People (especially newcomers) tend to look on monkhood too idealistically, not seeing the dark side, while it is there. "Arahant friends" and "boundless freedom" aren't waiting for you there ) These were real only some 2500 years ago -)

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Re: Mom dejected about my decision to ordain

Post by Polar Bear » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:48 pm

I think the OP’s intention to renounce is admirable and his reflection on the uncertainty of the time of death as a motivator to ordain sooner than later is the kind of thinking the Buddha encouraged. I think the advice to finish a degree is pragmatic but it isn’t the kind of advice you would find in the suttas. It is the advice of us worldly folks who doubt our own abilities and the abilities of just about anyone to live the holy life of the bhikkhu(ni) well.

You must make your own decision.
People unrestrained
in sensual passions,
not devoid
of passion,
indulging
in sensuality:
They return to birth & aging,
again & again—
seized by craving,
going with the flow.

Thus the enlightened one,
with mindfulness here established,
not indulging
in sensuality & evil,
though it may be with pain,
would abandon sensuality.
They call him
one who goes against
the flow.

- https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/AN/AN4_5.html

:anjali:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

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