Renunciation of family life

Balancing family life and the Dhamma, in pursuit of a happy lay life.
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DCM
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Renunciation of family life

Post by DCM » Wed Apr 11, 2018 2:29 pm

Are there any stories of Western lay people renouncing and ordaining when their children have grown and left home?

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Sam Vara
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Re: Renunciation of family life

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:17 pm

DCM wrote:
Wed Apr 11, 2018 2:29 pm
Are there any stories of Western lay people renouncing and ordaining when their children have grown and left home?
I'm not sure about "stories" (i.e. published or well-known accounts) but I know of at least two monastics in the Forest Sangha tradition who have done that. It's not all that common, though, because the sangha is increasingly reluctant to take on people for training as they get older.

DCM
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Re: Renunciation of family life

Post by DCM » Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:21 pm

Hi Sam, that’s interesting, you don’t hear about it at all. A lot of people in the West would likely view it as some sort of abandonment of family depending on the circumstances I guess.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Renunciation of family life

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:38 pm

DCM wrote:
Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:21 pm
Hi Sam, that’s interesting, you don’t hear about it at all. A lot of people in the West would likely view it as some sort of abandonment of family depending on the circumstances I guess.
They might, I suppose, but once the children are independent people often do some pretty unconventional things anyway! And although certain forms of interaction are proscribed, the person can still be there as a support for their children.

In the case of the monk I know, his sons were very supportive and presented the robes at the going-forth ceremony. And another senior monk is visited by his grandchildren from time to time.

DCM
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Re: Renunciation of family life

Post by DCM » Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:59 pm

That’s true enough!

It’s a difficult one to understand, as I’m not sure to what level the ties are cut with their children/ family. Would a monk attend his daughters wedding for example, or help if their son suffered a breakdown? Or would these be the instances of proscribition you mentioned.

Would you know of it Is mentioned in the Vinaya anywhere?

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Sam Vara
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Re: Renunciation of family life

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Apr 11, 2018 4:13 pm

DCM wrote:
Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:59 pm
That’s true enough!

It’s a difficult one to understand, as I’m not sure to what level the ties are cut with their children/ family. Would a monk attend his daughters wedding for example, or help if their son suffered a breakdown? Or would these be the instances of proscribition you mentioned.

Would you know of it Is mentioned in the Vinaya anywhere?
I'm not an expert on the vinaya, I'm afraid, but (in the Forest Sangha tradition at least; other lineages might well differ) I think the things you cite are perfectly allowable. Monastics often go off to help with aged parents, for example, so helping children would presumably come into the same category. I know that the monk with grandchildren has said that he can't hug them and engage in rough-and-tumble as he otherwise might; but then again, not all grandparents like to do that!

DCM
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Re: Renunciation of family life

Post by DCM » Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:38 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Apr 11, 2018 4:13 pm
DCM wrote:
Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:59 pm
That’s true enough!

It’s a difficult one to understand, as I’m not sure to what level the ties are cut with their children/ family. Would a monk attend his daughters wedding for example, or help if their son suffered a breakdown? Or would these be the instances of proscribition you mentioned.

Would you know of it Is mentioned in the Vinaya anywhere?
I'm not an expert on the vinaya, I'm afraid, but (in the Forest Sangha tradition at least; other lineages might well differ) I think the things you cite are perfectly allowable. Monastics often go off to help with aged parents, for example, so helping children would presumably come into the same category. I know that the monk with grandchildren has said that he can't hug them and engage in rough-and-tumble as he otherwise might; but then again, not all grandparents like to do that!
Thanks for the information Sam, it’s interesting to hear how these situations pan out.

Ruud
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Re: Renunciation of family life

Post by Ruud » Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:57 am

Ven. Ayya Khema was married twice and had children (prior to her ordination obviously). I remember once in a talk her mentioning her granddaughter.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayya_Khema
Dry up what pertains to the past,
do not take up anything to come later.
If you will not grasp in the middle,
you will live at peace.
—Snp.5.11,v.1099 (tr. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)

Whatever is will be was. —Ven. Ñānamoli, A Thinkers Notebook, §221

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pilgrim
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Re: Renunciation of family life

Post by pilgrim » Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:19 am

Off the top of my head, there's Bhikkhu Cintita. There was also a US mother and son who both ordained ( not sure if both are still in robes though). I remember coming across others but the memory didn't stick. :)

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