Telling work?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
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Telling work?

Post by householder » Wed Apr 13, 2011 5:52 pm

Hi all,

Intending to ordain next year. I'm trying to work out the politics of when/if/how to tell work.

For background, I'm on a fixed term contract which ends next year. I've been there for quite some time now. There's technically no mutual obligation after that. But unofficially it'd be poor form, probably, if I didn't apply for (and/or accept) a permanent job with them after. In this climate, economically speaking, it'd be stupid not to apply for or reject a job if offered.

But they know I want to go travelling (I've said 6 months), but don't know I want to ordain. It'd be unwise to burn my bridges in case, for whatever reason beyond my control, the ordination doesn't work out, or isn't possible, or any other unforeseen matters conduce to cause insurmountable problems. As I've said in another post, if I don't take this opportunity to ordain now, I may never be able to do it again if/when I settle into this 'career'.

Concerns are:

1. They permit me to travel before starting the job, but for a minimal period of like 4-6 weeks. This wouldn't suit, as the intention is to spend time with family and friends in several different countries prior to ordaining. My current reasoning is that if I tell them of this AND the ordination plan (and tell them it'd be a temporary ordination in Thailand - in a way this is sensible anyway as I don't know what may/may not happen and may cause problems and want to take things as they come) they may be more likely to allow a longer period of time.

2. If I don't agree to an offer of say 4-6 weeks travel (if offered) without a good reason, and don't apply for a job at all as a result, travel then come back, they may decide to wash their hands of me and I'm really quite literally up the creek in this market with a qualification that is quite specific.

It's extremely unlikely, and would be selfish and naive of me to expect, work to offer a job with a start date 6 months from when the fixed term contract finishes. I'm not seeking that. They're a business and it's not realistic to recruit or operate on that basis. It's a risk travelling for such a period of time with potentially no job to return to. Savings will not be an issue and will keep me going for quite some time both during travel and return.

Some on here may justifiably argue that by trying to hedge bets/have cake and eat it, I'm not committed to the ordination or practice. My response to that would be that I can see where they are coming from, and that cutting all ties would strengthen resolve to ordain long-term and make it work no matter what, but I'm just not sure it's sensible to make such a strong resolution when it's all at the theoretical/planning stage now anyway. And when I ordain it will be 100% commitment to the holy life, in the same way I'm making every effort to follow and embody the Noble Eightfold Path in my everyday life now.

But to ensure that I'm not harming those kind enough to have employed me, trained and supported me and have shown me great kindness and compassion not just through that, but generally, and to ensure that I'm not shooting myself in the foot, should I be open and honest about the ordination plan with work?

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Re: Telling work?

Post by David2 » Wed Apr 13, 2011 6:36 pm

householder wrote:should I be open and honest about the ordination plan with work?
Difficult to say because we don't know your colleages, your boss, your company etc.. But if you should get into a situation in which you could just say that you are planning to ordain or lie, then definitely say the truth.

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Re: Telling work?

Post by Ben » Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:13 pm

Hi householder,
I think you should be planning to give ordination a year to see whether it suits you. In which case, I would be planning on having a discussion with your employer about the possibility of taking one year's leave without pay. If they don't give you a year's leave without pay, resign and go anyway. If it doesn't work out, find a job after you return to lay life. If you find the monastic life suitable to you after one year, you can send your employer a letter with your resignation.
This is the way I would approach it.
kind regards

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Telling work?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:31 am

I would say that honestly is the best policy. Share your fears with your colleagues, and be totally up front about your intentions. I am sure they will need to replace you if you go for more than six months, and without giving ordained life at least a year's trial you're not going to know if it suits you or not.

If you hide your intentions, then write to let them know you're not returning to work, that is likely to make a bad impression with them. Most non-Buddhists already think that becoming a monk is a cop-out, shirking one's responsibilities to society etc. Compounding that with the slightest hint of deception is likely to harden already negative attitudes, which is bad kamma for your colleagues, who otherwise might have been positively inclined to your chosen path — who knows, they might even support you as a monk.
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