To Marry or Ordain -Which resources should I consult first?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
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reflection
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Re: To Marry or Ordain -Which resources should I consult first?

Post by reflection » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:48 am

Nice reply jonno.

And brandwach, I'm sort of contemplating the same thing. It is not marry vs ordination, because I don't have a girlfriend, but the general pleasures of lay life vs ordination. I like my music, opportunities to travel, visiting friends, etc, and yes - even work. In short, I love meditation and 'acting like a Buddhist', but just to do something totally unrelated to dhamma (read: attachments..), I must admit, I like as well. These things are all given way when ordaining. The lifestyle change is quite big and not everybody may cope well. It's not just about being married and having children or not.

But yes, the advice to visit a monastery and practice in a real monk-like way is the best. This is also what I'll soon be doing, I'll join 6 weeks of the winter retreat in a western monastery. Depending on that, I'll decide if I would like to take further steps towards ordaining. Taking it one step at a time I think is best. One day you might have to make a decision, but only when the choice is clear. Before that, there is no real need - although you will probably want to keep your options open until that day.

Although.. deep inside I may know what's best, but it may need some more time..

With metta,
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Re: To Marry or Ordain -Which resources should I consult first?

Post by jeanai » Wed Jan 30, 2013 11:28 am

brandwach wrote:To Marry or Ordain -Which resources should I consult before making a decision?
I have a very serious Girlfriend. I love her. I also have a business that produces nearly passive income in quantities to afford a comfortable lifestyle (The business thing is, of course, in Samsara, and of course subject to decline.)
However, I do want to make the thrust of my life spiritual practice/study/meditation etc.
I guess I need to figure out if I will make it the only or just the principal thrust of my life.
I would greatly appreciate suggestions for resources to consult: books, and even lay and monastic masters who might offer telephone consultations about this matter.
Thanks and best to you all.

PS: I study Dharma about 1 hr per day, and meditate 2 hrs per day, seated and do about 1 hr walking meditation. I go to a retreat frequently, about three or four per year. I have been a buddhist for about 7 years, and am 32 years old. I have had a principally Theravada focus for about 6 months.
My first time here so I'm probably stepping over the line in commenting, but I just wanted to share my personal experience and recent realisations with you, as the same thoughts had been running through my mind. Hopefully it'll help you a little :)

A lot of people around me have recently been having relationship dramas. I myself have been happily single for four years, and as I watch my friends spend a lot of time, energy and effort maintaining their relationships, I wonder what all their work is for. Don't get me wrong, I am not looking down on them and there ARE loving relationships I admire but even those take time and effort to maintain. Then at the end of our lives, death removes these pleasures from us...so why invest so much energy into something that just ends? Whilst each of my friends love their partners deeply, at the time of death what is there to show for their relationships?

I also thought about what I considered the most important in my life - do I want a relationship or do I want attainments such as renunciation and bodhicitta, which are attainments that I can take with me at the time of death? Do I want the temporary pleasures of companionship, intimacy, sex, etc or do I want to know that in my next life, I will meet the Dharma again and continue on my path to ultimate happines? Then this extract really drove home what I wanted and summed it all up:-
Lama Yeshe on Bodhicitta: “Bodhicitta is extremely precious, like a diamond mine. In order to have space for it, you have first to equalize your feelings towards all universal living beings. You need to generate a deep, sincere feeling of equanimity, from the bottom of your heart. Without extending this feeling of equanimity to all living beings, it is not possible to say that you want to dedicate your life to others.

“When you understand your own disastrous situation–with your problems of egotism, craving, desire, anger, and so forth–you see yourself as an object of compassion. You then remember that you are not the only one in this situation. In society, some people are high class, some are middle class, and others are low class, but everybody is the same as you, in wanting happiness and not wanting to be miserable.

“Consider your relationship to friends, enemies and strangers. Your craving over-estimation of one person, your hatred of another, and your ignorant indifference to yet another come from your own three poisonous minds of desire, hatred and ignorance. They are objects of your own mind. They do not exist externally. Like renunciation, equanimity has to do with inner experience.

“In your daily life, you should practice equanimity as much as you can, by trying not to have enemies and not to have exaggerated grasping towards people. In the space of equanimity, you can then nurture your Bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is an extremely high realization that is the complete opposite of the self-cherishing attitude. Self-cherishing thought is like a sword you put through your heart; Bodhicitta is like medicine. Once you begin to open your heart to others, you gain tremendous peace, tremendous pleasure, and inexhaustible energy. When you work for yourself, you are in the iron grip of ego.

“What really matters is your attitude. The dedicated attitude of opening your heart to all universal living beings brings relaxation. In our lives, we don’t have time for meditation, and even when we try to meditate, our minds are sluggish. However, I really believe that making a strong determination that today, and for the rest of your life, you will dedicate yourself to others, as much as possible, is very powerful. In my opinion, this Bodhicitta attitude is much more powerful and much more practical in the Western environment, than doing meditations in which you squeeze yourself.”

Source: Excerpt from a Lama Yeshe talk given in France at Institute VajraYogini in October 1982
So as long as I am in a relationship (an exaggerated grasping towards one person) and I do not have equanimity, I will never gain bodhicitta. That was quite shocking to me. I thought about it a bit more deeply...if I were in a relationship, my boyfriend will only be my boyfriend in this life. In my next life, I might come back as a dog and him as a beetle - what good did I do then to be with him? So should I stay with him to further deepen our attachments and desires, or should I do us both a favour and end it, and not create more karma together?

I KNOW it sounds cruel and cold-hearted, but believe me that if I did break up it would not be because I didn't love them. And I'm certainly not encouraging you to break up with anyone. I guess what I am trying to say is, consider what you find the most important in your life. If you find spirituality the most important in your life, go all the way with it and don't be half-hearted. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to become ordained (although it would be wonderful if you did!) but I think sitting on the fence will lead to no results because you haven't committed either way (to your gf / to your Dharma practice). It's like someone training for a marathon...if you are totally committed to your training and don't cheat at all with your diet, then you have a greater chance of completing the marathon. But if you cheat once in a while here and there, and sneak a chocolate bar every so often, perhaps the result will be less fruitful.

Having said ALL of that, if your objective is to be a good Buddhist or a better Buddhist, I don't think you have to become a monk anyway in order to accomplish that since the whole object of our practice is to do as little harm as possible, until we do no harm at all :)

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Re: To Marry or Ordain -Which resources should I consult fir

Post by Dennenappelmoes » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:12 pm

The reason why I am going to ordain is exactly because I am free from relationships. I cannot get it back even if I wanted to, and I do want that sometimes. But had I been in one, it would never have been possible for me to leave that behind. Bear in mind that life isn't decisions, it's cause and effect. You cannot just "decide" that you will become a monk instead of living a laylife. It doesn't end by choosing a path, it begins there. Also, it isn't a "new" life, it is a continuation of your day to day but in a new set of rules. Ask yourself in all honesty: Can I really bear sitting by myself for hours, days, weeks on end, with the possibility of having all kinds of thoughts running through my mind about whether this was the right choice, where prince/princess charming currently is, whether he/she has kids yet? Of course, all of this is impermanent, all of this can be overcome. But you wouldn't be the first to disrobe because a feeling of having unfinished business crept up on them till the point it got unbearable. You cannot force something to happen if the causes for it aren't in place yet. "Decisions" are overrated I'd say.

I definitely don't want to discourage anyone but it would be really sad to see someone fall between the dock and the ship as that's called in my language. The decision to become a monk is a noble decision, but so is being content with what you already have.

Just my thoughts anyway :anjali:

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Re: To Marry or Ordain -Which resources should I consult fir

Post by DNS » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:34 pm

For anyone considering ordaining, I always recommend that they read The Broken Buddha, by Ven. Dhammika. It is not to discourage anyone but just so that one does not go in with high expectations, thinking things such as that all monks have perfect sila, all monks meditate, all monks are nice, etc. Here is the link to the pdf:

http://www.theravada-dhamma.org/pdf/Dha ... Buddha.pdf

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Re: To Marry or Ordain -Which resources should I consult fir

Post by Kamran » Mon Apr 29, 2013 4:02 am

Personally, I would not attempt celibacy without first being proficient in Samadhi. I think the meditation has to really come together for someone in order to prevent them from disrobing. Beliefs and will-power is not enough. There should be a skill in creating a strong unworldly pleasure, and not everyone can do it to that degree.
"Silence gives answers"

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Re: To Marry or Ordain -Which resources should I consult fir

Post by Cittasanto » Mon Apr 29, 2013 7:28 am

Consult your heart!
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: To Marry or Ordain -Which resources should I consult fir

Post by Zom » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:34 am

Indeed, no books and no advice can help in this situation.

The main idea is to understand if you are really fit to be a monk. The good thing to test it is to observe your own mind with its ambitions and defilements for a long period of time (let's say - several years). If you are a layman, but without any pressing on youself, you already live like a monk (or at least, quite close to such life style), then there will be no problem becoming a monk. But if you realize that ordaining will make a huge shift in your life, then this is not good and there is a big chance that later you will regret much that you have lost your job and your girl. This is in general. Ofc., there can be exceptions, etc...

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Re: To Marry or Ordain -Which resources should I consult fir

Post by SarathW » Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:09 am

Hi Brandwach
Define your goals. Why do you want to become a monk? Can you achieve this goal without becoming a monk?
Buddha was married and enjoyed all the luxuries in the life before he became a monk!
One he took the decision to become a monk he never looked back until he achieved his goal.
Nirvana. :)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: To Marry or Ordain -Which resources should I consult fir

Post by SarathW » Wed May 01, 2013 3:11 am

David N. Snyder wrote:For anyone considering ordaining, I always recommend that they read The Broken Buddha, by Ven. Dhammika. It is not to discourage anyone but just so that one does not go in with high expectations, thinking things such as that all monks have perfect sila, all monks meditate, all monks are nice, etc. Here is the link to the pdf:

http://www.theravada-dhamma.org/pdf/Dha ... Buddha.pdf
HI David
I just finish reading the first half of this article. I am glad to see someone has raised the common concerns about the imbalance attitude of monks.
However I felt this article also very imbalanced. So I agree with some of them and reject the rest.
I think we should have a discussion about the concerns raised be Ven. Dhammika.
When I was a management trainee my supervisor said to me “When you point out problems, come with solutions as well”
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: To Marry or Ordain -Which resources should I consult fir

Post by DNS » Wed May 01, 2013 3:20 am

SarathW wrote: I think we should have a discussion about the concerns raised be Ven. Dhammika.
When I was a management trainee my supervisor said to me “When you point out problems, come with solutions as well”
Here is the discussion, currently at 175 posts:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=2698

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Re: To Marry or Ordain -Which resources should I consult fir

Post by Paribbajaka » Thu May 02, 2013 1:32 pm

Echoing what others have said, I think this it is important you discuss this with your girlfriend. Also keep in mind that temporary ordination is a very normal thing in many Theravada traditions. Having small periods of manastic life interspersed with lay life is very typical in Laos and Thailand, and many that i"ve spoken to have found it to be a very rewarding path (this obviously gets more difficult if\when children enter the picture but is still very doable).
May all beings be happy!

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Re: To Marry or Ordain -Which resources should I consult fir

Post by kmath » Sat May 04, 2013 1:23 am

Paribbajaka wrote:Echoing what others have said, I think this it is important you discuss this with your girlfriend. Also keep in mind that temporary ordination is a very normal thing in many Theravada traditions. Having small periods of manastic life interspersed with lay life is very typical in Laos and Thailand, and many that i"ve spoken to have found it to be a very rewarding path (this obviously gets more difficult if\when children enter the picture but is still very doable).
Second this. Don't do anything drastic until you've spend some good time in a monastery, I'd say at least a month.

I knew a guy in the same position you're describing and he opted to become a monk. That was three years ago and he's still ordained. There's no real going back for him now. Even if he wanted to return to his woman, it wouldn't be the same now I'm sure. And that's assuming she would take him back, which seems unlikely at this point.

Be careful! A good lady is hard to find!

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Re: To Marry or Ordain -Which resources should I consult fir

Post by BubbaBuddhist » Fri May 17, 2013 11:29 am

At one time I seriously considered ordination. In fact I studied toward that goal. But there were, and still are, so many aspects of the world that I absolutely love--opera, art, literature, and especially sharing these loves with a good and fine woman--that I decided the life of a layman was good enough. I think it's heroic to ordain. But I think it's equally heroic to wake up every day, recognize the world's problems, but decide to love it anyway.

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