I began to self-study Buddhism last year (mainly the Pali canon) and did a 10-day Vipassana retreat after several months.
The retreat has unquestionably altered my view and has revealed (to a limited degree so far) the truth in, and benefits to, the content and application of what I've studied of the Buddha's teachings so far. It cemented my desire to follow the Path.
Initially I was involved in an FPMT centre near me. The more I have studied the Mahayana tradition, however, the less I am personally able to accept the intention behind and practice of Vajrayana and several other rituals and aspects of Mahayana, which causes me problems with the rest of the orthodoxy, practice and literature.
I enjoy reading the Pali canon and, from what I understand so far, feel that the Theravada tradition will be of more benefit to me in my progress along the Path.
I am currently a trainee in the professional services industry, and qualify in the next couple of years. I am told that I am good at what I do, give it my all, and was fortunate to secure the job as vacancies have become increasingly sparse and competition increasingly fierce. I could, I'm told, make a successful career of it, whatever success is.
However, whilst I am not averse to the work, I do not feel that I am benefitting others or myself sufficiently through this work, nor is this situation likely to change. It will simply lead to spending the majority of my life in an industry centred around striving to enhance the wealth of others whilst moderately increasing ones own wealth and responsibility, to whatever end one defines as having 'made it'. The environment is often conducive to intense pressure and great personal stress.
I watch this state arise and pass, and am aware that is rooted in a deep sense of dissatisfaction. The nature of the work and lifestyle also presents many hindrances and obstacles to practice. Whenever I apply mindfulness to the conventional activities I previously took pleasure in, I conclude that they are not conducive to progressing along the Path and in many cases simply hinder my progress or add additional material for the unsubdued mind to attach to.
The desire to ordain arises and passes on a regular basis. It is, however, increasing in frequency, intensity and duration.
I am single and have no financial attachments. I believe that ordaining will allow me to renunciate, reduce temptation and focus more fully on meditation, study and practice.
The practicalities of my situation are that if I do ordain, it will be after qualifying. When, I'm not yet sure. I am fully aware that the monastic lifestyle will not be a utopia in which one is free from all that plagues the human condition and can devote every waking moment to meditation, study and practice. Where there are people, there will be conflict and the things that arise when groups of people spend time together. I considered initially the possibility of the desire to ordain merely being a fantasy of escape from a dissatisfactory lifestyle. However, it is motivated by the desire to focus on meditation, study and practice in a conducive environment for the benefit of myself and others. I need to look more thoroughly into the whole 'package' of monasticism, and would be grateful for any resources in addition to the 'Going Forth' page of links posted elsewhere. The aspect of contributing to the community the monastery serves and is supported by, where I can, also appeals.
At present I strongly feel that the monastic life is the best option for me to engage in intensive meditation, study and practice. In particular, I intend to research ordination at monasteries in Thailand, and hope to embark on a couple of general recon/familiarisation trips over the next year or two, whilst simultaneously looking at the long-term implications of ordination on my family etc.
I gain pleasure and benefit from the study of the Suttas, my preliminary study of the Abbidhama and the practice of Vipassana, and would be grateful for recommendations as to which monasteries have good teachers and a good balance of both study and meditation. I have no preference whether the monastery has a large Western population. I'll adapt either way. Any other feedback on the above would be very valuable as well.