Can the mentally ill ordain?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
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Can the mentally ill ordain?

Post by tamdrin » Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:59 am

As I have stated in the "personal experience" forum, I have been suffering schizophrenia for the last 12 years. The illness is controlled for the most part
by medication. I am wondering if the mentally ill can ordain, or would they be encouraged to do so in Buddhist countries such as Thailand as a way
of paying off the negative karma that caused the illness?


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Re: Can the mentally ill ordain?

Post by Volo » Mon Oct 08, 2018 11:14 am

I think schizophrenia would count under a "serious disease" as leprosy, boils, eczema, tuberculosis, epilepsy. Such person can ordain, but those who ordain him will get dukkata (minor offense). But his ordination will be valid. If you find monks who would agree to ordain you (and this won't be very difficult, I believe), you can ordain if you want.
as a way of paying off the negative karma that caused the illness
You cannot pay off this negative karma, but you will accumulate new good kamma and may be also create favorable conditions for some other good karma from your past to interfere and lessen the consequences of the bad karma which caused your disease.

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Re: Can the mentally ill ordain?

Post by JamesTheGiant » Mon Oct 08, 2018 6:52 pm

Yes, In the west I know two monks with serious but well controlled mental illness. They spent a year or so living at the monastery as a layperson before the Ajahn was willing to ordain them.
But western monasteries in general are quite wary of people with mental illness staying at the monastery. If you are interested you should be very open in your communications, and start with short visits of a few weeks or a month to build a relaionship with the Ajahn.
In asia it may be quite different, I can't speak for Thai or Sri Lankan monasteries.

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Re: Can the mentally ill ordain?

Post by salayatananirodha » Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:22 am

We're all mentally ill, we just don't all have a psychiatric condition
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta

links: ... _Heart.pdf

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