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 Monastic Vocation?

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vetaculoo



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PostSubject: Monastic Vocation?   Tue Jun 10, 2014 5:58 pm

There are no doubt numerous people on this site who have at some time felt some form of calling to become a monk within the OBC.

I feel it would be beneficial to hear from those who have gone before and to hear what others have to offer in terms of their own experiences. 

So as someone who is currently drawn in this direction I would like to draw upon the wisdom (and hindsight) of those who have gone before.

What advice or suggestions do you have, as I prepare myself for potentially venturing in this direction?

What questions should I be asking myself and others?

What should I be taking into consideration?

Is there anything I should know in advance before I move in this direction?

How can I best prepare myself for taking this step?

Look forward to the benefit of your hindsight and experiences!!
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Monastic Vocation?   Tue Jun 10, 2014 9:20 pm

Hello Vetaculoo - nice to see you here again. When I see your name I always think "now, there's the one who was the very 2nd person to sign up on this forum, and the first to post something besides me" . 

I'll be interested to see the replies to your question -

Lise
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Monastic Vocation?   Tue Jun 10, 2014 11:34 pm

you might find listening to this podcast / talk from James Ford helpful - not in terms of becoming a monk with OBC in particular, but in terms of monks and lay people.... James was an early monk with Kennett, joined around the same time I did in 1969-70, but has a decidedly independent perspective, but his organization includes both monks and lay teachers. 

http://www.boundlesswayzen.org/audio/bowz/2014-06-07_James-Ford.mp3
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Monastic Vocation?   Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:12 am

vetaculoo wrote:
There are no doubt numerous people on this site who have at some time felt some form of calling to become a monk within the OBC.

I feel it would be beneficial to hear from those who have gone before and to hear what others have to offer in terms of their own experiences.
 
Feeling called to become a Buddhist monk is a great thing.  In spite of all of the difficulties I experienced and the fact that I eventually disrobed the "calling" continues.  That said I would point to all of the material on this forum for experiences and hindsight with regard to the OBC and recommend you go over it.  If you have specific questions I would be happy to try and answer them.
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vetaculoo



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PostSubject: Re: Monastic Vocation?   Wed Jun 11, 2014 11:09 am

Hi Isan,

Thanks. I have gone over much within this forum over a few years and a lot here seems to centre around the personality of Jiyu-Kennett, I never met her so most of it is interesting and insightful but seems largely irrelevant. Like whether Dogen was actually a grumpy old man who hated dogs and picked his nose in public, interesting to some extent but useful only so far. 

Of course some general principles may apply whoever the head of the order, abbot or one's teacher might be at a particular time and my questions are not specific to another particular person (e.g. Dogen, Eko or Jiyu-Kennett), but about me (i.e. what should I be asking myself, taking into consideration, what should know and do...). These are my questions: 

What questions should I be asking myself and others?

What should I be taking into consideration?

Is there anything I should know in advance before I move in this direction?

How can I best prepare myself for taking this step?


Thank you 


_/|\_
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Monastic Vocation?   Wed Jun 11, 2014 12:22 pm

vetaculoo wrote:
Hi Isan,

What questions should I be asking myself and others?

What should I be taking into consideration?

Is there anything I should know in advance before I move in this direction?

How can I best prepare myself for taking this step?
 
I can't give you specific suggestions about the process of joining the OBC.  What I would suggest instead is thinking about how taking ordination and joining the OBC can be viewed as separate choices.  There are many sanghas in the Zen tradition and many others representing other Buddhist traditions.  If I was considering joining a sangha now I would visit a bunch of them, because the culture of a group is as important as my personal commitment to practice.  I would think in terms of how joining a particular group could benefit my practice, and whether or not I like how the community is structured.  Beyond that I believe it's important to have a "plan B", at least for a time.  If things don't work out it's good to be able to bow out gracefully and return to your previous life.  I hope that helps.
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H Enida



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PostSubject: Re: Monastic Vocation?   Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:03 pm

In answer to your questions as best I can from my experience:

What advice or suggestions do you have, as I prepare myself for potentially venturing in this direction?


* I would be prepared to be ready to experience the most grueling several years of your life.  The work in the monastery/priory is endless and the mental training is intense.  I spent five years sleeping on a 4’x8’ space in the meditation hall, with very few possessions.  Not many can survive this – physically or mentally.  Working meditation and ceremony/retreats, etc. are equally taxing and unending.


* I would suggest going in with an open heart and ever-diligent eye on your mind.  The constant schedule and admonishment by seniors is very taxing on the initial aspiration to be a monk, and it is so, so easy to slip into doubt and resentment.  I spent many an afternoon rest period sitting in the Abbey cemetery watching the cars go by on the freeway below.


* Take your rest periods and eat well.  Do what is necessary to take care of your physical/emotional wellbeing and see a doctor if you are not well.  I can’t be more adamant about this, it is very important that you maintain your health in the midst of intense monastic training.


* Stick up for yourself, no matter whether someone senior “likes” it or not.  Talk to another senior if something seems off and make sure to follow-up on whether anything was done about it.  My mistake was assuming that things were taken care of, which often turned out not to be the case.  Develop skillful means in wending your way through monastic situations and stay true to your own training (and the Precepts  yes ).

* In that vein, report and follow-up on breaches of boundaries, either your own or witnessing someone else's, whether sexual, emotional, physical.  You, or anyone else, should not have to tolerate abuse of any form at the hands of a senior or teacher.

* Keep a few sets of clothing if you decide to return to lay life.  Keep your investments and money as well, at least what you might need to reestablish yourself, until you are well decided after many years that you want to spend your life as a monk (if we ever truly decide that).

* Don’t be too hard on yourself.  It is easy to beat oneself up about all the things we do or don’t do in the monastery.  Be kind, learn to apologize, learn from your mistakes – and don’t repeat them if possible.  Stay true to the Dharma.  It is okay if monastic life is not for you.

* Don't compare your training to anyone else's.  This is really important.  It is so easy to get caught up in the game of why did they get to? and what am I, chopped liver?  Don't worry yourself about what someone else is getting or not getting, just leads to suffering!


* Ask for what you need (not what you want, but need) and don’t concede lightly.  Be sure you are ready to be responsible for communicating its importance and for the consequences of getting/not getting.

* Use common sense, seriously.  Common sense really isn’t very common, even in the monastery.  I had the idea that the monks knew the better way about everything, but it’s not true.  They are just human beings trying to be monks too.

* Try not to feel like being a monk is special (hard to do with special clothes – you’ll see).  It isn’t special, it’s just different and not necessary for realizing the Truth.  Never quit asking yourself, why do I want to be a monk?

* Again, be kind.  Kindness is the only thing that matters in the end as they say.  Whether you stay or not, you will remember kindness.

What questions should I be asking myself and others?


* Why do I want to be a monk? Why is a monastic vocation preferable over a lay practice, since the Truth is universal?  Am I feeling special/unspecial about my practice and that this will help?  Do I feel like this is the only way to realize the Truth and that other paths are inferior in some way?

* Am I trying to avoid anything by leaving the world and cloistering myself in a monastery – i.e. situations, relationships, jobs, etc.?  Why am I renouncing everything in my personal life to become a monk?  These things strangely enough come back up with a vengeance in monastic training.

* Am I motivated to be a monk based on the teacher/student relationship and the close training within that?  Has that taken on a life of its own?  When the teacher lets go of that relationship later on, will my primary reason for becoming a monk still be the same?

* Is the practice I am committing to the form in which I have the most confidence (i.e. cloistered, celebate life)?  Monastic training is tough and there are many other options for intensive Buddhist training.  Why do I feel I must practice in this form as opposed to others?

What should I be taking into consideration?


* Your family will find it difficult for you to be unavailable, even if they support your decision to do so.  They won’t have the same access to you and they can feel hurt.  Family visits will be once a year for 10 days and some email/phone contact and emergencies.  Your familial life must take second place to your monastic vocation.

* If you spend many years at the monastery, you will be way behind the curve in the labor market if you decide to disrobe and you will not have contributed to retirement the same way as if you had been working.  The Order even has you agree to a statement that you won’t hold them liable for lost income from your service as a monk.  There are no guarantees that the monastery or Order will take care of you in your old age, so you should be aware you may have to spend your elder years impoverished.

* You will have to stand in the order of seniority as a monk and, basically, everyone before you gets first pick of most things.  You will have to learn to constantly defer to seniority. 

Is there anything I should know in advance before I move in this direction?

* Too many to list, sorry.  Keep your eyes open and don’t ever give over your common sense to another’s demands.  Be willing to speak up, don’t let anyone push you around.  Keep level headed but firm and learn to abide by good manners and kindness.  Funny, those are the things that work well out here in lay life too!  scratch 


How can I best prepare myself for taking this step?


Again, don’t give everything up.  Go try it for a while and see if you like it.  Don’t expect too much – in fact, don’t expect anything and you won’t be disappointed.  funny 
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vetaculoo



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PostSubject: Re: Monastic Vocation?   Thu Jun 12, 2014 5:19 pm

Thank you!
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H Enida



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PostSubject: Re: Monastic Vocation?   Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:05 pm

As a caveat Vetaculoo, I wanted to clarify I am NOT recommending you become a monk within the Order, simply relaying what I would ask myself if I were doing it all over again.  I have no intention of returning as I do not feel I could put my spiritual life in the hands of any of the teachers within it at this point.  Besides, what with all I would do and say today as I listed above, I wouldn't be a very good novice anyway. wink
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Monastic Vocation?   Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:14 pm

wanna be a rock star,then maybe sing a bit and have an attitude it may work
want to b a monk in the obc then wear the robes and say the right thing and you are one
want to be in touch and follow your heart, not so easy but you do know the right way, no one can walk it for you,and their question may lead you further away than you are right now
Regardless good luck
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vetaculoo



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PostSubject: Re: Monastic Vocation?   Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:35 pm

Thanks for your comments so far. 

I found a useful link on this subject - not specific to the OBC, but it might also be of interest to others, so here it is...

http://www.thubtenchodron.org/Publications/PreparingForOrdination/PFO_LetterToAFriend.html
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