Life as a monk, and other careers

Martin Potter, modified 13 Years ago at 3/29/09 8:47 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 3/29/09 8:47 AM

Life as a monk, and other careers

Posts: 86 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum


I was wondering if any of you are or have had experience as a monk, or does everyone here have conventional jobs? What are your opinions on this kind of lifestyle, and what is it actually like? What about the loss of things like health care, internet access, pension and so on?

- Martin
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tarin greco, modified 13 Years ago at 3/30/09 1:10 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 3/30/09 1:10 AM

RE: Life as a monk, and other careers

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
been there done that, but only for a few months so not really. it was an interesting lifestyle, for sure, but not as interesting in my opinion as being a civilian just kind of walking around doing my own thing, relatively autonomous and beholden to no hierarchy (except maybe my girlfriend at the time, hah). i wouldn't be able to earn money to build a boat to sail around on if i were a monk, for example. i dont think i would go back, but who knows, never say never.

how will being a monk lose you health care? what country are you writing from.
Martin Potter, modified 13 Years ago at 3/30/09 3:10 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 3/30/09 3:10 AM

RE: Life as a monk, and other careers

Posts: 86 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
I'm writing from the UK, but I was thinking if I went to another country where Buddhism is more prevalent where I'm not a citizen, I don't know how health care works in those situations, I guess it depends on the country emoticon


So do people here generally have conventional jobs then? Or has anyone managed to find a dharma-related job which ties in with your interests in meditation?
Hokai Sobol, modified 13 Years ago at 3/30/09 4:15 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 3/30/09 4:15 AM

RE: Life as a monk, and other careers

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Daniel is a physician, Kenneth to be a teacher of English, Vince a producer with Sounds True and Buddhist Geeks, I work as translator and book publisher, plus many people here have "conventional" jobs, whatever that means. I believe triplethink is about to go for ordination, so you could check with him. Importantly, "dharma-related" can be defined in various ways. Some relations are more obvious than others (such as being a Buddhist scholar, or being a teacher or staff in a Buddhist center), but since dharma is rooted in mind, every career not based in hurting others can be dharma-integrated, pursued with integrity and dignity, and thus become a vehicle of extended dharma. Depending on one's financial situation (very few people are financially independent) one can contribute time and energy in many ways, overtly or otherwise. Practicing, teaching, and transmitting dharma can happen in the midst of our lives without necessarily being structured in a traditional, conservative, conventional way. In addition, being a monk or professional priest and being a full-time yogi are two quite different things.
Glen Robert Stevens, modified 13 Years ago at 3/30/09 3:50 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 3/30/09 3:50 PM

RE: Life as a monk, and other careers

Posts: 14 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
I've been thinking about this the more I practice. I am in the financial services industry, in pension funds. Mainly doing administrative and some complaince work. I feel ethically ok about this work but it is seriously boring and me to bits, not to mention stressful at times. The next step for me is to study become a personal finacial advisor or I could do more technical work (economics) which I am more interested in and is more beneficial to society. However becoming a personal advisor is easier.

Also I don't feel right about the charges because adivice provided to clients given the knowledge of finance or economics graduates feels so common. I mean the advice in a lot of clients circumstances is direly needed and not just for uneducated clients. Some Doctors, lawyers and small business owners who are clients in my experience have a remarkable lack of knowledge of financial markets, investment products, tax advantages and retirement. Even though all of this is plain common sense or common knowledge from what I learnt at uni.

I know that it is important and helpful to give people assistance in increasing their weath. But there is limited degree to how this is beneficial IMO when it comes to helping rich people become richer (by giving them financial advice). (Ehtically its another thing to manage pension funds in which people's retirement are invested, which as we all know has taken a humongous haemorrhaging of late (in which there are many opportunities atm)).

Anyway, so lately I'm feeling I want to something that is directly more helpful, like teaching mathematics. nursing or mental health.
Glen Robert Stevens, modified 13 Years ago at 3/30/09 3:53 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 3/30/09 3:53 PM

RE: Life as a monk, and other careers

Posts: 14 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
sorry continued....

This a big "investment" in time and effort to train in these new areas.

As a result of your practice has anyone here actively decided to diverge in their work from what they had trained to do in an earlier life before practice? Or did you go on doing what you had always done albeit with a new or completely different perspective.
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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago at 3/31/09 3:58 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 3/31/09 3:58 AM

RE: Life as a monk, and other careers

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: marinr

Yes. I think Ken somewhere mentioned that we will be naturally bringing decisions that support awakening. This has been my experience also. I left my job in business software - the job just didn't seem right. I'm now looking for something simpler, more useful and with more 'peace of mind' to support practice.

Sometimes I wish I was a monk (specially when I get frustrated by the city noise emoticon). Being in a environment designed for meditation practice seems very attractive, but I suppose professional practitioners have many other duties.
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triple think, modified 13 Years ago at 3/31/09 5:03 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 3/31/09 5:03 AM

RE: Life as a monk, and other careers

Posts: 362 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
I was training to become a monk at a monastery in Canada at the time the planes hit the WTC in NYC. We were doing a lot of building at the time, the monastery was expanding a little at a new, more remote site, a very nice place. I was a carpenter for about 25 years, had built my own place in the woods, and have been more or less a retired recluse for quite a while. So it was interesting when the plumbers and electricians showed up that day, visibly shaken by events. I asked the abbot what we should think about this and he said, "don't give it a moments thought", so I didn't. It has been very instructive comparing the effects of that day on most people in comparison to those of us who 'didn't give it a moments thought'.

I grew up in a very religious climate, my father is a cleric, so I am very familiar with both the advantages and disadvantages of religious institutions. It has a dark side like anything else and unfortunately most people lack the kind of bs detector that one needs to have in that kind of context. I think for most people becoming a monk is going to be mostly very disillusioning. Probably too disillusioning really. I am going to go and do it now but I'm not going into it with the kinds of expectations most people seem to have. For me it is a practice that is going to involve learning to live in communities again, learning to be 'out of control' of most of my circumstances again, etc. It is more of a lifestyle decision than anything else. I like the lifestyle. I have ditched all my expectations that I can 'help' anyone. If I do, great, if not, fine. I'm not expecting it to be any more particularly 'enlightening' or 'helpful' than carpentry was. I don't expect anything to come of it in my case except more anonymous obscurity and much fewer meal choices.
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triple think, modified 13 Years ago at 3/31/09 5:27 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 3/31/09 5:27 AM

RE: Life as a monk, and other careers

Posts: 362 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
I would think a bunch of 'enlightened people' would have had no problem with changing to trousers and t-shirts by now. There is a lot about the rules and forms that probably could have or even should have been updated all things considered. There is something to be said for the discipline involved so long as one is comfortable taking up a lifestyle that was designed for conditions predominant several thousand years ago. I have a very spartan lifestyle now so it isn't much of a change for me and I have spent considerable time preparing for the particularities involved in life as a monk. There is plenty of info online regarding most of the details. Probably a few good links would answer most people's questions. I have collected so much stuff about this online that I wouldn't know what bits of it to post. A search on monastic rules or buddhist ordination should turn up a fair bit of information.
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triple think, modified 13 Years ago at 3/31/09 11:56 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 3/31/09 11:56 PM

RE: Life as a monk, and other careers

Posts: 362 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Just to add on that note, I have seen Bhante Gunaratana in a very sporty saffron parka and running shoes on his visit north while monks here in Canada are more accepting of the cold and have merely adopted footwear, scull caps and line their robes with thermal insulation. Everyone seems comfortable putting on safety gear when operating the chain saw, so necessary accommodation of the present conditions and longstanding traditions takes place in healthy ways and unhealthy ways depending on conditions and the views in play in individuals and communities.

When you are a part of a small religious community your life is dictated to a considerable extent by the qualities of that community. It pays to look around and not jump into any kinds of commitments blind. I'd be more curious to hear from a community like this why people who have invested years of time into practice would not be interested in simply joining these kinds of a communities of practitioners even if it is not a lifetime commitment of some kind. One can't be idealistic about human communities but it can be a very effective form of practice to have to deal with them. I'm accomplished at being solitary and reclusive at length but I'm not interested in having a dependency on that quality, liberation is bigger than people imho, much bigger. Potentially freeing us from self dependencies of all forms, individual and communal or collective. Even so, such apparent forms persist and we have to live with them so long as we live, in whatever terms.

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