Approaching the path with ... baggage?

A monastery turned me down as a guest after a candid disclosure of mental health history. They seem to have made a decision not to accommodate “certain types of people” as only “certain types of people” can handle the monastic environment.

I smiled, knowingly.

What is your take?

To be well adjusted to corporate culture, it helps to have a mental health diagnosis.

Hmmm, sounds like they see people with mental health history as a certain type of person. I’m curious what type that is!

This is the risk with full disclosure and not a reason to hide your history. After all, you don’t want to be in a place where people misunderstand or aren’t aware of your vulnerabilities and don’t know how to handle them skilfully.

The vetting is a two way process, you’re checking them out too. Do you want to practice in a place that categorises you as a certain type of person? (Or not a certain type of person, to be precise.)


Depends. Good to have more details.

If it’s only depression or anxiety, then shouldn’t be the case. But anyway, we can respect individual monasteries and centers to have their own criterion based on their experiences and abilities to handle certain types of people. Just as people who are too ill or disabled who needs high maintenance are not to be ordained so that the saṅgha are not overburdened with such caretaking duties, so too, people who are mentally ill are also high maintenance, in terms of the mental resources of the community as well. The community might not have enough qualified people to be able to handle it or that they would like to focus on giving the best environment for the newly ordained ones to practice and learn without too much social suffering.

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This was my thought, too. Truly, the response was not entirely unanticipated.

Respect, sure; I truly understand where they’re coming from. I am still of the opinion that this is an ill-informed decision/policy, full of assumptions that are simply not true in this case/some other cases. It’s just a matter of will and ability to treat people individually as opposed to sweeping them under the blanket of statistically defined categories.

They could not do better this time. Fine. I do think that it is not necessary that this inability remains thus. It takes work and effort, getting to know the world you’re trying to help.

I understand that feeling complete having been in that situation myself. It sucks because for so many years I found acceptance in other communities and communal situations that seemed less spiritually aligned with my life goals its quite a shock to find rejection in response to a new place that one feels spiritually closer too than other communities one has been in before. To go from 15 years of communal life where it’s totally normal to be abnormal (any form of communal life these days based in generosity and voluntarism is sort of abnormal) to suddenly being told no because I wasn’t like conventional. In my case it wasn’t a mental or physical issue - they didn’t mention some character trait or that I was not a fit in some other way politely - it was officially neurological diversity and what they thought that meant. I was naive I guess I didn’t think it was any more stigma than saying “i used to be a goth”.


Was that the language they used?

The karma will come back to them in some way, sadly. Even though all the while you wish them the best, as do I.

Also I feel like the Amish will turn me down because I am a robot.

Ironic. In the days of old, only people with a certain mental health history were understood to be interested in religious, holy life.

Monks and nuns in the Buddha’s age were periodically conversing with Devas and having all sorts of OOB experiences. I’m sure those would get called something else today.


Hearing voices, seeing visions, not being able to control one’s emotions, tactile sensations, seeing things that other people don’t see, are all works of the senses.