There are varies obligations that arise when one decides that ordination is a path they are truly considering. We must get permission from our parents, clear our debts, and understand the gift/sacrifice we are undertaking. For some their Kamma allows for a swift transition, but for others it can be quite the challenge.
In the west, debt has become almost as certain as sickness, old age, and death. Debt itself has become the currency of the west. Rarely do people pay for there education, car, or home outright. The dreams of freedom, liberty, and justice are taught from a young age, but this “American Mantra” has become almost nothing more then a capitalist lure; a trap, into indentured servitude.
One could go really in depth about this, but perhaps another time. The point of this post is to talk about the interesting situation this puts Buddhist laypeople as they approaching one of the greatest decisions of their lives; ordination, and the long swamp they must cross to get to the Sangha gates.
It’s been a long path to get to where I have gotten, and I am much closer to the end of this part of my journey. Many bad habits have been remedied, much has been learned, and an end of all that debt is within reach. Of course though as one gets to the threshold of the Sangha, Mara sits their asking me in his devilish condescension, “What has taken you so long?”.
I’m at the “Crossroad”, the Faustian moment is upon me, the devil has presented his deal. His daughters dance around me as Mara smirks smoking his cigarette in his fancy suit and tie. He says, “You have forever, Buddhas aren’t forged in Sanghas. They are forged in Samsara, I have the path you desire.”
I can see two paths now, where before I could only really see one…
The original was ordination, to the Sangha where all the answers I desire await me.
The new one: wealth, family, friendship, and merit, a delayed path for a more fruitful journey and path.
That’s the most “noble” way I can present Mara’s promise.
Now obviously a deal with the devil I do not intend to make, but this really gets to the point of this post. This ‘contract’ sits in front of me, Mara is constantly in my sight. The pestering and badgering, the constant pressure of desire. I can’t rid myself of the guy and it’s annoying. On the back roads outside the ancient city walks a man, and he’s there to make a deal.
The closer to ordination I get the more odd and unfamiliar the territory becomes. There are people I come across that truly destabilize my stability. Laypeople that make claims of spiritual achievement, monks that have disrobed, perceived short-comings of bhikkus/bhikkunis. My fears of the Vinaya grow as well as I become more aware of the dilemma rising in the West around following these rules.
There are a million different things I want to say about this storm I’m walking through and the flooded grounds that cover and surround the path through it. Apologizes for the descriptions of the glances in directions and the characters on the random trails I’ve stumbled through. I’ll wrapped this up.
There is a great danger in debt. It will keep you from a swift exit to refugee. It will have taken you long enough to find the the Sangha, but the gatekeeper will not let you enter if there is a price upon you. You will be forced to shamble around the walls of the ancient city, to wander around it’s countrysides. In those erratic lands awaits a man, and boy does he have a deal for you.
I apologize, there is more I’d like to say, but I must keep up with the daily routine.
Let this post be an area where people can take about what they are running into on their path to ordination. It can be a difficult time and I have found it difficult to talk about, let alone find answers. I’ll come back here when I feel I can put more of what I have to say in words. Thank you for giving me space to put some of these thoughts down, they have been very burdensome to carry.