Going Forth When Married

@Ratana, thank you so much. Can you provide any link to read full discourse/ incident regarding this in Vinaya? Thanks in advance.

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Hi @Gabriel_L, thank you so much. Is there any link to read more about it? Especially what Buddha would say for arguments of abandoning lay-life’s responsibilities.

Hi @suaimhneas, may be that’s the case. I have found one reference on Rahula though in Theragatha.


@NgXinZhao, Vandami Bhante! I can see what you mean. I remember reading an incident of Yasa who became monk and his parents started searching him after noticing his disappearance. But then Buddha hid him thorough psychic powers and preached dhamma to parents. Parents were also then ordained later on. Leaving the supernatural element aside, I think here Buddha dealt the situation by offering appreciation for going forth. Of course, nobody can teach like Buddha but we may note a point that complaints are expected due to attachment from loved ones. Here, one can invite them to renounce as well seeing their suffering but it may not be always successful.


I remember Ajahn Brahm suggesting it is likely best for those with economically dependent children to wait until their children are older and self-supporting.

Re. inviting a spouse to also ordain, a mother wishing to do so would normally require a sister, mother or friend to fill the caregiving role.


I am curious about how this works on a practical level, considering the age limits (both stated and unstated) for ordaining that were discussed in this recent thread:

Is this more of a problem for Western Buddhists who might not come into contact with the Dhamma (and also might not decide to marry and have children) until later in life? It just seems like an increasingly narrow window of time to decide to pursue ordination.


Yes, it is indeed a limited window of time! At Bodhinyana there is no age limit, though longer
waiting issues for those from overseas. For women, there are so very few monasteries in Western countries which accept over 50’s that there is no real choice at all.


It’s an appellation not uniquely applied to Rahula though, e.g., see Thag1.41 (I think there a number of such examples).

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I think the rule against ordaining debtors would have some bearing here, at least in any country where the law requires the payment of child support to the ex-spouse who has custody of the children. To get around it the divorcé(e) in a marriage with children would need to come to some kind of arrangement in which the ex-spouse agrees to accept, say, an immediate large cash payment in lieu of monthly maintenance.


Hi @Chetaknn, the pursuit of the spiritual path the Buddha proposed necessarily involved, at a certain point, leaving behind the householder status and its associated obligations.
DN2 is a must read to get oneself introduced to the idea:
DN 2: Sāmaññaphalasutta—Bhikkhu Sujato (


There’s plenty of monasteries in the world. Don’t just focus on one tradition.

Anyway, yes to a certain extend, to meet the dhamma while young (and not foolish on sex, which can produce kids) is a very good resultant from previous good kamma.

Many Buddhists don’t really appreciate it, see how many of them still want to get married despite having known the dhamma from young.

So, one way to provide such good opportunity for the next generation is for those who are parents, send your kids to sunday dhamma school! Many westerners are reluctant to do so cause of the brainwashing thing they don’t like from other religions who send their kids to Sunday church services. Maybe providing such good kamma of exposing your kids while they are young can be the cause of you meeting the dhamma when you’re young and have the opportunity to renounce much easier.

What Bhante @Dhammanando provided is a nice solution. One lump sum payment.

Also, the Buddhist music group wayfarer has this song “Little Pal”, which from the lyrics seems to be of a father who’s going for ordination, and asking the young kid to listen to the mother, be good while father’s away. It’s the emotional impact of leaving your kids.

Little Pal when daddy goes away,
promise you’ll be good from day to day,
do what mother says, and never sin.
Be the man your daddy might have been.

Something like that.


@Chetaknn have you spent time in a monastery? I don’t mean a few days during a retreat, but actually experiencing the day to day lifestyle? Real monastic life is often times quite different than what people expect. It’s very regimented and hierarchical. You trade having a boss at work for senior monks who have authority over you. You trade dealing with a wife for having a community of monks that you live and interact with all day, every day. You trade being judged by worldly standards (which university you went to, what job you have, your income, if you own a house or car) to being judged by Dhammic standards (your behavior will be scrutinized 24/7 by the monks you live with and the lay people who attend your monastery). And there aren’t any days off from being a monk! You can’t take two weeks off from the monastery’s routine, sleep in, and wander down to the local cafe for a late brunch, latte, and to quietly read your favorite book. You will also have daily duties and chores in the monastery. You will not be allowed to sit in your kuti meditating all day. I’m not trying to dissuade you, just offering a glimpse of what real life is like in a monastery.


My understanding is that it can be a good thing to have wise monks having authority over you. I think the key is to have a teacher that you really respect and trust; then if you really believe your own will is your enemy and that you have delusion, having people that you regard as wiser to have authority over you can be a good thing. I really think it’s a question of having trust and respect for the senior monk; otherwise indeed it could be just experienced as having someone exerting power over you.

Also daily interactions with monks can be good if they are wise because you can pick up by osmosis as it were the right attitude, behaviour and mood…anyway one hopefully would spend vassa basically on their own.


Absolutely. I wasn’t saying any of those things are bad, just emphasizing that monastery life has a lot of parallels with lay life. You mostly trade one kind of social interaction or responsibility for another, not completely give up either. In my experience, that’s something a lot of people don’t understand. They think monastery life is all about noble silence and meditation, but it isn’t. It’s very social, and the rules for social interaction are quite different in a monastery.


It’s even more difficult which’s why many did disrobe!

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Hi @Gabriel_L, indeed, it is a wonderful sutta. Like Kevatta sutta, here too the same link of going forth is found after listening to the dhamma. It is quite inspiring as there are many finer fruits that are listed as a result of ascetic life. These fruits are important junctions of dhamma practice.

"A householder hears that teaching, or a householder’s child, or someone reborn in some clan. They gain faith in the Realized One, and reflect: ‘Living in a house is cramped and dirty, but the life of one gone forth is wide open. It’s not easy for someone living at home to lead the spiritual life utterly full and pure, like a polished shell. Why don’t I shave off my hair and beard, dress in ocher robes, and go forth from the lay life to homelessness?’

After some time they give up a large or small fortune, and a large or small family circle. They shave off hair and beard, dress in ocher robes, and go forth from the lay life to homelessness."


Hi @dayunbao, this reminded me of an incident where the Buddha was watching over Mogallana when he was experiencing drowsiness in the pursuit of Nibbana.

I am sure monkhood is very difficult simply because of its goal of total extinction of suffering (which is not easy and requires hard work). Still, I believe for the right practitioner the path brings happiness in the start, in the middle and at the end.


It’s better to have realistic easing into monk’s life instead of thinking that it’s always difficult.

If you’re used to many meditation retreats, stayed for some time in monasteries, can adjust to 8 precepts easily, you’ll have less difficulty in the initial adjustment period.

If monk’s life doesn’t contain joy and happiness too, it’s not sustainable.

On studying vinaya, it’s good to have a senior monk to keep on asking questions, clarifying doubts on how on earth does anyone observe this? Can I really observe this? Or else it could be discouraging.

Concrete first steps is to go for retreats. How many of them have you been to?


I was reflecting on this:

and in a way it can be quite scary, making it sound like life life in a Kafka novel…

Would you be scrutinized in matters concerning etiquette too? I guess a lot depends on the spirit with which it is done; i.e. is it done with the aim to help you, or to criticise you?

A teacher that really inspires me said that his job is not to control or ‘spy on’ monks, but to inspire them; so that they will behave properly because of the inspiration, not out of fear of being caught. So probably a lot depends on the monastery you are in?

Would be interesting to hear from anyone who has spent time in monasteries.


It’s more of you’re the one watching yourself with mindfulness. It’s important to know how to be mindful without using effort. Like Sayadaw U Tejaniya’s teaching. Or else, one may feel tired to be mindful every waking moment.

It can be dangerous. One moment of lapse of mindfulness, then hey, isn’t what I am doing breaking the precepts? Then next thing you know, meditation becomes harder, then have to confess.

It’s not so much tight, depends on one’s attitude towards it. Young monks tend to take vinaya more tight, old monks tend to be already used to living by the vinaya, and seemed more relaxed.

If one’s behaviour doesn’t seem inspiring, it could subtly affect the atmosphere of the place and people’s attitude towards you.

So it’s not so much 24/7 you’re with people. A lot of time is alone time for meditation or other stuffs. It’s more like you can read (via mindfulness) people’s body language, actions and behaviours over time, we know who’s got what habits like family members.

Also, part of the vinaya requirement for admonishment is to do it with metta, and see within oneself if one has this fault, if got, cannot admonish others. Must also do it at the right time, situation etc, not to embarrass people.