Ordaining in times of covid

Greetings everyone,
I would like to know how covid has impacted the accessibility of ordination in Buddhist countries for foreigners. What has changed compared to pre-covid times? How difficult is it nowadays to get ordained in a Buddhist country if you are a foreigner?
Thank you!

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Entry to Cambodia:

"* Cambodian authorities have also introduced the following requirements for prevention, containment, and response to the spread of COVID-19 for all travelers entering Cambodia by air, land, and water. All arriving foreigners must:

  • Fully abide by locally enforced quarantine measures for 14 days at a hotel designated by the Government of Cambodia.
  • Pay a deposit of $2,000 upon arrival at airports for mandatory COVID-19 testing and potential treatment services. The money will be used to pay for an accommodation during the quarantine, testing and transportation from an airport to a hotel.
  • Possess a COVID-19 negative medical certificate issued no more than 72 hours prior to the date of arrival (see below).
  • Purchase a local health insurance package for COVID-19 treatment from Forte Insurance Company. The cost is $90 for a $50,000 policy valid for 20 days.
  • Undergo a COVID-19 test upon arrival and wait in official facilities/designated hotels to receive laboratory results. Health authorities will then oversee another COVID-19 test on the 13th day of quarantine."—US Embassy
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We’ve been unable to accept lay guests at my temple for about a year now, and even as a monk who hasn’t left Thailand for years, renewing my visa this year was a bit difficult. It may be a long time still before we’re able to accept candidates again :confused: despite Thailand starting to “open up.”

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Foreigners are still not able to enter into Malaysia.

Due to many foreign monks got forced to leave very suddenly, my ordination was delayed to miss this year’s vassa. Due to the interstate border lockdown, it was not easy to get enough monks in Malaysia to get me ordained, only just before vassa ends, the interstate border lockdown ends, so I managed to get ordained just after vassa ends.

So not that bad for locals now, but if lockdown happens again, small monasteries would have difficulty to ordain people, foreign or not.

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For Myanmar, despite some Covid-19 restrictions still in place, I think foreigner ordination could be possible by directly comunicating with respective local monastery for visa, relief flight etc.
The International Theravāda Buddhist Missionary University(ITBMU) in Yangon is inviting one-year diploma applications from local/foreign monks/nuns trainees for June-2022 intake; they need entrance exams in December 2021.
http://itbmu.org.mm/

Thanks and regards,

Australia has been slowly tightening visa requirements for years. Even before COVID a lot of monasteries were struggling to get monastics. I know of one monastery where, after more than a decade of constant monastic presence, they couldn’t get anyone. Another place has been split by the fact that they had a visa for a monk, but the monk turned out to be not good, so they either have a bad monk or none at all.

For long term visas in Australia, the general idea is that the organization has to prove that the visa applicant will not put any locals out of a job. And it requires that the applicant has an income of over $40,000 p/a (or something like that.) So yeah, it’s not easy. And with COVID, it’s pretty much impossible.

(Fun fact: a spokesperson for the Oz immigration told us that the reason the requirements were so strict is because the number one applicant for religious visas in Australia is Scientology.)

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It’s difficult, isn’t it?

In NZ, after some activism, we finally got a religious visa category about 10 years ago, since it was otherwise quite difficult arguing that there was an “effective income” for monastics. Unfortunately, it came too late for us to keep Ajahn Tiradhammo here - immigration ruled that he was too old to be given residence…

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Part of why I gave up hope to ordain in Bodhinyana. Anyway, can still enjoy the Dhamma talks, retreat talks online.

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I’m currently putting together a list of monasteries I would like to spend time at and serve, with the goal to eventually ordain. Being that I am a New Zealand citizen, and we only have one training monastery here that I am aware of, Australia is naturally the next place for me to look. Since I’m a kiwi, I’m able to reside in Australia. I’d like to at least visit Bodhinyana, but I’ve heard the wait list for training can take years. Would Bhante @sujato or any of the other Australian venerable, perhaps @Akaliko, be willing to suggest some monasteries? I’ve heard Bhante Sujato say he is not Theravada, so EBT then? is that a tradition? Can candidates train in EBT? So many questions and so much to learn. Thank you :pray:t3:

If you don’t need visas, can be considered Australian PR to stay in Australia, you might be able to get into the local waitlist for Bodhinyana, which goes super fast.

EBT is not an ordination lineage. To ordain, one still has to follow the Theravada Pali Vinaya, which includes memorising some Pali chants to be chanted during ordination, taking up the Pali Vinaya to train in etc. The Dhamma content is dependent on each monastery, which can be EBT, like SBS. Actually, even if you focus on EBT, there’s not a lot of texts to finish reading(for monks), so lots of time to read the Abhidhamma etc.

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There is Bodhinyanarama (in Lower Hutt, north of Wellington) and Vimutti (south of Auckland). Both were accepting anagarikas as of a few years ago, has something changed?

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Hi @Khemarato.bhikkhu. Nothing has changed as I am aware, Bodhinyanarama still accepts anagarikas. I didn’t know Vimutti acted as a training monastery but I see there are currently three anagarikas there now, thank you for that tip. I have plans to visit Vimutti soon :pray:t3:

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Yes, they just had a novice ordination there at Vesak I think.

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It’s very sad. Things where difficult already. Unsatisfactoryness…

I think Sangha has to start seeing new possibilities. That’s why Buddha allowed them to go to the person that wants to join. But nowadays there is internet. So maybe cermony can be done on video call. :blush: and one monk fly over to help trainee. Online Dhamma Classes. Evolve or Dissolve. :cry:

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Yes, online meditation centers are flourishing in Myanmar now.
People join from their homes via Zoom; some with video on and some with video off. Some are serious, but some aren’t.
Anyway, the teacher monk can give direct instructions to serious meditators by watching each of them from his monitor.

Thanks and regards,

Hi @ZawNyunt, are you able to provide more information on where to find these zoom sessions. Websites, monasteries etc. ?

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Zoom/FB live dhamma courses/meditation training are provided free in Burmese language.
To my knowledge, the Sayadaws and Sayalays who receive foreigners include Sitagu Sayadaw, Oxford Sayadaw, Rector Sayadaw (Dr. Nanda Marlar Bivamsa), Pa Auk Sayadaw and Sayalay Dipankra in addition to state-owned Sasana universities.
I will update if I find their links in English. I think most of their followers are in Europe (UK, Germany, east europe).
Here is one link-

Thanks and regards,

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Internet zoom meetings may achieve the ordination once again recieving noble conditions for all to see confirmed with buddhist councils and representatives to ordain its not quiet the end of the world of everything if people dont want it to be … connections can still be reached with all technical possibilities of global communication network’s otherwise we wouldnt be here now would we :relaxed:

Well, there is a specific requirement that monks be within arms reach of each other when performing the ordination. And within the same sima (official boundary).

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