Taking on temporarily the monks robes

taking on temporarily the monks robes

In another thread someone mentioned that the alternative of taking on temporarily the monks robes and life was a thing. I have heard about this and thought it was a phenomenon that happened far away in China or Japan and long ago. So is there access to this option in the United States? in what way would one prepare themselves before presenting themselves to become temporarily ordained I guess you could call it? Do you know anyone who offers this option here in our country where it is not traditional? In short, what’s going on with temporary ordination. I live in Oregon, 17 miles south of Eugene. :pray:

1 Like

Yeah, it’s not very common in America. I’ve only heard of it happening in a Thai ethnic temple with the sons of the immigrant families that support the temple.

Even in Thailand, I recommend just going on a meditation retreat or doing a temple-stay instead.

5 Likes

Instead of full Bhikkhuhood, just try sāmaṇera is good enough for it’s simpler ceremony, looks the same outside, lesser precepts etc. for temporary cases.

3 Likes

I’d like to offer a word of caution to add to the excellent replies in this thread… If you plan to take temporary bhikkhu ordination, it would be wise to ensure you disrobe properly afterwards. Otherwise the ordination might remain valid, and you might end up accruing offenses that would stop you from ordaining in the future. This would be something to discuss with a monk knowledgeable in Vinaya.

1 Like

I am unsure as to whether any wats in North America offer temporary samanera ordination. As was mentioned, in Thailand it is not uncommon. Many young Thai men take samanera ordination on a temporary basis as a means of expressing gratitude to their parents and for the training.

About 12 years ago, I found a wat in northern Chiang Mai province that offered training, and the possibility to ordain temporarily. I went and trained under 8 precepts, studied Pali and the Suttas and chanting, taught English to refugees, and was later told by the abbot to go and get my head shaved by locals from the town. After the ordination, I lived in robes for a while in the wat, continued to teach English, and went on almsrounds and participated as a true samanera in training with samanera precepts. After the rains period ended, I properly disrobed with the abbot and went back to lay life. One of the best experiences of my life, parts of this training still in my blood and with me every day.

If you can’t find something similar in the US, it’s not so difficult to take a sabbatical and come to Thailand to live for a while. There are at least a few Thai wats that offer temporary ordination that have English speaking/or farang monks and lay teachers. A good google search will help you find some of these temples, and you can choose the one that might suit you best.

3 Likes

I think it’s like cold call, not advertising for the job opening, but just asking for internship.

Anyway, it has risk of not having the qualified monk to do the ceremony, (need at least 10 vassa and above, good in vinaya etc). And not having monks to dedicate their time to teach oneself. But that’s the reason for calling and just ask, if they really cannot, then can try another one with more monks.

Thank you for the inspiring story. It’s common for young Thai men to ordain temporarily at my local Wat (in New Zealand) and those I’ve spoken to have found it a very helpful experience. The abbot often jokes that I can ordain anytime, and I did seriously consider temporary ordination a few years ago, but the teacher I discussed it with moved back to Thailand and unfortunately was killed in a taxi accident.

Staying in a monastery as a lay person, talking with others, and accompanying my teacher on alms round in Bangkok a few years ago, gave me some insight into the issue. My impression is that it would be a quite different experience from staying as a lay person. However, I’d personally only consider it in the context of a community that I was familiar with (such as my local Wat), where I could learn from the community (which seems to me to be the point of ordination).

2 Likes

Hi Mike, and thanks for the kind comment. Yes, I do feel that the experience of training as a samanera was quite a different experience vs. lay training. A samanera basically trains as any monastic would, with early morning (4:30 am) meditation/chanting, alms round, eating with the monks from the almsbowl, doing tasks like sweeping or teaching English during the day, and then more training in the afternoon and evening. Then, sleeping on what is basically a low wood table with a cloth on it and doing it all over again the next day.

It took some time to get used to this lifestyle and routine, but it was terrific training, and insight into monastic life. I agree with you that it helps to be among community or familiar territory. Many afternoons were filled with stillness and quiet (aka boredom), and being able to feel comfortable in the environs and among kalyana mitta can be helpful.

5 Likes