What are the drawbacks and disappointments of life as a Buddhist monk?


Please, I would like to know more about the life experience of monks.

The main advantage of the monk’s life is to live the holy life, and thus attain nibbana for the good of all beings.

But in everyday life, what are the disadvantages, the difficulties, the problems, even the disappointments of the monk’s life?

You can talk about any subject you like, but here are a few questions to inspire you:

  • are there regular conflicts and tensions between monks? or with the laity?
  • when you became a monk, were you disappointed by certain things (for example, the negative behavior of certain people)?
  • does monastic life tend to degrade physical or mental health?
  • is social pressure very strong and overwhelming (I’ve heard several monks say there’s pressure to break the vinaya - like using money)?
  • are there ever powerful regrets about the loss of lay material comforts?
  • Do we ever doubt the truth of Buddhism or our own ability to attain nibbana? Do we ever really doubt that we’re making spiritual progress by being monks?
  • etc.

I ask because maybe it would be good for people interested in monastic life (like me) to know what to expect when becoming a monk, and what the drawbacks of monastic life are. This could help them prepare psychologically for possible problems, so as not to be brutally negatively surprised.

Thank you in advance

May all beings live the holy life


Hi there, whilst appreciating your intent, I think most monastics wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing deeply personal things of this nature with a bunch of strangers in a public internet forum! Would you? :wink:

Such conversations might feel more comfortable with some anonymity (like a research project with an ethics framework) or when some trust has been developed, and if we know where and how such information might be used or shared in future.

You might get some useful general responses here but I think most monastics would be a bit cautious about specifics in this sort of thing. And rightly so!

One thing that might be useful, if you’re thinking of ordination, is to have these conversations with a monastic you already have a relationship with in private. Or, consider framing the questions above in a way that is more particular to your own situation.

To avoid the pitfall of being

the best solution is to spend a large amount of time in residence at various monasteries before you ordain. I’ve met so many people who say that they want to ordain but have never ever stayed in a monastery. That’s a big warning sign that their ideals might be challenged by realities. So I’d recommend anyone who wants to become a monastic to spend long periods of time in different monasteries firstly, to see if it is actually for them.

You’ll also see that the experience can be very varied, so even if you get answers to the your questions above, they might not be the same from person to person, or place to place.

Just my thoughts!

It’s a wonderful aspiration to ordain. But it’s not for everybody and was never meant to be for everyone.

Best wishes on your journey!


Thank you for your advice Venerable. Sorry if I made someone uncomfortable.

But it’s not for everybody and was never meant to be for everyone.

When I think about the Buddha’s vision, samsara is made up of an immeasurable mass of suffering: destructive diseases, abominable crimes, people impaled, dismembered and butchered, extremely violent accidents, terrifying hells, starving petas, etc. Just thinking about it makes me believe that it’s absolutely essential to maximize one’s chances of getting out of samsara, and that to maximize one’s chances of getting out, one must become a monk.

From my point of view, remaining a layman is a kind of extremely dangerous Russian roulette, because you don’t maximize your chances of success, you don’t do everything to avoid being reborn in hell, to stop suffering for billions and billions of lives. That’s why the life of a monk seems to me to be almost the only reasonable path (even if some lay people can free themselves).

Do you think I’m wrong? That’s the line of reasoning that makes me want to be a monk, and is at the origin of the topic.

Thanks in advance Venerable


I’m also inclined to doubt the usefulness of a topic like this. Especially a public one.

Life is always full of difficulties. Monastic life is no different. If someone expects pure peace and happiness once they shave their head and put on the robes, then of course they are going to be disappointed.

Every person and every monastery is going to have problems. I think it might be much more useful to have a discussion along the lines of, “How did you use the teachings of the Buddha to overcome difficulties in monastic life.”

However, it’s a difficult discussion to have on the forum in any case because of the policy to not discuss personal practice.

But no matter what, if one goes forth with the faith that the Buddha’s Dhamma can solve the problems of samsara, then one should also have faith that that the teachings can also help solve the problems of monastic life. The trick, of course, is to apply them and seek out help when needed.


One drawback you might find as a monastic is giving up views like that. I’ve never heard a monastic dismiss the lay life. :wink:


In my humble opinion, if you can’t uphold the Preceipts and keep the Right View in the lay life, you wouldn’t be able to do so in the monastic life. I’ve seen many people who thought that the monastic life would be the answer to all their problems (not always the Buddhist monastic life, many of them were Christians), but it never is. Wherever you go you take yourself with you.

I’m sorry if it sounds preachy - I wish you all the best in your journey.


Not really. I agree that the monastic life is generally more conducive to liberation, so if you’re motivated to get off the Wheel (of Saṃsāra): come join us! :grin:

But I will echo @Gert 's point about practicing as much as you can where you are. Keep the five precepts. Keep them well. Occasionally keep eight precepts. Visit many monasteries. Be observant. Learn.

Leaving home should feel like a natural next step, not a giant leap.

Hope that helps :blush:


Thank you very much for your kindness Venerable, you help me a lot.


Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu!

Been in such a situation, although probably also my own defilements running wild, it is really good practice to invest into this. Although the Thus gone one teaches us that it is urgent, He also teaches us to be patient.