Monastic life in America

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A talk given during Sravasti Abbey’s annual Exploring Monastic Life program in 2008.

  • Buddhist aspect
    • Faith and having a clear confidence in the Buddha when ordaining
    • Situating oneself within a certain Buddhist tradition that is affiliated with a specific Asian country
  • Monastic aspect
    • How becoming a monastic places one in a close relationship with the Three Jewels
    • One follows the Buddha’s example
    • One has the time and ideal external conditions to learn the Dharma and put it into practice
    • The possibility of boredom if one doesn’t use one’s time skillfully
    • Living in community and being a member of the Buddhist sangha
  • America today aspect
    • Special challenges of being a Buddhist monastic in a secularized Christian society
    • The special role of monastics to dispel the illusion of where happiness is to be found, challenging mainstream consumerism
  • Questions and answers
    • Has our culture lost the sense of its origin as far as Christianity goes? This sets us up for a lot of bias.
    • If you (Bhikkhu Bodhi) were seeking ordination today in the Theravada tradition, where would you go and whom would you seek to study with?
    • What does it mean to be guided by community principles but not to be engulfed by a group? Can you give advice on that?
    • How do we convince our loved ones about leading a homeless life so it will not be too painful for them?
    • How can somebody let go of attachment to their parents or children?
    • How do we avoid going to the extremes of proselytizing or just hoping the world will notice?
    • I’m having trouble with rebirth—can you say something about that? Without believing in rebirth would you have chosen a monastic lifestyle?

Exploring Monastic Life 2008: Session 11 (download)

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