Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Monk chat: Questions about monastic and community life

Monk chat: Questions about monastic and community life

Short videos from a Q&A session hosted by Empty Cloud Monastery in 2022.

Questions covered:

How do you facilitate harmony between monastics with different vocations?

  • Rejoice at what everybody else in the monastery does to actualize motivations shared by the community
  • Everybody is creating merit and doing something worthwhile
  • Certain rituals and meditation sessions everybody participates

Is learning how to live with others essential to awakening?

  • From a Mahayana perspective, you want to share teachings and help living beings most effectively
  • Realize how flexible you need to be to benefit others
  • Analogy of rocks in a tumbler, chipping away each other’s sharp edges

Questions about Vinaya rules on depending on a teacher

  • Problems with students managing their own practice: “making soup”
  • Teachers make your ego squirm
  • When it is acceptable to resist or negotiate your teacher’s direction
  • Practicing at an appropriate level for your spiritual development

What do you think of limiting the use of electronics and the internet for monastics?

  • Important to limit this because things like smart phones are addicting
  • Using the internet is important, especially to enable others to access Dharma teachings
  • At Sravasti Abbey, try to make it so internet is used in a public setting
  • There need to be rules and when they are transgressed, things need to be confessed

How might we foster communal harmony without compromising on our values?

  • Not every monastery will be suitable for everybody
  • As individuals, we need to have some flexibility to live in community
  • A monastery needs to have a way of keeping the Vinaya and be very clear about how it is being interpreted and the rules of the monastery

What can male monastics do to support female monastics?

  • Recognize that female monastics are human beings and have the same intelligence and aspirations as male monastics
  • Don’t create artificial boundaries that exclude people from following their spiritual aspirations or learning the Dharma
  • Don’t discriminate opportunities to give talks or serve the community based on gender

Why did you establish a gender-equal monastery?

  • Having experienced exclusion, set an intention to include others so as not to create more exclusion karma
  • For Buddhism to spread in the west, we have to have gender equality

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.

More on this topic