The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Inspired by the understanding of the Four Noble Truths and the contemplation of the Four Thoughts that turn the mind towards the teachings of the Buddha ("Dharma"), practitioners feel a great yearning to renounce cyclic existence ("samsara") and practice uninterruptedly in order to attain enlightenment as soon as possible.
This means making an effort to abandon unnecessary and worldly activities as much as possible and focus on the Dharma exclusively. If we are unable to give up our attachment to samsara, we can never be truly free from it.
The more you study, the more you can improve your understanding of the Dharma and therefore strengthen your practice. The stronger your practice, the more you can help others connect to the path to liberation.
Moreover, within the monastic environment, it may be possible to receive instruction more frequently than in a householder's circumstances. Because of this focus, the monastery itself can become an object of refuge for the community it is in, creating the circumstances that help others to learn and connect with the Buddha's teachings.
One of the three objects of refuge is actually the sangha, as the Buddha taught. Since the time of Buddha the monastic sanghas of monks and nuns have been the primary holders of the Dharma because they receive the teachings directly from the teacher.
It is through intensive study and practice of these teachings that monastics as well as yogis and lay people have themselves become great teachers and realized beings, inspirational to others who would seek the liberation that they have achieved.
If a changes one's mind after a few years it is not sufficient to just stop being a monk or nun, it is necessary to formally give back the vows to another monastic who is holding his or her vows purely.
Thus, a person considering ordination should be aware that it is a serious commitment which lasts one's whole life. It is inappropriate to take monastic ordination wishing "just to try it for a few years".
Many people have found it beneficial to wait and maintain celibacy for at least a year before ordination in order to create the positive habits necessary to keep the vows purely once they are received.
The monastery gives novice and full ordination every year before the beginning of the shedra's academic year, usually April or May. You must call the office at Namdroling to make arrangements and inquire about the schedule.
- In the Western Hemisphere, one is encouraged to attend the summer retreat in the United States. During the retreat it may be possible to request ordination from a Palyul master through a formal request.
At Namdroling Monastery in South India it is possible, with the permission of the governing board, for monastics from outside India to receive the same support as the resident Tibetan and Himalayan monks and nuns.
Although very basic food and accommodation is provided free of charge, both Tibetans and international students generally choose to seek a sponsor to provide additional income. Conditions at the monastery can be very rustic.
Expenses for international students at Namdroling generally include: additional food, medicine, Dharma books in their native language, supplies for study and practice, clothing and bedding, travel for visas and teachings in other areas, etc.
International students who are unable to find a sponsor sometimes go overseas to work for a few months and return with enough money to last a few years. More details about courses of study at Namdroling can be found here.
In Asian countries it is rarely necessary for monastics to seek employment as they are sponsored by their relatives and friends. It is said in the teachings that the lay person who sponsors a monastic with pure moral discipline also accumulates merit.
A person considering ordination should give serious thought to the conditions and circumstances which will be necessary for them to keep their ordination for the rest of their lives and how that ordination will be conducive to their practice and eventual enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings without exception.