Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

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Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby Huifeng » Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:36 am

Zhen Li wrote:I think that perhaps before setting up a program, which probably won't draw many applicants at first, one might do best to start off by having at least one trustworthy and qualified international or western ordinand ready. ...


Hi again,

This is pretty much my thinking too. We are actually close to having the numbers, and that's why I want to settle on the location. However, because many of the potential people come from the far corners of the earth, there are still issues of even which place is more able to take in a number of non-citizen students. Even if those students all come from a generally similar Anglophonic modern western culture, eg. US, Canada, UK, Aus, NZ, parts of SA, or even western European France, Germany, Spain, Italy, etc.

I wouldn't start with a Buddhist College, but with resident candidate(s) attending many relevant classes and activities. Once the numbers pick up, then move to a 6-12 month College program. Once that is stable, 12-24 month, etc.

As above, we should talk. ;)

~~Huifeng
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Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby Icy » Mon Apr 27, 2015 2:59 am

Huifeng wrote:I wouldn't start with a Buddhist College, but with resident candidate(s) attending many relevant classes and activities. Once the numbers pick up, then move to a 6-12 month College program. Once that is stable, 12-24 month, etc.

Perhaps Hsi Lai would be a good place to start it? They certainly have the room(s) for it and plenty of English-speaking venerables. I'd prefer that to having a program in Taiwan, as Taiwan would be an island of English-speakers among a sea of Mandarin speakers. It'd also be (somewhat) easy to access for anybody in N. America, so all the US/Canada branches can help with recruiting.

Just my thoughts on it.
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Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 28, 2015 1:05 am

Perhaps Hsi Lai would be a good place to start it? They certainly have the room(s) for it and plenty of English-speaking venerables. I'd prefer that to having a program in Taiwan, as Taiwan would be an island of English-speakers among a sea of Mandarin speakers. It'd also be (somewhat) easy to access for anybody in N. America, so all the US/Canada branches can help with recruiting.


The dropout rates for Buddhist seminaries in Asia are high to begin with. Trying to get foreigners to integrate into those programs and go through what most locals wouldn't tolerate is not going to work, even if they're recreated in America. It doesn't matter if it is Chinese or Tibetan. In Taiwan I've heard all kinds of ideas for "getting Americans to ordain" but it really amounts to teaching them Chinese for several years and then integrating them into the mainstream seminary program. Even if you already knew Mandarin, those programs even for locals have very high dropout rates (at least for monks, maybe less so with the nuns).
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Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby Zhen Li » Wed May 06, 2015 11:05 pm

It'll happen when it happens. Some do succeed, some don't. Since we're talking about such small numbers of people it's probably worth not generalising here more than anywhere. But it bears keeping in mind that the majority of males (regardless of whether they're westerners or not) do drop out. I know there are some female westerners who have been ordained in Taiwan long term, though not with FGS anymore as far as I know.

I think as Ven. Huifeng once said, the best approach to take when a westerner expresses interest in ordination is a fair degree of detachment until it happens. We shouldn't get our hopes up on something that has a low success rate, and yet when it does happen, the effort should be made to facilitate things more than they have been in the past. Also, the situation does change over time. What we could have said with certainty about FGS' approach to westerners ten years ago (when, say, Khedrup was there) isn't representative of what happens today. People get shifted around, staff change, new experience accumulates, and so forth. This doesn't mean it will get better or worse, simply that we can't always judge from a spatial and temporal distance. There are some more westerners at the Buddhist college now, so let's see what happens in the long run.
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Re: Ordaining as a monk or nun in the west

Postby MrBlueSKY » Sat May 23, 2015 7:17 am

i am ordained as a householder. i am poor. don't own a car. walk everywhere. serve many people for free (my family and members of the community). i am totally devoted to the insights of the Buddha and the practice of mahamudra. i am utterly ordinary. inconspicous. almost without ambition. yet i am abundantly wealthy. everyday seems to overflow with riches. i have never been to india or even to the buddhist temple down the road. better to just be who you are. that is the hardest work you will ever do.
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