Buddhist monk

3 Simple Steps to Become a Buddhist Monk

Buddhism is a 2000+ year old religion that focuses on the here and now. Buddhist monks live on alms and take vows of chastity. They dedicate their lives to community service and the implementation of Buddhist values. To become a monk, you must be well versed in Buddhist teachings, study under a teacher, and begin your education in a monastery.

Learn about Buddhism

Familiarize yourself with the Buddhist teachings.

Begin your path to becoming a monk by understanding the basics of Buddhist teachings. Borrow books from the library, do some research online, and if possible, take a class with a teacher who is an ordained monk. The Buddha does not force anyone to believe, but requires his disciples to confirm the cornerstones of the belief as true through their own study of the religion. Here are the most important things you should know: Study the Eightfold Path. This is the way to end all suffering. The path consists of the right view, right speech, right intention, right aspiration, right mindfulness, right reflection, right action and right sustenance. Learn the Four Noble Truths that contain the essence of Buddhism. A simple version of the Four Noble Truths is that suffering exists, it comes from our surrender to desires and desires, and when we stop being attached to desires, the condition ends. Through the Eightfold Path it is possible to become free from suffering.

Join a temple or sangha that practices Buddhism.

The Buddhist religion is spread around the world and there are temples in almost every country. If you practice Buddhism as an “amateur” you will gain valuable insights into life in a Buddhist community, which is necessary to become a monk. You should have been a regular member of the Buddhist community for months or years before taking the next step and becoming a monk. Check your phone book or search the internet for a Buddhist center near you. Be an active member of the temple. Some sanghas offer introductory courses where you can learn more about Buddhism. Others offer retreat meditation classes to help you grow in faith. Not all Buddhist communities are the same. As with other religions, there are those that are more traditional and those that have changed with modern times. Find a community that fits your beliefs and where you feel comfortable. It might also be helpful if you visit Buddhist temples in other cities or countries to get a good overview of the Buddhist communities.

Find a spiritual teacher or mentor.

The important first step in becoming a monk is to learn from a teacher. Through one-to-one teaching, you can delve deeper into Buddhist teachings and better understand what is expected of you as a monk. Start working with someone who can teach you everything you need to know. To find a teacher, you can ask people in your Buddhist community for recommendations. Temples often invite Buddhist leaders to speak to the group. This gives you an opportunity to meet potential teachers.

Prepare for monastic life

Spend time meditating.

If you want to become a Buddhist monk, you must meditate daily and make conscious effort to change your mindset. If you live in a monastery, you will spend much of your time meditating. That takes practice. There are different types of meditation in Buddhism, such as a meditation focused on breathing, a meditation focused on change, and a meditation on the lam-rim. Meditation can also require different postures. Start with a five-minute meditation twice a day. If you’re good at five minutes, you can add a few minutes each day to your meditation time until you can manage to meditate for 15 minutes twice a day. Some monks meditate for hours at a time.

Prepare to be self-sustaining for two to three years.

If you wish to become a Buddhist monk, you are required to follow the Vinaya — a code of conduct that states that Buddhist monks and nuns are not to engage in ordinary work to support themselves. In some cases, the monastery you join will provide the basic necessities for you, but in some cases you must also have enough money saved to support yourself.

Prepare to give up your worldly possessions.

Monks live as mendicants, meaning they only possess what is necessary for a very simple life. You will be provided with clothing and other necessities you need to deal with daily life. However, no electronic devices, expensive shoes and clothing, or other luxury items are allowed. Monks are not allowed to possess objects that could arouse feelings such as greed, envy, or pride in ownership.

Know that your Buddhist community will become your new family.

When you join a religious order, you dedicate your life to your Buddhist community. You will spend your days serving others and you will focus on those who need your help. You will have little contact with your family and will be encouraged to see your Buddhist community as your new family. Before you seek priestly ordination, you may want to discuss it with your family and let them know what to expect. Some monasteries do not accept candidates who are married or have other close relationships. Single people are better able to devote themselves to the teachings of Buddhism because there are no outside forces to distract their attention.

Be ready to take a vow of chastity.

Monks do not engage in any sexual practices. In some cases, male and female monks (or nuns) are not allowed to speak to each other about matters unrelated to day-to-day business. It is a good idea to practice celibacy before becoming a monk so that you can determine if you are fit for a life of temperance. The thought behind this is that the energy that normally goes into sex is directed towards things larger than one’s self.

Decide how long you want to commit yourself to the monastic life.

In some traditions, becoming a monk is a lifelong decision. However, there are other traditions where it is perfectly fine to seek consecration for only a certain number of years or months. In Tibet, for example, many men live as monks for two or three months to develop their spiritual identity before marrying or pursuing a career. Make sure the monastery you are interested in also offers the commitment period you would like. If you are unsure, it is also possible to be consecrated for two to three months and later maybe aspire to a longer consecration.

Be ordained as a monk

Begin your training in a monastery.

If you are convinced that you want to become a monk, then you will be ordained to a certain monastery. It will be necessary to fulfill the requirements of this monastery in order for you to be ordained as a monk there. In some cases, it is necessary for you to be offered ordination by a senior monk who has decided that you would be a good candidate to become a monk.

Participate in a dedication ceremony.

The ceremony will celebrate your decision to become a Buddhist and can only be performed by an ordained monk. During this ceremony, you will be presented with the Three Jewels and the Five Precepts by the monk, as well as your Buddhist name. If you are a follower of Shin Buddhism, then there is a confirmation ceremony instead of an initiation ceremony. The Confirmation Ceremony serves the same purpose as the Consecration.

Follow your teacher’s instructions.

If you have attended a consecration ceremony, your teacher will usually be the ordained monk who conducted the ceremony. You will receive instructions specific to the monastery you are joining.

Take the bodhisattva vow.

A Bodhisattva is a person who dedicates their life to the teachings of Buddhism. The vow is about helping others through merciful deeds, striving to be beneficial to all people, and seeking enlightenment. The vow serves as a way to embody your highest goals. It binds you to a life of selfless service and you will recite the vow regularly.

Final Words

Buddhism originated in Southeast Asia and countries like Thailand and India have many Buddhist temples. Some time after your initial training, there may be foundation funds that can help you financially.

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About the Author

Josh Morgan

Josh Morgan is CouponAnnie's Contributing Writer. He lives life on the cheap, but that doesn't mean a boring existence. Josh loves helping people focus on frugality without giving up the things they enjoy. When he's not getting deals, he's probably drawing or writing something amazing.