Buddhist Monks Aim for Nirvana


Buddhism states that there is a path to happiness and the Buddha can lead you there. Buddhist monks of all different orders are trying to reach happiness, or Nirvana. There may be some differences between the sects but the core beliefs surround the Buddha’s teachings and practices. An ordained monk or nun lives a special life. Some last a lifetime while others only for a brief time, however both experiences are moving.


Tibetan Buddhist monks take there vows for life. When becoming a Buddhist monk it is very important that you do not rush into taking your vows. Time must be taken to fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a Buddhist monk. Currently there are monasteries that allow you to live the life of a Buddhist monk for a few days, weeks or months in order to make the correct decision. The Tibetan tradition does not encourage those who take the vows to give them back and return to a secular lifestyle. As long as a monk asks permission he is able to freely leave the order.


Theravadin Buddhist countries, like Thailand, believe that every man must have served as a monk at one point in his life. These monks are referred to as “short-term” monks. The period that they are actually monks may range from a few days to as long as a few months. This short-term service is seen as primarily a teaching tool. Living even a short period of time as a monk is believed to prepare the individual for life as a layman, householder and family head. Also this practice helps the individual earn merit with his family and especially his parents. Many people in these countries still chose to remain a monk for their lifetime.


Before making any final decisions on becoming either a short-term monk or a lifetime monk the fundamental teachings of the Buddha must be thoroughly understood. These teachings include the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, and the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment. Normally this involves a number of years of study and practice with the help of a teacher. This teacher will be your guide and sponsor. With your teacher you will learn how to live your everyday life according to the Buddhist teachings and practices. During this time you may live in a monastery to fully understand and appreciate this lifestyle.


Once you have made the decision to lead a monk\'s life, you must approach the abbot or his secretary for an interview. You are then accepted as a naga. Then are given training in the rules, daily chanting, and the ordination procedure. The length of training before ordination can be one month or less, the abbot might expect an applicant to spend at least 9 months as a layman and novice before higher ordination. During this period the layman wears a white robe and learns eight precepts. Novice monks wear the orange robes and are given ten precepts to follow along with seventy-five training rules. There are certain requirements that must be met in order to be ordained. The novice must be at least twenty years old, free of debt, free of any government or military duties and they must have the consent of their immediate family. The ordination ceremony uses the Pali language and the novice must memorize the lines. The novice must also memorize the 227 rules of discipline, called the Patimokkha, that the monks follow.


Originally the Buddha did not allow woman to become nuns. Then Buddha received many requests from woman to allow them to become nuns. He reconsidered his position and decided to allow woman in to the order. The first woman accepted as a nun was Paccabadi Gotami, the Buddha\'s stepmother, who was ordained by the Buddha himself. In establishing the Bhikkhuni Sangha, or nuns, the Buddha added that any other ordinations should be held with a fully ordained bhikkhuni present as a witness.


Since the time of Buddha there have always been nuns ordained into the order. In more recent years the number of woman becoming nuns became smaller and smaller. There came a point were there were no longer any fully ordained nuns in the world. Without these fully ordained nuns there cannot be any