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The Ordination Process at Bhavana

The Ordination Process

for becoming a monk at the Bhavana Society


The decision to renounce the world and become a homeless monastic is a very serious one. The monastic life does not suit everyone, and not everyone is suited to a life that is both communal and isolated, bounded by many precepts, and which renounces the pleasures and activities of worldly life.

For this reason, ordination as a monk at the Bhavana Society is accomplished in a long series of steps. At each point, either the Society or the person aspiring to ordination may decide that the process should go no further. Because of this, those who have decided to begin the process are strongly urged not to cut all of their worldly ties, not to sell all of their belongings, and so on until they are close to the step of novice ordination. Bhante Gunaratana has also decided on an age requirement -- those interested in ordaining should be between 25 to 35 years of age.

The steps are as follows:

1. Attend a number of retreats at the Bhavana Society including at least one long retreat.

2. Apply for residency, be accepted and complete a minimum six months to one year period of residency following the steps given on the residency application process page.

3. If, after a period of residency your desire to ordain is still strong, and the head monk agrees, you can request to take the Anagaraka precepts and begin to wear white clothes. The Anagarika precepts are the same as those followed by all residents when they stay at the monastery.

4. If the head monk is willing to consider you as a candidate for ordination, he will specify a waiting period before you may take novice vows. This period varies from person to person and is usually six months to a year. During this period you must remain in residence at the Bhavana Society, participating fully in the life of the center including full work responsibilities, retreats, and Pali and sutta studies. When the head monk determines that you are ready, you will be given the novice ordination.

5. If you successfully complete your time as a novice (usually one year) you will be eligible for full ordination. 

See also: The Experience of Ordination

NOTE: Because of current demographics, the Bhavana Society is only able to give full ordination to men. The continuity of the nuns' ordination in southeast Asia was lost centuries ago and was only reinstated in 1996 at Sarnath, India. At this ceremony eleven selected Sinhalese Dasa Sil Mata nuns were ordained fully as bhikkhunis by a group of Theravada monks together with a quorum of Korean nuns. Thus for the first time after about 980 years the Theravada Bhikkhuni Order was revived in India.

Information for women on Bhikkhuni ordination can be found on the website of Dhammadharini: Women Upholding the Dhamma.

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