Author Topic: Must we become ordained before we can achieve Enlightenment?  (Read 11267 times)

WisdomBeing

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I was stumped by a question from a friend at dinner yesterday. He does not believe in any religion but was asking me questions about Buddhism. He asked what examples of attained beings there are in the world today, so i cited the high lamas such as Gangchen Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche, the Dalai Lama. He then asked if only monks can be enlightened. i mean i know that attained beings can come back as any person - even inanimate objects - but in order to be enlightened, do we have to be ordained first?
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

triesa

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Re: Must we become ordained before we can achieve Enlightenment?
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2011, 05:20:13 PM »
This is a good topic to discuss.

Personally I think if lay people can attain enlightenment through study and practice of  the Dharma, it will send even stronger messages to everyone that enlightenment is possible without the physical ceremony of becoming an ordained monk or nun.  This would encourage more lay people to practise the dharma who may be skeptical or have fear of  taking on the monk's robes.

However, a person taking the ordination is a reflection of his committment to persue the path, to total renounciation. Thus by holding the vows, the person will collect immence merits to propell his spiritual journey to gain realisation and eventually enlightenment.

Then the question lies in : what is the difference between a lay person holding vows and a ordained person holding vows?  If they are the same, then enlightenment should also be possible  for any lay person holding the vows.

Would anyone like to shed some light on this?




kurava

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Re: Must we become ordained before we can achieve Enlightenment?
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2011, 04:31:20 AM »
Taking the ordination vows is an indication that the person has  some realisation of renunciation or at least serious in his commitment to have such a mind.

Yes, lay and ordained people may hold the same refuge vows and some other lower vows. However the mere courage that the ordained person has in donning the robes speaks volume. He/she is declaring to everyone that I'm holding all these vows, if I break any of them you will know.

It's the same reason as why would we have greater confidence in a doctor or accountant with certification as compared with another who may have the same number of years of  hands on experience but without the certificate.

I would think it's not necessary to become ordained before we can achieve Enlightenment, but then again if we have developed the mind of renunciation  why would we not want to take the ordination vows?



triesa

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Re: Must we become ordained before we can achieve Enlightenment?
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2011, 09:56:06 AM »
Taking the ordination vows is an indication that the person has  some realisation of renunciation or at least serious in his commitment to have such a mind.

Yes, lay and ordained people may hold the same refuge vows and some other lower vows. However the mere courage that the ordained person has in donning the robes speaks volume. He/she is declaring to everyone that I'm holding all these vows, if I break any of them you will know.

It's the same reason as why would we have greater confidence in a doctor or accountant with certification as compared with another who may have the same number of years of  hands on experience but without the certificate.

I would think it's not necessary to become ordained before we can achieve Enlightenment, but then again if we have developed the mind of renunciation  why would we not want to take the ordination vows?



There is another thread called "Living a renounced life in the modern world" in this forum,  there I read most people expressed their veiws that it is possible and feasible to live such a life, since renounciation is not about the object but rather it is about our attitide and perception of what the object can bring us.

So with this basis, we can possibly live a life renouncing our perception of what the objects will bring us, rather than renouncing our life in total. More often, not being ordained means that you will have even more challenges and opportunitites to face these circumstances than an ordained person, and hence more training...........so if we hold our vows, same as what an ordained person does, but we have more training opportunities, wouldn't  we be able to achieve the same result at the end?


Reena Searl

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Re: Must we become ordained before we can achieve Enlightenment?
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2011, 05:42:11 PM »
Thanks for all the beneficial posts.

I was fear to face the reality that WE WILL DIE ONE DAY, what’s the point of contemplating on DEATH ?
I remembered after I listened to a very nice teaching about death meditation.
Contemplating my own death ALARMED me that I actually have a precious human body and death meditation help me to appreciate my time being alive!

Roberto

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Re: Must we become ordained before we can achieve Enlightenment?
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2011, 08:26:01 PM »
I don't think so. Doesn't make sense. Just because you are ordained, take on robes and become part of a monastery doesn't mean that it guarantees spiritual progress or enlightenment.

We all have immense negative karma that follows us from life to life. No matter whether you are and ordained sangha or not you can't escape your karma

You know that there have been cases where a Lama has advised someone to become ordained and renounce their samsaric life to create the merits to avert causes for them to have an early life. Does that mean the person will become enlightened just because they become ordained?

I believe that it is dependent on merits as to one becomes i enlightened or not. I heard in a teaching somewhere that when a persons merit reaches a certain point, enlightenment becomes inevitable as the merits propels you to a higher level of consciousness,

some thoughts:)

Positive Change

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Re: Must we become ordained before we can achieve Enlightenment?
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2011, 06:42:29 AM »
I don't think so. Doesn't make sense. Just because you are ordained, take on robes and become part of a monastery doesn't mean that it guarantees spiritual progress or enlightenment.

We all have immense negative karma that follows us from life to life. No matter whether you are and ordained sangha or not you can't escape your karma

You know that there have been cases where a Lama has advised someone to become ordained and renounce their samsaric life to create the merits to avert causes for them to have an early life. Does that mean the person will become enlightened just because they become ordained?

I believe that it is dependent on merits as to one becomes i enlightened or not. I heard in a teaching somewhere that when a persons merit reaches a certain point, enlightenment becomes inevitable as the merits propels you to a higher level of consciousness,

some thoughts:)

I agree with you Roberto... however does it not help if one has the karma to be ordained so to speak as an ordained person one does take a multitude of vows which in turn creates and even multiplies the merits one accumulates to "propel" one to enlightenment. A simple case of cause and effect.

However if we say that, does it mean a person who is not ordained cannot achieve enlightenment??? Sure that statement is fallible too! Hence at the end of the day, it really does not matter if one is ordained as enlightenment does not come from a mere lifetime but an accumulation of lifetimes...

I believe if one has the karma or merits to be ordained or want to be ordained one is already has the inclination to step out of samsara wholly and not keep a foot in and a foot out like a lay practioners like myself.

triesa

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Re: Must we become ordained before we can achieve Enlightenment?
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2011, 03:56:40 PM »
I would hope one day, someone can achieve enlightenment by just being an ordinary lay person, like you and me,  as this will kick start so much momentum and attract much more people to learn the dharma and begin their journey to enlightenment.

Just like mother Tara, the princess who vowed to become enlightenment in the female form........and she did!


Helena

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Re: Must we become ordained before we can achieve Enlightenment?
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2011, 04:07:02 PM »
I don't think we need to become ordained to achieve Enlightenment. There may be ordained monks or nuns but it does not necessarily mean that they are able to achieve Enlightenment any faster or better than lay people just because of ordination. I think one takes ordination vows for renunciation reasons, and they want to focus on their practice by being cut off from their samsara lives. But it does not mean that they will achieve enlightenment any faster or better than those not ordained.

I think if one wishes to attain Enlightenment one can achieve it through any means, as long as one is truly going through the process of transformation. I have always thought it was much harder to achieve Enlightenment without being a monk or nun because as a lay person, one is just so distracted by samsaric activities and pleasures. However, Milarepa's Guru, Marpa, can be surrounded by wealth and every trappings of samsara and yet Marpa is not attached or distracted by any of it. He may be in samsara but he is not contaminated by the samsara. Much like the lotus flower that dwells in the mud but is unstained by the mud.

I guess, every individual is different. Some need to be in a monastic environment because that is conducive to their practice to gain enlightenment. While others can achieve enlightenment no matter where they are.
Helena

Barzin

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Re: Must we become ordained before we can achieve Enlightenment?
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2011, 06:49:41 PM »
I also think that we need no become ordained to become enlightened.  If so, higher tantric would not pass down to lay people... It was regard as something very sacred but now it is widely spread.  How dharma spread these days are incredible.  No longer had to be ordained or be in the monastery to learn the dharma.  It is transferred to lay person, giving them opportunity to gain enlightenment which tells the world need it.  So enlightenment is possible among the lay community. 

But I wonder when a lay person is conferring Buddha's teachings, would people see it as authentic even if he could be enlightened, would it be harder for him to spread dharma as we are so use to monks?  Just some thoughts...

dondrup

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Re: Must we become ordained before we can achieve Enlightenment?
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2011, 07:23:56 PM »
... He then asked if only monks can be enlightened. i mean i know that attained beings can come back as any person - even inanimate objects - but in order to be enlightened, do we have to be ordained first?

To become fully enlightened as a Buddha, one must gain direct realization of Emptiness and Bodhichitta.  All Buddhas of past, present and future fulfil this condition. There are many methods that practitioners can adopt to accomplish full enlightenment.  Become ordained or remain as lay practitioner are valid methods of accomplishment.  In the past there are practitioners like Gompopa who didn’t become ordained but had gained Buddhahood as a lay practitioner. Chogyam trungpa who was once a monk but returned his monks vows to become a lay practitioner and subsequently he became fully enlightened as a Buddha.

Hence, we need not be ordained first in order to be enlightened.

 

Damian.D

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Re: Must we become ordained before we can achieve Enlightenment?
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2011, 07:36:14 PM »
@dondrup agree.

I have been told that there will be many Buddhas who may go a whole life without even sharing the Dharma or Teaching the Dharma. They would walk shoulder to shoulder with the lay people.

They would not reveal themselves as the merit has not been gathered or the circumstances arisen for them to come out the "closet" so to speak. They are enlightened, they do walk in samsara, they can control their death and their rebirth. But I guess I have detracted from the direction of this thread, already as the question was do you need to be ordained to achieve enlightenment.

Not can you be enlightened and not use your life to benefit suffering beings.

KhedrubGyatso

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Re: Must we become ordained before we can achieve Enlightenment?
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2011, 03:59:53 AM »
I think generally enlightenment can be achieved by humans , whether ordained or as lay. There are many lay masters who have achieved realizations, although the majority of past masters are monastics.

It  depends on the environmental conditions , practitioner's inclination and motivation.

Environmental conditions - those born in Buddhist countries will  more naturally follow the monastic path. In future, we may see more  choosing to practice as lay people when the teachings etc become more mainstream and accessible to the public due to technological advancement and there are more qualified lay teachers.

For some, monkhood is their natural preferred  path, due to past life imprints and association. At least for now,  public perception of someone spiritual or attained is still biased towards an ordained monk. Hence a practitioner may choose to be ordained in order to spread dharma more effectively due to the respect accorded to one who wear robes.It is not about wanting high status  but merely a pure motivation to fulfil people's wishes and their expectations in order to benefit them most. This is consistent with the development of skilful means prescribed by the bodhisattva path.
On a cautious note, there is always the danger that without the strict discipline and holding of vows that monks have to uphold, the path of lay practitioners may not be focussed and at risk of degenerating. Even if lay people hold  the same vows , who is to monitor our progress without a proper system like in a monastery.
In the history of Buddhism, although there are lay people gaining realization, these are v special  and exceptional people. Do most of us have such qualities to practice amidst  the distractions and strong temptations of this world we are so naturally  attached to ? We must be honest and realistic.


Tenzin K

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Re: Must we become ordained before we can achieve Enlightenment?
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2011, 06:15:10 AM »
Personally I think to achieve Enlightenment whether to become ordained is just one of the way or option where it best suit individual mind level/practice at this time.

We can see a few example of great being which is not ordained but became fully enlightened. Especially at this time/era, not much people would want to be ordained even though they have much knowledge of dharma. But this doesn’t really stop one to keep on with their dharma practice till they achieve certain attainment enlightenment. 

vajrastorm

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Re: Must we become ordained before we can achieve Enlightenment?
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2011, 09:04:35 AM »
I think the central issue here is how we can practice and completely realize the Three Principal Aspects of the Path – Renunciation, Bodhicitta and attaining of the Correct View of Emptiness in this short lifetime. Our Path to full Enlightenment must successfully incorporate all three.

If by not becoming an ordained monk or nun, one can still surf all the distractions of this degenerate age, and work with single-minded focus to successfully attain these Three Principal Aspects, then one can achieve full Enlightenment. Otherwise, it has to be the way of an ordained monk or nun holding over 200 vows.

And there are so few known cases of past lay people who became Enlightened in one lifetime. Even past Masters like Marpa would have accumulated a vast store of merits to become enlightened in one lifetime.  Chogyam Trungpa is, to me, an Enlightened and Fully Realized Being, who manifested as a ‘yogi’ with ‘crazy wisdom’ in this lifetime.

Having said that, my belief is that with a compassionate Enlightened Being as a Spiritual Guide, and with full Guru Devotion and correct reliance on one’s Spiritual Guide, anything is possible.