My name is Thomas or Tom, whichever you prefer (Tommy only with the family). I was drawn to this site initially by the article about straight razor shaving (been shaving with one for about a month now and will never go back to electric or safety). I am eighteen years old and my aim in life after high school is ordination into Theravada Buddhist monasticism. I can be excessively verbose, so just let me know if I am doing so. My interest in this site, asides from the straight razor article, tends more towards the principles of manliness rather than concrete activities and such: when I think, I prefer to work with abstractions anyway, it's just how I'm wired. So the articles about the masculine archetypes really interest me. Things of that nature.

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Welcome, Thomas!

Hi Thomas and welcome!  I've been intrigued as of late by the people I've met from your generation and their knowledge of seemingly "passe" topics, like straight razors, among other topics.  I myself do not possess the courage or coordination to use a straight razor!  I must confess my ignorance of Theravada Buddhist monasticism.  My prayers are with you as you explore your future options.  Please do not consider this a criticism of your calling, but you are young enough to be my son, and I don't know how I'd react if my son told me at age eighteen that he wanted to enter a monastery.  On the one hand, I'd be proud of the fact that he is committed to spiritual values and is ready to do what he thinks is right regardless of what "the world" may think, but then, on the other hand, I'd be conflicted about whether someone so young would be ready to make a lifetime commitment without first sowing his "wild oats".  I'm sure you've heard similar pros and cons before, but now to move on to another subject, what a good decision to join this community.  If you're looking for a variety of opinions of interest to men, this is the right place to be!

I don't mind discussing it.

I would say that actually using the term "monastic" is a bit weird when applied to the tradition of the Buddhist 'bhikkhu'. Bhikkhu is the traditional Buddhist word translated as 'monk', and it literally means "one who takes alms." Monastic, from monastos: "aloneness," since the first Christian monks often lived in desert cloisters. Theravada monks do not live in cloister, but they are celibate alms-mendicants. The tradition which I have the greatest respect for in Theravada, the Thai forest tradition, is very conservative in its approach to monastic discipline, so they don't ever use money in their lives: everything that they use is given to them by laypeople, for the purpose of keeping them connected to the rest of humanity. At the same time, all the teachings are given completely for free and there is no secrecy to it. The Buddha called this "teaching with an open hand."

My parents are curiously ambivalent. I don't believe they understand my purpose for becoming a monastic, but they support it and have given me their permission (ordination, or 'Upasampada', is invalid without parental permission). They are more secular than I am.

I do plan on spending four years in college before I request ordination. It was an agreement made between the abbot of the particular monastery, my parents, and myself: the abbot sees college as an opportunity in which I could develop the qualities of self-reliance and manliness (he said that word exactly!) before committing myself completely to the life of the bhikkhu.

Thank you for the welcome.

What a very interesting coincidence that the abbot used the word "manliness" in helping to guide you or maybe it is not a coincidence.  I'm glad you're getting an education.  Always a useful thing.  It will enrich your life no matter which direction you decide to take. 


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