Ordaining as a MonkThe following information relates to training towards bhikkhu ordination at NBM.
Currently, there have been no men who have ordained at Newbury Monastery. Partly, this is because Newbury Buddhist Monastery is like a branch of Bodhinyana Monastery in Western Australia, particularly the monks’ section. Nearly all the monks staying here have ordained at Bodhinyana Monastery. And, it was only in January 2021, when Ajahn Nissarano became the resident senior monk at Newbury, that ordaining here became possible.
In addition, at present, the monks’ section of the Monastery only has limited accommodation, 5 huts and a room in the monks’ main building, most of which are generally occupied. This limitation has necessarily reduced the Monastery’s ability to provide ordination for laymen. However, with the completion of the Meditation Centre in March 2023, it will be possible to accommodate a trainee (anagarika) in the monks’ main building. This will be a temporary arrangement until the building of further huts. There is infrastructure in place for 6 more monks’
Ordaining as a Buddhist monk is a big commitment that requires applicants to pass through stages from being a guest to becoming a trainee (anagarika), then becoming a novice monk (samanera), and finally becoming a fully ordained monk (bhikkhu). The whole process takes over 2 years. Each level requires greater degrees of commitment and higher standards of monastic discipline (Vinaya), which for a novice or fully ordained monk include not using money, and no sexual activity of any kind, as well as not harming any living being, even insects.
Ideally, applicants should be under 50 year old, in good health and have a driver’s license. However, these criteria can be discussed on a case-by-case basis.
Before the Monastery can consider new applicants for ordination, we require them to first come and stay with us as a guest initially for short periods and, then eventually, for longer periods. That way they will be able to get to know the Monastery community, our environment and the standard of practice at Newbury without making any long term commitments. It also allows them to discover for themselves if monastic life suits them. For more information about staying at our monastery as a guest click here.
After spending some time getting acquainted with us, anapplicant wishing to ordain can request a 3 month stay, as a trial period before becoming a trainee or anagarika. Atthe end of this period, the candidate can ask the senior monk and the Newbury Monks’ Sangha for approval to be ordained as an eight precept ‘trainee’, or anagarika.
Trainees or anagarikas shave their heads, wear white and live according to the eight precepts. Usually, they are intending to become a 10 precept novice monk, a samanera, after a further year, though it is possible to remain as a trainee or anagarika for longer.
For trainees or anagarikas there is quite a lot of work involved, supporting the monks and doing various jobs around the Monastery. This work includes: some kitchen work, driving, shopping, grass cutting, and helping with small construction projects.
Due to the shortage of accommodation, at present, a trainee or anagarika would need to stay in a room in the main monks’ building. However, it is hoped that in the near future more huts will be built, as there is infrastructure for a further 6 huts.
Novice (Samanera) Ordination
After one year as a trainee or anagarika, they can request ordination as a novice monk – a samanera. This is subject to the approval of the Newbury Sangha, and with the approval of Ajahn Brahm.
Novice monks live according to the 10 precepts, which prohibits them from using money. Cash and assets can be given away, or transferred into the hands of a trusted friend or family member.
Novice monks exchange their white clothing for a monks’ brown robes, and move into a monk’s hut (“kuti”) as soon as one is available. Meals and evening tea are taken with the monks’ community.
It is hoped novice monks will spend some periods of their training at Bodhinyana Monastery in Western Australi, subject to the availability of space. Typically this would be for Rains’ Retreats, meditation retreats, etc.
After a further year, a novice monk (samanera) can request higher ordination as a fully ordained monk (bhikkhu). Again this is subject to approval by the Monks’ Sangha of Newbury Monastery, and with the approval of Ajahn Brahm. The ordination as a full monk (bhikkhu) will most likely be performed here at Newbury under the guidance of Ajahn Brahm.
With full ordination comes the responsibility to keep the 227 rules of a bhikkhu (fully ordained monk) as laid down in the monks’ discipline (Vinaya). This is the last stage of ordination and the monk is now a full member of the monks’ Sangha. For the first 5 years as a new monk one will need to receive guidance from a suitably qualified senior monk, who has at least 10 Rains.
It is hoped new fully ordained monks will spend some periods of their first 5 years at Bodhinyana Monastery, subject to the availability of space. Typically this could include Rains’ Retreats, meditation retreats, etc.
Training provided for trainees/anagarikas, novice monks and new fully ordained monks (bhikkhus)
There are fortnightly Dhamma talks by the senior monk,weekly Sutta discussions classes and personal interviews(by request). And, periodically there will be optional Pali classes, depending on the availability of a teacher. In addition, there are recordings from Bodhinyana Monastery of recent Dhamma talks by Ajahn Brahm (which are played weekly), Vinaya classes, and Pali classes (which will be available mainly for self study).