Friday, May 16, 2014

Becoming an Anāgārika (Last Post)

Hello friends,

It's been a while since my last post, over 5 months. I apologize. I've been meaning to write something, but I wasn't sure what to write. Perhaps it was procrastination. In any case, here I am. It's good to be back writing. ;-)

That said, this will be my last blog post. Why? Tomorrow (Saturday) night, I will be donning the white robes of an Anāgārika at the Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in northern California. The Anāgārika role is the first year of formal training in becoming a Buddhist monastic in this tradition. In addition, part of that training includes abandoning many activities and devices I have been using, including social networking, blogging, cell phones, frequent computer access, etc. It's not that these things are bad, but that this training is intended to simplify my life and solidify my commitment towards the goal ahead of me.

A walking mediation path

So, tomorrow evening, we will first get together like we usually do and partaking in the evening chanting and mediation. After that, myself along with 2 others will be participating in an ordination ceremony. One other long term guest, Doug, here will be also taking the white robes and becoming an Anāgārika. The other, Anāgārika Anthony, will be taking the "going forth" or becoming a Sāmaṇera, otherwise known as a novice. (In this tradition, a Sāmaṇera is the second year of the postulation training before becoming a Buddhist monk. It's not necessarily done this way in other traditions.)

So, in an nutshell, there will be three of us taking deeper commitements to the holy life.

A "kuti" (cabin) at the monastery

To me, this step feels significant. You may remember I recently did the temporary Anāgārika role for 2 months while in Boston, but now it feels like the "real deal." It's not so much about shaving my head and eyebrows (yes, we shave our eyebrows in this tradition) or wearing funny looking white clothes. It's more of a public acknowledgement and gesture of my commitment towards dedicating my life to following the Buddha's teachings to the best of my abilities.

It's also not easy being willing to abandon a lot of things that I enjoy (I must admit I'm going to miss my cell phone) but I would like to in effort to give rise to a higher happiness. Ajahn Geoff wrote about this principal in his essay entitled Trading Candy for Gold. (You can read the essay by clicking on the link.) Of course, whether or not this will pan out will remain to be experienced. But this is the risk I'm willing to make right now.

Anyways, thank you for reading the posts over the last couple years. I hope you've enjoyed them.

Taken 2 hours before I wrote this last post...

With kindness,

P.S. Also, if you are ever in the Ukiah area of northern California, feel free to visit me at the monastery. It's open every day and it's quite a beautiful and quiet place to spend the afternoon. Feel free to just stop by unannounced. If you insist, you can contact me ahead of time by email at Please note though, my computer access is infrequent so it may take up to 2 weeks to respond to you.

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