Zen Talk

Monks and Monasteries

Zen Monks and Monasteries

The Monk

A monk is someone who takes vows of dedication to the Zen path. This does not mean that the monk is knowledgeable in anything, or enlightened.

  • Every religious order his its own rules,
  • Not every monk belongs to an religious order

A monk is not a free-loader

  • A monk must either have money saved up to pay their way (food and rooms do cost money)
  • A monk may have benefactors – family, friends or kind people who help
  • A monk may trade their knowledge and skill and receive room and board, and a stipend from the monastic order

The Monastic order

Simply, a monastic order is monks who band together to help each other

  • The order may minister to the public-at-large, but not all do
  • The order may provide a service to other orders (research, training, religious supplies and crafts)
  • The order may care-take of lands or historical buildings

Some countries fund monasteries, those countries select who leads the monastery, and who attends, and other countries the monastery is the government

Why a person becomes a monk

There may be many reasons, all are valid

  • Wanting to learn the path of Zen
  • Is interested in the deep spiritual mysteries

Ordaining as a monk is not permanent. Many people may live as a monk for a time, then leave to pursue other interest. Peter Norton, of Norton Tools, was once a monk as Shasta Abbey.  He left and became a software developer

To become a monk simply means you have stated publicly your interest and desire to seek out the spiritual mysteries.

Why a person may not become a monk

There are only a few exceptions when a person may not become a monk

  • Too young, 16 years and older seems to be the accepted age
  • Obvious signs of mental illness, retardation, where they never were able to care for themselves
  • Child Rearing, caring for sick or elderly family members

Even so, there are exceptions.  Persons who have demonstrated commitment to the order, the path as a Layman (non monk)  as a householder, as a benifactor, as a devotee

Becoming a monk

Anyone can become a Zen monk simply by choosing to do such.  You can ordain yourself.

  • If joining an order, they will have their own methods of induction (ordination) in to their order
  • If you leave and join another order, you will be ordained in to that new order
  • You don’t have to join an order.
    • Monks can be hermits
    • Scholarly researchers
    • Self-sustaining and independent

Zen Temples

Zen temples are built by people who believe in the Zen mission. Those who donate to the Zen Mission gain merit (Spiritual currency if you believe such) and honors. Many famous Zen masters spent most of their time with wealthy nobles and warlords to gain funding for their temples, some that still stand today.

Anyone can build a Zen temple. The American Zen Centers that currently exist have no connection to any Japanese temple or sect. It’s just people who want to walk The Path of Zen and want to help others.

You do not need permission to be a monk, to build a temple, to follow The Path of Zen – You have always had permission, and if you need it, I give you permission.

Ways and means

There are many accounts of current teachers who build large monastic centers (Gold Mountain for example) and are the heads of the monastery, but have never has prior training, monastic experience, or any connection to other sects or monastic centers.

If your your heart is pure, and intentions noble – the way finds itself.

The Path of Zen is not given, it is taken

Nobody can give you enlightenment, nobody can walk the Path for you. 

You have to do this yourself

You have the right to walk The Path of Zen in any means you see fit.  There are no rules, no standards, and no laws. The path before you is uniquely yours, just as the path before others is uniquely theirs – NO TWO PATHS ARE THE SAME

However, you can help each other.

Those who are on The Path of Zen are your brothers and sisters. Honor them.

Thank you

If you have questions, please contact me – zenbits@protonmail.com

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Non-aligned Zen Teacher currently living in Las Vegas, Nevada USA Youtube Channel Website