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The Monastic Lifestyle

Author - Ven. Jampa Choephal
Date - 28/02/12

Ven. Jampa Choephal

A Buddhist monk or nun’s life is primarily one of spirituality, through living with the given vows and precepts, and abiding as well as possible within the Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha.

In this manner, they are able to assist the lay community and wider community on a daily basis. I believe the primary role of a Buddhist monk or nun is to preserve the teachings and to expand and gain clearer insights on these teachings in order to make progress for themselves and aid others in gaining a more productive and meaningful lifestyle.  By doing this, a monk or nun is able to be a positive role model for others and to be a reminder of how one might live a worthy life.

As well as that, a monk or nun may also help the community through teaching, leading meditations or doing various forms of community work, aiding others as well as able, and in being a strong member of any given larger community.

I have had the good fortune to live in two monastic communities, firstly in South India at Sera-jey monastic university, which has thousands of monks supporting and encouraging each other, and now here at Thubten Shedrup Ling monastery in Australia, a growing monastery and fantastic place for western monks to live with great support.

I personally believe that a monastery is an essential part of a monk or nun’s life, in order to gain understanding and support of the vows one takes, the lifestyle one intends to lead and a richer and fuller understanding of the Dharma. A monastery is a crucial and invaluable support to obtaining those goals, after all as said in the Sutra of ‘changes to come,’ “the Dharma will disappear simultaneously with the disappearance of the Sangha of monks and nuns since the Dharma relies on the Sangha for its existence in the world.”

So for laity, there should be a happiness and joy in a monastic community being in the area, somewhere where monks or nuns are trying to live the example shown by the Buddha. For other members of the Sangha, perhaps living alone or without support, a monastery should be a place one might consider living in, to gain the rewards a monastic community offers.

I am so very fortunate to be able to stay here and gain access to senior monks, live with monks who support and assist each other, and be part of something much more important than just myself, which is preserving and upholding the Buddhist way of life.