How to Become a Buddhist Monk Online

Jan 09, 2020

Becoming a Buddhist monk includes study, time, and the practice of religion, much of which can be done online. Additional steps in this career path, like finding a monastery and a spiritual mentor, have to be completed in person.

Information About Buddhist Monks

Becoming a Buddhist monk or nun (in some orders females are called monks, too) is a meaningful way to live for many people, involving spiritual enlightenment and the opportunity to help others. Instead of traditional education and career skills, becoming a Buddhist monk requires a sincere commitment to a religious way of life, as vows of chastity and poverty aren't lightly taken. While there are steps that can be taken towards becoming a Buddhist monk online, eventually novices complete in-person training and become ordained at the monastery of their choosing.

Steps to Becoming a Buddhist Monk Online

The steps to becoming a Buddhist monk are a spiritual journey in themselves, and one that can be taken partially online. There are many things that can be learned and practiced online, but ultimately in-person activities and relationships will supplement online work to achieve the final goal of ordination.

1. Learn Buddhism

Using online resources, students of Buddhism can familiarize themselves with the religion, learn religious tenets, and begin practicing meditation. Subjects of study may include history and teachings of the Buddha, karma, ethics, nirvana and more.

2. Join a Temple

An essential component of a journey towards becoming a Buddhist monk includes finding the right temple, or sangha, that practices Buddhism. Students can use the internet to research temples in their area, or abroad, depending on their personal situation. Joining a temple allows students of Buddhism to receive regular instruction, practice their religion and develop meaningful relationships with other Buddhists. Once an individual has begun learning Buddhism and joined a temple, they can take the precepts in the chosen type of Buddhism and become a lay Buddhist.

3. Choose a Master or Spiritual Guide

A spiritual guide can help in the decision to commit to a life of monkhood or to find another path in your lifelong spiritual journey, as well as offer advice on what it means to be a monk and what is required. Finding the right Buddhist teacher is often accomplished through one's connections at the temple, but online research can be helpful. Choosing well involves discovering who the potential mentor's teacher was, how long they have been teaching, what their qualifications are, and how much you connect personally with this individual.

4. Prepare Oneself for Monkhood

Preparing for monkhood is as much mental preparation as it is spiritual and physical. Individuals must prepare to leave their family and gain a new family at the monastery as well as live a life without possessions, sex, and money. This may involve deciding who to give belongings to, having discussions with family members and incorporating new practices, like abstinence, into daily life.

5. Choose an Abbey and Begin Training

To begin training, novice monks must choose an abbey where they will live. Just as Buddhism has many forms, each abbey has specific rules and requirements for monks and novices. Individuals must follow training instructions and be recommended for ordination by a qualified monk at the abbey.

6. Become Ordained

Once recommended and approved for monkhood, a Buddhist can go through the ordination ceremony. At this time an ordained monk will transmit the three Jewels, five Precepts and a new Buddhist name. Once the newly ordained monk takes their Bodhisattva Vows, they commit their life to selfless service and enlightenment.

Becoming a Buddhist monk requires personal character and spiritual strength over traditional educational qualities. Much of the process can be accomplished online through study and research, but in-person commitment is required to build new relationships and enter into abbey life.

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