Leaving Home - Ordaining as an Anagārika

Tea is often considered a space of temporary ordination in the east. One of the reasons a Japanese tea ceremony is so long is because it was a time to set down the worldly life and retreat. Guests would have to crawl through a small door on hands and knees, giving up any ego around their social standings. All enter the tea space as equals.

 

When we sit for tea we can bring the same approach. Our tea space is an ordination as a monastic for the time we sit. Retreating from our lives and setting things down. There is no gender, age, wealth or ego. Absorbed into the moment, the world disappears.

 

In the Thai Forest Tradition, temporary ordination has a different place. People can join the monastic community for periods of intensive practice. Renouncing their worldly lives, they shave their hair, beard and eyebrows and don the white robes of an anagārika. An anagārika (‘homeless one') is a person who has given up most or all of their worldly possessions and responsibilities to commit full-time to Buddhist practice. It is a midway status between being a monk or nun and a lay person. 

To be homeless means we no longer take refuge in the idea that we will find a true home in the world of form. Leaving the comfort of the desire to find stability in the external, the anagārika turns inwards. This training period allows one to more deeply connect with the inner stability we all have within.

 

I have always been inspired by monastic life and the wisdom embodied by those walking this path, so as New Year’s Eve struck this year, I undertook temporary ordination. There is something truly noble about those that follow the training laid down by the Buddha. There is an uprightness in those on this path, that is so rare to see these days. I guess ultimately that’s what drew me in; that’s something I want to embody. To experience my own nobility. To be inspired by myself and who I am and how I live.