I’ve been in the Catholic religion my whole life. In fact, every single person in my immediate and extended family is catholic. Because of this, I am very familiar with catholicism and very unfamiliar with pretty much every other religion out there. This was just one reason why I was interested in learning more about Buddhism from our monk chat a few days ago.
The thing that I found most interesting was the fact that a lot of men become monks for a period of time. This period of time may be a short one or a long one. There is no mandatory time commitment for them. I was under the impression that becoming a monk was a lifetime commitment. This probably came from my background in the Catholic church. The priests in the Catholic religion often commit their whole life to God. They are unable to marry and very few of them ever decide to leave priesthood. In contrast, a man can decide to become a monk for a few months to study the Buddhist ways. In fact, as we learned from the monk chat, men are often encouraged to become a monk for a period of time before marriage. It’s also possible for a man to become a monk after he is married as long as he gets permission from his wife. I’m wondering if becoming a priest in the Catholic church was less of a commitment time wise, or if there was more flexibility, then maybe there wouldn’t be such a shortage of priests. Just looking around it was very apparent to me that there were a lot of monks around. I’ve only seen 5 priests maximum at a time at church and that was for confession. I know that the Catholic Church really struggles getting enough men to take the vow and I just wonder if there is a way to improve that. I’m not saying adopting the exact rules as the monks is the answer, I just think it’s interesting to think about.
I also find the variable of gender interesting in religion. In one way, Buddhists are ahead of Catholics. The monk explained that now women are being allowed to become monks. In the past, women were only allowed to become nuns. I found this ground breaking because in the Catholic faith women are only allowed to be nuns. While their commitment is just as serious as a priests, they are not allowed the same privileges and there is no way for them to gain those privileges. I wonder if women who do decide to become monks are awarded the same treatment as male monks. I also have a hard time grasping the fact that women can become monks and yet there are signs to keep women out of temples. Something just seems wrong about that. How can they move forward in one aspect and not move forward in another? The monk said that in some instances it is the abbot monks decision whether or not to allow women into the temple. I would be interested to see if in 10 years or more this will be change as the monks studying now become the abbot monks. Maybe there will be more acceptance? It’s hard to say.
Finally, one of my favorite things the monk said about Buddhism was about treating everyone the same because everyone feels hunger the same way, regardless of religion. I would like to find out if this is really the case. I’m not saying I’m completely skeptical, but I am in the dark and I don’t want to assume anything. I hope it’s true. I think many religions may preach this, but it’s very hard to carry out. I think in some instances, some catholics can be intolerant of other beliefs. I don’t think any priest would admit to that happening in the Catholic church, but in my opinion it does happen. Hopefully I can learn more about this in the scope of Buddhism.