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Background:

As the title suggests, I had an episode of psychosis this year. With medication and meditation I quickly recovered, and am basically back to normal. The doctors expect that I can eventually go off the medication if things continue as they have (very well so far). Apparently this can happen to some people, and a good percentage never have a return of any symptoms, it's just something that can happen to a person, from which they recover.

Now for my question:

I am particularly wishing to some day take ordination, and I am attracted to the thai forest tradition. Their website specifically says that if you have had psychosis in the past you cannot ordain or even go as a novice, since it would be a burden if your psychosis reappeared. I understand this, but where am I to go, then? Is there any school which sticks closely to the buddha's teachings, with a focus on meditation and the path of purification, where I can some day ordain? Or will I just have to live the rest of my life as a householder?

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Answering this for personal experience. A few years back I was doing my Ph.D. in the UK and I got an episode of Psychosis, that turned into Schizophrenia, and I also got diagnosed with depression. My whole life turned upside-down and I had to return to my home country. I had no job and did literally nothing other than sleeping, for five years straight. Although I was on medication, studying Buddhism and Meditation helped me a lot, in fact, more than the medications.

Now your question. I can understand your condition like you want to do something that's defining, that will give you some sense of belonging and a task for the mind to achieve (forgive me if that's not the case).

I am assuming that you are either from the US or some European country. So before thinking to take ordination I will suggest you attend a few (2-3) ten days Vipassana retreats with S.N Goenka. Also, check for Zen meditation centers or retreats in and around you. Once you get acquainted with what it means to literally revolve your life around meditation and nirvana, you will be in a better position to have the courage to go-forth.

During the same time, spend a good amount of time studying Theravada scriptures to which the Thai forest tradition belongs.

If you are in Australia, you can go to the monastery of Ajahn Brahm who has studied in the Thai monasteries. Also, there are Theravada monasteries in the US. So, the good news is, you don't have to go to Thailand, maybe a good monastery is in your country.

I understand this, but where am I to go, then? Is there any school which sticks closely to the buddha's teachings, with a focus on meditation and the path of purification, where I can some day ordain?

I am still on medications and whenever I ask my psychiatrist to low down the medicine doses, he tells me that the psychosis episodes can repeat. So I cannot say with guarantee in your case, but there's always some sort of chance for it to relapse.

Or will I just have to live the rest of my life as a householder?

Being a householder is not that bad. Start small, reach the point from where there's nothing left other than going forth.

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    Thank you for your advice. May you be happy minded, and sustain total cessation of symptoms. The only thing which I would add in reply is that i have already gone very far, have studied the dhamma for years, and for 2 months now consistently meditate every day, reaching jhanas. I've been convinced that i should go forth for years and this recent progress in my spiritual development has added a sense of certainty. I have no doubt that i will one day go forth. Your advice is very helpful and i feel less lost. Oct 14 at 13:23
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Good householder,

"Their website specifically says that if you have had psychosis in the past you cannot ordain or even go as a novice, since it would be a burden if your psychosis reappeared"

In short: that's the community's rule there, yet not something found as "Dhamma-agreement" in accordiance with the Dhamna-Vinaya and it's further not unusually that 'burdensome' get, out of compassion (one should be clear that there is not such as a right to ordain, but it's something which is given or not), ordained and maybe more a hint that not everything that carries fame in the world is really always worthy it.

Good, of course, to start associating, so that monks would know good householder good anyway and one should not think that people living at monasteries are generally viewed 'normal'. Yet not to speak of modern/western distinctions and SEAsians or even Dhammic. It's generally not so wise to prefer to seek a home in westernisationed/modernisationed communities but leave home first on a home level, into another nearby culture, nearby the heritage rather that modern.

In any case, good to not waste time and to use possibility to go forth, if one feels inspired and ways can be found.

Not only that outer conditions aren't for sure, intention and good aspirations are even more hindrances, as kusala isn't for sure and one is adviced by the Sublime Buddha to be there quick.

May good householder always remember that the Devas (not to speak of good and carefull monks) would open the doors for one after leaving home for the Noble Quest with a clear and honest heart.

And to pay approve of householder White clouds experiances in relation of heal. If the is a 'doctor' hwo leads to heal, then the Sublime Buddhha and his good disciples by use of the sublime Dhamma and practicing it. Medications of common ways may sometimes 'heal' for some time, sometimes not even that. Aging, sickness, death are sure, anyway, for one who took another birth. As for ending the wheel of stress, nothing else as the Noble path would really help.

(...and stop gaming of any kind! quick! nothing of permanent akusala cittas where one 'must' get 'stupid')

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  • Thank you so much for your reply. My mind set at ease knowing that (as i suspected) the limitation on past psychosis is not vinaya, but only a rule of that community. I agree going forth into a traditional monastery rather than a westernized one is preferred. Maybe a middle way is a thai forest monastery in the "west". I agree about gaming, in fact i was just reading in DN 1 about "gods corrupted by play", so much so for gods, then clearly a mortal human can be corrupted! Thank you so much for your reply. I feel less lost. Oct 14 at 13:28
  • Also, you are right there is no medicine like the dhamma. My symptoms have been completely controlled by meditation, and right view has helped keep me steady even when strange thoughts arise. Oct 14 at 13:29
  • Mudita. Now: Good feelings are not for sure and there is work to be done, things are also not under any real controll, so hurry up.
    – user21939
    Oct 14 at 21:35

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