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Theravada Buddhism and ageism

14/01/2013

I recently emailed Wat Buddha Dhamma to request permission to visit for the Vassa (an annual retreat of three months, usually from July to October, observed by monks and practitioners).

I received an application form which I duly completed and submitted, and in reply received a telephone call from the ‘guest’ monk. The message I received was: you’re too old, it’s too hard, it’s too cold, what if you become ill, what if, what if, what if. The monk wanted to submit me to a two-week trial period to assess my suitability for the Vassa. It didn’t take long before I fired of an email that simply stated: “Please tear-up my Vassa application. My interest to pursue this matter has now evaporated.”

My conversation with the Buddhist monk was a jaw dropping experience. I was angry. I was disappointed. My pride was dented. I remain amazed by the overt ageism by, of all people, a Buddhist monk toward me. Ultimately, the fact remains that that monk questioned my capacity to accept responsibility for my own life and any or all decisions that follow from that. And that’s inappropriate and I won’t wear that, not from anyone. No matter who!

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