What are the drawbacks and disappointments of life as a Buddhist monk?


Please, I would like to know more about the life experience of monks.

The main advantage of the monk’s life is to live the holy life, and thus attain nibbana for the good of all beings.

But in everyday life, what are the disadvantages, the difficulties, the problems, even the disappointments of the monk’s life?

You can talk about any subject you like, but here are a few questions to inspire you:

  • are there regular conflicts and tensions between monks? or with the laity?
  • when you became a monk, were you disappointed by certain things (for example, the negative behavior of certain people)?
  • does monastic life tend to degrade physical or mental health?
  • is social pressure very strong and overwhelming (I’ve heard several monks say there’s pressure to break the vinaya - like using money)?
  • are there ever powerful regrets about the loss of secular material comforts?
  • etc.

I ask because maybe it would be good for people interested in monastic life (like me) to know what to expect when becoming a monk, and what the drawbacks of monastic life are. This could help them prepare psychologically for possible problems, so as not to be brutally negatively surprised.

Thank you in advance

May all beings live the holy life


I think you can read my website and get a general flavor of what is good and the benefits. There is also a book I wrote called Going for Broke: Travelogs on becoming a buddhist monk. It is for free download on my website.

As for the drawbacks. It is difficult to say.

I think most monks struggle with celibacy and want to disrobe because of that. Some get doubts. Some run out of places to stay.
That is they move around and dislike the places they try… and then run out of places to move to. I always recommend monks to deplete a whole country before moving out. I think those that want to stay exclusively in the West have less options and those options can run out quicker.

The lack of money is a personal taste and depends on what you want and enjoy. It is not easy to get the exact things you need. For instance, I once asked for shaving cream and expected a can of the stuff, but I got literally a “tube” of shaving cream (shown on my recent post on shaving). This kind of mix-ups happen often … But in the end… it is a joy to live this way.

You need a donor for everything and not everyone understands how to be a donor or to say the right words to keep their status as a donor. It is both good and bad. It all depends. Vinaya keeps you light and one should feel shameful to ask for things. It keeps you in one place (which is good) because travel has costs and you need to ask people for those costs. You often need a helper to travel with you, or definitely someone to meet you at the destination.

I looked forward to living without money as a monk.

We have our moments where things don’t go right. But I think that lay people have much more of that than monks do.

To be a monk and feel it worth doing, you really need to understand saṃsāra and what it is all about. When you do, you’ll understand the investment you are making. I think many people who ordain don’t consider saṃsāra completely.

yes… sometimes. It is manageable. We are a community. We have to all live with each other. We have it much easier than women. They have many social problems and difficulties getting along with each other. It is a men are from mars thing. That is why.

Few monks outside pa-auk meditate. Few monks follow vinaya as well. But we have small communities that do things right.

Some monks have problems. I think most do okay.

You have to hang out with the right monks. It is like the smelly fish thing. It will make your whole bowl smell. The same is true with perfumed flowers.

not sure why you ask… If anything… I’m a co-founder of this website which is quite far from secular Buddhism.

My etc was up top before answering your questions.
I might add more… but maybe @monkSarana can also add.
Maybe @Moneyya-Bhante can add too.
@Sandeep_Karki disrobed a long time ago and maybe he has things to add.


Let me suggest that you read the Cātumā Sutta, which explains not only the seeming drawbacks of monkhood but in fact those strong drawbacks that lead monks to become laypeople:

All drawbacks that anyone ever presented to me as a problem of being a monk were excuses based on greed, hatred, delusion, or fear (chandāgati, dosāgati, mohāgati, bhayāgati). A wise person can see that all advantages of lay life, when compared to a life of a monk, are trifling, illusion, destructive, false, deceptive, untrue, dart, disease, tumor, suffering, uncontrollable, and empty.


Thank you for your post. Every word is very interesting

Thank you, I have leafed through your book and it is true that it seems very interesting and instructive. I’ll read it

What doubts, for example? Please, are there any monks who doubt Buddhism? That’s one of the things that scares me: ordaining myself full of faith towards the 3 Gems, and finally, as the years go by, realizing that I’m not achieving any realization, and thus doubting my abilities or even doubting buddhadhamma.

Yes, in a way, wanting to become a monk and become truly ordained already requires a certain amount of wisdom, because you need to have sufficiently understood that illusion and samsara are dukkha.

And you think the problems they have are sometimes linked to their monastic lifestyle (food intolerance ?), or completely unrelated?

Ah, sorry I used the wrong word (English is not my first language). When I said “secular material comfort”, I meant the material comfort of laypersons.

Thank you very much for your message Bhante, I am extremely moved to be able to communicate with people who have renounced the profane to live the holy life !


Thank you very much that helped me. This is a wonderful site, a lot of suttas are commented with detail and finesse. Thank you Venerable!

Beautiful! You speak like the suttas!


34.7-Catuma-S-m67-piya.pdf (731.7 KB)
I uploaded the pdf here as sometimes links change and it is hard to find again.