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The Adjustment Process of Ex-Buddhist Monks to Life after the Monastery

Tim Mapel
Journal of Religion and Health
Vol. 46, No. 1 (Mar., 2007), pp. 19-34
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27512981
Page Count: 16
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The Adjustment Process of Ex-Buddhist Monks to Life after the Monastery
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Abstract

This study explores the adjustment process of five Western ex-Buddhist monks to life after the monastery, using an in depth case study approach and thematic analysis. Participants discussed their initial experience of leaving, the process of creating a new life and their relationship with the past. The findings indicated that while each case was unique, significant common themes emerged as features of the adjustment process. The adjustment had been multi-dimensional, challenging, difficult, confusing, complex and profound for the participants. They had to contend with issues of grief, delayed development, missing out on life experiences, difficulties with intimacy, money, identity, depression, anxiety and confusion. This was combined with the hope and promise of many newly found freedoms involved in establishing a new life and identity. Parallels are drawn to the experience of Catholic priests and nuns who have departed their Orders, Vietnam veterans, ex-cult members and individuals who have left total institutions where their identity and daily lives were highly prescribed. The adjustment experience of ex-Buddhist monks extends the literature on Buddhist monks and provides an example of a life transition of interest to the helping professions because of its potential relevance to a range of major transitions for which clients may seek assistance.

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