Do you want to become a monk or nun of the Gelug Tibetan Tradition?
The monastery will offer those who plan to take ordination the opportunity to get in touch with the community and to live there for a certain period as aspiring monks and nuns. In our tradition, becoming part of the monastic Sangha is a choice made for the rest of one's life. It is therefore important to be well prepared for this crucial step.
Becoming a Buddhist monk or nun is truly a meaningful way to live your life and benefit others. We are very fortunate that the monastic tradition initiated by the Buddha is still alive today, thanks to the devotion, dedication and efforts of many thousands of monks and nuns over the past 2500 years. There is a great benefit in taking ordination in a conscious way, because the life of a Buddhist monk or nun requires a deep responsibility for oneself and for others.
IMI - The International Mahayana Institute (International Mahayana Institute)
IMI has developed extensive resources about ordering.
IMI is a community of Buddhist nuns and monks and is part of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). Lama Yeshe, the founder of the FPMT, created IMI in 1973. Lama Zopa Rinpoche is currently its spiritual director.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche places a lot of emphasis on the master-disciple relationship when any request for ordination is examined. This relationship is important not only in determining the suitability of the candidate at the time of the request, but also in assessing the aspiring nun's ability to integrate into the monastic community after taking vows.
The decision to order is a personal responsibility; the master has the task of examining the aspirant's request and verifying its suitability and motivation.
Requirements that the student must meet to apply for an ordination:
Know the Buddhist teachings
Before ordination, one must have a complete foundation of the Buddha's teachings, such as: the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path and the Stages of the Path of Enlightenment (Lam-Rim). Traditionally a student applying for ordination has completed several years of study and practice under the guidance of a qualified teacher. If you are starting out, seek out a center or study group in your area where you can generate an understanding of the teachings, garner support from other Dharma students, and have the guidance of a qualified teacher.
Have a perfectly qualified spiritual guide
In any business we undertake, we need someone to teach and guide us. This is especially true on our spiritual journey where a qualified teacher can provide the guidance we need to be successful in our practice. Our teacher can help provide the foundation for monastic life, and will understand when we are ready to make the commitment required for monastic ordination vows. You must have a teacher who can authorize you.
Enter the Buddhist path
Take the time to develop spiritual practice. Once you understand the value of the Buddha's teachings and that they are appropriate for your spiritual development, the next step is to formally establish yourself as a Buddhist by taking "refuge".
It is also important to strengthen one's practice by taking the "lay vows", preparing to live with the vows; many students also practice celibacy for a period before taking ordination. Know yourself and know if you will feel comfortable being a monk or a nun.
Considering the order
If possible, spend some time living in a monastic community, receiving advice from resident monks or nuns on what it means to be a monk. Talk to monks and nuns who have lived with vows and they can offer very practical information on how to keep your commitment. The members of the monastic community are happy that you are interested in following the monastic path and want to support you in your ordination. Resources and articles are also available online.
Programs are being developed where lay practitioners considering ordination can gain an understanding and experience of monastic life in a protected retreat environment.
A lifelong commitment
The vows of a Buddhist monk or nun are taken for life, so it is important to spend time and be very careful in reflecting on the various advantages and disadvantages before making a decision. Some monasteries in Asia (for example in Thailand) offer part-time ordination programs that allow you to live as ordered sangha for a few days, weeks, months or years. However, in the Tibetan tradition, it is a lifelong commitment. And although there are cases of people taking vows and then returning them and returning to secular life, this is not recommended. Vows are taken with the determination to keep them for the rest of life.
Be part of a community
Becoming a Buddhist monk means joining a community: the Sangha. The purpose of the community is to study and practice the teachings of the Buddha and, when possible, to share them with others. Traditionally, one remains in a monastic community for at least 5 years after being ordained. However, as monastic communities are still developing in many parts of the world, this is not always possible. In some cases, one may even reside in a Dharma center under the guidance and protection of one's teachers. Possibilities of joining monastic communities should be checked before ordination.
Living in community also means sharing our resources, our habits, our practice and our personality. Many difficulties can be faced in learning to live in a community, especially as many of us have grown up in cultures of individual expression. To protect our ordination, the Vinaya (code of conduct) is very comprehensive in providing guidelines on how to live in a community of ordained monks and nuns.
Traditionally, when entering a monastic community, the four basic requirements are provided: food, clothing, shelter and medicine. However, as Buddhism is relatively new to many parts of the world, resources to support monastic communities are limited. For those considering ordination, it is important to consider what resources are available for support once ordination is taken. Many monks and nuns serve their local Dharma communities in exchange for their basic needs. IMI also provides support according to available resources. It is contrary to the Vinaya that monks and nuns do worldly work to support themselves. Those seeking to become monks or nuns should discuss their situation with their teacher or senior sangha to ensure their stability once ordination is taken.
Before applying for ordination, the student is encouraged to share his aspiration with the local Sangha leader who can facilitate the process and provide guidance.
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