Monastic Life

About this section:

The Buddhist community includes monastics and lay people. Both are necessary for the preservation of Buddhism. However, monastics choose a life of vowed simplicity, a life directly related to the preservation and dissemination of the Dharma to benefit others. They are the core of that lifestyle that all Buddhist practitioners are committed to. In the articles here, Venerable Chodron shares with us the joys and difficulties of being a nun and the special challenges of being a Western Buddhist nun. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama notes, all Buddhist nuns have a unique role to play in the evolution of Buddhism where the universal principle of the equality of all human beings takes precedence. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to be a monastic, you'll find these articles intriguing and stimulating.

In February, 1987, in Bodhgaya, India, for the first time in approximately 800 years, a bhikshuni sangha in India performed the Bhikshuni Posadha, the nuns' bimonthly purification and restoration of vows. The Buddha established that the bhikshuni sangha do this ceremony on the full moon and new moon days every month and required that a minimum of five fully ordained nuns be present. Because Buddhism had died out in India hundreds of years ago, the Bhikshuni Posadha had not been done in the land where the Buddha's teachings originated for many centuries. Fortunately, the lineage of fully ordination for women had been kept alive in China, Taiwan, Korea, and Vietnam.

At the Bhikshuni Posadha in Bodhgaya.
(Click on photo for bigger picture.)

The first Sakyadhita -- "Daughters of Sakyamuni Buddha" -- conference was in Bodhgaya in February, 1987. This brought together more than ten bhikshunis -- most from Taiwand and the USA -- who could do the Bhikshuni Posadha, where this photo (above) was taken. In 1998, another historic event for the bhikshuni sangha occured in Bodhgaya. Under the auspicies of Fo Kwang Shan Temple, the bhikshuni ordination was once again given in India. (picture below)

The International Full Ordination Ceremony in Bodhgaya 1998
The International Full Ordination Ceremony in Bodhgaya 1998

Ven. Chodron and friend at their Bhikshuni Ordination in Taiwan.

Ven. Chodron at her Bhikshuni Ordination in Taiwan, 1986.

Ven. Chodron at her Bhikshuni Ordination in Taiwan, 1987.

The Growing Monastic Community at Sravasti Abbey Timeline
(Click here) (Espanol)


[All Audio in mp3 format unless otherwise stated.]

General Articles, Transcripts & Audio

audio Audio:

For Those Considering Monastic Ordination

audio Audio:

And here is a link to the podcast site where they can all be downloaded via iTunes (the above links are just for streaming):

Buddhist Nuns and Bhikshuni Ordination

Introducing the Bhikshuni Ordination into the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition

Other Articles

audio Audio:

Blossoms of the Dharma: Living as a Buddhist Nun

In recent years Buddhist nuns from Asia and the West have met together to become more active in improving their status in the female sangha. One such conference is the "Life As A Western Buddhist Nun" Conference held in 1996 in Dharamsala, This book gathers some of the presentations and teachings at this conference.

This book is now online. It is rich with writings about monastic life by those who live it. See full contents.

Western Buddhist Monastics

Conference of Western Buddhist Monastics

audio Audio:

Interviews with Ven. Chodron

audio Audio:

  • Interview with Ven. Chodron by Barbara Stewart

Other Articles/Audio

audio Audio:

Ven. Chodron with nuns of Jangchub Choeling Nunnery in Mundgod, India.
Ven. Chodron with nuns of Jangchub Choeling Nunnery in Mundgod, India.

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