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.

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Question-and-Answer Session Mainly on Issues Pertaining to Monastic Life
by Ven. Thubten Chodron©
at Thösamling Institute for International Buddhist Women, India.
19 Nov 2006

"When we become monastics, we are making a commitment to deal with our own mind."

Ven. Chodron with the Sangha community at Thosamling


Part 1. [37 min] : Download mp3 file

Setting a proper motivation for listening to the teachings.

Why it is important to have Western communities and Dharma programs for Westerners in India.

As a Westerner, should one ordain and stay in India or should one stay in the West? Will the situation in India improve for Western monastics? The real key is having communities. Ven. talks extensively about the importance of having communities and the challenges of community living for Westerners.

How does one maintain one’s ordination over a long period of time? Internal factors:

  1. Having the correct motivation.
  2. Willingness to give up our own trips, preferences and opinions.
  3. Willingness to be honest with ourselves, acknowledging our weaknesses and faults.
  4. Do not engage in self-deprecation and self-criticism.
  5. Having a long term motivation: What to do when our mind gets into a fixation or attachment about something.

Part 2. [32 min] : Download mp3 file

How does one maintain one’s ordination over a long period of time? External situations for keeping ordination:

  1. Being near a teacher.
  2. Living in a community – not live alone as before or wait for our Tibetan teachers to set up a perfect learning situation – people have to come together on their own initiative and form communities. See Excerpt.

Saying ‘Oh Good!’ when we find garbage in our mind. Do not get complacent when it looks like we’re overcoming a defilement.

Ven. Chodron talks about a very good advice she received as a young nun: cultivating a monastic mind. One of the big attributes of a monastic mind is humility. Self-confidence and humility go together.


Part 3. [37 min] : Download mp3 file

For lay people who are relatively new to the Dharma and have busy lives back home in the West, what practices can they do?

Many Catholic nuns in the West have had to work to support themselves. Are there hybrid forms of practice that might be suitable for Buddhist nuns in the West? The ‘economy of generosity’ that is completely opposite to Western capitalism.

What’s the basic Buddhist practice for Westerners to do in their daily life?

Dedication and concluding remarks.



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