When to Become a Nun

When to Become a Nun

Date of Advice:
September 2016
Date Posted:
November 2017

Rinpoche gave this advice to a student who wrote about ordination.

My dear one,
Regarding your question about being a nun, this is most beneficial for sentient beings and for you, but when to become a nun is the question. Perhaps you need stronger meditation on renunciation, along with the lamrim meditations that I advised, then can decide. Then after some time you can take ordination, but not right now.

You have to realize that the works of this life are meaningless. Our attachment is from beginningless rebirths, but still we are not free from the oceans of sufferings of the six realms.

You have to realize that future samsara is in the nature of suffering, like being in prison. It’s like being caught in prison—you don’t want to be there for even a second, you want to be out—or like your naked body is sitting on a thorn bush. You can’t stand it even for a second. Like that, the nature of suffering is unbearable.

It’s like your own body being caught in the center of a fire, where every second is unbelievable suffering. Being in samsara is like that, from the lowest hot hell, the inexhaustible hell realm, from there up to the form and formless realms, the tip of samsara.

This doesn’t mean you have to wait until you have these realizations, but you should have a strong understanding that this is what you need, then you can become a nun. That way you can enjoy being a pure nun and you will have the strength to be a pure nun.

Otherwise you won’t last and after some time—a week, a month or years—then disrobe. Being a nun is more uncomfortable, more suffering, and it doesn’t fit your attachment to suffering. Then you may think, “This is not for me.” Or some people may think that you haven’t checked well before you became a nun, so they think that you have made some mistake.

The first Western person ordained by His Holiness Dalai Lama; he was ordained by His Holiness then after some time he left to go to America. Either the same day he arrived or the next day he disrobed.

With much love and prayers ...