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Becoming a Buddhist nun

Becoming a Buddhist nun is truly a meaningful and worthwhile way to spend your life, and to be of benefit to others.

Knowing the Buddhist Teachings

Before making the decision to take ordination, one should have a thorough foundation in the teachings of the Buddha, such as the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, and the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment (lam-rim) (several years of study and practice under the guidance of a qualified teacher).

Having a Spiritual Guide

In any venture we undertake, we need someone who can teach and guide us. You need to have a teacher who can give you permission to be ordained.

Entering the Buddhist Path

Once one understands the value of the Buddha’s teachings and feels they are appropriate for one’s own spiritual development, the next step is to formally establish yourself as a Buddhist by taking “refuge”.

Being Part of a Community

Becoming a Buddhist monastic means that you are joining a community—the Sangha. Traditionally, one stays in a monastic community for at least 5 years after becoming ordained.

Considering Ordination

If possible spend some time living in a monastic community receiving advice from the resident nuns on what it is like to be a monastic. Discuss with nuns who have lived with the vows and can offer very practical information on how to maintain one’s commitment.

A Lifelong Commitment

The vows of a Buddhist monk or nun are taken for life, therefore it is important to spend time and take great care in reflecting on the various advantages and disadvantages before making a decision.

Being a nun

Nuns take specific precepts that guide their behavior—10 precepts for novice nuns and 348 for fully ordained nuns in our particular tradition.

Nuns shave our heads to symbolize letting go of worldly concerns, specifically to “shave off” the poisoned minds of ignorance, anger, and clinging attachment.

Following the Buddha’s guidelines, nuns also refrain from listening to or playing music (except chanting in a spiritual context), dancing, or watching entertainment. That means no music videos, disco nights, gaming arcades, or movies except for relevant documentaries.


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