Pure Land Monastics, Part One

Question: How does one ordain in the Pure Land tradition?

Response: I can only speak for how I became a nun but I believe it is fairly representative. After deciding that everyday life was becoming less important while dedicating myself full-time to Buddhism had become very important to me, I asked my Teacher, Ven. Master Chin Kung, if he would accept me as a nun. This was done through a translator who was at the Dallas Buddhist Association (DBA), where I was practicing and studying. She faxed Teacher, and he faxed back that I should "get ready."

It was arranged that I would spend the next year dividing my time between living at my home and living at the DBA. As the year was ending, I gave away all my possessions and prepared to move into a nun's dormitory at the DBA. I and nine others were shaved by Teacher who had come in from Taiwan for the tonsure and related ceremonies.

In 1997, the ten of us and some other monastics who had been shaved by Teacher but not yet been ordained went to Kaohsiung in Taiwan for the ordination training and ensuing ceremonies. About 600 monks and nuns studied and practiced for thirty-two days and at the end of the time were ordained in a ceremony that lasted many hours.

As you can see, becoming a monastic was a two-step process: first the tonsure and then the period of training that culminates in the Ordination Ceremony. 



Emotions That Create Trouble

956849-771562-thumbnail.jpg"The more we generate an attitude of contentment in our lives, the happier we will be and the more open we will be to engage in genuine Dharma practice. Letting go of the eight worldly concerns brings mental peace right now.

The defining characteristic of a thought or action being Dharma is whether or not we're attached to the happiness of this life. The eight worldly concerns are completely involved with attachment to the happiness of this life. How can we practice genuine Dharma when our self-centered mind is fixated on getting our own way and making everyone and everything around us suit our preferences and needs?

That doesn't mean the happiness of this life is bad or wrong. The Buddha did not say that we should suffer in this life so that we'll get our reward in heaven. The objects we're attached to and have aversion for aren't the problem; there's nothing wrong with experiencing pleasure and happiness. Those aren't the issue. Rather, attachment to pleasant feelings and to the people, objects, and situations that cause them, and aversion to unpleasant ones--it is these emotions that create trouble. They make us unhappy and propel us to harm others in order to get what we want. The troublemakers of attachment and hostility are what we want to abandon, not people and things. There is nothing wrong with being happy. But when we're attached to it, we actually create more unhappiness for ourselves."

~ Venerable Thubten Chodron 



Loving Wisely

We usually think of love in terms of a particular person. Such love is born of emotions, gives rise to expectations, and often results in disappointment. Wanting others to conform to our ideals, we often smother the recipient of our “love” and destroy the person we care for. If, however, love comes from wisdom, such love will be unconditional and nonjudgmental. We will accept the other as he or she is and will wish only for that person’s happiness. In this way, we will discover happiness for ourselves as well.



Peace and Unity


It is appropriate to cherish and protect this world,
For it is our home and the home of those who will come after us.
So immense, yet so fragile.
So secure, yet so easily destroyed by selfishness and by hatred.

May all beings savor the nectar of loving-kindness
to overcome thoughts of controlling others,
bring forth serenity and the insight
to find happiness and harmony.

It is right for us to respect and safeguard every living creature,
For they are one with us.
We are just different aspects of a single being.
Many of us feel that we are dissimilar,
but in essence we are the same with universal beliefs and values.

May the perfection of our true selves blossom within us
as we let go of hypocrisy and jealousy,
bring forth equanimity and the wisdom
to know tolerance and unity.

It is time to heal the wounds born of bitterness and violence,
For if left untended, they will only wreak irreparable damage.
We reap what we sow.
Only sincere thoughts and deeds of friendship
will create the joyful world we seek.

May all our hearts and minds bond together
to forge the unshakable promise
to bring our world lasting peace.



A Peaceful, Stable World

We perceive ourselves as individuals, as being independent of others. We think “I am an individual” and most of the time consider our own personal wishes and desires before we think of the wishes and desires of others. And when we do think of others, they are usually our family and those we know and care about, those who think the way we do and who share our beliefs.

But we all live in the same world, have the same problems. Many of us need help when we have problems. If someone is drowning, and we can swim, we do not ask who they are or what they believe in. We do everything we can to help them. If all of us gave help when it was needed, our world would be gentle, peaceful, and happy, and we would not have the problems that we do, the hatred, the wars.

We can either choose to create problems or to solve them. But if we do not help, we will never solve our problems. We can spend millions of dollars on a bomb or $25 to feed a hungry child in a third world country for a month. We can spend money to kill or to save lives. Which one solves the problem? War will not solve problems, giving unselfishly will. True giving is totally without expectation of reward. If we expect something then it does not solve the problem. When people of different beliefs and cultures respect and help each other, we will finally have a harmonious and prosperous society, and a peaceful and stable world.

This is what we hope for. This is our responsibility to create.