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NEWS

Fourfold Sangha: Five Nuns from Sravasti Abbey in the US Receive Full Bhikshuni Ordination in Taiwan

From left: Bhikshuni Thubten Lamsel; Bhikshuni Thubten Kunga; Bhikshuni Thubten Dekyi; Bhikshuni Thubten Rinchen; and Bhikshuni Thubten Monlam. From sravastiabbey.org

Sravasti Abbey, a Tibetan Buddhist community in Newport, Washington State, has announced that five of the abbey’s training nuns have received full monastic ordination at Fo En Si Temple (Buddha Gratitude Temple) in Taichung, Taiwan, in late March.

The revered American Buddhist monastic, author, teacher, and founder of Sravasti Abbey, Ven. Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron, accompanied the five nuns to Fo En Si Temple, where she served as one of the preceptors for the ordination ceremony. Full ordination requires 10 senior male monastics and 10 senior female monastics as preceptors.

“As of 24 March, 4:13 p.m. Taiwan time, all five of the abbey’s nuns had received the bhikshuni ordination, increasing our fully ordained nuns’ community to a total of 17!” Sravasti Abbey said in an announcement shared with BDG. “While the entire full ordination procedure itself takes about four days for the more than 200 candidates, there are rehearsals for the rites and extensive teachings and training given before and afterwards.”

Because full monastic ordination has not been available to female renunciates in the Tibetan tradition, monastics from Sravasti Abbey receive ordination in the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya lineage, which actively practices in China, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and in Southeast Asia.

Ordination ceremonies for some of this year’s candidates had been delayed for several yars as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 

“After years of preparation, aspirational prayers, and many purifying prostrations . . . all five nuns—Venerables Lamsel, Kunga, Dekyi, Rinchen, and Monlam—received ordination, along with about 200 candidates from many countries,” Sravasti Abbey explained. “Venerables Lamsel and Kunga, have waited many years for this opportunity. Venerables Dekyi, Rinchen, and Monlam, who have also completed the two-year training requirement for nuns, rejoiced in being able to join them.” (Sravasti Abbey)

Ven. Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron, left, with the main bhikshuni preceptor in Taiwan this year, Ven. Wuyin, abbess of Luminary Temple. Image courtesy of Sravasti Abbey

Sravasti Abbey is the first Tibetan monastery for Western monastics in the US. The American bhikshuni Ven. Thubten Chodron founded the abbey in 2003. His Holiness the Dalai Lama named the abbey after the capital city of the ancient kingdom of Kosala, where the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, spent most of his life and gave most of his teachings after attaining enlightenment. Female and male monastics study and practice together at the abbey, with spiritual support and social engagement as key aspects of monastic life.

Born in California in 1950, Ven. Thubten Chodron was ordained as Tibetan Buddhist nun in 1977 and received full ordination in the Gelug tradition in 1986. She has studied under His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tsenshab Serkong Rinpoche, Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, and  Lama Thubten Yeshe. A revered Dharma teacher, Ven. Chodron is renowned for her warm, practical, and humorous explanations of how to apply Buddhist teachings in daily life. She is also involved in prison outreach and interfaith dialogue.

“While the entire full ordination procedure takes about four days for the more than 200 candidates, there are rehearsals for the rites and extensive teachings and training given before and afterwards,” Sravasti Abbey explained. “In keeping with Chinese tradition, the novice precepts and bodhisattva precepts are also given before and after the full ordination, hence it is called a Triple Platform Ordination program. . . .

“In the coming weeks, the new bhikshunis will receive teachings on their monastic precepts and bodhisattva precepts. After the program, they will spend about a week visiting nunneries in Taiwan and thanking our Vinaya teachers for their support.” (Sravasti Abbey)

The five candidates from Sravasti Abbey. From sravastiabbey.org

The five new bhikshunis shared their thoughts and impressions of their recent experiences in Taiwan.

“Seeing this kindness [here in Taiwan] really makes me think in a much larger perspective beyond myself and just this life,” Bhikshuni Thubten Dekyi reflected. “To think of the countless causes and conditions that have come together to make this six-week program possible is mind-blowing. It really helps me to get out of my narrow, self-focused view and to feel like I am in a great river, being carried along by the Buddhas, Dharma, and Sangha. . . .

“For Buddhism and especially the monastic sangha to continue to spread throughout the world, I will joyfully and gratefully dedicate my life to helping to make this happen. The Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha are so very precious. I want to do all that I can to make it last forever.” (Sravasti Abbey)

“Taking bhikshuni precepts has had a big impact on my mind,” observed Bhikshuni Thubten Monlam. “The training here, the teachings, daily life with Dharma sisters and brothers have helped my mind expand so I will be able to embody the precepts with joy, enthusiasm, gratitude, and determination.

“I have entered this tradition, passed down for 2,500 years through kindness, fortitude, and confidence in the Buddha’s teaching. I will do my absolute best to contribute to the Dharma so that it lasts forever in the world.” (Sravasti Abbey)

See more

Reflections from Five New Bhikshunis (Sravasti Abbey)
Sravasti Abbey
Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron

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