By far the most common question I’m asked is “Why did you become a monk”
In some ways this is a tough question because there are so many reasons I chose this path. I remember wanting to become a monk while reading my very first Buddhist book. But for the next ten years I listen to the advice of others and put off my dream. Then one day I truly realized what the phrase ‘listen to your heart’ meant.
But the real reason for taking ordination and wearing robes is to practice renunciation, ethics and to practice the three higher training. Many students study, read and practice Buddhism but only monks and nuns undergo the Buddha’s strict training in discipline and virtue called “Vinaya” and the three higher trainings: vinaya (monk’s vows), sutra (teachings of the Buddha) and abhidharma (Wisdom).
Monks renounce ordinary living for a simple life geared towards personal development, study and training. Monks also renounce possessions, personal schedules, personal space; opinions, needs, and comforts. Moving away from the world of “I, me, and mine” and moving into a world of service to others.
The title of “Gelong” or fully ordained monk is translated as, “Ge” meaning “virtuous” and “Long” meaning “beggar” So Gelong means: “Virtuous Beggar”.
The vows of a monk are called pratimoksha vows or personal liberation vows. One takes the vows so he can be trained while developing an aspiration of becoming a Buddha in order to free all beings from their lives of suffering. Novice monks take 36 vows and within a few years when ready, will become fully ordained monks or Bikshu with 253 vows.
Some quotes I find inspiring
- “The robes seem to inspire trust in others and serve to remind people of their own spiritual dimension”
- “For some, vows are a burden and a source of constraint. But for the sincere and renounced, the vows are the source of great happiness, joy and liberation”