4 things you should know if you want to be a Buddhist monk

Phurba-me

Ever thought about leaving everything behind and become a Buddhist monk?

Have you, at some stage in your life, felt inspired by devoting yourself to meditation and helping others?

I’m always happy when I hear that someone is considering to walk that path. It can be a unique way to deepen one’s understanding and  to help people.

However, let me share a few things I learned on the way (I was a Tibetan buddhist monk for 10 years). I summarized them in 4 tips that you might want to consider before making a decision.

Here are 4 important aspects of a monk’s life, I’ll start with the rough ones. If you are a woman considering to become a nun, the very same applies.

 

Personal tranquility? Just forget it.

The mass media has fed us pictures of serene meditators, facing gorgeous Himalayan landscapes.

You’ll probably have moments like that if you chose to become a monk, but that’s the icing on the cake.

No, seriously, you’re going to be busy. Very busy. Probably busier than you’ve ever been:
- Taking care of people (a lot of lost souls end up in Buddhist environments)
- Organizing everything (teachings, religious events, accounting, I even worked on computers)
- Washing the dishes
- Cleaning the monastery

And that’s on a 24/7 basis, no vacation (or hardly ever), no WE. Your retreat will  be limited to a small room in which you’ll probably be solicited at anytime.

So, it’s advisable to forget about personal tranquility…And intimacy along with it.

Still inspired?

OK:

Girls, girls, girls….

As a Buddhist monk, you’ll take the vow of chastity (unless you become a Zen monk). It means you’ll renounce having sex. No sex, not even on your own.

For guys, that’s usually a challenge (and for girls too, when they become nuns).

Why would someone choose not to have sex?

Because all the time you don’t spend doing it is reinvested in your meditation and yoga practice. That’s often well worth it.

It also changes your perception of desire, you generally discover that it’s not what you think. Many people learn a lot about themselves through chastity, they get very intimate with their true identity.

Most westerners decide to switch back to a lay life after a while, but it’s usually an experience that makes them more mature and self reliable.

In Thailand, a lot of women will refuse to date a guy if he hasn’t been a monk for  at least three months (that’s a tradition there). They would be scared to be with a guy that can’t get a hold of himself.

I’ll probably get some hate mail on this topic, but I can take it, I am talking out of my experience, here, and sexuality has never been a problem for me.

Right environment + right guidance

If you’d like to become a monk, you need to choose your community well, because that’s all you’re going to have. You will officially renounce having a family.

You’ll live in a monastery or at least among your peers, THEY’ll be your family.

Needless to say that since you can choose them, it’s wise to investigate before jumping into a spiritual community.

A Buddhist monk also needs to rely on some spiritual guidance, often incarnated by a master.

That guide had better be good, otherwise he might mislead you. If the guy (or gal) is wacked out or in a power trip, you’re in bad trouble. This part is critical.

All the more critical as there are lots of psychopaths that choose to be Gurus, they’re often successful at that and hard to identify (this might be helpful if you have doubts).

At this point, if you’re still not discouraged, the below is within your reach.

Moments of grace

 

As a monk, as a guy that has abandoned worldly concerns, you’ll have peaceful moments, some will stretch endlessly.

You’ll build areas of inner peace, and they will be yours for the long run.

You’ll meet outstanding persons, accomplished masters.

You’ll gain something inside that nobody will steal from you.

As for many other things:  personal experience is probably the best way to know if that choice is right for you.

If you’re inspired by the monk path and you’d like to try, you can experience a sample of it. Some Buddhist schools offer to give vows for a very limited time (a day, for instance).

See how it works with your personality, whatever choice you make in your life: lay person or monk, walking the monastic path for a while will help you know yourself much better.

If you’re new to Buddhism and would like to know where to start please check my post: Buddhism for absolute beginners

A few books that I recommend if you want to dig into Buddhism and meditation:

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  • http://davidmashton.blogspot.com David Ashton

    Glad I found your blog – looking forward to following your jouney!

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      I’m happy you came, all the more as I like http://davidmashton.blogspot.com/
      I’ll stay tuned too :)

      • Ranjit Rajane

        i want to be a Buddhist monk. i want to spent my life for buddha & his dhamma. i m already a buddhist. please guide me.

      • John Joyce

        Hello Gael, love the name, definately putting you on my bookmark list, great information on such a wide variety of subjects, really appreciate the time effort and advice you have given on your perspective of Buddhism helps a lot, wishing you the best, a very good site will subscribe.

        • Gaël Blanchemain

          Hey John -
          thanks a lot for stepping out of the anonymous crowd to give me personal and kind feedback :)

  • ninad chavan

    i want to become a monk plz guide

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      I’m happy if I can help you explore that option. You’d like to be a Buddhist monk? Do you have a specific tradition in mind?

  • mou

    Jangchub, glad you’re becoming a writer now. Keep up the good work!

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Thanks for stopping by and encouraging me, Celia :)
      I hope all is well

  • John

    Thank you for making this blog! I’m interested in knowing more about the life of a monk. Did you learn the language of your adopted home, and how much did language affect your studies? Also, if you don’t mind my asking, why did you decide to return to your normal life?

    I am most interested in Tibetan Buddhism and would like to know how to go about selecting a monastery and starting the path of a monk. Thanks again for the blog and your service

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      John,
      thanks for your interest, I appreciate your positive feedback :)

      Your comment lead me to think that I need to write more on this topic, I will post another article on the monastic path this week.

      Regarding your questions:

      1/ Language:

      I needed to learn Tibetan because I decided to be close to a Tibetan master.

      In general it should only be a requirement if:
      - your spiritual guide doesn’t speak english (rarely happens nowadays)
      - you want to live in a Tibetan monastery.
      - you want to get a precise understanding of texts.

      Even as a monk, I started with translated material, you can find excellent books in English, however, learning Tibetan was greatly beneficial for me since it’s a language designed to talk about BuddhaDharma.

      2/ Quitting:

      I quit when I realized that:
      - I would never be able to attain the level of renunciation of my Master
      - Being a monk was setting me apart from a professional and social life that I craved
      - I was headed to a depressive state and needed to live a more active life.

      I hope it helps you make the right choices.

      Feel free to shoot me an email if you need more info, I’ll be happy to respond: [email protected]

    • James

      Hey just wondering how would one become a monk, i am tired of the fighting in this world and i only want to help people, but sometimes that is so very hard and i want to be a monk so that i may learn to help people in times of need. if u have any advice it would be greatly appriecieated.

      • Gaël Blanchemain

        James, you’re initial intention is definitely a good place to start. Regarding the concrete steps to take, I recommend you start studying Buddhism in a local center close to your place. Try a few tradition if need be (Zen, Tibetan, Theravada) see how you like it and if you do, start asking about monasteries related to the tradition you feel most comfortable with. Where are you located?

        • James

          I am located in St.Stephen New Brunswick.

          • Gaël Blanchemain

            There doesn’t seem to be a wealth of Buddhist places around you! :)
            Still, I found a center in Moncton (not too close) http://www.zawatulku.org/
            This blog seems to be updated and a good place to start with: http://www.sumeru-books.com/
            Do you have any literature to get inspiration?

          • james

            i have no literature to be inspired, 4 me it is not needed I help people whenever possible to hear 2 simple words, thank you, and 1 question does a monk have to live in a monastaryor can he live else where?

          • Gaël Blanchemain

            Hi James,
            A Monk can live anywhere, but he’s more at risk of damaging his commitments (chastity for instance) if he doesn’t live in a Monastery, pretty self obvious, right? :)
            If you’d like to find literature, I recommended a few books at the bottom of the article (just above the comments: , did you check them out?

  • Cara

    Hi – my question is – can a woman be a monk? Some friend of mine just told me that she was going to be a “quantum physics monk” and she is a 28 year old woman. I thought women had to be nuns and could not do so unless they are virgins?

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hi Cara,
      When a woman decides to enter a monastic order, she becomes a Nun, when a man does so, he becomes a Monk (this part is true no matter what tradition) so as you suggested, your friend can’t become a Monk (unless she kept some details hidden).

      However, you don’t have to be a virgin to be a nun, but in some tradition, you decide to take celibacy vows (no boyfriend/girlfriend) or even chastity vows (no sex).

      Hope that helps :)

  • BB

    Hi, thanks for your sharing. I have been thinking of becoming a nun and have identified a Chinese monastery. However, I have no idea how to go about with the investigation. Could you guide me the right questions to ask? Who should be asked? What observations should I pay special attention to?

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hi BB,
      thank you for sharing on your project,

      I think you already have the right approach when you mention the term investigation.

      As a general advice: go step by step, it’ll help you get a much clearer picture on this community and how you really feel about it (a lifelong commitment is a long time!)

      First, google the name of the organization and its leaders as well. Wikipedia might have information that the monastery would never share.

      Then, if the monastery that you’d like to join is open to lay persons, I’d recommend you spent some time there and attend ceremonies and teachings regularly.

      See how it feels, discuss with the people, take your time.

      If you’re inspired by the place and the community, that’s already a good point.

      Next step can be: contribute by volunteering for the monastery.
      Working is one of the best ways to assess if a spiritual organization is healthy, you’ll also bond with everyone more genuinely.

      Pay attention to material details as you would if it was a regular Company, it’ll allow you to make sure you’re dealing with a serious organization:
      -Where does the money come from?
      -Are there privileged members?
      -Is the management fair?

      If you get a clear check and you think that the monastery is at least genuine from a mundane standpoint, that’s great.

      When it comes to the spiritual side, I’ve written a short guide that might help you.

      At some stage, you’ll probably want to speak with the abbott and tell her about your intention, openly. You should be able to tell her anything your consider important, don’t be ashamed to be who you are, Nuns look holy from a distance, but you’ll quickly see that they’re people…like anyone else.
       
      If after investigating you come to the conclusion that everything looks good, listen to your inspiration and go ahead :)

      Did I answer your questions?

      • BB

        Thank you, Gael. Thanks for your great advice. This is helpful! You have triggered me to start thinking in areas which have never crossed my mind. Thanks again.

        • Gaël Blanchemain

          I’m glad it helps, please stay in touch and let me know of your progress :)

  • chami

    Hi I’m thinking of becoming a Buddhist nun in Sri Lanka do you know of any good monasteries in Sri Lanka for Buddhist nuns?

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      @Chami, Hi, unfortunately my network doesn’t extend that far.
      Where do you currently live?

  • http://Gmail Truthseeker

    Hi, I’m a 55-year-old man. I live in Tennessee. I’ll share with you some of my life experiences that led me to this path, after I see If my message reaches you. I’m hoping for guidance in finding a sincere enlightened teacher in my part of the country. I’ve searched for months in various ways and have had no success at all.
    Would it be possible for you to please provide some input?

    Thank you, any advice or suggestions would be so Appreciated.

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hi,
      your message reached me. Thanks for leaving a comment :)

      Just to clarify:
      Are you looking for a Buddhist master?
      Do you need a guide in Tennessee specifically or other parts of the US could do?

      please let me know, and I’ll browse around to see if I’ve heard of masters that could be a good match.

  • Peter

    I am interested in a Buddhist sect in Japan. I am fascinated by that country as I’ve visited many times and I still can’t get enough. I am an island boy coming from Guam and I am considered a sansei or third generation Japanese as my grandfather originated in Tochigi-ken prefecture, Mamada City.

    I have been thinking a lot for a long while now about seeking enlightenment in the Buddhist faith and I think Japan’s Zen sect might be for me.

    I have some challenges that need to be answered before I can seek the possibility of a monastic life. These are the following:

    1. I am 60 years old, married before and divorced with children and grandchildren. Will this be a problem?

    2. I am also an insulin dependent diabetic and have been for thirty years now. My diabetes is manageable but I’m wondering if this would be a factor in becoming a monk. Would it?

    3. What would I need to do and know before seeking the opportunity for this aspect of my future in the Buddhist faith as a monk?

    I feel I’m prepared for a new chapter in my life. When you said you devoted ten years of your life in the monastery, you are/were allowed to leave without any repercussions?

    I’m eagerly awaiting your response.

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hi Peter,
      kuddos for having the courage to consider a monastic life.

      Regarding your questions:
      1/ Having relatives is no problem as long as they don’t require your support
      2/ Being diabetic is no problem either: some of the Tibetan masters I’ve followed are diabetic as well, no worries with that.
      3/ Ideally: investigate as much as possible about this sect, pay them several visits to see how you feel there. Ask questions and observe people in that Monastery: do they look happy? If not, consider another place.
      I’m assuming you’ll have to learn Japanese as well (if the language as been lost in your family).

      I had no problem leaving, no one made it complicated and I didn’t have life long vows, so that was not a huge deal. The only challenge for me was to accept that a change was necessary.

      What Buddhist sect are you considering to join?

  • Michael

    Thank you so much.

  • joe

    can you be a Christian or do you have to convert to buddism?

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hi Joe, to become a Buddhist Monk, you have to be a Buddhist.

      • Sami Riachy

        Dear Gael,

        How do we convert to Buddhism?

        • Gaël Blanchemain

          Sami, sorry, I’ve been insanely busy, I’ll reply shortly :)

        • Gaël Blanchemain

          Hi Sami, I’m back, after a long time on a 55hours/week schedule, I apologize for the delay. The short answer to your question would be that to convert to Buddhism you need to “take refuge” (that’s the traditional term) in the Buddha (the enlightened state), The Dharma (the path that leads to it and the Buddhist teachings) and the Sangha (the spiritual community).

          In reality though, the most practical approach remains to read about Buddhism, get close to a Buddhist place (a Dharma center or a monastery) and listen to lectures. That way you’ll engage confidently and at ease with the principles of this spirituality. Please feel free to let me know if you have other questions :)

  • Anonymous

    hi…is it must to becoame a Buddhist Monk or nun, you have to be a Buddhist..????

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      To become a Buddhist Monk, or Nun you have to be a Buddhist.
      But there are Monastic commitments in other spiritualities, like the Christian religion for instance.

  • Fabiana Sánchez

    Thank you very much for this note, it’s information like this which I find inspiring in moments of confusion. Much love in your life, Fabiana.

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      I’m glad it helps, Fabiana :)

  • maui

    am a christian protestant and i would like to pursue a monastic life or how do u call it..do u know of any christian organization of which i could be a nun? do appreciate much of your answer.thanks

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      I could fetch information, in what country would you like to become a nun?

  • Jackie

    Hi, Gael
    When you were contemplating becoming a buddhist monk, what were your reasons for becomming a buddhist monk? I have been tossing the question and the idea of becoming a bhikkhuni on and off in my head for many years.

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Jackie, sorry, I’ve been caught, I’ll reply shortly :)

      • Jackie

        No problem, Gael, thank you for the heads up.

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hi Jackie, I finally could find the time to answer your question, so so sorry for the delay: I’m flipping burgers 50hours a week these days :(

      My reasons for becoming a monk (the differ depending on individuals) were that:

      - I was mysteriously inspired by the idea (and had been for as long as I remember)
      - I wanted to practice meditation more intensively and with a solid guidance
      - I thought anything else than spirituality was a complete waste of time.

      I’m a lay person now and I’m now over the fascination, but I still want to practice more. I still believe that anything else than spirituality is BS, but spirituality is to be practiced whatever you do, you don’t need to be a monk for that…

      What inspires you to be inspired by that path?

  • Travis McKinstry

    Thank you for your inspiring words. You’ve reached many people with your choice to help others and I appreciate it a lot :) Good luck on your practice (or should I say ‘good karma?)!

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Travis, without feedback such as yours I’m not sure I’d have kept this blog alive. Thank you so much for stopping by and stay in touch :)

  • Simon

    Hi,

    Your blog is very interesting. I’d love to become a monk, but I have debt, so I believe that it wouldn’t be possible. Is this true? If it is, I would love to live say in a buddhist commune, possibly somewhere in France or elsewhere in continental Europe.

    Do you know of any such places? I feel a strong attraction to live a Buddhist way of life.

    Many thanks, and good luck with your future

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hi Simon, sorry for my late reply,
      if you become a monk you’re not going to get any richer sure, so you’re better off settling your debts now.

      When it comes to places in Europe, the only one I can recommend is http://www.dhagpo-kagyu-ling.org/en/, I’ve heard good things from http://plumvillage.org/ but I’ve never been there. What’s for sure is that these places have remained free of scandals and major problems. Let me know what you think.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this website I want to be a monk when i am older but I don’t know where to go to learn

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hi, where are you currently located? That’s probably where you should start learning about Buddhism.

  • Pingback: Live life like a Buddhist monk | spiritualworldblog

  • http://Tenzin_dhen@ya[email protected] Anonymous

    Hello, I’m a student who wants to abandon this conventional lifestyle and really focus by becoming a Tibetan Buddhist nun. I’m sure that I will be a nun now. But I’m contemplating on which nunnery. Is their a specific nunnery that is known for teaching high level Buddhism?

    Btw, I’m a high school senior who wishes to start her life after graduation.

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hello,
      it sounds like you’re determined, have you already received courses on Buddhism and meditation?

  • Shweta

    Hello.

    I am an Indian hindu 28 years old girl and want to be buddist monk. can you tell me the procedure and contact information of any place in india where these female buddhist monk is living now.

    Thanks

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hi Shweta, pls give me a few more days to answer you: I’ve been very busy but I promise to respond quickly

  • parthi

    namaste i’m from india, just finished with my graduation, my parents are forcing me to get married and i want to lead a life with no attachments, so i want to become a nun and continue my rest of life in some monastry, please please guide me what should i..??

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Parthi, pls give me a few more days to answer you: I’ve had very little time lately but I’ll get back to you asap

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Namaste Parthi,
      I feel touched by you sharing something of that importance in your life and I can relate to your need to step out of your current predicament. Becoming a monastic is a decision that can’t be taken overnight, I’ll send you a private email so we can discuss further.

  • Callum

    Hi, i have been thinking a lot about the path my life is on for quite a long time now. And I know it is time to change, I’m a very spiritual person,and would very much like to explore this part of myself.I am considering becoming a bhuddist monk and starting upon a new path of (hopefully) a ritcher and more possetive self understanding way of life. However I have no real idea of how to go about this,and would very much apriciate your advice. Thanck you

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hi Callum,
      thanks for reaching out. Do you already attend Buddhist teachings or do you intend to start exploring?

      • Callum

        Hello, thank you for getting back to me Gael, no I do not attend Buddhist teachings but I do intend doing so. I currently live in Spain and I would like very much to find out how to get started in Buddhist teachings. I would like to know more about any monetsrys and such in Spain or actually anywhere in the world. Would you take the time to tell me how you found your path into buddhism? Thank you so much

        • Gaël Blanchemain

          I’m glad to share whatever info with you, Callum, just shoot me an email to tell me in which part of spain you’re based ([email protected])

  • aniket

    Hello Gael
    Im hindu as birth and 24 year old from india , im having same situation and question as parthi , im surrender my self to lord with divine and all i have but i dont know yet to which road i have to leads.

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hi Aniket,
      did you try to talk with your parents about your concerns?
      Let me know

  • alex

    I been living painfully in my life for no one believe me even my parent.. now I already fed up on living in this busy and pain full life…. can u help me too become a peace full monk..

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hi Alex,
      assuming becoming a monk was more a hassle than anything, how would you like life to be?
      Let me know

  • X

    To Gael: reply to email address, just found this page accidentally, I check my email more frequently. Thank you.

    OK. Being a monk seems like what I am looking for.

    I’m 24, and in my opinion I’ve seen most and done some. There must be something more than this cycle of life; born, school, marry, kids, age, die. It’s happened for thousands of years, yet all I see is destruction of the world. Just read the book ‘Ishmael – Daniel Quinn’ and he hit the nail on what I’ve been thinking as early as 5 years old. I felt it, just couldn’t describe (put in words). I love life. I think all life is equal, be it a roach to a man. I feel like life is everywhere around us, plant to animals, everything. I know I must eat to live, but it deep down it hurts to take a life. Why must something else die for I to live? So I eat when really need to or just enough to get by. I also prefer being silent, than being in most conversations I deem without worth (fashion, he said she said, having the latest stuff, materialism, etc.), but I love helping out (though I prefer to remain anonymous or get thank you). I think money blinds people, most want to gain, gain, gain. It’s just paper, right? PS: I threw everything away, material, sex, and family (though, honestly never told them, and won’t. Haven’t contacted them in a long time)

    I honestly am not a religious person, but just want everyone to live in peace. The most important thing to have I believe is love. I feel it, can’t quite grasp it. Do I need to be religious to be a monk? Do I have to follow their religious doctrine? Will becoming a monk help clear one’s mind? (with most of what I see or hear I think to myself “worthless”, “pitiful”, “why can’t you see that’s wrong?” I don’t like having these thoughts, which I feel make me NOT understand what real love means.

    PS: I don’t believe anyone should forfeit their lives to save another even a loved one eg. being a hero…Do you think they’ll be happy with your sacrifice, that’s not real love to me.

    Will the monks accept anyone? (I’m black) Is there a time limit to stay? (thinking life-term)

    OK…that was long enough. Currently saving up to move to being a monk, or live as some indigenous Africans (in Africa) do..

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hey X :)
      As requested, I’ll reply via email

  • X2

    Hey Gael,

    Thanks much for writing this honest reality-check for all of us who Googled “joining a buddhist monastery.” I fear I’m one of the “lost souls” you mentioned in the post; that there would be quite a few of them at monasteries is, I suppose, not terribly surprising. I’ve got a few questions.

    1. Did you sense that there was a kind of division among who was there, i.e., that you had on the one hand perfectly functional people who were inspired to do this for positive reasons, and on the other hand those who seemed to have been thrust there by cataclysm or despair and that Buddhism seemed like a last-ditch effort at life? Was there a difference in how they reacted to the environment and how long they stayed?

    2. How much contact with the outside world does one have? Newspapers, friends, etc.

    3. I live in the States where medical care isn’t free. Is there any way to make money to maintain my insurance?

    Thanks again for writing this.

    Best,

    X2

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Thanks for stopping by and for your clarity:

      1/ As far as I’ve seen, monasteries shelter the same kind of grudges, power struggles and dysfunctional people as anywhere else, no more, no less. In the middle of all that, you’re likely to find kindred spirits who’ll be great allies on the path. They’ll also be people that are more spiritually advanced, those prove really helpful too.

      2/ This depends on what monastery and where it’s located, the ones I’ve seen had internet access, newspapers, TV. That’s for most of them, as far as I know. Even in central Tibet, it’s not rare that monks own cell phones. Asceticism stems from the inside…You can really see it when you go there and you see how people live.

      3/ It is often possible to have a few gigs here and there to keep the ball rolling, often times, the people living around the monastery will offer such opportunities (roof overhead, help with painting the wall or mowing the lawn…).

      Thanks for asking the right questions!

      Take care

      PS:We’re still trying to figure what the Buddha was trying to say, in that regard, we’re all “lost souls”, anybody claiming otherwise is a fraud :)

  • Manoj Magecha

    I have a thyroid problem where i have to take supplements daily, will this interfere with my plans on becoming a buddhist for 5 years?

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      It’s no problem, Manoj, don’t worry about that, your thyroid problem is no obstacle :)

  • Jordan

    Hello Gaël. My name is Jordan and I’m a 17 year old living in the United States. I have been diagnosed with clinical depression and have attempted to take my own life twice. Nothing seems to take the pain away. For as long as I can remember though, I’ve always enjoyed peace and helping others. Helping others almost seems to be driving my existence. But I’ve figured its time to try to help me. I need to find out who I am. What I’m worth. And I’m truly starting to believe that becoming a monk may be what will help me find that. However, I do know that I am young and know so little about everything. At what age did you become a monk? And what additional advice would you have for me?

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hi Jordan,
      thanks for reaching out. I’m glad to hear that you’ve decided to do something for yourself. That type of mindset is worth 1000 New Year resolutions.
      Regarding your question, I became a monk at 26, after 4 years of daily Buddhist practice. If you’d like to truly look into Buddhism and you’re contemplating a monastic life, I’d suggest you start reading about Buddhism and attend meditation courses. The wish to Become a Buddhist monk stems from a desire to practice more and devote your entire life to this spirituality. Did you find good reads about Buddhism so far?

  • Fady

    Hello, i’m an American in China teaching. I have decided to drop everything this Friday and go to Lhasa tibet. I have no clue what i’m doing. i just follow whatever idea that comes to heart. I think becoming a Buddhist monk will be a great experience. I’m open to any advice (i’m completely clueless on this, but i know that i want to do it). give me a name of a great monastery/ a location, anything:))) [email protected]

    Thanks, and have a wonderful day!

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hi Fady,
      you’re already on your way…And I don’t know any monastery in Tibet. All I can do is wish you good luck with your bold move to the roof of the world. PS: I have many tibetan friends that strongly discourage anyone from staying in their country because of civil unrest and political oppression, feel free to return to a safer place!

      • Fady

        Okay, so I took the buss to Shanghi so i could take the train to Lasah tibet, but there are no seats available at all. not for today tomorrow, or even the day after that… I’m staying in a hotel in Shanghi, Dam I hope my luck changes.

        • Gaël Blanchemain

          What’s new, Fady? Did you make it to Lhasa?

  • http://[email protected] grant

    Hello i am 13,years old and have plans to one day become a monk i have studied and reserched meditaded i was just wondering what things i could do untill then

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hi Grant, until then, I recommend you study Buddhism more and learn about practicing meditation. There’s now a wealth of “Dharma Centers” in western countries. Just look them up and pay them a visit, see how you feel there. Let me know how you’re doing with your investigation, OK?

      • http://[email protected] grant

        Thank you so much i actully found a teen Dharma study group for 13 and older that is in walking/driving distance to where i live
        Thank you

        • Gaël Blanchemain

          That’s awesome! And these groups are hard to come by. Let me know how you liked it, if you find the time, OK? :)

  • Eli

    Hello i am wanting to become a buddhist, when i try to meditate… nothing happens can you tell me what exactly i am supposed to be doing. what i am doing so far is sitting down (lotus) and putting my palms face up the shutting my eyes is their anything else im supposed to be doing becuase whenever i do this nothing happens (P.S i have candles and a buddha while i do this plus incents. one more thing the buddha i have i cant find the name i have searched all over the internet for it and i havent found it, it looks like the medicine Buddha just that its hand is brought to its chest and with his
    eft hand he has a boul in it other that that he looks exactly like the medicine buddha. any ideas on what it is? please resond asap thanks! (:

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hi Eli, I recommend you read “You are here“, to get started. http://www.Buddhanet.net has also a wealth of resources if you’d like to study Buddhism more in depth.

  • mohini paul

    you wrote a very subject oriented blog..i have a special interest in helping others and specially meditation.i am a hindu but i believe in one God and one soul.i believe that if i had to attain total self realisation i have to leave all worldly joys…many people have asked me about what makes me most happiest i have never really responded to their question but have always thought in dept.finally i realised that by helping a needy person makes me the happiest.with God’s grace i have got every thing i bet a person would require to be happy but nothing makes me more happier than helping others.i have met many who has said me that i would be very successful in life..but if you would ask me i want to get reunited with the master of my soul,and He is none other than the most powerful and purest energy of this universe & throughout my life i have realised that it can only be done by meditating and helping others.
    But my problem is:
    i can’t stay in a monastry,and i don’t know whether there is any nearby centre available here in india.
    my question for you is being a female and from a typical indian culture where family life is considered as the most important part of a person’s life will it be possible for me to be a nun? and the most important question is that since you have been a monk for 10years do you think i am capable of becoming a Buddhist nun?

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Paul, thank you for being so honest about your dreams.

      I know too little about Indian culture and the context in India to give you the right strategy. I can only tell you one thing, it’s true wherever you live: take your journey one step at a time and start where you are. If you’re a Hindu, study Hinduism more, read, meet accomplished Hindu masters. If you feel inspired by asceticism: read about the life of famous Yogis. If it’s Buddhism that you wish to know about: read about it and attend lectures. Seek inspiration, not desperation. Don’t be in a rush to abandon everything. Where you are, right now, there is a way to detachment: it all depends on how you develop your understanding. So study, read, meditate, right now, where you are :)

  • sam

    http://www.youtube.com/attribution_link?a=3kJE44DeGa0&u=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Do1n2OeNE9GY%26feature%3Dshare .I thought buddist monks where supposed to be peace loving and carm.

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Some of them are confused douchebags too!

  • Amber

    Hi Gael,
    Thank you for your blog it was very helpful. I am seriously considering being a buddist nun. For the last 2 1/2 years I’ve been meditating and reading random buddist teachings. Spent some time in some meditation groups learning to detach from material stuff and image. Vipassana has been of real interest. I’d like to study that in Thailand. Its a big step especially in a foreign land. Do you have any tips on how I would get started?? How long can I stay? How do I find the right temple while avoiding the power trippers, like you were saying. Do I have to learn Thai and will they welcome me. Don’t even know where to get start. Would love your help. Thanks again. -Amber

  • Esteban

    Hello Gaël;

    As many other people I’m looking for a way to live in a non-selfdestructive way. Truth to be said, I’m not familiar, except for a few Zen tales, with the Buddhist way, other that wich can be found in internet, and the various representations of Siddharta Gautama in the media (that Keanu Reeves film comes to mind…). That being said, I’ve found that the message in most, if not all religions is the same (I usually express it as “don’t be an asshole”, but that’s just words. Listening to Frank Zappa is also there, but implicitly.), so, right now, I’m more in line with Rene Guenon and Frithjof Schuon “teachings”. Mind if a drop you a mail to see if you can shred some light upon my ignorance, or if I’m lucky enough, point me in a direction in wich I could find some people to speak directly?

    Thanks for the blog, it’s always good to read good people.

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Hola Esteban :)
      sounds like you’re onto something worth exploring. I’m happy to correspond, just shoot me an email: gael[at]gr0wing.com :)

  • Liam

    Hey Geal,
    Thanks for an insightful article, I’m 22 years old and have been interested in and have read a lot about buddhism in theory for over 2 years now and i see it as the only meaningful way of life at the moment but i find it extremely difficult to practise buddhism, particularly meditation while living in western society and am feeling a very strong need to find somewhere where i can focus solely on meditation and spirituality because nothing else seems worthwhile at the moment. I was wondering what would be the best way to get into a buddhist monastery such as plum village?

    • Gaël Blanchemain

      Liam-
      Plum village has a solid reputation for being serious and genuine. I suggest you go there for a month and see how you feel. If you like the experience, the next steps will follow naturally.

  • Liam

    Hey Geal,
    Thanks for an insightful article, I’m 22 years old and have been interested in and have read a lot about buddhism in theory for over 2 years now and i see it as the only meaningful way of life at the moment but i find it extremely difficult to practise buddhism, particularly meditation while living in western society and am feeling a very strong need to find somewhere where i can focus solely on meditation and spirituality because nothing else seems worthwhile at the moment. I was wondering what would be the best way to get into a buddhist monastery such as plum village?

    • http://www.gr0wing.com/ Gaël Blanchemain

      Liam, I thought I responded to your email, really sorry about that. Plum village has definitely a great reputation.

  • Kev

    Your blog was very inspiring. Buddhism has always been an interesting religion to me and I would like to learn a lot more, especially as I want to become a Buddhist. I was wondering if you could help me to do this? I.e meditation, anything books that are useful to benefit me

    Thanks

  • junesmiley

    hi gael, first n for most thanks a lot for writing this. i always had thoughts of becoming a monk. i have no interest in the race of this competitive world around me. always wanted to leave everything behind walkaway and go for helping others as much as i can, just like u said. but feeling guilty that i am leaving all my responsibilities undone, behind especially with certain people in my life. totally confused.

    • http://www.gr0wing.com/ Gaël Blanchemain

      Junes-
      Thanks for stopping by. Your concerns are legitimate, and it’s actually a great thing you keep a sense of responsibility towards those you care for. As far as I’ve heard, renunciation is not about leaving the world behind, but understanding that it can’t be the source of our happiness. The real renunciation takes place inside, and you can find accomplished yogis and yoginis who have reached high level of understanding while keeping their family commitments.

      Whatever choice you decide to make in the future, I recommend you read “When things fall apart” by Pema Chodron. It’s a great book that shows a practical “all terrain” form of renunciation, so you can start renouncing right away without tossing the whole thing :)

  • myreligioniskindness

    Hi Gael. I have questions about monks and sex. I was told by a Tibetan Buddhist friend of mine that monks cannot have sex, but lamas can, depending on the type of Buddhism. She explained that monks have taken a vow of chastity, but a lama is not necessarily a monk, therefore, they can engage in sex and take a wife. Can you please explain this better? Additionally, why do some Buddhists believe in a strictly vegetarian diet, while others do not? Thank you.

    • http://www.gr0wing.com/ Gaël Blanchemain

      Hi, I confirm your friend’s version: in the Tibetan tradition, a Monk has chastity vows. A lama can generally teach and isn’t necessarily a monk. The monastic path of Tibetan Buddhism implies to not having any sexual activity, it’s part of the code of conduct offered by the Buddha 2600 years ago. This being said, someone can have a good understanding of the path and have the capacity to teach without being monastic, they’re two different things.
      When it comes to vegetarianism, I never found the explanations justifying the use of meat very convincing, even when they come from higher Buddhist authorities. In fact I never understood these arguments, therefore I don’t really qualify to explain why!

  • myreligioniskindness

    Thank you, Gael. I’m still so curious about vegetarianism & Buddhism. It’s peculiar.

    • http://www.gr0wing.com/ Gaël Blanchemain

      It’s true that it’s peculiar, let me know if you reach some conclusion :)

  • Roozhan

    Hello. i’m a 28 years old girl. i’m living in Irán. i’m not a Moslem
    but i belive in god and i’m looking for serenity. I want to go to a
    temple and be a Nun . this is my only way to be a blest person but i
    don’t know how should i to do it. from where i should start. i know it’s
    hard but i really want to do this. please help me. tell me what is my
    first step? this is my Gmail address : [email protected] I really need
    you’r help. i thought about it very long time and decided about. Thank
    you so much.

    • http://www.gr0wing.com/ Gaël Blanchemain

      Roozhan,
      I just wrote you an email.

  • http://www.gr0wing.com/ Gaël Blanchemain

    I don’t know about that: I’m a westerner and this post was mainly addressed at those who become monks willingly :(

  • Keshavinder Singh

    Hi Gael, How do i be a buddhist monk. I am very interested in purifying myself and becoming the best i can. Thank you.

  • http://www.gr0wing.com/ Gaël Blanchemain

    No problem, let me know if the article has helped you, I’ll be happy to help if you need further details :)

  • http://www.gr0wing.com/ Gaël Blanchemain

    Hi Vicky and sorry for the late response. I understand what it’s like to dislike the world. I don’t have the answer to your question about becoming a monk or not. You’ll need to find it yourself by studying the Buddha Dharma first. The path of Buddhism is not a way to avoid our current situation, though, but a series of tools to see past them. I would recommend you studying first and start from there.

  • http://www.gr0wing.com/ Gaël Blanchemain

    Let me try to see if I can think of a nice place, where are you in India?

    • Dreamsneednolabel

      In Calcutta, eastern india.

      • http://www.gr0wing.com/ Gaël Blanchemain

        haven’t forgotten about you, I’m meeting with tibetan friends this WE, should be able to get an answer :)

  • Rahul Patel

    Hello Mr. Gael Blanchemain. I am Rahul Patel from Western part of India, state is Gujarat. I live in a city named Bharuch, previously when there was British rule it name was Broach. Later it became Bharuch situated on the bank of holy river Narmada. My age is 29 year’s as I am born Hindu but I thought of becoming Buddhist. As from my childhood I was keen admirer of Ancient rishis, Buddhist monk & spiritual master’s. I read Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas & many books on self realization. I have profound interest in Spirituality since my childhood & got very strong feeling of being person who shall join human welfare. I wish to dedicate my life to selfless motive that would be possible with your help.

    I need the name of the place where I can live permanently because i ain’t have the material desire nor I want to expect any material things from my life. I am ready to renounce everything except my soul. That’s my supreme goal as I believe in Supreme reality. Where there is silence, there is peace. You can write on my mail: [email protected]

    Also let me tell you that I am ready to live with spiritually experienced person to experience meditation, spiritual practice, performing austerity as I firmly believe that each & every soul’s has a ultimate motive of attaining the consciousness that lies within every Individual’s.

    Please give me details of place where I could perform this righteous action in Tibet or Nepal monasteries which is a right kind of environment for spiritual growth., also can take diksha from Buddhist monk and work for them. I know the true value of celibacy and I am ready to do it for the sake of eternal religion.

    I want to be your best friend and if God wish I would like to meet you face to face because you know I read your all blogs and the way you answer is very impressive. Soul may arise with neutral vision.

    Thanks & with best regards.

    Om mani padme namah
    Om namo narayanaya

  • Freedom Cosmic

    ty for this precious information absoutely appreciated but i want to know why does u say unless for zen monk can have a family(sex) so zen monk is not really a monk is only a show? can u tell me in my facebook chat my name is freedom cosmic ty u for advance!

    • http://www.gr0wing.com/ Gaël Blanchemain

      Zen Monks are no show, they’re very real and genuine, yet, they’re somewhat of an exception since in most cases, having Buddhist Monks vows implies chastity.

  • Tony Wang

    Hey Gael

    Thanks for your insightful article. My name is Tony, I think I want to be a monk, because I believe it can help me to realize the worth of the world and our life. However, I’m confusing on how can I be a monk, like how to contact the right temple and how to find my right guidance? Hope you can give me some guidance, I’m appreciating.

    • http://www.gr0wing.com/ Gaël Blanchemain

      Hi Tony, do you already practice Buddhism?