Now that I am in my eight year of a nine year program pretty much everyone is asking me: “What are you going to do next?” and “Are you going to be a Khenmo?”
Let me tackle the second question first. I did mention the qualifications to become a Khenpo or Khenmo in a previous post. And yes, I have been chosen to be a kyorpon, an assistant teacher. If I was a monk then I would feel confident that someday I could indeed become a Khenpo. So far, though, we don’t have any Khenmos (mo indicates the female form of the word).
I was discussing this with an Ani Lopon here at the nunnery, she very rightly pointed out that, “Even if we could take full ordination, if we do it out of the motivation to gain status, then it would not the discipline of renunciation, it would be the discipline of worldly interest.”
On a personal level I have many concerns about the Bhiksuni ordination and am still doing research in order to clarify my feelings. Vows are not to be taken lightly.
Sometimes people tell me, “Well, as a Westerner, you could go take full ordination in Korea or Taiwan.” That is true, I could do that. But I have no interest in leap-frogging the other nuns in my community.
The heads of our monastery have suggested they might bestow an alternative title to our senior nun scholars, since “khenmo” implies full ordination. I think that might be a very reasonable solution, at least for the time being. There are a few titles being considered, one of which is Khetsunma. (No not Jetsunma, Khetsunma.) The sense of the word is a woman who is both erudite and maintains pure discipline. Of course when introducing a new term, explanation is necessary. That’s okay with me. Saying, “Oh Khetsunma? That is the female version of a Khenpo,” would be preferable to: “Well we don’t have female Khenpos because we can’t take full ordination, which is because the lineage was lost, which was because because because…”
As for the question about my future, I do have ideas and even, dare I say it, plans. But right now I am just focusing on learning as much as I can. I suppose it is Tibetan culture rubbing off on me but I don’t want to get into specifics. So here are some vague suggestions about what I would like to do:
- Keep trying to be a better person
- Practice in retreat
- Study in university