It was ten years ago today that I took robes and shaved my head. My relationship with ordination has changed and developed over the years. Back then, I was 21 and just wanted to be ordained and learn Tibetan. I thought I would stay at Namdroling for 2 or 3 years, then head back to Canada, maybe go to Gampo Abbey, and maybe do a bit of translating. That was fine for the time, it put me in the right place to begin my monastic journey.
I worried a lot about support. Who would take care of me? Why don’t Western lay people respect and support monastics? Why does it have to be so difficult? Those feelings have diminished over time. First of all, I have received a lot of support, from both my family and from friends I’ve met along the way. Secondly, I am willing to support myself. If if comes to it, I will work, or do whatever else needs to be done.
A few years into nunhood, I met a Western monk ordained in the Theravada tradtion. He told me, “After about five years, it gets easier.” That gave me some hope, and indeed, it got easier.
These days, when I sit in class, learning about the Guhyagarbha Tantra, I think – “I have to keep going with this”. I need to learn this well, so that I can practice it correctly, and maybe, someday, pass it on. This is a living lineage of scholar practitioners, and I hope very dearly that it can be well planted and take root in the West just as it has here in the East. So I am trying to do my part, in my own small way, to be a vessel and a conduit for these teachings.
Today, I feel so much gratitude. I feel gratitude to His Holiness Penor Rinpoche and to the Palyul lineage. I feel gratitude for the teachings I have received and continue to receive, and gratitude just to have a quiet place to read the Dharma and meditate. I am also grateful for this monastic community of which I am a part. We are harmonious and we support each other spiritually – and that, indeed, is the whole point of the sangha community.