Considering Ordination

Thinking about becoming a Monk or Nun
in the Tibetan Gelug Tradition?

For those considering ordination, in the future, the Monastery hopes to offer the possibility to visit for extended periods to meet the community and live there for a time as aspiring monastics. Because in our tradition becoming a monastic is a choice made for the rest of our life, it is important to be well prepared for this undertaking. On these pages, you’ll find advice on preparing for ordination, personal stories, and you can discover more about the motivation you should ideally have, and what the benefits of ordination are. You will also find further reading suggestions.

The International Mahayana Institute (IMI)

IMI has developed extensive resources on ordination.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche emphasises the primary consideration in any request for ordination is the relationship of the student with the teacher. The student-teacher relationship is not only important in determining the suitability of the candidate for ordination at the time of the request but also as the student integrates into the monastic community after taking vows.

While the teacher has the responsibility of deciding the suitability of the student requesting ordination, the decision to ordain is made by the student themselves.

Prior to requesting ordination, it is understood that the student will:

  • Have a foundation in the Lamrim (Stages on the Path to Enlightenment).
  • Have a firmly established relationship with a spiritual teacher.
  • Have cultivated an understanding of renunciation in undertaking the life of a monk or nun.
  • Have developed the wish to devote their lives to service and practice as part of a monastic community.

Students considering ordination should also:

  • Have had Buddhist refuge for at least three years.
  • Have lived with lay vows for at least one year.
  • Not be a Shugden practitioner.
  • Be at least 20 years of age.
  • Ideally, have permission from their family.
  • Be free of any encumbering relationships; if married, the candidate will have permission from their partner and be living separately.
  • Be free of any encumbering financial obligations.
  • Not be returning to their ordinary work situation; working in a Dharma centre is permissible.
  • Have held the getsul (novice) ordination for at least three years if requesting gelong (full) ordination.

Prior to requesting ordination, the student is encouraged to discuss their interest with an IMI senior Sangha member or the Spiritual Programme Coordinator (SPC) of their local FPMT centre who can facilitate the process and provide guidance.