Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Spiritual Makeover: Christine, Buddhist Nun

Thomas (
Raised in Alberta, Canada and a Buddhist for many years, she wanted to become a Tibetan nun, renouncing the household life, a life-altering decision made with confidence.

[Ani] Christine is only the second Western Buddhist nun I have ever met. The first nun, whom we met a couple of weeks ago at Dargye Gompa (monastery), was an ascetic, standoffish German woman who had no interest in talking to us.

Ani Christine is different. She would always have a smile on her face and say hi when we passed each other in the hostel. This was my chance to talk to her and satisfy my curiosity about who she was, so I approached her to find out.

I think she was surprised that I came up to her because many people, as she told me later, shied away from talking to her maybe out of fear of asking the wrong questions. I wasn’t afraid and asked all the wrong questions anyway:

She patiently answered my questions with a great deal of humor and did not seem to be insulted at all.

Ani Christine became a nun only two weeks ago. Her excitement about becoming a nun is so contagious that we can’t help but feel completely happy for her. While talking about her past, she eagerly showed us some “before pictures” of herself with long hair and Western clothes taken only a few weeks ago and admitted that she had never had short hair.

She looks totally cute, though, with her buzz cut and her red [Tibetan] nun outfit, which she recently bought in a clothes store catering to nuns and monks. More

What would Buddha do?
Thomas has kept the color confidential. But Wisdom Quarterly posed the same question to Theravada Buddhist monks who follow the ancient monastic tradition. We Americans are uptight Puritans when it comes to asking anything that might be embarassing. But the monks were very relaxed and amused (bemused?) We posed the question this way: "If we ordain, what underwear will we wear, what color?" They smiled, not understanding. "Westerners ask the strangest things," they confided. But we wanted a complete "spirtual makeover." So we pressed on until they laughed and assured us -- "Any kind you want, any color, whatever you need!" We were sad, of course. We were hoping to gird our loins with, I don't know, something that would make us part of the Brotherhood of the traveling robes. You know, ancient saffron wraps that aid meditation and reduce lust. A Hindu yogi later showed us an interesting orange adjustable girding. It looks like a headband. But he laughed when we tried to put it on our heads. It ties like a bikini wrap and can be used for zazen but probably not yoga due to shifting and loosening. Monastics are human and kinder than average folk.

Wandering and Wandering: Spiritual Travel

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