At the request of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche introduced temporary ordination (Tsanchö Genyen/Upasaka Brahmacharya ordination) to give Dharma practitioners an opportunity to experience monasticism without making a lifetime commitment. The prerequisite is the Refuge Vow. Temporary ordination is offered within the context of our monastic residencies from the Shambhala Monastic Order. Our next residency, “The Warriors Who Are Fearless”, begins in January 2017 and is described here. Space is limited and applications are currently being accepted. You may also enjoy this article on the Shambhala Times about our temporary ordinations. Temporary monastics shave their heads, wear robes, and train in the disciplines and rituals of monastic life. The general training of a temporary monastic follows this progression, while much more is specific to the courses being offered during a particular residency.
In the first phase training is geared towards cultivating the contentment of the Tiger stressed in the first trainings of Shambhala. Ingredients for this training include:
- Cultivating friendliness to all aspects of oneself (unconditional friendship of self)
- Developing mindfulness in everyday life, in particular mindful discernment or payu
- Working with shenpa, seeing one’s story lines and trusting that one can make the choice of not strengthening old habits of ego
- Practicing renunciation, the basis of the Hinayana traditional practices
- Respecting silent periods
It also entails training in monastic forms and other monastic skills, such as:
- How to wear robes properly
- How to make tormas
- How to be umdze and gatekeeper for group practices
- How to maintain shrines
- How to raise flags
In the second phase, the emphasis will be on further trainings like knowing how to raise the lungta of a perky Lion. This includes:
- Training to keep one’s heart and mind open in deep listening and genuine communication. Being able to do this depends on mindful discernment that is rooted in gentleness and friendliness
- Training with the rest of the community in the discipline of the six Paramitas (generosity, moral conduct, patience, exertion, meditation, and wisdom) and the main practices of Mahayana: bodhicitta and tonglen
- Developing a correct understanding of the three vows (Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana)
In this phase the Gampo Abbey monastic will be encouraged to take on more responsibility in the area of monastic forms and skills, to be able to teach some of them, and lead discussion groups.
In the third phase, temporary monastics continue their active service in the Abbey. The emphasis of training is more on:
- Understanding the meaning of impermanence, change, freedom from fixed mind. Examining how to free self, other, and the world of one’s prejudices and biases
- Refining of actions of body and speech, applying a joyful mindfulness to whatever you do
- Embodying monastic discipline in such a way that you become an example for newer monastics
Someone who has completed a period of two years as a temporary monastic may make a request to the life monastics of the abbey that he or she be considered for Parma Rabjung ordination.
Lifelong Levels of Ordination
Parma Rabjung is a lifetime commitment. To be accepted, the candidate needs to manifest successful training, capacity to take responsibility for one’s choice, clear understanding of what is a spiritual commitment, capacity to receive feedback and work with one’s mind, commitment to study and practice and successful integration into the community. The age limit for people requesting life vows and wishing to remain at Gampo Abbey is 55 years.
At the end of this year, after evaluation, one may ask the life monastics for permission to take novice vows, ideally given by our Abbot, Ven. Thrangu Rinpoche. Further preparation and training are needed prior to taking these vows.
They are followed two years later, if requested, by full ordination (Bhikshu or Bhikshuni) vows.