Monastic Ordination


The Monastic Training Program is currently on hiatus to allow the monastic community to engage in a period of retreat and renewal for 2023 and 2024.  


Temporary Ordination

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 long -term residencies. Find out more about our residencies 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 a three phase progression, which highlights important elements of monastic training.

First Phase

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

Second Phase

In the second phase, the emphasis will be on further training such as 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, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and wisdom) and the main practices of Mahayana: bodhichitta 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 to lead discussion groups.

Third Phase

In the third phase, temporary monastics continue their active service in the Abbey and integrate Buddhist principles into their life:

  • Understanding the meaning of impermanence, change, and freedom from fixed mind. Examining how to free self, others, and the world of one’s prejudices and biases
  • Refining actions of body and speech, applying joyful mindfulness to whatever you do
  • Embodying monastic discipline in such a way that you become an example for newer monastics

Lifelong Levels of Ordination

Someone who has completed a period of two years as a temporary monastic may make a request to the Head of Monastic Training to be considered for Parma Rabjung ordination.

Parma Rabjung is a lifetime commitment. To be accepted, the candidate needs to manifest successful training, the capacity to take responsibility for one’s choice, a clear understanding of what is a spiritual commitment, and the capacity to receive feedback and work with one’s mind. This ordination requires a 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 one year as a Parma Rabjung monastic, and after an evaluation, one may ask the life monastics for permission to take novice vows (Sramenera or Sramenerika).

They may be followed two years later, if requested, by full ordination (Bhikshu or Bhikshuni) vows.

More Resources

If you would like to learn more about monastic ordination, or are preparing to come to Gampo Abbey, we recommend looking at these resources:

This is My Monastery -by Very Venerable Kenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, An address given to the monastic sangha at Gampo Abbey in October 1989. Posted on the monastic initiative, a website for Westerners in the Tibetan Tradition.

Tibetan Vinaya -by Very Venerable Kenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Transcriptions of talks in the early years of Gampo Abbey to the monastic community

Recalling Trungpa -Bhikkshuni Pema Chödrön’s chapter, “Establishing a Pure Monastic Lineage”. Ani Pema presents the view of her training as a monastic and the establishment of Gampo Abbey from her teacher, Venerable Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

Preparing for Ordination -An online booklet prepared by Venerable Thubten Chodron with articles by the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Karme Lekshey Tsomo and other monastics.

Eye in the Storm: Why Monastics Matter in the Modern World -by Ven. Thubten Chodron beautiful article by Venerable Thubten Chodron about the impact and significance of monastic life.

Considering Ordination -Collection of resources and advice from senior buddhist monastics of the Alliance of Non-Himilayan Nuns.