Mama Jenny and the protocols of ordination

2 May 2009 - 8:57am Comments Off

Dear everyone,

Mama Jenny has lived a very ordinary life and I have known her for over 20 years. I have helped her and given her advice from family, husband, children, finances, moving, travelling, anger, Dharma, disappointments and in-laws. I have even helped her to save for her old age and explained why decades ago.

She has travelled to India with me several times. I have been with her for every turn of her life’s ups and downs for two decades now. She is older and I am concerned. When I examine if what she has done would be enough for her future life, I gather it is not enough and I am very concerned. So I must find a solution.

There is nothing left for her as there was nothing from the beginning anyway for her or any of us. We are under the illusion we want to ‘enjoy’ or experience life, when there is nothing new we have not experienced for so many lifetimes already and it has brought us nowhere. Do not waste another life on just making money and pretending you’ll be secure. It never happens. Stop believing in illusions.

Do not encourage young people and your children to just go make money, money, money, and more money and all the efforts that go into it.. No matter how much you make or try to make, you will never never never never have security. Money is necessary, but should not be used as an excuse to postpone Dharma work, practice and endeavours. No matter how much you have in the bank, when the karma comes you can lose it and all your decades of hard work can disappear overnight making you angry, depressed, resentful, and asking why.

Even pushing you to question your Dharma faith and the Three Jewels for money!!! All your life’s precious time spent to make money goes down the drain with a flick of karmic change.

Since you have happened onto the Dharma, don’t waste this precious opportunity to make yourself useful and take life’s precious remaining time and do Dharma full time…And all the way. Inspire your partners, husbands, wives, inspire other people, inspire young people and inspire yourself. All that you have gone through is called life’s experiences to help you learn. That is great, but learn what? Have you actually learned?? By the time you ‘learn’, how much time do you have left? You have learned life’s lessons in so many lives already and you are still learning. This type of learning is not very helpful or useful in the bigger picture. Samsara learning gets you not far. To be skilled in samsara learning is to learn how to suffer more and create causes to take rebirth and suffer more. Don’t send that wrong message to others. Be compassionate and do Dharma all the way and set a compassionate example to others.

There are more people in our group who should be ordained. But I will wait for the ‘right’ time to give them the holy and exellent news. It will be very beneficial for them to listen and follow. But even better is if they approach me sincerely to do so.

I told Mama Jenny that I wanted her to be a nun when I first met her, and was waiting for the time. The time is here. So I sms-ed her and she has agreed. Good.

When Mama Jenny becomes a nun:

  1. She will use the remainder of her life in collecting merit. By holding her vows, even eating and sleeping she will collect merit. How else can she speed up merit collecting??
  2. I care about her and want her to have a good rebirth. This would be the best way for her. I rejoice for her. I have had no regrets re my own ordination. As I get older, I realize I am not missing anything. And there is nothing else to look forward to within these redundantly disappointing samsaric illusions we wrongly labelled fun.
  3. She will bless seven generations of her descendents by taking ordination. How fortunate for her children that their mother has such love for them. To express her love in such an ultimate method.
  4. She will be protected from taking rebirth in three lower realms although she has spent a lifetime of not collecting much merit as an ordinary householder.
  5. She can focus more on retreats instead of ordinary activities that she has done so many times and brought not much benefits as life ebbs to a close. If we care about her and others, we should encourage them to refuge, practice and for some, to become sangha. This was holy advice from our Lord Sage Shakyamuni. So never make jokes regarding ordination. Never discourage others from ordination otherwise you disparage the Buddha’s direct advice.
  6. She will inspire other normal householders.
  7. Her mind will be more settled and start to let go more than before hence enhancing her practice and preparation for the ‘big day’.
  8. Her attachments to others and some others attachments to her will be severed early on so her mind can focus on Dharma preparing for the big day that we all should prepare for. During our death, attachments that we haven’t severed are the biggest obstacle and number one enemy against a positive rebirth. Attachments cause tremendous fear, and anxiety triggering dormant negative karma to open bringing unhappy results.Some people arrogantly and ignorantly say they will practice more intently in their next life. How could they guarantee where they will take rebirth if they don’t even have control of their current birth and attachments??? Why boast of your next life, when your next opportune rebirth to do practice can be hundreds of lifetimes away while you take multitudes of negative suffering states of existence in between.To not take rebirth seriously is to undermine the very basis of all Buddha’s teachings which is cause and effect (karma). If you don’t take karma seriously, why make offerings, do sadhanas and propitiate deities? If you don’t have full conviction in karma, then even the deities, yidams, Dharma protectors and even Tsongkhapa cannot exist. Why? They exist on the basis of karma or the cessation of all negative karmas hence being enlightened. Look at what you have done in your life and where you are going to check your conviction in the pith of the Buddhist teachings, karma. If your life has been spent conquering attachment then you are in the right direction. If you are still making grandiose excuses to cover your attachments, all hope of good rebirth and practice are like seeing stars in the day sky. How can a lifetime of negative karma from attachments equal to positive results or good rebirth??
  9. To live and die with our robes is the most blessed thing we can do and inspire others to do. Our Lord Shakyamuni and Lord Tsongkhapa did that as an example for us.
  10. Mama Jenny will start a trend in KH, in our area and in our region for others to also take robes. That would be a wonderful practice she leaves in people’s minds without even having to directly say anything to them. Just by being, we can inspire in this way without a lot of Dharma knowledge.
  11. She will receive the vows from elder sangha members and be VERY BLESSED TO RECEIVE THE ORDINATION VOWS FROM THEM DIRECTLY. Which they received from their gurus, and their gurus, going all the way back unbroken to Lord Buddha from whence all the vows originally stem from!! She will have a direct connection to Shakyamuni planting innumerable blessed imprints in her mindstream for this life and future lives.
  12. When we take ordination and hold our vows well, we have very little worries at the time of death. Death gets closer each day, what better preparation?? What better gift to ourselves?

Above are some of the benefits for Mama Jenny and any person who takes on holy ordination. TKL should have many ordained people in future. How beautiful.


  1. I will let Mama Jenny know the timing of the actual ordination and she will go to India for this. I will arrange. More than four elder sangha members are
    necessary for this.
  2. Before she takes ordination, I will give her pre-ordination instructions of which afterwards, she will wear pure white clothes and cut her hair very short. And remain in that type of preparatory dress and hair mode until taking of the vows after which she will wear the actual maroon robes and have her hair fully shaved. The style of white clothes I will show Su Ming to produce.
  3. After ordination, staying place I will consider and let her know.
  4. As Mama Jenny, due to my instructions, has a small savings, she will use those savings to support herself. Any extra donations to Mama Jenny may be directed to Ladrang and I appoint Liaison Su Ming (see contact info below) to oversee this Sangha fund. It will set a precedence for future Sangha offerings in this manner.I wish Mama Jenny to use her savings in this case fully for the Dharma by sponsoring herself. Each case in the future will be unique and different.
  5. Already people wish to donate robes to Mama Jenny, that is wonderful. They may direct this donation to Liaison Su Ming of Tsem Ladrang. Mama Jenny will also need airfare to India (cost will be let known at a later date). Other expenditures I will inform at a later date and other people may contribute to the ladrang sangha fund. DO NOT CONTRIBUTE OR GIVE TO THE INDIVIDUAL DIRECTLY PLEASE. DIRECT IT TO KH SANGHA FUND through Su Ming. I will set up a system of Sangha support from Ladrang for those in genuine need. I thank you ahead of time to help the Sangha.Sangha in this region are like drops of rain on a arid desert. Let’s make more rain.Contact info of Chuah Su Ming:
  6. After ordination we will address her by her ordination name only.
  7. She should not go to any hawkers, eateries, or places of entertainment for one year. But after 6 months she may go to vegetarian restaurants with other females (vegetarian restaurants are acceptable for Sangha in this region). She may not go with another male alone irregardless of their relations to her as it will cause wrong image to the public and Sangha. If there is a male with her, she must have another male or female to accompany them. That goes same for monks except reversed of course.
  8. Anytime a person becomes a Sangha, the remaining family members must be taken care of by other family members left behind. Sangha SHOULD NOT TAKE CARE OF LAY PEOPLE as it is negative karma for lay people to expect financial help from Sangha. It will also distract the Sangha members’ practice. Family members should give full emotional and financial support to their family member who has taken ordination. Family members should not expect financial support from the centres, temples or other members. That would be using the Sangha directly and indirectly.
  9. Remaining family members should not call the ordained by their previous names or titles, but only respectfully by their ordained names, as it is a blessing for the new Sangha and all who hear it.
  10. The above write up should serve as a procedure and protocols as it is our first in KH. Future Sangha may follow the same procedures. In time I/we may add or amend. Liaisons should know the procedures well to explain or talk when asked.

I care about Mama Jenny and her future. As I have no power to save her, but by her personal practice she can find repose and release from samsara. I would be very happy for her and also have fulfilled my avowed duties.

Mama Jenny is a close friend and student. Since she also considers me her close friend and teacher, she fully trusts me and hence is now ready to take on more meaning her life by pure and sacred ordination. I wish this for Mama Jenny as a culmination of our two decades Dharma friendship and it is the best gift I can give her. And her to herself. How beautiful.

I wish this for others also the same as I wish for Mama Jenny. My sincere good wishes, and happiness for this sacred event in our kechara.

Tsem Rinpoche
Spiritual Director
Kechara House & TKL Retreat Centre

Never say you can’t do, because that is not the real you speaking

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