In the Footsteps of the Buddha - A Ladakhi Bhikshuni's Journey into Nunhood
by Venerable Ru Chuan
International Buddhist College
Venerable Ru Chuan, a bhikshuni from Ladakh, India, welcomes your feedback. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Since my childhood days, I have liked the red robe of Tibetan Buddhism. I do not understand why. Perhaps in my previous life I could be a monastic, therefore the red robes of Tibetan nun always attract me so much. I grew up in a small village, like other children, I was also sent to a school but I never got interested in studying in school. I always wished to run away from school and home to ordain as a nun in a monastery. I ran away several times, but my family didn't give me permission to ordain as a nun. I had to wait for the right time.
Buddha expounded the Four Noble Truths in the Deer Park in Sarnath, India in his first sermon after he attained Buddhahood. The four noble truths explain a very important doctrine of Buddhism and the doctrine applies in our life. The truths are about suffering, its cause, its cessation (Nirvana), and the path (Noble Eightfold Path) to cessation of sufferings.
We experience of suffering, mental and emotional as well as physical, the fruits of our past actions. The cause of our suffering is ignorance. One can end the suffering by following the Noble Eightfold Path. This is the main doctrine of Buddha's teaching which helps me understand the purpose of our life.
I was born in very small village where I have seen lots of suffering. I saw my parents working in the field in summer and always busy in worldly life. In my hometown, people live in very severe conditions and live a very hard life because of the extremely cold weather. I think life is indeed a suffering, because I really experience it in my daily life. First from season, the winter is very cold. Summer is too short and we have to face many problems. In summer we need to work hard in the fields and save the wheat for winter and in winter we have only some dry vegetables to eat. I told my parents' about my wish. I told myself that I will never spend my life in the same conditions. Many of my friends had already ordained as nuns in India and they deeply influenced me to be like them. I realized that a nun's life would be simple and pure. There would be no tension from the husband and children. I wished to be ordained as a nun. Fortunately one of my friends asked me to go to Taiwan to ordain as a nun. I convinced my parents to let me go. I went to Taiwan with a few other friends.
I received my education in Ladakh up to the 9th grade of high school before I left my homeland to study in Taiwan. At that time I was just fourteen years old. Thereafter I spent one year in Sarnath, India at a Chinese temple with some of my friends. And we learned some basic Dharma and Chinese dharma instruments there. After that I came to Taiwan and attended the Buddhist College. At the beginning I had some difficulties in language, weather and food, but one year later I could overcome those difficulties and could listen and speak Mandarin well. When I was 16 years old, I got ordained as a novice nun (Sramana) from Chinese Master Hsing Yun. I can still remember that first night very well. It was around 7:00 p.m. My mind was filled with so much joy and I was never so happy before. I had to wait for a long time from the age of five up to sixteen for this opportunity to come to me. I didn't get it easily. Many years later, I received higher ordination at Bodhgaya in India on February 13th 1998. This is the second event that brought a lot of joy and happiness in my life. I thought to myself, 'how lucky I am to receive ordination in this holy place of Buddha's Enlightenment.'
After Learning Dharma in Taiwan, I realized the importance of ordaining as a nun. The world is full of suffering, physical suffering and mental suffering. If we really think deeply, we will know that there is nothing better than the Buddha's Dharma. Buddha Dharma shows us how to be free from Samsara. I have healthy body and mind, it's very precious and I am really lucky to be born as a human being in this world. Therefore, as a nun, my goal is to do good, to purify mind and not to do evil. I practice Buddha Dharma not only to help myself but also wish to help other sentient beings to be free from suffering.
I choose to be a nun because I realize that the life is full of suffering and by only living a monastic life will I be able to practice Buddha's Dharma and help other sentient beings.
Everything is dependent on causes and conditions. Since my childhood up to now I have a different kind of feelings within Buddha Dharma, from here I find my own way. I hope I can continue to work on my goal and attain it soon.