Below are the answers to some of the questions that I’m often asked.
why do you have this web site?
I really only have this site for a couple of reasons. One reason is that I think it’s important for folks to know that there ARE monks and nuns who are “white” Canadians, living in Canada. There are very few of us, but we exist. Another reason is that my life is generally very secluded, but I am open to meeting people who are interested in Buddhism or the monastic life, and this is a way for them to find me. That’s pretty much it.
Can you tell me about your ordination?
I was ordained as a Getsul or Sramanera (novice Buddhist monk) by the Very Venerable Ninth Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche on June 13, 2016 at Thrangu Monastery Canada. Dorje Loppon Dungse Lama Pema and many of the resident monks of the monastery attended the ordination ceremony.
What sect do you belong to?
I belong to the Karma Kagyu. The head of my sect is His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje.
The Karma Kagyu sect is over 900 years old and His Holiness returns lifetime after lifetime taking rebirth to benefit sentient beings. The Karmapa is the only Tulku (to my knowledge) who predicts the exact circumstances surrounding His next rebirth, leaving a note for His heart sons to facilitate the search for Him after He’s taken rebirth. Click here to watch a movie on YouTube documenting the search for His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje.
when did you become buddhist, and why?
I have been Buddhist in a formal way since I took Refuge Vows nearly 20 years ago. I subsequently practiced and studied and eventually formally received the Bodhisattva Vow and Tantric Samayas in their respective ceremonies on different occasions from one of the most influential lamas I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter in this life. He prefers to keep a very low profile, so I will not name him out of respect.
I “became” Buddhist because it was the only world religion that made logical sense to me. And I greatly appreciate the fact that we’re told to not believe anything just because we’re told to. Buddhists are encouraged to “take it to the cushion” and evaluate the teachings we receive thoroughly, we don’t take stuff on “blind faith”, generally. However, I firmly believe that me becoming Buddhist in this lifetime was really just a continuation of the karma of previous lives, meaning that I’d been Buddhist in my previous lives and that this time I just carried on once I found my footing.
Why did you become a monk?
It was a life-long dream, actually. Since early childhood I’d wanted to become a Buddhist monk and after my marriage ended I had run out of reasons to avoid it any longer. That’s the very short version, anyway.
Do you teach Dharma and/or meditation?
Not really. I can teach you some very basic things to get you started in a personal meditation routine. There are more qualified teachers than I, however. Perhaps I can better help you by recommending one of them if I have some sense of what your goals are.
I will not discuss any advanced meditation topics or any of the secret aspects of the Vajrayana, nor will I provide any instruction in any Vajrayana methods or practices.
I’ve made a page on this site with book recommendations, and will add to that list from time to time.
I’ve been a Dharma practitioner for about two decades now. I won’t be your teacher, but I might be a good Dharma friend.
how do you support yourself?
In my case, I am either fortunate or unfortunate enough to be disabled. I receive support for my basic needs from disability support and from one sponsor. My basic needs are met.
Where do you practice?
In the shrine room of my home here in Calgary, Alberta Canada.
Do you go out for coffee and stuff?
Well, yes. Yes I do go out to drink coffee, tea or to eat the odd meal, just not very often. And, I am open to meeting for coffee or a meal if invited to do so. But you should be forewarned that I will talk about the Buddhadharma.
can i give you a donation?
From time to time I meet someone who’d like to present me with an offering. When I do receive an offering of money it goes towards the high cost of travel to the monastery (it costs approximately $400 for gas and hotels to travel to and from the monastery in Richmond, B.C. and my apartment in Calgary, AB.) so that I can attend teachings, empowerments, transmissions, etc,.
Making offerings to the Sangha of monastics is a great way to accumulate merit and practice generosity, which is the antidote to greed or miserliness, of course. “Western” monastics very rarely receive any financial support from any monastery and we’re left to fend for ourselves, which leads many to having to give up their monastic vows and return to a worldly job. The rules that govern monastic behaviour, commonly called the Vinaya, prohibit monks and nuns from willingly wearing the clothes of a layperson for even one day, which prevents us from going out to a job in the world to support ourselves.
To make things easy for anyone who would like to make an offering, I may add a donation button at some point. For the time being, please get in touch with me if you would like to make an offering.
If you’d like to make an offering of a needed item, here’s the permalink to my Amazon.ca wish list.
are you celibate? can you have a partner?
Buddhist monks and nuns, without any exception, are required to be completely chaste. We are more than celibate. Not only are we not allowed to have a romantic relationship, we are not allowed to engage in any sexual behaviour, alone or with a partner.
I’ve been considering looking into Buddhism. Can I ask you some questions?
Sure you can. Get in touch!
Why aren’t you on facebook?
I recently decided to deactivate my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I eventually found those environments to be too negative. Apparently there are trolls who like to attack monastics, too. However, I am on WeChat, because that’s the app that’s used by my monastery. To add me to your contacts on WeChat, click on the QR code image to the right and it’ll open in full size for you to scan.
I do still use Instagram, as I always enjoy pictures of Bhutan, Mongolia and many other far away places I simply won’t be able to visit in this lifetime. If you’d like to, you can find me on Instagram as ‘ayycmonk’. Calgarians sometimes refer to Calgary by it’s airport designation code, which is YYC. I’m not entirely certain why so many of us do it, but we do.