This past New Year's eve, I was ordained as a novice monk. I was contemplating becoming a monk for some time and I gave it a lot of serious (and light-hearted) thought since arriving at Plum Village in June. Many of the dharma talks given by Thay during the June Retreat seemed to me to be invitations to monkhood. Seeing and hearing about nuns and monks committing their lives totally to the practice so that they could better serve their communities made a deep impression on me and helped show me my true heart's desire. The practice of personal and social transformation through mindfulness has helped me tremendously. There is so much I want to learn about this practice (and so much I need to transform within myself!), that I've come to the conclusion that the best way for me to accomplish this is by becoming a monk. Thay said that one chooses to become a nun or a monk because one sees that by becoming a monk or a nun one will have greater freedom to do what they want to do. For me, I want to learn and practice the dharma so as to bring healing and transformation in my life, and, by doing so, serve to the best of my abilities. Thay and Sister Phuong are very supportive of my decision. They told me they wanted me to become a "happy monk."
Gary Stuard, True Dharma Store, lives at Plum Village, in France. He is from Houston, Texas.