How do I ordain as a nun?

Hello everyone. This might be a long post so bear with me.

I am an 18 year old girl, born and currently living in Greece. I’ve been practicing buddhism since I was 16, and I meditate for 2 to 3 hours per day on a daily basis. I was introduced to it by an online friend from Canada, who I will always be grateful to because he changed the trajectory of my life.

I never miss a day. I wake up, I think of practice, I go to sleep, I think of practice, I sleep, I dream of practice. In the last months I’ve been so passionate about my practice that I’m somewhat losing interest in hobbies and in doing anything other than meditating. When I’m not practicing I am reading about it, and when I’m not reading I am browsing forums such as this one. I’m balls deep into it.

In the last few years I’ve been reflecting on the state of the society, if I can call it that. How most people work meaningless jobs that consume most of their time that they find little purpose in. That people barely have time to see their own families, let alone chat with friends or have time to do something like meditation. How the cost of living it rising and people are moving back in with their parents to afford to live. How a lot of people will likely never own a home, let alone retire someday. I was hearing in the news they are raising the age of retirement, depressing, most of us will be working until we are 70.

Needless to say I don’t want that future. So what are my options? a) suck it up and tolerate it, it’s in your kamma to be working until you’re 70 only to barely afford to live. b) starvation and homelessness. c) go become an outcast, go find land in the middle of nowhere somewhere in Alaska and start a homestead, grow your own food, go to a plantation in Tahiti and start a permaculture commune, I don’t know. d) become a monastic???

I have thought that Buddhist monasticism is like a cheat code in the system that allows you to live outside the control of this capitalist economy. All you have to do is sacrifice some freedoms, such as sex, a partner, a family and a household of your own, and you gain a lot more freedoms, you are freed from many addictions, you are free to practice The Path to the maximum of your ability without having to worry about time, stress from work interfering with your practice, etc. You don’t have to worry about completing your 15 minute morning meditation early, otherwise boss will be angry. You can meditate all morning, and at noon you can study the suttas or socialize and fraternize.

I am at a point in my life where I’m seriously considering bhikkhuni ordination. I am finishing high school in two months. I have considered all the sacrifices involved, such as not being able to have sex, have a family, indulge in entertainment, and having to leave your old family and friends behind in your hometown. I have also considered the loss of privacy, and the constant contact I’ll have with other nuns who may have difficult personalities. I have considered the conflicts and interpersonal politics that may arise, indeed your brain doesn’t just turn enlightened once you enter the monastery, there is still work to be done and defilements to be cleaned up. I am very interested in intentional communities, such as communes and cohousing communities and I have heard tons of stories of communities failing because of interpersonal conflicts and difficult personalities. I am aware of all the drawbacks and difficulties. I know it won’t be easy.

By the way, I was born asexual. Asexuality is a spectrum of sexual orientations and identities where individuals experience little to nonexistent sexual attraction, libido and desire to have sex. I am 18 years old and I’ve never dwlt physically attracted to a boy my age, or to a girl for that matter. I’ve had crushes before but never felt anything physical down there that would makee want to rub private parts with someone for 20 minutes straight. And that’s a problem, because it will be very difficult to find a partner in lay life who will be comfortable with me being asexual. Most people are very uncomfortable with celibacy and I’m curious how many of you here are in celibate relationships. I would either have to be alone for life while everyone around me finds partners and spouses to settle down with and moves further and further away from me because of that or I would have to compromise and force myself to do it for the shake of my partner. Both options sound awful. So ordination seems like a great option for embracing my asexuality and not having to live alone and be lonely. I’m at the hard end of the spectrum where I experience no attraction whatsoever to forcing myself to do it so that I won’t be dumped is not an option. Indeed most people are incredibly shallow.

Third, there is an ongoing crisis in the world, a crisis of community. Loneliness rates jeep rising and most people report having fewer and fewer close friends each year. I’m interested in intentional communities because they solve that problem, you don’t have to worry about leaving your house to see your friends who are far away from you to experience some semblance of community, you share your life with the people in your community, you eat with them, work with them, talk to them and sometimes sleep next to them. I have been very lonely for most of my life, either having no friends at all or having very shallow superficial friendships with people who I don’t even see outside of school so living in a monastic community would be lovely to it. There would be people within my reach every day to chat with, converse about the dhamma and make deep connections with.

All without romance getting in the way. I had a traumatic friendship in a friend group where eventually two of the members fell in love and completely forgot about me and it showed me what can happen when romance gets in the way of other relationships. In lay life you have to prioritize your relationship. You live with that person, eat with them, share a bed with them, share finances. You see friends very infrequently, if ever, because of work and as a result you don’t bond with them as well. In monastic life admirable friendship is “half the holy life” and there is no chance of romance making your friends forget about you, because you’ll all be celibate. So that’s yet an other reason why monastic life appeals to me.

Fifth I see people on Reddit and on this forum constantly complain about how they don’t have time for practice because of work or how stress from work interferes with their practice and I can’t help but want to ordain even more. The dhamma is everything to me. I wake up, I think of dhamma, I go to sleep, I think of dhamma, in my dreams, I dream of dhamma and it’s all I can think about all day every day, at school, at home, everywhere. It is my belief that this would make me a very dedicated monastic.

Lastly, I simply love the dhamma and I want to practice it to the best of my ability. Simple as that. This is probably my most convincing reason on the list, everything else sounds like trying to escape from something, but those are my concerns and I voiced them.

So I wanted to ask, the lay practicioners and the ordained bhikkhunis in this forum, what is the process of ordination for a bhikkhuni like? I surely can’t just show up at a monastery and expect them to ordain me. Do I have to contact them first and ask for a stay, a retreat, to get a glimpse of what monastic life will be like? To the nuns active in this forum, what did you have to do to ordain, did you participate in the activities of your monastery as laypeople beforehand?

I’d really love to hear your prespective on this and your thoughts on my rant. I wish you Metta, and the best in your practice.


Namo Buddhaya!

Greece is a great country to train in. And is a place where many christian monks go to train.

There is probably not much there for women in terms of readily available option & support, but I would at least look into what options exist for renunciate women in Greece, even if it is a different sect, it all depends on the particulars and worth looking into.

In your spot I’d look for safety, a calm environment, base material support, access to study resources, autonomy to train as i see fit and time to do so.

I would definitely explore the options that have been setup for women but i wouldn’t go anywhere without very careful consideration.

As to ordination, i personally would hestitate in getting involved with the controversy that there is now with the ‘hot issue’, and would rather prefer to take a mulasarvastivada ordination, at least for the time being, if not staying without full acceptance, but i would certainly consider & explore all options, would go to mars to ordain as a martian if i thought it was the best call; It all depends on where i can find most safety, a calm environment, base material support, access to study resources, autonomy to train as i see fit and time to do so.

Dear Notez, you are right, there is not much support for renunciate women here. I don’t even know if there is a Shangha, I know there is a stupa in Corfu and a meditation retreat place in Halkida but I don’t know if they ordain nuns and they’re Tibetan Buddhist. I was thinking of an anglophone country, perhaps Australia as I always loved Oceania.

I wish you the best in your practice.

As to how one actually ordains, i think it is the same for women as it is for men.

First I would get a broad overview of the options and talk to people who already do this.

If you decide to go with full ordination then you need to find a preceptor who fits you. This is very important and can be a great support in your life.

One needs to look at how the visa arrangements are setup in the countries where you might look for a preceptor. These are things one must take into consideration in deciding where to train. You wouldn’t want to live in a place with no long term residency options.

If one has found a potential preceptor one goes to talk out the details and do some initial probation if required before one is given full acceptance.

I would want to have a some money to go explore the options, if i had no money i would ask if people would suport the cause.

Thank you so much for your comment!

So all I need to do is decide which country to train in, find a preceptor, contact her, and simply wait to be fully accepted?

I assume there must be some nuns around, christian, and they probably live in shared accomodation like detached houses or appartments.

I would find a nun who has been doing it for a long time and ask about being a renunciate woman in Greece. Just to get an idea.

I don’t know if they would be okay with me being Buddhist, orthodox nuns here are very conservative and often not accepting of other viewpoints.

Yes for example most men now would go to train in Sri Lanka because of the renewable 1 year visa but there are other viable options. For example in some countries there might be a way to get you an educator/religious worker or a straight work visa.

Thank you a lot for the information!

By the way what country are you from?

I am in the EU as well

Thank you again for your reply!

I imagine most would be sympathetic if not welcoming. I assume Greece probably had buddhist nuns before and it’s culturally significant that you want to train like this. This religion is older than christianity and so people usually take this into account lest they are crazy, that has been my subjective experience.

Not to suggest this as a favorable option but rather to include it as such. Id keep in mind that before the women were allowed full acceptance the female renunciates usually lived with other sects which did.

Hi Amrapali,
I am tagging just a couple of Venerable bhikkhunis on the forum, @sabbamitta and @Pasanna. There are many on the forum and in EU and hopefully they can give you a further insights and information about the process.


Hi Amrapali,

Becoming a bhikkhuni is a process that will take many years and very dedicated commitment. There are many factors to consider, both in terms of spiritual support (a teacher / preceptor and a community that suits you well, and where you fit in well), and in terms of worldly conditions (visa issues can be very challenging for monastics, financial support for health care, etc.)

First of all, it’s important to establish close relationships with bhikkhunis and bhikkhuni monasteries, i.e. visit, spend time there, experience the life. Since you’re in Europe, it might be easiest for you to start with the European bhikkhuni sanghas. If that works out, it’ll be much less of a hassle to transition into monastic life, since you won’t need visas etc. As you said, there are no bhikkhunis in Greece. The biggest European sanghas are in Germany:
Anenja Vihara
Sirisampanno Monastery
Watermoon Monastery
Kloster Hassel

There are also monasteries in Czech republic and Belgium, but they don’t train new nuns. And monasteries are being built right now in Italy and Spain, but they aren’t ready yet for visitors. And of course there is Ayya Canda in England, but since the UK has left the EU, there is the visa issue now…

Good luck for your path!


Also id keep in mind that Greece has some social security which makes female renunciates somewhat independent to that extent.

A greek man could probably live just fine outdoors in Greece, all year, by just relying on social services but as a woman this is too dangerous.

However if there are groups of women renunciates then they can do this. And so i think this comes into play in their lives and that women renunciates do have some say in how they live & train.

Oh my God, an actual nun replied to my post. Hi there! Thank you so much!

Do you have any tips for how to tell my family that I want to do this? They know I’m practicing buddhism and they’ve accepted it but I don’t think they’re aware that I’m planning to take it this far.

It depends on if you think they’ll be supportive or if this will be a shock to them. If they won’t be supportive then I think it’s too early to tell your family. Meet some bhikkhunis first, spend time in monasteries, and see if you like the lifestyle. People have very romantic ideas about monastic life, but actually living in a monastic community is much more challenging than most people expect.
It’s also not that easy for women to find a good place to train. Your options might be quite limited and it might take time to find the right monastery. It’s best if you are certain yourself first that this is what you want to do before talking to your family.


Thank you for your kind advice! Metta!

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My advice is to not announce any life changing decisions to anyone until you see an opening and have committed to it’s pursuit. One can of course say that one entertains the idea but at this point it’s just healthy interest.

That opening means having talked it out with some women friends that you actually like and could see yourself dealing with for the rest of your life. And furthermore having the option & ability to relocate.

Unil that point there is not much to announce lest one plans on doing something radical or reckless.