Reply to a Reader: On Becoming a Monk

I get letters like this often: “How do I become a monk?” It’s one of the most consequential decisions that anyone can face, both for themselves and for their families.

Yet, it’s hard to reply when they don’t even provide their own name or reply address, much less a self-introduction!

So, the reply to this query had to come in the form of a public talk. Although I’ve addressed this matter on a number of other occasions, in different forums, and told many of the same stories retold here, this seemed like something that needed to be done again for the sake of this letter-writer. (Begin the video at 1:29:00. An edited version will appear in a few weeks, but I wanted the letter-writer to have their answer as soon as possible.)

Receiving novice monk precepts from the hand of Dae Soen Sa Nim (Zen Master Seung Sahn) on September 7, 1992, in the Main Buddha Hall of the Temple of the Sixth Patriarch, Nam Hwa Sah, on Chogye Sahn Mountain, Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China. Co-officiating was Do An Sunim, now known as Dae Kwang Sunim.