Eight years ago today, Ngawang Thubten (of France), Ngawang Sangye Chozom (of the US), and I, Ngawang Damchö Drolma (of Australia) were ordained in Bouddhanath, Nepal, by the great Vinaya master of the Nyingma tradition, Kyabjé Trulshik Rinpoche.
The ordination took place in a small shrine room, with light green painted walls, in the modest abode of Trulshik Rinpoche in Kathmandu. There were five of us who received ordination: we three, plus one Nepalese lady (whose son, famed as being the first man to scale to the peak of mount Everest, eagerly waited outside saying this day was more important for him that the physical feats he had mastered years ago), and an elderly Tibetan lady.
I still remember so many details of the day, during which we felt like we had a new birth. For many years, one of my ordination sisters from that day even had a 'birth' mark which remained on her scalp where the ordination master had poured saffron water.
When we take ordination, we give up three signs of being a lay person: our hair, our clothes and our name, and we adopt the conduct of a shikshamana precept holder, the robes of our lineage and the name which our ordination master gives us. The protection of the precepts and the robes has been tangible since that time, and it feels as though the blessing of the Buddha continuously holds us on the path of right conduct.
Ven. Matthieu Ricard translated for our ordination and Sangye Chözom asked him to give us some advise.
"Do good, be good" he said!