Becoming a Buddhist minister is an opportunity and calling open to anyone interested. Despite the lack of formal qualifications needed to become ordained within the Buddhist faith, however, an acceptance of the Buddhist teachings and a willingness to apply these teachings where they can aid society is expected.
Although ordination isn't necessarily for life and many people leave the life of a minister after a few years, the commitment requires considerable thought and consideration.
Research Buddhism thoroughly, paying attention to the three main schools of Buddhist thought: Dharmaguptaka, Mulasarvastivadin and Theravada. Though differing slightly in their beliefs, all schools of Buddhism uphold the teachings of the Buddha and relate only to the monastic bows and lineage. Studying them ensures you are adequately prepared for whichever lineage you choose.
Join a Buddhist Sangha (temple, church or meeting group) that matches the Buddhist beliefs into which you want to be ordained. The Internet or your area's telephone directory should be your first point of call when finding a Sangha.
Demonstrate an awareness of the Buddhist teachings and way of life to the Sangha's other members. Show that you continually read the Buddha's teachings and apply them to your life. Many monasteries have a probationary period of about one year, during which application of the teachings must be shown before applying for ordination.
Tell the Sangha's resident monk or nun about your decision to become ordained. The ceremony is conferred only by a fully ordained monk. During the ceremony, you'll take vows in which you dedicate yourself to the beliefs and teachings of Buddhism.
Ordination into the Buddhist faith takes a considerable amount of dedication and persistence, and interested people are always recommended to consider the sacrifices involved carefully before pursuing this lifestyle.
- buddhist monk image by Melissa Schalke from Fotolia.com