Considering herself born to extremely understanding parents, Jean Ai confesses to being accident-prone as a young child, worrying her family by getting into all sorts of scrapes with scars to prove it. When she was not falling over, her nose would be buried in books, soaking up all of the life lessons that Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl could possibly provide.
A non-conformist by nature, her early ambitions included police officer, human rights lawyer, politician and Greenpeace volunteer. A trip to the oceanarium developed her teenage obsession of becoming a marine biologist. Her spare time thereafter was dedicated to studying the anatomy of cetaceans and the like. Her dream, however, was swiftly put to rest once she realised that proficiency in Chemistry was a requirement of the job, and her distinct disinterest in the subject proved to be an insurmountable stumbling block.
Buddhism has never been far from her life. Her predominant teenage memory is being taken to the Dharma centre to attend hours of pujas and talks that she could not comprehend. Undeterred by the strange happenings around her, she thought, “Well, if you can’t understand ‘em, join ‘em and learn more. Then, maybe one day you will understand.” Nearly a decade later, having grown up under the Dharma umbrella, she not only “joined them” but has requested her lama, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche to become a nun.
Her first request for ordination came about when she was only 16, during a life-altering pilgrimage to India which included a visit to a nunnery. However, Rinpoche advised her to complete her higher education before considering ordination as the experiences she would gain in the course of her studies would contribute to her eventual role of spreading the Dharma. Heeding her precious Guru’s advice, she pursued a BSc (Hons) in Psychology from the University of Warwick. Over the years, however, she never lost sight of her goal, even after moving abroad and indulging in the lifestyle one might expect from the offspring of a well-to-do family. Three requests later, Rinpoche finally accepted her request for ordination in the summer of 2013.
On 19 October 2013, along with 10 other individuals, she was ordained as a Buddhist Pastor and Sangha-to-be, making her the youngest Pastor in the history of Kechara. Today, she serves H.E Tsem Rinpoche directly as a member of Tsem Ladrang and also sits on Kechara’s Board of Directors.
You can find more of her writing at www.elenakhong.com