24-year-old Ting Tien has done something that’s not really expected of girls her age – she’s gone and given up all her material comforts to become a monk. In her former life, Ting lived in luxury; she was a fashion designer with access to the best of clothes and make up. But the shine of material objects wore off quite soon in Ting’s case and she chose to look for inner peace instead.
Ting, a native of Jinan City in Eastern China, attended the Qingdao University in Shandong Province, specializing in luxury goods design. But when she graduated, she became disillusioned with the lifestyle that she and her friends were leading. She found everything around her increasingly materialistic and too much to handle.
Yearning for enlightenment and inner peace, Ting made a very unusual choice for most Chinese girls her age – she joined Xinlongdongzhi Temple, a remote Buddhist place of worship located at on a snow-covered mountain, at 13,000 feet above sea level, in Sichuan Province. She shaved her head, shed her designer outfits and adopted the simple life of a monk, filled with sacrifice and prayer. To complete the transformation, Ting even changed her name to Caizhenwangmu, and set finding spiritual fulfillment as her ultimate goal in life.
Ting’s story gained a lot of attention after photos of her before and after the dramatic change were posted online. She became an instant hit across China, where most people live their lives in the pursuit of materialistic goals and successful careers. Ting’s story struck a chord with many internet users who praised the girl for her brave choice, but, obviously, there are also those who just can’t understand why she would do such a thing.
When asked about why she decided to give up her promising career to live isolated in a Buddhist temple, Ting’s reply was simple: “I just feel the need to gain an understanding of life and death, and what it’s all about,” she said. “I’m also eager to do what I can to make the world a better place for all living creatures. What’s more, believing in Buddha makes me a monk.”