Unusual Choices: Ani Chudrun used to present Top Gear on TV. She gave up her fame to be a Buddhist nun. Why? [7 min] (2014)

It does look like she needed to drop out and live a simpler life. However I don't think it is fair to compare her to some other ideal. Everyone's on a journey and that is the stage she's at. She still believes in reincarnation, it seems, and aso ideas of salvation, the sense that one has to do something "meaningful" with their life, and so on.

She will probably stick to that routine the rest of her life and maybe or maybe not find enlightenment as it is described in the buddhist literatures... who knows. It may be that eventually she realizes the futility of the "retreat" life and sees the bigger picture.

But again, I think it makes no sense to compare like that. Cheng Yen is Cheng Yen because she was born at time T, in place P, with environment E, and lived XYZ experiences. Ani Chudrun is Ani Chundrun because ... you get the idea.

The idea that somehow Ani is "wrong" and could have lived the (in your eyes) more meaningfull or "impactful" life of Cheng Yen, is a fallacy, and is in fact completely at odds with Buddhism, since it is claiming that freewill exists and than one person can make themselves into whatever, by force of will. That is obviously not the case.

And then behind your comment is also a common criticism towards people who chose a life of retreat, that somehow they are "useless". This is such an old, tired, completely baseless argument... I'm not even going to try to argue it.

At end of the day, your comment comes from a belief in separation. Remove the belief that Ani and Cheng Yen are separate, unique entities apart from the world, who chose their life, then there is no problem anymore. They both have their place, and one couldn't be without the other. Cheng Yen wouldn't be Cheng Yen without the poor and suffering people, and her great deed wouldn't be had there been already an hospital (just one example, I'm sure she did other good things).

The main criticism I would agree with, is that sometimes these profiles see to suggest that the viewer, who lives the "layman's life" is somehow living a less meaningful life. There is this sort of assumption that one has to make something with their life, and that banging little bells and reciting prayers makes you a good person.

And putting that all aside, regardless if she was looking for some peace, I think it takes some courage and determination to sign off the concensus reality, and potentially even lose friends and family, to do what you want to do. Personally I can respect that.

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