There are several hundred nuns and monks ordained in the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT). They are authentic Buddhist ordained practitioners who try to show a good and practical example of service, celibacy, and humility for our modern world.

NKT nuns and monks practice everything that a fully ordained nun or monk practice, minus the cultural rules that make benefiting others in the West in these modern times really hard, if not impossible. For example, according to the Vinaya, it is an offence for a monk to touch his mother out of affection. This would be completely unacceptable in Western culture and would lead people to think that Buddhism has nothing to do with normal life. Another example is a vow that states that monks and nuns cannot handle money. This is completely impractical when it comes to running a Dharma Center or operating in daily life. It would put many restrictions on the activities of an ordained person living in the West. Also, if Western Dharma teachers had to wait for lay people to feed them they would die of starvation! It is not part of Western culture for people to beg, but it is part of Western culture for people to work and support themselves. Nowadays, most Western monks and nuns are not living in actual monasteries, but are out and about in their communities helping living beings.

And how are monks and nuns supposed to understand and keep vows such as the following in this modern day?

Not to bathe more frequently than once a fortnight when residing in the middle Ganges Valley, except on certain occasions.

Not to teach Dharma to a person wearing sandals, unless he is sick.

In case a Bhikkhu should get some goats’ wool whilst he is on a journey, let him accept it, if he likes; and when he has accepted it, he may carry it in his own hand, if there are no porters, for the distance of three leagues. Should he carry it further than that, even if there are no porters — that is a Pâkittiya offence involving forfeiture.

Buddha Shakyamuni himself said that the Vinaya rules for Buddhist monks and nuns should be practiced in accordance with what is most acceptable for society, and NKT monks and nuns follow this advice.

Also, please check the comments below for a useful resource identifying the precedents of Kadampa ordination vows within the teachings of various Tibetan lineages.