Author Topic: Inspired by the Nangchen Nuns  (Read 8615 times)


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Inspired by the Nangchen Nuns
« on: July 11, 2012, 11:08:22 AM »
Hi I was going through the site on Nangchen Nun and came across this Q & A section which I thought was good information and sharing about not just the Nuns in Nangchen but Nuns in general and how it is just as important to preserve and have as monks. We rare here much about Nuns compared to monks who is more prominent but it does not mean they are any less important.

If anyone has any other news and info about CURRENT Nunneries do share here :)

Questions and Answers About the Tsoknyi Lineage Nangchen Nuns

Q: What was Tsoknyi Rinpoche the First’s long-term plan for the Nangchen Nuns?

The nuns are part of a wisdom tradition that was preserved in Tibet for many centuries. Tsoknyi Rinpoche the First (who flourished in the 19th century) designed and developed a system of practices for the transformation and enlightenment of female practitioners in Tibet. He envisioned a time when these women would become among the most accomplished Buddhist practitioners in the world. The nuns mainly practice the Nyingma tradition and Dzogchen. Now that the current Tsoknyi Rinpoche is connected to the nuns, they are able to receive teachings once again from their lineage teacher.


Q: What’s important about supporting the nuns?

Preserving the lineage and lifestyle of realized beings is extremely valuable. These Nuns flourish with inner qualities that are like gold or precious stones, created over a vast amount of time.

Behind the great texts are the teachings of realized beings. The Dharma of the teachings has value, but the Dharma of realization is indispensable and difficult to develop. In Rinpoche’s words, “You can’t just print 100,000 copies of a realized nun—it takes 20, 30 or 40 years. It can only be created through long-term commitment.” Without underestimating the value of books, the wisdom of the Buddha can only be truly preserved through realization. Realization can only be embodied and nurtured through intensive practice. The nuns reach realization through understanding the nature of reality and embodying the Dharma. Supporting the nuns is important because doing so supports a lifeline of realization. Please click here to learn how you can help.

Pundarika Foundation wants to ensure that this treasure is saved, and it is dedicated to preserving their way of life and meeting their basic needs, which are marginal, even by Tibetan standards. For example, virtually all of the 2,000+ nuns live without electricity, heat or running water, and in a very rugged climate with brutally cold winters. An analogy could be the wisdom of preserving rare and endangered plants in a rainforest that have the potential to heal and cure many people.

The nuns are so dedicated to their prayers and practices that they spend all their time absorbed in them without interrupting their work schedule, and therefore their survival is tenuous. Despite the great hardships they have seen and continue to face, their willingness to endure remains strong, due to their love of Dharma.

Tsoknyi Rinpoche and Mingyur Yogini

Q: How do the nuns benefit the world and us?

Sprouting from their own inner qualities, the nuns are able to give insight, spiritual security, freedom from grief, release from sadness, happiness and blessings to others. They have the experiential wisdom to teach us how to transform ignorance and hatred into wisdom and love.

They have an inner wealth that we can experience when we meet them personally or even by seeing the film. This quality can only be described as inspirational. Due to the difficulties they have endured, they can also show us how to live authentically and joyfully in the midst of hardship and loss.
Rinpoche said of the Nuns’ benefit to the world:

When Tibet exploded, the Dharma was brought out. Dharma is carried by people, not by books. It is in the human mind naturally, and these nuns who are practicing are bringing the benefit out. ‘Benefit’ is not just material—doing something, producing something, showing me something. Benefit or value is non-material. It is spirit, love, compassion, kindness. It is a human value, not a material value.

Q: How do the nuns influence their immediate community?

They actively help their families and villages through prayer, performing religious rituals, counseling, sharing resources when possible and sharing their practical skills in medicine, building and education. Because of the nuns’ example and active engagement, the villages and communities that surround the nunneries have been greatly influenced for the better, with violence, alcoholism and harsh speech becoming very rare. There has been a real improvement in the inner development of the community.

Q: Why emphasize the support of female practitioners?

There’s a great need for female practitioners. The experience of being with these women is very powerful. This power comes from the depth of compassion and the vastness of love that they embody. The sense of community and of mutual aid is very strong, despite the adverse political and cultural climate in which they live. Although women in many cultures are not respected, the nuns of the Tsoknyi Lineage have overcome these limitations through the power of perseverance and strong dedication to the Dharma. The expression of Dharma through the female form is an important and unique contribution. Qualities such as gentleness, motherly care and loving energy are so strong in the female form and very healing for the world.

Q: Why do these women take on monastic life?

Besides the draw of the Dharma and a spiritual life, young women also go to live at practice centers and hermitages in this culture to learn to read, gain protection from harsh outer circumstances and join a community of devoted practitioners. It is unusual for a nun to leave, and if they leave it is often due to family circumstances.

Q: What happens if their tradition dies out?

We, and the rest of the world, lose a precious source of spiritual qualities. Lives dedicated to practice must be allowed to flourish and help shape our collective global future. If this tradition dies out, a unique embodiment of living Dharma in female form will be lost.

Q: How many nunneries is Tsoknyi Rinpoche responsible for? And why is he responsible?

He is responsible for over 50 monasteries (nunneries) connected to the Tsoknyi Lineage in the Nangchen region of Eastern Tibet. During the Cultural Revolution, the nuns endured great hardship and began to regroup and rebuild their nunneries, stone by stone, and gradually others joined them. By the time Tsoknyi Rinpoche visited them in 2003 for the first time, he realized that through the efforts of the older nuns, the tradition had been kept alive and was taking root in a new generation. However, their living conditions were so difficult that he took on the responsibility of helping them survive.

Q: What is the age range of the nuns?

Their ages range from teenage to the mid- to late 60s and older. There is a gap between the ages of around 40 and 60 due to the destruction of the nunneries during the Cultural Revolution. About 40 nuns survived (out of thousands), living very primitively in caves or in nomad settlements. Many Nuns were forced to cities or back to their families to work the land and could not continuing practicing in a monastic setting. This is a good example of the fragility of the lineage.

Q: What about medical facilities for the nuns?

The nearest clinic to a monastery is minimally a full day’s drive by car (over difficult and at times impassable roads), or at least two days by horseback. Occasionally, there is a traveling clinic doctor, but this is not a reliable source of medical care since traveling clinics are seasonal and based on external aid agencies. Some areas have small Tibetan medicinal clinics.

Q: What is the purpose of the film (Blessings)?

There are three interwoven purposes:

    To raise awareness of the rare and sacred tradition of female practitioners under the Tsoknyi Lineage and how they benefit their communities
    To make known their difficult situation due to the Cultural Revolution and the deteriorating conditions of family support due to economic changes
    To encourage people to help them by supplying basic necessities

Q: What kind of support is needed for the nuns?

When the nuns are asked what help they need, it is bare bones—some tsampa (barley flour) and tea for food; cloth for robes; some light in the shrine; repair of buildings that are collapsing; and basic medical care for emergencies, infections and broken limbs. Most have been relying on family support in the traditional way. However, due to social and economic changes, the family support system is changing.

Q: Is there a possibility that our aid to the nuns could potentially disturb the balance in their lives?

This is a concern, and Rinpoche is very aware of that potential. Rinpoche is only attempting to provide basic needs to support their practice, not to change their lifestyle. A thorough assessment was conducted in the summer of 2007 in order to address the most pressing needs of each nunnery.
Q: When was the film trip?

The film trip took place in the summer of 2005.

Q: Can we go to Nangchen and meet the nuns?

It is an isolated area and very hard to get to. There is no extra housing and no provisions. At this time, traveling is not encouraged. We want to protect and preserve their environment, so they can continue to practice undisturbed.

Q: What are the winters like and the elevation?

The winters can get down to –40°F, and there is little or no infrastructure (roads, bridges, electricity, plumbing/waste removal, water or fuel availability). The nuns must carry water over long and icy distances, use yak dung to stay warm—and eat very simple food, often cold, to stay alive. When the snow melts in April and May, they are challenged by mudslides that block paths, roads and rivers, which can become impassable. Structures that are handmade of baked mud must be repaired and rebuilt. Due to extreme conditions much of the year, emergency health needs such as acute infections and accidents are either not treated at all or treated ineffectively. The average elevation is 12,000–14,000 feet.

Jessie Fong

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Re: Inspired by the Nangchen Nuns
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2012, 01:20:48 PM »
I came across Dongyu Gatsal Ling nunnery founded by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo:

Tenzin Palmo's vision was to found a Nunnery to give young nuns of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage the opportunity to realise their intellectual and spiritual potential after so many centuries of neglect and to reinstate at the Nunnery the 'Togdenma' (yogini) tradition.

The Nunnery was named 'Dongyu Gatsal Ling' by the Spiritual Director His Eminence the 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche Shedrup Nyima. It means 'Garden of the Authentic Lineage' and was chosen because 'Dongyu Nyima' was the name of the previous Khamtrul Rinpoche, who was Tenzin Palmo's personal Guru.

The emphasis of DGL Nunnery is to:

Provide a programme of study, meditation and service.
Train nuns in integrating their daily life and work with Dharma principles.
Encourage a life based on monastic vows and communal harmony and eventually to reintroduce the bhikshuni (higher monastic) ordination.
Re-establish the precious 'Togdenma' (yogini) tradition of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage and train some nuns as teachers in meditation.
Prepare some of the nuns who undertake higher philosophical studies to become teachers or professors.
The Nunnery started in January 2000 in a small room at Tashi Jong with a group of girls from Ladakh. Initial plans were quickly put into action with the help of volunteers Eliz Dowling and Monica Joyce. Gradually others dedicated themselves to Tenzin Palmo's vision.

Soon more young nuns from Tibet, Spiti, Kinnaur and other Himalayan regions boosted the numbers to twenty one. For the first eighteen months the nuns lived in the newly built monastic college at Tashi Jong which previously had lain empty. They were taught philosophy by Khenpo Losal, Tibetan language by Gen Lodoe and English by various volunteers. Later when Khampagar Monastery needed to re-establish their college, the nuns moved to a hundred-year old mud brick house on a nearby tea estate where they remained for some time.

Meantime the DGL Trust (established in India in mid-1999) purchased seven acres of suitable land from the Tashi Jong Community and construction of the Nunnery began. In late 2005 the nuns were able to move to their newly completed living quarters at the permanent Nunnery location while the construction continued around them.

The Nunnery name Dongyu Gatsal Ling translates as 'Delightful Garden of the Authentic Lineage'. This name was bestowed on the Nunnery by His Eminence the 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche Shedrup Nyima when Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo founded the Nunnery. On top of the logo is the Victory Banner, the personal emblem of the Khamtrul Rinpoches. The banner is surmounting a Dharma Wheel which shows that this is a place of study and practice where the Wheel of the Doctrine is being turned. On both sides of the Wheel are jewel-holding dragons, symbols of the Drukpa Kagyu or ‘Dragon’ lineage. The lineage became known as the Dragon Lineage because nine dragons (Druk means dragon in Tibetan) thunderously roared up from the earth as flowers rained down from the sky when the first Drukpa Kagyu monastery was established in Tibet, in the 12th century.


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Re: Inspired by the Nangchen Nuns
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2012, 03:10:19 PM »
I came upon this Nunnery which was started by nuns who fled from the Nechung Ri Nunnery in Tibet, destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Gaden Choeling Nunnery or Ganden Choeling is a Tibetan Buddhist nunnery in Dharamsala, India. It is located near the monastery in which His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama resides. It is the largest and oldest Tibetan nunnery in India. Since most of the nunneries in Tibet are no longer operational, it may be the largest in the world. The nunnery is built on a steep hillside in Dharamsala.

As of today there are 160 nuns living in the nunnery. The emphasis of life in the nunnery is to provide the proper foundation and education for monastic training, the study/practice of the Buddha's teachings, Tibetan language and culture, and English.
The level of education of the nuns entering Geden Choeling is quite varied. Most of the nuns coming from Tibet had no opportunity for any formal education and therefore must begin by learning the Tibetan alphabet. Others have had some years of schooling in Tibetan and Indian schools. The average age of nuns entering Geden Choeling is around twenty, although we do occasionally have nuns as young as ten with a few resident nuns in their seventies.
Many of the nuns who have been in residence for some years will go on to study for the degree of Geshe. After attaining the Geshe degree, they will become teachers for the nunnery as well as communities in the area and abroad.
There are a variety of different responsibilities within in the nunnery.  The Abbot (Khenpo) has the highest authority in the nunnery. He oversees our training in meditation, philosophy and debate. The Disciplinarian (Gekoe) is next in authority and oversees discipline and attendance.
The chanting master (Umze) initiates and leads the prayers. There are two secretaries who correspond with sponsors, other offices and take care of all the responsibilities in the nunnery. Two kitchen managers do the shopping and the kitchen accounts. The two accountants are in charge of the funds. There are two caretakers of the temple who manage the organization and presentation of the offerings. Two more nuns look after the water supply and electricity issues. All these positions are elected and most are kept for more than two years, except the Abbot who remains for three years. Throughout their life in the nunnery, most nuns gain experience in all these different tasks.
Living in exile, under the guidance and leadership of H.H the Dalai Lama, many educational centers and retreat facilities for Buddhist practitioners have been established. Inside Tibet, the many brave nuns and monks continue their non-violent struggle for freedom and peace. They suffer imprisonment, torture and other forms of persecution at the hands of the communist authorities. Thus, many have been forced to flee to India in order to continue their monastic way of life. In order to continue admitting new nuns the nunnery needs to expand and support and funding are always welcome. The nuns are also appealing for a new debate court.


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Re: Inspired by the Nangchen Nuns
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2012, 05:46:01 PM »
This is another nun I admire... Pema Chodron. I use to read her book "When Things Fall Apart" which are clear and simple logic, easy to relate for anyone who wants to start/venture in to Buddhism or anyone who is going through a difficult moment in their life. She has started her own foundation called Pema Chodron Foundation

Beside that she supports The Nuns of Tsoknyi Gebchak Ling

Here 's a little Bio on her....

Pema Chödrön was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936, in New York City. She attended Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. She taught as an elementary school teacher for many years in both New Mexico and California. Pema has two children and three grandchildren.

While in her mid-thirties, Pema traveled to the French Alps and encountered Lama Chime Rinpoche, with whom she studied for several years. She became a novice nun in 1974 while studying with Lama Chime in London. His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa came to England at that time, and Pema received her ordination from him.

Pema first met her root teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1972. Lama Chime encouraged her to work with Rinpoche, and it was with him that she ultimately made her most profound connection, studying with him from 1974 until his death in 1987. At the request of the Sixteenth Karmapa, she received the full monastic ordination in the Chinese lineage of Buddhism in 1981 in Hong Kong.

Pema served as the director of Karma Dzong, in Boulder, until moving in 1984 to rural Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to be the director of Gampo Abbey. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche asked her to work towards the establishment of a monastery for western monks and nuns.

Pema currently teaches in the United States and Canada and plans for an increased amount of time in solitary retreat under the guidance of Venerable Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche.

Pema is interested in helping establish the monastic tradition in the West, as well in continuing her work with Buddhists of all traditions, sharing ideas and teachings. She has written several books: “The Wisdom of No Escape”, “Start Where You Are”, “When Things Fall Apart”, “The Places that Scare You”, “No Time to Lose” and “Practicing Peace in Times of War”, and most recently, “Smile at Fear”. All are available from Shambhala Publications.


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Re: Inspired by the Nangchen Nuns
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2012, 06:22:13 PM »
A little introduction here on Pema Chodron's Foundation and Gampo Abbey Western Monastery. Do read about this Western built Monastery which I found quite interesting as it is very much the same principles as the common Tibetan monasteries. What I find profound about it is that lay people are allowed to experience life/retreat there and sorta bring out one's nature so that they can wake up, face them selves... as one nun commented "Abbey life has a certain starkness, an unclutteredness that makes personal resistance all the more apparent.”

Watch the video below on Gampo Abbey... it is beautiful :)

...Pema’s deepest wish is to propagate the teachings and meditation practices that lead to a sense of peace and kindness in ourselves, our families, and the communities we live in. The Pema Chödrön Foundation has been created to support her work and vision. Pema is also dedicated to supporting the Buddhist monastic tradition where individuals can train within a community of others who have committed themselves to the path of realizing the wisdom and compassion that is at the heart of each of us. Pema’s “home monastery,” Gampo Abbey, exemplifies the beauty and profundity that such a contemplative community can offer the western world, and all who come in contact with it.

Gampo Abbey
Founded by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1984, Gampo Abbey is a Western Buddhist Monastery in the Shambhala Tradition, located in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Under the direction of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the spiritual head of Shambhala International, Gampo Abbey is guided by its abbot the Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche and principal teacher Acharya Pema Chödrön.

    “I think the concept of the monastery is always up to date whether it is in medieval times or the 20th century. The monastic tradition has a particular kind of discipline and it displays a natural dignity. Monastic discipline embodies the principals of Shila, Samadhi and Prajna, so that the monastery is in contact with living dharma. Because monastic practitioners are much more in contact with the reality of spiritual discipline, we could say that they are more in contact with the Buddha himself…. The point being that there is some kind of discipline and some kind of natural dignity that the monastic tradition displays.”

    — Vidyadhara the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Life at the Abbey with Pema Chodron Small | Large

….. That sentiment was the seed for establishing a monastery in the west. In 1984 a farmhouse on the remote tip of Cape Breton Island was purchased as the first step in establishing Gampo Abbey. When Trungpa Rinpoche visited the site that overlooks the Gulf of Saint Lawrence on Cape Breton Island a double rainbow appeared in the sky.

Under the guidance of The Venerable Kenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, whom Rinpoche appointed in 1985 to be Abbot, and principal teacher Acharya Ani Pema Chödrön, Gampo Abbey has flourished as a contemplative community for monastics and lay practitioners alike. The Abbey has grown to include the main monastery; a 3 year retreat center, Sopa Choling; a monastic college, the Vidyadhara Institute; the Stupa of Enlightenment, consecrated by Thrangu Rinpoche in 1999; and cabins for individual retreat.

The monastic traditions are the Abbey’s heart – the observation of the precepts, individual and group practice, study, work, and the challenge of communal living. Gampo Abbey observes the same traditions common to all Buddhist monasteries: the bimonthly sojong confession ceremony; Yarne, the traditional rainy season retreat held since the time of the Buddha; and Gagye, the lifting of the restrictions at the end of Yarne. In addition, retreats are offered to visitors such as the youth dathun, during which it is possible to take ordination for a limited period of time. Throughout the year education is offered for Abbey residents.

A Clear and Precise Container

Monastic life at Gampo Abbey is driven by the commitment to wake up fully through the training of conduct as prescribed in the Vinaya (literally, ‘basket of discipline’). It is inspired and guided by the profound view of the mahayana teaching and the vast skillful means of the vajrayana. Trungpa Rinpoche said that the Vinaya, on the whole, is very gentle and offers guidelines for how to lead a healthy life. The monastic precepts are a clear and precise container that allow us to give up frivolity, and distraction and to focus fully on our spiritual life. In addition, the Vinaya contains the only teachings the Buddha gave on how to live in an awakened community. It is the Buddha’s blueprint for a harmonious society, and while some of the rules of conduct may seem archaic or culture specific, its core meaning is timeless and defies cultural stereotyping.

Gampo Abbey supports and trains those who have chosen to be life-long monastics with the Abbey as their home, as well as those who live there as temporary monastics, or lay people. Within the Tibetan tradition the Abbey’s practice of temporary ordination is unique. The practice is common, however, in other parts of Asia. Temporary ordination fulfills two purposes. It gives the aspirant to life-long monasticism the experience of monastic life before entering more deeply into the monastic path, and it offers lay practitioners an opportunity to experience the renunciation and discipline of the monastic path for a defined period of time. Participants in the seven-week winter retreat, yarne, from as far away as South Africa, Sweden, and Australia and South America take temporary ordination. However, everyone who comes to the Abbey, be they lay practitioners or monastics, temporary or fully ordained, live by the five precepts of refraining from killing, stealing, sexual relations, lying, and the use of intoxicants.

Intimacy and Surrender

Why would someone choose to live at Gampo Abbey? It is a popular notion that people choose to live in a monastery to escape or hide from the world. In reality, the intensity and simplicity of Abbey life demand that we become more intimately involved with our lives and life in general, a life not driven by personal concerns and habitual patterns. The intensity of community life lived in accordance with the precepts demands that we wake up and grow up.

Acharya Pema says, if you become a monk or a nun you put the desire to wake up at the center of your mandala. Everything else, whatever it might be, stands in relation to that and becomes a vehicle for waking up further. Thus, monastic life is actually an opportunity to go deeper.

At first life at the Abbey seems rather idyllic, but, as Ani Pema notes, when you make the commitment to stay for nine months, or when you decide that this is your life’s journey, then all those places within yourself that you don’t want to surrender, become highlighted. You begin to relate to those areas in your habitual ways and complain about a lot of things, but it is like complaining in a house of mirrors. Living within the precepts of the Abbey community is a tremendous support for becoming honest with oneself. In the words of one of our nuns, “Abbey life has a certain starkness, an unclutteredness that makes personal resistance all the more apparent.”

Life at the Abbey is very earthy and very full. Though residents might be some distance from “civilization,” because the community is busy and intimate, one rarely feels isolated. And while the silence might seem intense (until noon in the morning and after eight in the evening), and the discipline challenging (4-1/2 hours of practice each day), many find that it is that silence and discipline that lets in fresh air.


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Re: Inspired by the Nangchen Nuns
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2012, 08:48:40 AM »
Its really heartwarming to see young nuns and monks as they begin their journey at such a young age without complains. I remember when I was in a monastery in India and I could see the young monks being sleepy while doing morning meditation and the monitor was walking around with his long and scary cane. I can only hear the sounds at times and I'd feel the pain for the young monks. They go through so many hours a day just doing their prayers and learning.

Found this 1st nunnery in Sarnath started in 2007, where Buddha delivered teachings.

Now and throughout the history of Buddhism, there have been many monasteries in Deer Park, but Orgyen Samye Chökhor Ling is the first nunnery on this holy land. Establishing this beautiful nunnery is a historical achievement that is the fulfillment of the diligent work, kindness, and aspiration prayers of many people. We pray that this is not only a singular historical event, but that it will become a special starting point that will begin a new chapter in the history of Buddhism in Deer Park. We hope that it will deeply inspire the resident nuns on their path of knowledge, wisdom and compassion, and immediately benefit all women and all of humanity for many generations to come.
The Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches

The nuns of Orgyen Samye Chokor Ling

A primary goal of Orgyen Samye Chökhor Ling is to help the nuns achieve self-sufficiency through education, skill-building, and income-generating projects. The nunnery is currently supported by donations from the Padmasambhava Buddhist Center (PBC). If the nunnery could become self-supporting, this would empower the nuns, provide a model and experience of self-support for those who will return to the Himalayas, and ensure the long-term sustainability and growth of the nunnery as a safe and nurturing home for female Asian leaders.

There is much room for growth, since the current buildings could house up to eighty women, and the four acres of land allow for several additional buildings.

Altogether, several of the nuns' daily activities could potentially provide self-sustainability, including:

- Traditional practice of lighting butter lamps and reciting prayers at request of Buddhists worldwide.
- Creating drawings of natural and Buddhist themes as part of art education and religious studies that can be used as fundraisers.
- Recording and distributing their daily practices and ceremonies of Buddhist chanting and music through the PBC Chiso Store website.
- Transcribing and editing Tibetan Buddhist texts for publication.

All of these activities contribute to Orgyen Samye Chökhor Ling becoming self-supporting through the nuns' own efforts. This would ensure the long-term sustainability and growth of the nunnery. If it can become self-sustaining, then it can grow. This could become a center for women's empowerment and Himalayan cultural preservation, both within the nunnery itself and through the influence of its alumni.

Training Nuns to be Leaders in Their Local and Indigenous Communities

The Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches founded the nunnery in 2003 as part of their dedication to equal opportunities for women, a dedication that is apparent throughout their work. This nunnery is typical of their quiet, grassroots approach to problems, gently inviting people to be better. As the nuns continue their studies and take active roles running the nunnery, they gain confidence and skills. Those whose lives are touched by the nunnery include: the nuns themselves; their families and relatives, if any; the members of the larger Sarnath community with whom they interact; the Western Buddhists who are inspired by them and by the act of helping them; and, in the cases of the young women who return to their home regions in the Himalayas, the people whose lives will be affected by these indigenous leaders in an increasingly tense part of the world.

Orgyen Samye Chökhor Ling is committed to the safety and flourishing of women, as individuals and as religious and community leaders. Their development reaches beyond the nunnery, both for the women who will remain in Sarnath as nuns and influence the local community, and the women who will leave the nunnery and return to the Himalayan region, where they will exercise influence and command respect as healthy, well-traveled women who are learned in both Buddhist religious practices and more secular disciplines.

Education in Modern and Cultural Heritage

Orgyen Samye Chökhor Ling is a Buddhist nunnery of the Padmasambhava Buddhist Center. Its purpose is to foster love and compassion, and the development of women in a part of the world where that is not always a priority.

It seeks to empower women as leaders and catalysts for change focused on the common good in the context of a systemic awareness that extends from local to global in scope. Orgyen Samye Chökhor Ling impacts: women's rights; preservation of Tibetan culture and language; spirituality; development of indigenous communities in the Himalayas, including education and healthcare; and encouragement of voices for peace in the midst of increasing international tension.

In this way, it is typical of the Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches' work: limited resources and community members working together to further multiple projects through collaborative vision and activities. Therefore, not only the values, but the methodology are worthy of being lifted up as exemplary.

The success and growth of Orgyen Samye Chökhor Ling serves as an inspiration for women in Sarnath and in the Himalayas, as well as for women in the West who support it. A place like Orgyen Samye Chökhor Ling, where women and girls from the Himalayas can receive healthcare and education, is vital and still unusual, and this kind of success inspires other women—and men too. It also highlights, through its success, the continuing need for projects and places like Orgyen Samye Chökhor Ling. The Khenpo Rinpoches' vision, encompassing as it does elements of both traditional Buddhist and Western-style education, gives an unusual and very powerful character to these women's development and their potential impact in the world.


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Re: Inspired by the Nangchen Nuns
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2012, 09:00:28 AM »
And a nunnery of Kopan Monastery founded by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. The nuns raise their own funds to support themselves besides sponsors. How wonderful! Watch the video. Lama Zopa so funny in the beginning before He talked about Kopan Monastery and how many more nuns came to the Monastery because most of them came from poor families.

Kopan Nunnery 1 - Nepal, Kathmandu (The video's owner prevents external embedding)

Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery

Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery is located below Kopan Monastery near the sacred Buddhist town of Boudhanath in Nepal's Kathmandu valley.

In 1982 Lama Yeshe invited the first nuns to join Kopan monastery and study with the monks, quite a revolutionary proposal at that time. The nunnery was officially founded in 1986 under the direction of Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, and in 1994, 80 nuns moved into their own premises. The nunnery is now home to  some 390 Tibetan Buddhist nuns from Nepal, India and Tibet.

Study programme

Traditionally, ritual arts and scholastic study have been a prerogative of Tibetan Buddhist monks, with their ordained sisters receiving little or no training in these areas. In Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery, however, this is not the case.

The nuns of Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery have had the doors of the classical Buddhist education opened to them. They are provided with highly trained scholars to teach them, and are now instructed in classical Tibetan debate, the performance of ritual music, the creation of sand mandalas, and other ritual arts.

Not surprisingly, once given access to scholastic training, the nuns have shown an intense determination to excel in their studies. They take part in the complete study program alongside their brother monks from Kopan.  Their studies include Tibetan and English language, mathematics, philosophy, meditation, debate, rituals, chanting and art, along with other teachings and practice of the Buddha.  Their goal is to become qualified Dharma teachers so that they may teach others, and to become economically self-sufficient.

Kopan has already established  a geshe study program (the geshe degree is the monastic equivalent of a Doctor of Divinity). and the nuns at Khachoe Ghakyil are enrolled in this program - one of the few nunneries in India and Nepal to offer such an opportunity to their nuns. This is an especially welcome development! Every year selected nuns now participate in the annual one month debate, in which several nunneries challenge each other in debating skills, with the venue being rotated amongst the various nunneries every year.

The Incense Factory "Pure Land Incense"

The nunnery is funded mainly by donations from kind benefactors, and offerings received for prayers performed. A permanent food fund has been set up to secure the future of the nunnery and its residents. An additional source if income is the incense factory that was established in 1997.  Tibetan style incense is hand made by the nuns. The incense has become quite popular and is available in several fragrances and presentation. You can support the nunnery by ordering this incense.

International Tours

During several tours to USA and Europe the nuns have also shown their proficiency in ritual arts, chanting and monastic dance to the wider public and were welcomed with open arms; another tour to Europe is planned for 2006. The main purpose of the tours is to raise fund for the building fund.


Lama Zopa Rinpoche emphasised that study as well as retreat are the two main objectives of life at the nunnery. On his advice a special retreat compound was built at the nunnery in 1996 with the kind help of one Taiwanese sponsors, and in May 2000, a group of ten nuns entered a three year retreat.

A special practice entrusted to the nunnery by Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the annual Nyung ne retreat. During the month of Saka Dawa the whole nunnery participates in a two week fasting retreat (Nyung ne). Foreign visitors are welcome to join the nuns in this retreat.

New Buildings

Due to the constant influx of new nuns, the nuns at present live in extremely cramped conditions. Plans have been drawn up for building a new hostel of 100 rooms at the cost of US$4500 each room. The construction also includes a new gompa, as the present structures are far too small. Later, a new dining hall and classrooms will need to be built.

Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche has advised that the main deity statue in the gompa should be thousand-armed Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara), 18 feet high.


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Re: Inspired by the Nangchen Nuns
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2012, 12:12:04 PM »
I was very impressed by the nuns and their practice. I think it is important to preserve their lineage and tradition because if these nunneries disappear, women who aspire to spiritual practice would not have the chance to do so. Some of the nuns become great adepts and accomplished yoginis. Many suffered hardships in the old days but conditions have become better now and they have better opportunities to receive religious teachings. These nunneries also provide a safe shelter for orphans and girls from poor families. Some become nuns after suffering from unhappy marriages. These nuns perform religious services for the local community. They are invited to lay people's homes to officiate at rituals, perform prayers during life-crises such as illness, births and deaths. For these reasons, it is important to provide them with economic support so that they can continue with their religious services and practices.