A Tibetan Buddhist Nun’s Story

The following story was originally printed in the Winter 2012/2013 Tibet Foundation Newsletter. The nun’s name was changed to protect her and her family. The nun was born in Dhir in Kham in 1986 and is now living and studying at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute in India. This nunnery was founded and is supported by Tibetan Nuns Project donors.

My name is Dolma and I was born and brought up in Dhir in Kham Province in eastern Tibet. My family consists of my father and two brothers and three younger sisters. My mother died 13 years ago after giving birth to my youngest brother. She had complications during her delivery.

Tibetan Buddhist nun's colourful waist sashes

My eldest brother is married and is living with his wife at our house. One of my younger sisters is going to a school in Lhasa and the other two sisters are at home. They help our father in the fields as well as with household work.

I was never sent to school because my parents could not afford it. I spent my childhood looking after our animals – yak, sheep, goats and cows. We are semi-nomads, which means we cultivate the land as well as keep animals. We cultivate crops of wheat, barley and vegetables. Farming is our only source of income.

As I grew, I thought of becoming a nun because I would be able to have an education and practice my religion and this would be of benefit, not only for this life, but for lives to come. I told my family about my wish and they were very happy for me. So I became a nun when I was 18 years old by offering my hair to a Geshe [a degree-holding monk] and cutting it short. As there were no nunneries in my village, I couldn’t go to a nunnery and I was not allowed to wear the nun’s robes. I stayed at home and practiced my prayers there.

After a month, I heard that some local monks and nuns had decided to leave to try to go to Dharamsala in India. I wanted to go with them as I heard they were nunneries there where I could be educated in the Dharma. I told my father; he was happy for me and wished me luck and was anxious for me to take care of myself.

We started our journey to Lhasa on foot. Once in Lhasa, we did circumambulations and prostrations for 10 days. It was there that we met many other people who were also leaving for India, so we all formed a big group – about 50 altogether – and hired a guide to take us to the border.

First, we went by road to Sharkumbu [near the Tibetan border just west of Mt Everest; also known as Solo Khumbu] and from there we had to walk because there were no proper roads and there was also the chance of being caught by the Chinese police. After nearly 20 days of walking, we reached Nepal. We were very lucky that we did not meet any Chinese police on the way nor face any great difficulty.

In Nepal we stayed at the Tibetan Reception Center and had to wait for our turn to be sent to Dharamsala. They took good care of us and finally, after 2 ½ months, we were put on a bus and sent to Dharamsala. Here we also stayed at a Reception Center and after 20 days I was sent to the Transit school.

During this time, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was giving teachings at the main temple so I used to go and listen. I was very happy when I got the chance to have an audience with His Holiness. I was very happy and cried a lot and thought so much about my family. I met many nuns from Dolma Ling during the teachings and got to know that the education system is very good. So I wanted to join.

As soon as the time came for new admissions, I immediately applied and, after my interview, I was selected.

I am very happy here. The education system is very good. I am now reading the Ngondro [the foundation to all 4 schools of Tibetan Buddhism] and doing my studies really hard.”

Dolma is one of over 700 Tibetan nuns who are now able to freely and safely practice their religion thanks to the support of the Tibetan Nuns Project donors. Ranging in age from pre-teen to mid-80s, these nuns come from all parts of Tibet and from many different backgrounds. Upon arrival in India, many nuns are suffering severely from the stresses of their long, arduous and dangerous journeys of escape. Some have faced torture and imprisonment at the hands of the Chinese authorities in Tibet and are enduring immense physical and emotional pain. In most cases, the nuns arrive without money or possessions. 

Please help support the nuns by becoming a sponsor. For less than $1 a day, you can help provide food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and education for a Tibetan nun in India. 100% of sponsorship money goes directly to India to meet the nuns’ living expenses.

Start sponsoring a nun today by:

You will receive a photo and biography of the nun you sponsor and have the opportunity to correspond with her.

Buddhist Nun Studying in Room

Here are a few testimonial quotes about the Buddhist nun sponsorship programme through the Tibetan Nuns Project:

“I love my adopted nun. She writes to me. She is a part of our family now and we’re proud of her and her accomplishments. I like that I have her on my side.”

LT, San Diego CA, sponsor

“Education offers improvement on so many levels, including the crucial basic needs of survival. There is a lot of “bang for the buck” here it seems, and women are now stepping forward as leaders. I think it is amazing to be reaching all the way around the world to put my hand in the hand of the woman I support. Go Tibetan Nuns Project!”

MM, Seattle WA, donor

“I can make an important change in the life of a particular woman on the other side of the world whom I don’t really know and will not likely meet by helping her live as a nun. This makes all of sentient life more real to me, and every month when I write a sponsorship check, I have a moment of freedom from my own self-preoccupation and a moment of deep gladness that I can be of use to someone else.”

JK, Louisville CO, sponsor 

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