Debate Courtyard Extension

Monastic debate is critical to the education of Tibetan Buddhist nuns but the existing debate courtyard lacks enough covered, protected space. Improving the facilities for the practice of debate at Dolma Ling is a matter of urgent necessity.

Our goal is to raise $63,400 for this project. The plan is to cover the entire middle section to provide an additional 2,500 square feet of covered area, adding 60% to the existing debate courtyard.

The debate courtyard at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute, home to 261 nuns, is built as a large open paved area on three levels. The upper part is covered by a canopy while the two lower courts are uncovered. There are also six more small covered debate pavilions in the lower section.

debate courtyard at Dolma Ling

Dark monsoon clouds loom over the debate courtyard at Dolma Ling. The nuns need your help to increase the covered space and protect the nuns from rain and snow so they can practice debate daily. Photo courtesy of Mati Bernabei.

During their debate sessions, pairs of nuns spread out across the courtyards and even onto the adjoining grassy areas and steps because some distance is required between challenger and responder. Since at least two-thirds of the paved area is open to the elements, many nuns debate in the open under the hot sun. When it rains, this space is unusable.

Because of its reputation for providing excellent teachers and the best facilities for nuns to study, the number of nuns applying to join the Institute, mainly from nunneries in more remote regions, has increased substantially. This year, Dolma Ling accepted 32 new nuns, who all sincerely wish to follow the intense 17-year course of studies leading to the Geshema degree.

During formal debates and exams, the top courtyard is where participating nuns and their teachers sit and it becomes very congested. Moreover, the present covered area is no longer big enough to hold the Jang Gonchoe, the annual month-long winter debate competition between nuns from multiple nunneries. Improving the debate facilities at Dolma Ling is of paramount practical necessity.

debate courtyard, dolma ling,

An architectural drawing of the Dolma Ling debate courtyard showing the plan to cover the entire middle section to provide an additional 2,500 square feet of covered area, adding 60% to the existing debate courtyard.

Donate today so the nuns can learn and practice monastic debate!

  1. Make a gift online at
  2. Call our office in Seattle, US at 1-206-652-8901
  3. Mail a check to The Tibetan Nuns Project (for the Debate Courtyard)
    815 Seattle Boulevard South #216, Seattle, WA 98134 USA
  4. Give a gift of securities
  5. Leave a gift in your will to the Tibetan Nuns Project

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monastic debate, Tibetan Buddhist nuns debating, Buddhist debate

Tibetan nuns practice debate on the grass under a makeshift shelter of netting. There’s not enough covered space in the debate courtyard to accommodate all the nuns so many have to debate in the open.

About Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute

Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute is a non-sectarian nunnery located in the Kangra Valley near Dharamsala, north India. The large campus is home to over 250 nuns. Officially inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on December 8, 2005, the nunnery was the first institute dedicated specifically to higher Buddhist education for ordained female Tibetan Buddhist practitioners.

Debate Courtyard expansion project at Dolma Ling

Tibetan Buddhist nuns crowded into the debate courtyard at Dolma Ling. The nuns need help  to expand the courtyard and shelter them  from monsoon and winter rains. This will enable growing community of nuns to practice debate under cover each day and also to host the annual inter-nunnery debate event called the Jang Gonchoe.

Dolma Ling is unique because it offers a 17-year curriculum of traditional Buddhist philosophy and debate, as well as modern courses in Tibetan language, English, basic mathematics, science and computer skills. Training in Buddhist debate, the extensively practised method for examining philosophical, moral and doctrinal issues inherited from the great monastic universities of ancient India, is an essential part of monastic education in the Tibetan tradition.

Until recently, Tibetan nuns did not have the opportunity to fully study and practise Tibetan Buddhist debate, a process that uses logical enquiry to build a deeper understanding of Buddhist philosophy. The Tibetan Nuns Project has worked hard to make this opportunity available to nuns by including debate as a core part of their education, which enables them to extend their use of logic and deepen their understanding of the arguments asserted in the texts they are studying.

The practice of debate takes many years to master fully and is critical to the nuns’ ability to assume roles as fully qualified teachers of their tradition. In 2012, a purpose built debate courtyard was built at Dolma Ling where the nuns have been able to hold their daily debate sessions.

The Tibetan Nuns Project is committed to providing this unique opportunity to build capacity and equality for the nuns, to help ensure that a centuries-old tradition of learning continues to expand to include more nuns, and to foster the dharma for future generations. We sincerely request your help to enable us to carry out this important project for the expansion of the nuns Buddhist studies.

As His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said, “The best and most constructive way to uphold, preserve, and spread the scriptural and realized teachings, is through study and practice.”