Debate Courtyard Extension

The debate courtyard at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute is a very special part of the nunnery. It is a place where the nuns hold their daily debate sessions to practice their logical thinking and to expand their understanding of the texts they are studying.

Unfortunately, the existing debate courtyard lacks enough covered and protected space to accommodate all the nuns. To practice debate, pairs of nuns must spread out. Due to a lack of space, many of the nuns are forced to practice on the lawn under the hot sun and open to the elements.

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.

Improving the debate facilities at Dolma Ling is of paramount practical necessity. During formal debates and exams, the top courtyard is used to seat all the nuns and their teachers and it becomes very congested. Moreover, the present covered area is inadequate for holding the Jang Gonchoe, the annual month-long debate training session when nuns from multiple nunneries come together to compete in debate.

The nuns have asked for help to expand the covered area of the debate courtyard.

Our goal is to raise $60,000 for this project.

During the monsoon and in wintertime, it is difficult to use even the covered courtyard because it becomes very wet inside. Since 2018, the nuns have been requesting increased protection from the elements. In recent years, the summers are hotter and the monsoon rains stronger and more unpredictable. When it rains, the nuns must move to the main hall and the corridors for their daily debate sessions, but these areas are very crowded and restricted.

Donate today to the debate courtyard so the nuns can practice debate!

  1. Make a gift online at tnp.org
  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

Make a Donation

The Importance of Debate Training

Debate is an essential part of monastic education in the Tibetan tradition. Until recently, Tibetan nuns did not have the opportunity to fully study and practice Tibetan Buddhist debate. It is a process that uses logical thinking to build a deeper understanding of Buddhist philosophy.

The Tibetan Nuns Project has worked hard to open up this opportunity for the nuns and make debate a core part of their education. The practice of debate takes many years to fully master and is critical to fostering the nuns’ ability to assume roles as full qualified teachers of their tradition.

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.

The Current Debate Courtyard

In 2012, the debate courtyard was built at Dolma Ling. It was built as a large open paved area on three levels. The upper part is covered by a canopy-type metal roof, while the two lower courtyard areas are uncovered. Six further smaller covered debate pavilions are in a semicircle around the lower section. With at least 2/3rds of the paved area open to the elements, many nuns must debate in the open. Sometimes they rig temporary netting in an effort to protect themselves from the hot sun.

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.

During the monsoon and in wintertime, it is difficult to use even the covered courtyard because it becomes very wet inside. Since 2018, the nuns have been requesting increased protection from the elements. In recent years, the summers are hotter and the monsoon rains stronger and more unpredictable. When it rains, the nuns must move to the main hall and the corridors for their daily debate sessions, but these areas are very crowded and restricted.

The Plan to Expand the Debate Courtyard

The good news is that Phase 1 of the Debate Courtyard Expansion project is funded and has already begun, but we urgently need your help with Phase 2.

Phase 1 to protect the upper courtyard from the rain is underway now. This involves enclosing the back and sides of the courtyard by adding windows with sliding openings to allow ventilation during the hot season. The windows will be made of plexiglass and steel to avoid any danger of wind damage. The steel roof is being extended on all four sides to prevent rain blowing in. An additional row of stone seating will be added at the back and sides of the courtyard in front of the windows. The nuns want to complete the work before the onset of the monsoon in June 2022.

Debate Courtyard construction at Dolma Ling Nunnery 2021

Phase 1 of work on the debate courtyard is well underway as this collage of photos from February 2021 shows, but the nuns need your help to complete Phase 2 of the project.

Phase 2 will proceed as soon as funds are available. This part of the project involves extending the courtyard and roof on the front or southern section to add approximately 50% more covered sitting area. The work also includes:

    • Adding support pillars and steel roof structure
    • Dismantling the front wall of the courtyard and re-building it
    • Adding paving, drainage, and lighting.

Final estimates are still being acquired for Phase 2 but the approximate cost is $60,000.

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.”