Debate Fund

Please help women receive intensive training in Tibetan Buddhist debate. This is an essential part of monastic education in the Tibetan tradition and has only been available to women since the 1990s.

By donating to the Debate Fund you are helping to preserve the Tibetan culture and opening up a centuries-old tradition to the nuns, empowering them to become great teachers.

Each year, hundreds of nuns from India and Nepal gather for a month-long intensive training session in Tibetan Buddhist debate called the Jang Gonchoe.

It is one of our greatest wishes to make this annual educational opportunity available to the nuns for years to come. The benefit of this is inestimable and will be an enduring legacy.

To support the Debate Fund you can:

  1. Make a gift online – see below.
  2. Call our office in Seattle, U.S. at 1-206-652-8901
  3. Mail a check to:
    The Tibetan Nuns Project
    (for Debate Endowment)
    815 Seattle Boulevard South #216
    Seattle, WA 98134 USA
  4. Donate securities
  5. Leave a gift in your will to the Tibetan Nuns Project

Give to Debate Fund

You can download a description of the Debate Fund here.

Here’s a video about the 2019 Jang Gonchoe Inter-Nunnery Debate:

The Importance of Tibetan Buddhist Debate

Training in Tibetan Buddhist 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, a process that joins logical thinking with a deeper understanding of Buddhist philosophy.

The practice of debate takes many years to fully master, and it is critical to fostering the nun’s ability to assume roles as fully qualified teachers of their tradition.

Here’s a video made by the nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute about the importance of monastic debate.

 

About the Inter-Nunnery Debate

Historically, the an event called the Jang Gonchoe was held annually in Tibet by the great monastic institutions of Sera, Ganden, Drepung, Ratoe, and Dakpo Shedrup Ling. The event was so named for Jang, the region in Tibet west of Lhasa where the month-long inter-monastery debate originated, and Gonchoe, which is Tibetan for winter debate.

Until the 1990s, Tibetan Buddhist nuns were excluded from this form and level of education. The Tibetan Nuns Project has worked hard to open up this opportunity for the nuns and make debate a core part of their education.

Establishing a comparable debate session for nuns has been an integral part of the nuns reaching the level of excellence in their studies that they have. The practice of debate combines logical thinking with a deeper understanding of Buddhist philosophy and is an essential part of monastic education in the Tibetan tradition.

Jang Gonchoe debate by Tibetan Buddhist nuns 2013The Growth of the Nuns’ Jang Gonchoe

The number of nuns wanting to participate in the Jang Gonchoe is increasing steadily. At the Jang Gonchoe at Dolma Ling Nunnery & Institute in 2017, 376 nuns from 8 nunneries in India and Nepal took part in the event.

An average of 7 nunneries takes part each year. All nunneries are welcome to join when they can. The main obstacle to wider participation is funding – for travel, food, and accommodation for nuns to attend.

Since 2011, a nuns’ committee formed with two representatives from each participating nunnery has taken responsibility for making all the plans and arrangements for the session. The venue of the Jang Gonchoe site is rotated among the participating nunneries. It costs more when the debate session is held in Nepal or in South India because most of the nunneries are situated in North India.

The annual cost of the Jang Gonchoe varies from between about $15,000 and $30,000 depending on the location, the number of nuns participating, and the year. 

Each year, the Tibetan Nuns Project ensures that at least 25 nuns and two Buddhist philosophy teachers from each participating nunnery are sponsored to attend. The number of nuns wanting to participate in the session is increasing steadily. When more than 25 from a particular nunnery wish to attend they have to find the funding individually or through their nunnery. The total number of extra nuns that can attend depends on the availability of accommodation in the host nunnery.

This is a unique opportunity to build capacity and equality for the nuns, to help ensure that a centuries-old tradition continues and expands to include the nuns and to foster the dharma for future generations.

Some Words from the Nuns

“Last year the Jang Gonchoe was an excellent one. We debated until midnight each day. We were overjoyed to share our ideas and thoughts.  There were about 400 nuns and all were full of enthusiasm and eager to debate with one another.”
Tenzin Nyidon, Dolma Ling Nunnery & Institute

“I would like to thank you so much for supporting our education. It is all because of your support that I’m getting all these opportunities to study dharma in Dolma Ling. It has been 10 years now since I’m studying here. It is only through debate and discussion with teachers and dharma friends that have helped me to improve my knowledge and understanding of the teaching in a much better way.”
Tenzin Chonyi, Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute

Learn more about the Tibetan Nuns Project.