Please help build 16 rooms and facilities for Geshemas so that they can receive the teachings they need to become fully qualified teachers of their tradition. The Geshema degree (female equivalent of Geshe degree for men) is the highest level of training in the Gelugpa tradition and is equivalent to a PhD in Tibetan Buddhism. The degree was only formally opened to women in 2012.
Housing for Geshemas
To solve the housing shortage for the Geshemas doing Tantric Studies we would like to construct 16 rooms along with bathrooms, kitchen and dining facilities, and a study hall. These 16 rooms and facilities will be on the third floor of the Yangchen Lophel Center at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute. These rooms will house Geshemas from nunneries all over India and Nepal so that they can undertake the final year of advanced education available to them at Gyuto Tantric University.
The 16 rooms can either be used as single-bed study rooms or, if the groups of Geshema graduates become larger, for two nuns per room. Now that it is possible for nuns to get the highest degrees, nuns from nunneries all over India and Nepal are studying to be Geshemas. We hope that more nuns will take the four-year exams and qualify as Geshemas but it is difficult to predict how many graduates there will be each year so the facility must be as flexible as possible. We also hope that the Geshema Organizing Committee’s office can be moved into this facility to free up the room they are now using in Dolma Ling Nunnery.
Budget: US $304,300
To help you can:
- Make a gift online
- Call our office in Seattle, U.S. at 1-206-652-8901
- Mail a check to The Tibetan Nuns Project, 815 Seattle Boulevard South #418, Seattle, WA 98134 U.S. (note that it is for Housing for Geshemas)
- Donate securities
- Leave a gift in your will to the Tibetan Nuns Project
December 22, 2016, marked an important day in the history of Tibet as 20 nuns became the first Tibetan women to receive their Geshema degrees, equivalent to a doctorate in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.
The first batch of graduating nuns came from five nunneries: Kopan Nunnery in Nepal, Jangchup Choeling Nunnery in South India, and three nunneries in and around Dharamsala —Jamyang Choeling Nunnery, Geden Choeling Nunnery, and Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute.
The Geshema degree was only formally opened to women in 2012. Currently there are 53 Geshemas. They are paving the way for other nuns to follow in their footsteps. This degree makes them eligible to assume various leadership roles in their monastic and lay communities reserved for degree holders and hence previously not open to women.
Their success fulfills a longstanding wish of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and marks a new chapter in the development of education for ordained Buddhist women and is a major accomplishment for Tibetan women. It is also a milestone for the Tibetan Nuns Project, which was founded in 1987 to provide education and humanitarian aid to Tibetan Buddhist nuns living in India.
After monks attain their Geshe degree (the male equivalent of the Geshema degree) they must study the Tantric treatises to become fully qualified masters capable of teaching their complete tradition. The monks normally join one of the two main Tantric Colleges to do this.
The Tibetan Nuns Project set up a Tantric Studies program out of Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute for all the recent Geshema grads from India and Nepal. In 2018, 23 of the 26 nuns in the first two groups of Geshema graduates started Tantric studies. The nuns attended classes at nearby Gyuto Tantric University to receive the necessary empowerments and transmissions from the senior monks. The Tantric Studies Program generally takes around 12 months to complete.
The Current Problem
Since 2018, the Geshemas have been housed and fed at Dolma Ling, traveling daily by jeep to Gyuto Tantric University for their studies. These arrangements are currently funded by the Tibetan Nuns Project under the Geshema Tantric Education Fund.
Although there are many advantages for the Geshemas with this arrangement, it is placing a big strain placed on Dolma Ling to accommodate them. It also restricts the number of new nuns who can be admitted to Dolma Ling. Space must be available for young nuns to join Dolma Ling to give the nunnery fresh input each year.
The construction of the Yangchen Lophel Study Center is now well underway and we are actively fundraising for the 3rd floor for the Geshema housing. As of summer 2023, the ground floor is under construction and the entire building is scheduled to be completed by April 2025. Furnishing and final finishing may take a little longer but we are making good headway.