This month twenty Tibetan Buddhist nuns are making history as they take their fourth and final round of examinations for the Geshema degree. Those who pass will receive their degrees in December 2016 from His Holiness the Dalai Lama at a special ceremony in India.
The Geshe degree (Geshema for women) is equivalent to a Doctorate in Buddhist Philosophy and is the highest level of training in the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism.
A Geshema candidate on day 1 of the Geshema examinations being held this year at Geden Choeling Nunnery in Dharamsala, India. Photo courtesy of Venerable Delek Yangdron.
Once only open to men, the opportunity to get the Geshe degree was opened to women in 2012. The Geshema examinations represent a huge milestone for Tibetan Buddhist nuns and this batch of 20 nuns will be the first Tibetan women with this highest degree in the history of Tibet.
This year’s Geshema examinations are being held at Geden Choeling Nunnery in Dharamsala, India from May 1 to 12th 2016. Continue reading →
Some of our most popular items in the Tibetan Nuns Project online store are our malas or Buddhist prayer beads. The Tibetan Buddhist nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute near Dharamsala, India make our long malas and bless both the long and wrist malas.
A selection of the Tibetan malas made and blessed by Buddhist nuns and available through our online store.
Mala is a Sanskrit word meaning “garland”; in Tibetan, a mala is called threngwa. Malas are used to keep track while one recites, chants, or mentally repeats a mantra or the name or names of a deity. Malas are similar to other forms of prayer beads used in various world religions and they are sometimes called the Buddhist rosary. They are employed to focus one’s awareness and concentration during spiritual practice.
Mantras are spiritual syllables or prayers and are usually repeated many times. In Tibetan Buddhism, one mala constitutes 100 recitations of a mantra. There are 8 additional recitations done to ensure proper concentration. One holds the mala with the left hand and begins to recite from the guru bead, clockwise around the mala.
In Tibetan Buddhism, people traditionally use malas with 108 counting beads and a formal, special, three-holed, finishing bead called a “guru” bead or “Buddha” bead. Often the 108-bead malas have additional marker beads that may or may not be counted and that divide the mala into quadrants, constituting a sum of 108 counting beads. Continue reading →
At the end of October 2013, thanks to the generous support of Tibetan Nuns Project donors and to the hard work of the nuns themselves, the construction, furnishing and landscaping of 8 permanent retreat huts at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute near Dharamsala, India was completed.
Retreats are a core part of Buddhist practice and these huts will allow the nuns to develop their own insight and knowledge in complete privacy. This is the first time that retreat facilities have been available at Dolma Ling Nunnery, home to over 230 nuns.
The nuns plant bamboo near the retreat huts.
Each hut consists of a simple room with a bathroom and kitchen area. They are each furnished with a bed, a storage cupboard, a table, a prostration board, provisions for the small kitchen area and supplies for the small bathroom. One solar panel per hut provides light, power and warm water so that the huts are sustainable and ecologically sound. Continue reading →
“You’ve all been engaged in debate based on Dharmakirti’s ‘Commentary on Epistemology’ (Pramanavarttika), What did you learn from each other?”
His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking encouragingly to nuns from several nunneries who had taken part in the just concluded annual winter debate session during their meeting at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, India on November 3, 2013. (Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL)
He said that there are reports that at one time in Tibet there was a tradition of nuns studying the classic Buddhist texts, which eventually lapsed. This has changed. He cited nuns from Kopan in Nepal last year defying the Tibetan joke about nuns being proud of having memorized the Samantabhadra prayer when they memorized not only Chandrakirti’s ‘Supplement to (Nagarjuna’s) Treatise on the Middle Way’ (Madhyamakavatara) and Maitreya’s ‘Ornament for Clear Realization’ (Abhisamayalankara), but also Haribadra’s commentary ‘Clear Meaning’ (Sputartha), which His Holiness admitted was even more than he had done. Continue reading →
On October 31, 2013 nine nuns from 7 different nunneries formally completed one and a half month’s of nursing training at the Tibetan Delek Hospital in Dharamsala, India and were honoured at a special closing ceremony at the hospital.
The participants with health secretary Sonam Choephel Shosur and Mr Dawa Phunkyi, member of parliament and chief administrator of Tibetan Delek Hospital.
The training was organised by the hospital as part of its programme to improve public health. The nine nuns taking part in the training came from Dolma Ling, Gaden Choeling, Jamyang Choeling and four other nunneries.
The chief guest at the closing ceremony was Health Secretary Sonam Choephel Shosur. Speaking at the event, Mr Shosur said that this training was an innovative way of empowering Tibetan women, in line with the 14th Kashag’s three principles of unity, innovation and self-reliance. Continue reading →