THE TANTRIC STUDY PROGRAM IS FULLY FUNDED – THANK YOU!
In the fall of 2017, the nuns who had attained their Geshema degree began a new two-year study program in Tantric Buddhism.
We are extremely grateful to the four generous donors who made it possible to launch this groundbreaking, higher education program for Geshema nuns. Although there have been accomplished female practitioners in Tibet’s history, women have never before been given such an opportunity to formally study tantric Buddhism.
It is traditional for monks who have attained their Geshe degree (equivalent to a PhD in Tibetan Buddhism), if they want to be fully qualified masters capable of teaching their complete tradition, to add to their knowledge an understanding of the principles of tantra as set forth in the tantric scriptures. In order to study tantric treatises, monks usually join one of the great tantric colleges where they have access to highly qualified teachers, texts, and a supportive community of practitioners.
Until now, nuns have never had the opportunity to be educated at this high level. Since this is the first time in the history of Tibet that nuns have completed a study of the sutras and gained the Geshema degree (female equivalent of the Geshe degree), proceeding with tantric studies presents new challenges and opportunities.
How the Study Program in Tantric Buddhism Began
In 2017, a committee consisting of representatives of six nunneries approached His Holiness the Dalai Lama for advice about the curriculum and how to proceed. His Holiness the Dalai Lama kindly gave detailed instructions about the treatises to be used and he recommended that the Geshema nuns study as a group at Dolma Ling Nunnery, one of the nunneries founded and supported by the Tibetan Nuns Project, since it has a quiet and peaceful atmosphere, conducive to intense study.
That committee then asked the Tibetan Nuns Project to organize and provide funding for this special higher education program at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute in northern India. The Tibetan Nuns Project together with Dolma Ling made plans to ensure that this pioneering program provides the nuns with the best possible facilities and support to make their studies a success.
The Tantric Studies Program
After monks have attained their Geshe degree (equivalent to a PhD in Tibetan Buddhism), if they want to be fully qualified masters capable of teaching their complete tradition, they must add to their knowledge an understanding of the principles of tantra as well as the main tantric practices of their tradition. For these studies, monks usually join one of the two Tantric Colleges where they have access to highly qualified teachers, texts, and a supportive community of practitioners.
The new program in Tantric Buddhism provides dedicated senior nuns training in tantric theory, rituals, and mind-training techniques used by those engaged in advanced meditation. This level of training is an essential part of studies for Geshes and is a required step enabling them to be fully qualified for advanced leadership roles, such as being an abbot of a monastery.
The first two groups of Geshema graduates – those who attained their degrees in 2016 and 2017 – were the first students in the new study program in Tantric Buddhi
During the program, the Geshemas lived at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute and travelled to nearby Gyuto Tantric Monastery where they attended classes alongside Geshes. Dolma Ling was able to accommodate all the Geshemas. Thanks to generous support, we were able to cover their expenses for this program, and funds remain to support the next group of Geshema graduates through their tantric studies as well.
On 28 January 2019, the Geshemas took both written and debate (oral) exams. Photo
courtesy of the Nuns’ Media Team
First Groups of Geshemas Complete the Tantric Studies Program
Twenty-three Geshemas have now completed their Buddhist Tantric studies. These 23 nuns who have attained the highest level of education are shining examples to the other nuns. They empower and inspire confidence in the other nuns.
The Geshemas who completed their Tantric studies received a special audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on 31 January 2019. They received their graduation certificates at a special ceremony at Gyuto Tantric Monastery near Dharamsala on February 1 2019. Among the high officials present were Kalon Venerable Karma Gelek Yuthok of the Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration; Khenpo Thupten Tenzin; Senior Abbot Tsering Topgyal of Gyuto Monastery; Gaden Choeling Khenpo; Kasur Rinchen Khando Choegyal, Founding Director and Special Advisor for the Tibetan Nuns Project; and Mrs. Nangsa Choedon, the new Director of Tibetan Nuns Project in India.
Kalon Ven. Karma Gelek Yuthok congratulated the Geshemas on achieving such a milestone and applauded the hard work of the various institutions behind this success. He thanked all the previous Kalons (ministers) and staff who worked to make this historic achievement possible.
Following a special ceremony, the first Geshemas with their certificates in Tantric studies. They received their certificates from Kalon Ven. Karma Gelek Yuthok of the Department of Religion and Culture.
Rinchen Khando Choegyal reflected on more than 30 years of efforts of the Tibetan Nuns Project. She urged the Geshemas to serve the community, saying, “It is the highest level of women’s empowerment entrusted on Tibetan women.”
Now that the first two groups of Geshema graduates have completed the Tantric studies program they are fully qualified to teach. We are happy to report that two of the Geshemas – Delek Wangmo and Tenzin Kunsel – have just been hired to reach Tibetan Buddhist philosophy at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute.
The Tantric studies program is on ongoing one that will continue into the future as more nuns obtain the Geshema degree. Ten nuns earned that degree in 2018, qualifying for the tantric studies, and their classes have already begun.