Here is a video interview of a Geshema – Tenzin Kunsel.
On December 22, 2016, twenty Tibetan Buddhist nuns made history when they graduated with their Geshema degrees. They received their degrees from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
As you will hear from her story, her long journey to becoming a Geshema was not an easy one.
With gentle humor, she tells her story of overcoming many obstacles on the path to becoming a senior nun and teacher. Geshema Tenzin Kunsel’s extraordinary determination and dedication shine through.
The video was made in October 2017 at Dolma Ling Nunnery. Our thanks to Tibetan Nuns Project Co-Director, Venerable Lobsang Dechen, for providing the English translation and to volunteer film-makers Evan Kezsbom, Jalene Szuba, and Dustin Kujawski.
The Geshema degree is equivalent to a doctorate in Buddhist philosophy and is the highest level of training in the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. It could previously only be earned by monks and is called the Geshe degree.
This historic milestone for the 20 nuns was the culmination of decades of study and dedication. In addition to the 17-years of study required, there is a rigorous four-year examination process.
Now Geshema Tenzin Kunsel and the 25 other recent Geshemas who graduated in 2016 and 2017 are starting a brand-new and historic two-year course in Buddhist tantric studies. Although there have been accomplished female practitioners in Tibet’s history, women have never before been given an opportunity to formally study tantric Buddhism.
Traditionally, monks who have attained their Geshe degree, equivalent to a Ph.D. in Tibetan Buddhism, must also study tantric treatises in order to become fully qualified masters capable of teaching their complete tradition. Monks have always been able to receive these teachings at one of the great tantric colleges.
Congratulations to all the Tibetan Nuns who worked and studied hard and long hours to earn their Geshema Degrees! You all serve as shining examples to those of us who who identify as Buddhists. I hope that one day in the near future Tibet will become free again and flourish.
Allen P. Wilkinson