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The Training of Nuns in the Himalayas

Pema is dedicated to doing whatever she can to make it possible for nuns to have the same opportunities for deep study and practice as monks have always had.

The support by the Pema Chodron Foundation ensures that the nuns will be able to learn, master, and pass down traditions that could otherwise be lost.

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Tibetan Nuns Project

Support from the Pema Chödrön Foundation will help provide training programs to educate, empower, and improve the status of ordained Tibetan women.

The Tibetan Nuns Project provides education and humanitarian aid to refugee nuns from Tibet and the Himalayan regions of India.

We are happy to specifically support the annual month-long inter-nunnery debating session called Jang Gonchoe. This 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. The debate training helps not only to preserve the Tibetan culture but provides the nuns with the opportunity to learn from a centuries-old tradition which will enable and empower them to become great teachers in their own right. The benefit of this is immeasurable and will create an enduring legacy for generations to come.

The Deboche Project

Since 2006, the goal of the Deboche Project has been to build new residences for the Deboche Convent and a year-round teaching and meditation facility for the Tibetan and Sherpa nuns who resided in the convent.

Nestled into the foothills of Mt. Everest, the Deboche convent is considered to be the oldest and most historically significant Buddhist nunnery in the Himalayan region. It is a direct link to the preservation of the Tibetan/Sherpa culture so threatened by the influx of tourists, trekkers, and climbers from other cultures.

The nunnery dates back to 1913 and is an integral part of local Sherpa culture as well as an important base of Tibetan Buddhism along with the nearby and well-known Tengboche Monastery.

Various projects have been completed by the Deboche Project such as the provision of running water, sanitary facilities, a greenhouse, stoves, and a working kitchen. They continue to work on repairing and improving the buildings within the compound.

By rebuilding and creating a meditation and teaching facility, these nuns and other dedicated students can achieve lifelong goals and preserve their Tibetan/Sherpa culture and Buddhist traditions.

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The Nuns of Shechen Orgyen Chodzong Nunnery

Shechen Orgyen Chodzong Nunnery is one of the few facilities in Bhutan where women can study and practice in the Nyingma tradition.

This small nunnery was the first monastic center founded by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche after leaving Tibet. Upon his death in 1991, the facilities were expanded to create a vibrant practice and study center, giving women the unique opportunity to train in the lineage of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. This project allows for the completion of a new hostel for the growing community of nuns. One hundred and fifteen nuns live in the nunnery, practicing and performing ceremonies based on the rare terma cycles of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, which are only kept alive in a few monastic centers.

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The Monastic College of Surmang Dutsi Til

The Pema Chodron Foundation made a significant contribution to building the monastic college (shedra) at Surmang Monastery.

Surmang, located in eastern Tibet, was a thriving complex of monasteries under the direction of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Pema's principal teacher, until its destruction during the Chinese invasion during the 1950s.

Surmang Düdtsi-til is one of the poorest monasteries in Tibet with few resources to fulfill its traditional role of serving the spiritual and educational needs of the nuns, monks, and people of the area.

Pema and The Pema Chödrön Foundation have been committed to building the college which will profoundly benefit the monks and nuns, as well as serve the spiritual and cultural needs of the community.

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“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to the completion of the shedra at Surmang Dutsi Til. This was the home and inspiration for our teacher, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and after all that he has given to us, I feel honored to be able to offer something in return to his reincarnation, Chokyi Senge the 12th Trungpa Rinpoche, and to the nuns, monks, and lay men, women and children of his home community.”

Pema Chödrön

A film about the life of women and the grinding poverty they experience in the village of Samagaon, where most of the girls who come to Tsoknyi Gechak Ling originate from.

A film about Tsoknyi Rinpoche's vision for Tsoknyi Gechak Ling. The nuns tell us how much the opportunity to receive an education means to them. This will touch your heart.

The School on Chobar Hill is an intimate look into Tsoknyi Gechak Ling and it's primary school, as well as the story of how Tsoknyi Rinpoche's vision to educate girls and women came into being.

The Nuns of Tsoknyi Gechak Ling

The Pema Chödrön Foundation provided the funding to build a three-year center to help the nuns of the Tsoknyi Gechak Ling Buddhist nunnery, in the foothills near Kathmandu, fulfill their aspirations to study, meditate, and keep their traditions alive.

About 100 nuns live at Tsoknyi Gebchak Ling after fleeing Tibet. Pema and Tsoknyi Rinpoche, the nun’s teacher and a well-known Buddhist teacher, set out to ensure that these nuns receive the same training and opportunities to flourish as monks.

The Pema Chodron Drubde Center provides accommodation for the nuns, a meditation hall, kitchen, dining facilities, and a separate wing to accommodate shorter retreats for those not yet ready for a three-year retreat.

Pema and The Pema Chödrön Foundation are now turning our attention to the support of building a new primary school for young women aspiring to become nuns, called Tsoknyi Gechak School. Please consider contributing what you can to help these nuns to fulfill their dreams and help ensure that these remarkable traditions will be passed down to their students, and their students’ students, for years to come.

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"I believe that the perfect way to give back to the tradition that has so profoundly transformed her own life and, through her teachings, the lives of thousands of others is to make it possible for these extraordinary and deserving nuns to fulfill their aspirations for monastic training."

Pema Chödrön

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The Nuns of Sher Gompa

The Pema Chödrön Foundation agreed to fully fund and support the Tibetan Buddhist Nuns of Sher Gompa under the guidance of Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche.

Sher Gompa is in the high and remote region of Menang, Nepal, nestled in the heart of the Annapurna mountains near the border with Tibet. This remarkable group of nuns are engaged in a traditional and very rigorous three-year retreat.

Thrangu Rinpoche is the abbot of Gampo Abbey, a teacher of Pema Chödrön’s and one of the very most senior teachers in the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Thrangu Rinpoche’s main nunnery, Tara Abbey, is in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. At Tara Abbey, young nuns receive a full monastic education. After receiving their education the nuns can participate in the traditional three-year retreat at Sher Gompa.

During this rigorous retreat, the nuns practice the full range of meditation techniques passed down through the tradition, including the profound “six yogas of Naropa” that work with the energy of the subtle body.

We’re delighted to be able to support these remarkable women who will go on to inspire and train many like them in the future.

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"I am dedicated to doing whatever I can so that nuns have the same opportunities for deep study and practice as Tibetan Buddhist monks have always had. Our support of the nuns will ensure that they’ll be able to learn, master, and pass down traditions that could otherwise be lost."

Pema Chödrön

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The Nuns of Karma Drubdey Nunnery in Bhutan

The Pema Chodron Foundation helps the nuns of Karma Drubdey nunnery in Bhutan fulfill their aspiration to be fully trained and to carry on their traditions.

Pema is committed to Buddhist nuns having the same training and opportunities to practice that their male counterparts have always enjoyed.

The nunnery was established by the great scholar and meditation master, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche in 1968. Today, 127 nuns actively engaged in study and meditation retreat at Karma Drubdey Nunnery. They range in age from ten years old to seventy years old. The longest-serving nun has been at the nunnery since 1968. For the past forty-five years, she has been helping Khenpo Rinpoche to develop the tradition of female monasticism in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

Forty-one nuns are now studying in the Shedra, an intensive (11yr) monastic college that trains monks and nuns to be fully authorized carriers of the entire Buddhist tradition. In addition, eight nuns are engaged in the traditional three-year retreat.

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