Pundarika Foundation’s primary mission is to support the teaching activities and humanitarian work of Tsoknyi Rinpoche by keeping alive the wisdom of the Dharma, sustaining practitioners who preserve the teachings of the Buddha as a vital tradition, and helping people experience inner peace, to better face the challenges of modern life with compassion and sanity
An extraordinary aspect of Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s life and work is the spiritual and material support he provides for a large number of nuns in Tibet and in Nepal. Hundreds of nuns study and practice in his hermitages in Nepal, and in the Nangchen region of East Tibet around 2,000 nuns and 900 monks are under his care.
The Nangchen Nuns perform their spiritual practices in a group, teaching and helping each other all their lives. Many nuns do three-year, nine-year or even lifetime retreat. Many of the nuns are also accomplished masters of difficult yogic practices such as tummo (the yoga of inner heat). In a culture where female practitioners have struggled to gain respect, these nuns have risen to a high level of status, with many monks and lamas seeking their teachings and instruction.
In the summer of 2005, Tsoknyi Rinpoche led a group of western students, along with a photographer and video crew, to Nangchen to document the lives and needs of the Nangchen Nuns. Blessings is a feature-length documentary film that offers a rare glimpse into the lives and faith of these extraordinary women.
The Yogini Project has facilitated translation of this film into 7 languages with a slated October 2016 release.
The Yogini Project’s film “White Lotus” on Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s groundbreaking work empowering women in dharma in Nepal, an epilogue to the film “Blessings”
“Blessings: The Tsoknyi Nangchen Nuns of Tibet”
Tsoknyi Nepal Nuns
The Tsoknyi Nepal Nuns is an international organization under the guidance of Tsoknyi Rinpoche that supports a growing number of Tibetan Buddhist nuns in the Tsoknyi Lineage. Their immediate goal is to fund the building of Tsoknyi Gechak Ling Nunnery on Chobhar Hill outside of Kathmandu, Nepal. This is an amazing opportunity for you to support these great practitioners and to preserve this wellspring of goodness in the world.
Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s mission for this organization is: To Support And Sustain the Highest Buddhist Philosophy and Meditation of the Tsoknyi Nepal Nuns.
The Yogini Project’s film “White Lotus” on the Tsoknyi Nepal Nuns
Sakyadhita: Daughters Of The Buddha
Sakyadhita, “Daughters of the Buddha,” the world’s first and leading international organization of Buddhist women, is an alliance of women (and men) committed to transforming the lives of women in Buddhist societies. This international alliance was founded at the conclusion of the first International Conference on Buddhist Women, held in Bodhgaya, India, in 1987, organized by Karma Lekshe Tsomo. Sakyadhita seeks to unite Buddhist women of diverse countries and traditions, to promote their welfare and to facilitate their work for the benefit of humanity.
Dongyu Gatsal Ling
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s vision for Dongyu Gatsal Ling is to give young nuns of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage the opportunity to realize their intellectual and spiritual potential after so many centuries of neglect and to reinstate at the Nunnery the ‘Togdenma‘ (yogini) tradition. The Nunnery was named ‘Dongyu Gatsal Ling’ by the Spiritual Director His Eminence the 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche Shedrup Nyima. It means ‘Garden of the Authentic Lineage’ and was chosen because ‘Dongyu Nyima’ was the name of the previous Khamtrul Rinpoche, who was Tenzin Palmo’s personal Guru.
The emphasis of DGL Nunnery is to:
- Provide a programme of study, meditation and service.
- Train nuns in integrating their daily life and work with Dharma principles.
- Encourage a life based on monastic vows and communal harmony and eventually to reintroduce the bhikshuni (higher monastic) ordination.
- Re-establish the precious ‘Togdenma’ (yogini) tradition of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage and train some nuns as teachers in meditation.
- Prepare some of the nuns who undertake higher philosophical studies to become teachers or professors.
Pema Chödrön Foundation
Beloved Buddhist teacher, author, nun and mother, Pema Chödrön has inspired millions of people from around the world who have been touched by her example and message of practicing peace in these turbulent times. The Pema Chödrön Foundation is dedicating to preserving and sharing Pema’s inspiration and teachings in order that they might help us all awaken wisdom and compassion in ourselves and the world around us. In addition to her many inspiring books, Pema teaches worldwide and is the principal teacher at Gampo Abbey, founded by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1984. The Pema Chödrön Foundation also supports the Tsoknyi Gechak Ling Nunnery, having established the Pema Chödrön Retreat Center presently in construction.
Tibetan Nuns Project
The Tibetan Nuns Project was established under the auspices of the Tibetan Women’s Association and the Department of Religion and Culture of H. H. the Dalai Lama and is dedicated to educating and supporting nuns in India from all Tibetan Buddhist lineages. In the mid 1980s, with the strong encouragement of H.H. the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Women’s Association began to work on behalf of nuns of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The Tibetan Nuns Project sponsorship program supports over 700 nuns living in India – most live in one of the eight nunneries that participate in our sponsorship program. The nunneries are in the Himalayan region of northern India, in the Dharamsala area, home to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and a large Tibetan community in exile.
Tibetan Nuns Project was a long supporter in creating the change for the empowerment of Tibetan Geshemas, recently announcing the first nuns to be awarded the title of Geshema after long years of study and little acknowledgement, thanks to the auspices of HH Dalai Lama.
Image: ‘Tara Puja I’ by Olivier Adam at Dharma Eye
In the remote mountain highlands of Nangchen (ནང་ཆེན།) in Eastern Tibet, there exists an extraordinary lineage of female spiritual practitioners at Gebchak Gonpa – the largest nunnery in Tibet and heart of a renowned meditation tradition unique to women.
Gebchak Gonpa is the mother nunnery of dozens of branch nunneries scattered throughout the region. It stands strong as a model community of more than 350 yogini-nuns exemplifying kindness, peace and joyful adherence to spiritual practice for the benefit of the entire world.
Many great Buddhist masters praise Gebchak Gonpa as being unrivaled in its spiritual training. Its nuns are famed for their accomplishments in profound yogas and meditation, while their compassion and dedication to the Dharma is remarkable. One great master, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, praised the accomplishments of the Gebchak yogini-nuns. His memoirs, Blazing Splendor, has a chapter dedicated to them.
Tek Chok Ling Nunnery
In 1984 Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche visited Yolmo. This area known as Helumbu to the Nepalese, almost directly north of Kathmandu Valley, just inside Nepal but bordering on Tibet, is known as the Hidden Valley. In the Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa it is said that Marpa told Mila “This place was prophesied in the Avatamsaka Sutra (by the Buddha), so you should go there and meditate.” It is a place visited and blessed by Guru Rinpoche, Yeshe Tsogyal, Marpa, Mila and many other yogis and yoginis. The mountains and valleys are filled with sacred treasures.
It is reported that the villagers in Gong Thang knew of Rinpoche’s nunnery in Bhutan and they begged him to start a nunnery in Yolmo. In 1997 he was given land and a retreat center, called Dzom Thang Osel Ling, was build for his older nuns. Next to it was built a new nunnery, called Gong Thang Dechen Ling for the younger girls flocking to Rinpoche to become nuns. Further below the village of Tar Kye Gyang, about 14,000 feet, at Tak Phug Senge Dzong, (The Tiger Cave Lion Fortress) where Milarepa sang his Song of a Yogi’s Joys, Khenpo Rinpoche established another retreat center for his nuns called Tag Phug Nyam Nye. The nuns flourished there until the changing social conditions forced them to abandon Yolmo in 2004. The nuns moved to a site close to Jarung Khashor stupa, in Boudhanath while they awaited the completion of their new nunnery. In 2006, Rinpoche established Tek Chok Ling, a beautiful, modern nunnery where female monastic disciples apply themselves with joyful diligence in hearing, contemplating, and meditating upon the dharma in precise accordance with the teachings of Khenpo Rinpoche.
In 2009 Khenpo Rinpoche returned to Tek Chok Ling to continue teaching his nuns. Tek Chok Ling now has fifty-eight nuns; the oldest ones are nuns who escaped from Tibet with him while the younger ones are from Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan. As stability comes to Yolmo, retreats are possible again and five nuns are now doing ngondro retreat at Tag Phug Nyam Nye. At TCL, along with the traditional Buddhist studies and meditation there is a secular school for all nuns over the age of sixteen. Here the nuns study Tibetan, Nepali, English, Math, Science and Social Studies. The nuns sixteen and under attend Shree Mangal Dvip, Thrangu Rinpoche’s school for Himalayan children. All of this training, either at TCL or at SMD, means that TCL is in the process of establishing a first generation of nuns with both a secular and Buddhist education!
More on Tek Chok Ling Nunnery.
Ani Choying Drolma: Nuns Welfare Foundation of Nepal
Established by Ani Choying Drolma, the Nuns Welfare Foundation of Nepal (NWF) is a non profit organization promoting the education and welfare of Buddhist nuns. Arya Tara School is the flagship project of NWF, opened in 2000. Arya Tara School is a free boarding school for nuns which specializes in combining traditional Buddhist studies with modern education. The NWF is currently fund raising to accrue the necessary funds for a new three-phased school building in Seti Devi VDC, Pharping, on the edge of the Kathmandu Valley, which will allow enrollment to increase more than 100 students.
The Yogini Project’s Interview with several of the Arya Tara Nuns Vajra Dancers during filming for it’s documentary film, “Women On The Path,” in production.
On Being Vajrayogini
The Drukpa Nuns of Druk Amitabha Mountain
His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa shares his vision for Druk Gawa Khilwa Abbey of Amitabha Mountain:
“Everyone, man or woman, has the potentials and the rights to attain Buddhahood. Unfortunately for many generations, not only in Tibet or Ladakh, but also in America, in fact throughout the entire world, women have not been treated fairly. Thanks to education and social revolution, nowadays the situation is a lot easier and fairer for women.
I started Druk Gawa Khilwa Abbey mainly with the motivation to lift up the status of female practitioners in my small community. I feel that I am responsible for the well-being and spiritual progress of both monks (the male practitioners) and nuns (the female practitioners). I did not start this with a great ambition of promoting female rights or movement, I just thought that at least my very small community of 300 nuns should not suffer an unfair treatment due to the social or cultural discrimation that has existed for so many generations.
What I am trying to do is to give my handful of poor nuns equal rights as the monks to receive trainings, teachings and instructions. At the same time, I do not wish to downgrade the trainings for the monks, in order to match the nuns. So I am training monks and nuns equally. Whatever the monks are getting, the nuns get them too. This is because I strongly believe that female practitioners can serve the society, the people and beings tremendously, just as their male counterparts, through the practice of Buddhist philosophy. There is no doubt about it and also there is no reason why not.
Because of cultural or social expectations, women were not allowed to touch the kangling (the traditional trumpets), wear the ritual hats, perform the Vajra dances, etc. But Buddha Shakyamuni had never said in his teachings or Sutra that women cannot do these things.
Therefore, in July 2004 during the Naropa Ceremony and the Drubchen (Great Accomplishment) ceremony, I put 200 of my nuns in charge of the entire ritual, allowing them to lead and perform all the ceremonies throughout the ten days of public events, right before an audience of over 135,000 people. Through this, I hope to bring to public awareness that female practitioners can also inspire and benefit beings on the spiritual path, and I hope that female practitioners themselves would be convinced that it is possible to progress on the spiritual path in a female form.
I am very proud of my nuns because what they are doing is really from their heart, and not from the superficial level. In this way, I am very happy and it gives me at least some good reasons to stick around in this world.”
Tara Mandala is an international Vajrayana Buddhist community with its home base in Pagosa Springs at 7,500 feet altitude in Southwest Colorado. It is guided by Lama Tsultrim Allione, author of Women of Wisdom and Feeding Your Demons. Lama Tsultrim has studied Tibetan Buddhism under traditional teachers for more than 45 years. Tara Mandala retreat center offers refuge, renewal and traditional Buddhist training through a residential Living Dharma program as well as group and solo retreats. At Tara Mandala, the land itself is a mandala with a stunning peak in the middle surrounded by four valleys. Retreat cabins are scattered across the landscape, and at its heart is the extraordinary three-story mandala Tara temple.
Fulfilling a lifelong vision to support Western sangha, Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron founded Sravasti Abbey in Newport, Washington in 2003 and serves as Abbess. The Abbey’s mission is to nurture a flourishing monastic community where learning and practicing Buddha’s ancient teachings cultivate peace in the hearts of the residents and visitors and, by extension, in the world. Sravasti Abbey is named for Sravasti, where the Buddha spent twenty-five Rains Retreats. It is called an “Abbey ” because male and female monastics train together as equals—brothers and sisters supporting each other on the Dharma path.
Jnanasukha strives to help through the teachings and practices of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism with an emphasis on the Enlightened Feminine.
Jnanasukha is Sanskrit for Wisdom Bliss. Our focus is the realization of ultimate openness (shunyata)—the source of everything, represented in Tibetan Buddhism as the Wisdom of the Female Buddhas.Yeshe Tsogyal, Victorious Ocean of Wisdom, is a female buddha of 8th century Tibet. She is the mother of Tibetan Buddhism and the queen of Great Bliss. Her reality, role, and teachings continue to the present day, guiding beings to enlightenment.
Our roots lie in the Nyingma esoteric tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, particularly the lineage of Yeshe Tsogyal known as The Dakini Heart Essence (Khandro Thuk Thik) which is a 20th century mind treasure (terma) of His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche. It was founded in 2002 by Lama Dechen Yeshe Wangmo, a Canadian-born teacher empowered as a lama by Lama Tharchin Rinpoche.
She founded Jnanasukha to bring awareness to the feminine principle of sacred openness—the source of everything which is praised as the wisdom of the female buddhas. In 2010, she established The Tsogyal Latso Fund and The Pearl Mala global community to care for Tsogyal Latso, the birthplace of Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal in central Tibet and the nuns living there. When circumstances allow, she leads pilgrimages to the historical sites of Yeshe Tsogyal and the Nyingma lineage in the Tibet.
Khachodling: Land of the Blissful Dakinis
Khachodling is the life’s work of spiritual training and activity for Khandro Thrinlay Chodon, great granddaughter of Drubwang Shakya Shri.
It has manifested in a series of projects that are united by a strong spiritual purpose.
“The word ‘Khachodling’ holds a deep spiritual meaning for me. Simply stated it is the place where the heart essence of wisdom, known as the feminine principle in Buddhism, is nourished and respected. Compassionate Action flows unceasingly from this source. Literally translated from the Tibetan, this is a ‘land of the blissful dakinis’.
Khachodling, this vision – my life’s work, is an offering to the wisdom of my great masters. It is a goal-less journey.
I am not quite sure from where it came and where it is leading. But I do know that, myself and Khachodling have always been blessed by my precious masters, and these blessings will always continue.”
Some of Khachodling’s projects include:
Himalayan Hermitages for Women
Khandro-la is responsible for her spiritual lineage. She has a small hermitage already in Sani, Zanskar and in the future promises to manifest other hermitages for women in the areas of need, especially where her father taught. Pangi, another remote Himalayan community will be the next such hermitage. The emphasis is on low key, aesthetic communities that purely hold the yogic tradition of Shakya Shri. A long established hermitage of women that Khachodling supports is in Lahoul. Khachodling also supports many older yogic practitioners in the Himalayas, who have been long time students of this lineage.
Medical Services for the Himalayas
Eye Restoration for Nomads – since 2007 Khachodling provides an annual eye care camp for remote nomads at Lake Tsomoiriri, Ladakh. Focus is now on also training locals to act as “barefoot nurses”
East-West Hospital at Mulbeck, Ladakh – to provide much needed new premises for Khachodling’s amchi (traditional doctor) as well as general and specialist services for western medicine (pathology, xray and ultrasound as well as women’s, paediatric, eye and dental clinics).
Education of Children and Youth
Khachodling has begun to provide education grants to needy young people whose families, due to isolation and poverty, have been unable to provide them with good modern style education.
Benchen Arya Tara Ling
Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche, one of the most renowned Tibetan Buddhist masters of our times, envisioned the establishment of a place for women to practice and study the Dharma in the Benchen tradition already in the 1990’s. Due to favourable circumstances Rinpoche finally managed to buy land with a shell building suiting this purpose in 2011, shortly before his Parinirvana.
The name for the nunnery Benchen Arya Tara Ling has been kindly bestowed by Drubwang Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche in Pharping in June 2012.
Message from Tenga Rinpoche on his vision and the need for the nunnery:
“Since long time I have been thinking to establish either a nunnery or a retreat center for nuns. But even though I had a strong wish it was impossible to fulfill it because there was no proper land to buy or the prices were much too high. At the end due to favorable circumstances and a private donation in 2011 a beautiful piece of land just next to the already existing Benchen Clear Light retreat center in Pharping has been purchased.
The location of the land and its size are very nice. There is a wonderful view on one side and there is no neighbor as it lies on the edge of a mountain, which is really perfect. Also, there is a shell building on the land already that can be turned into the nunnery. In addition, there is a possibility to extend the number of retreat houses there in the future.
Once we start building the nunnery this place will neither vanish nor it will be destroyed in the future. It will remain there forever. The nuns living there will engage in the Dharma practice – there will be Tara practice in the morning, Mahakala practice in the afternoon, and individual practices in between the sessions. This place will be the right place to practice and study the Dharma.
Through these Dharma activities we are all going to accumulate great deal of merit that can be dedicated to your parents, your loved ones, and all sentient beings. This will be one of the best ways of accumulating merit. Through the power of the merit we will obtain great deal of temporary and ultimate benefits. At the end, this merit will be the cause of attaining enlightenment.
Many Tashi Deleks and see you soon!”
Recorded in 2011 before Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche’s passing and translated into English by Sherab Wangchuk of Benchen.