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!
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