His Holiness the 17th Karmapa to Empower Female Buddhists with Monastic College
In line with his long-stated aim of improving educational opportunities for female Buddhist practitioners, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, has announced a plan to establish a monastic college for Buddhist nuns. “Nuns are future holders of the Buddhadharma. This education will help prepare you to fulfill that great responsibility,” His Holiness told the more than 400 nuns gathered from nunneries across the Himalayas. (Business Standard)
The announcement came on the last day of the Third Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering at Tergar Monastery in Bodh Gaya, India, which ran from 14 January to 2 February, an annual event established by His Holiness in 2013. The three-week event included daily discourses by the Karmapa, intensive study, and formal debate sessions, as well as devotional and meditative practices.
Considered the third most important figure within Tibetan Buddhism after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, the Karmapa noted that he had observed a marked improvement in the nuns’ academic and dialectical performance, and that they had increased in confidence.
His Holiness said he would like to see a common Kagyu shedra (monastic college) for Kagyu nuns to help improve the quality of education and make more effective use of resources than in the few shedra that are independently operated by some nunneries—presently, it can be difficult to find adequate teachers and obtain sufficient financial resources. He asked for representatives from each of the nunneries participating in the Arya Kshema to meet after Losar (Tibetan New Year) to draw up a plan for the new college, adding, “It would be good to do this as quickly as possible.” (KARMAPA: Official Website of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa)
His Holiness also said he would like the new institute to offer Buddhist Studies at an international standard for Buddhist laywomen as well as female monastics from all over the world, and that accommodation for those ordaining as bhikshunis in the future could be constructed nearby. The Karmapa observed that it would help to ensure the future of the lineage if the bhikshuni sangha was housed in a single space rather than divided among many different nunneries.
“The fact that in the 21st century we’re not able to do everything the Buddha taught 2,500 years ago, such as to give the bhikshuni vows, is really an astonishing situation,” he said. “But it comes down to the point that from this day on, we should not worry about things that are unnecessary and unimportant. Instead we should increase our enthusiasm and our inspiration to bring benefit to the teachings and sentient beings by upholding, spreading, and propagating the teachings. If we do this I think it will work out well.” (KARMAPA: Official Website of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa)
The Gyalwang Karmapa Teaches on Generating Equal Compassion for All Beings; Presents Vision for Monastic College for Kagyu Nuns (KARMAPA: Official Website of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa)
The Gyalwang Karmapa Discusses Nuns’ Ordination; Teaches on Bodhisattva Vow (KARMAPA: Official Website of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa)
Karmapa announces plans to empower female Buddhist practitioners (Lion’s Roar)
Karmapa to set up monastic college for nuns (Business Standard)
Gyalwang Karmapa Set To Empower Female Buddhists With Monastic College (Tibetan Journal)
Restoration of Nuns’ Ordination Announced by the Karmapa (Buddhistdoor Global)
Second Arya Kshema Gathering for Kagyu Nuns (Buddhistdoor Global)