The Tibetan Nuns Project (TNP), a US-registered charity based in Seattle and in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh, India, has announced the successful completion of its project to provide a circumambulatory kora pathway for devotional walking and meditation for the Buddhist nuns of Shugsep Nunnery near Dharamsala.*
“For many years, the nuns have wanted a path where they can practice kora, traditional Tibetan walking meditation,”** the TNP said in an announcement shared with BDG. “In 2023, the nuns asked for help to build a kora path. Now, thanks to the generosity of 65 Tibetan Nuns Project supporters, the path is finished.”
Affiliated with the Nyingma tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism, Shugsep Nunnery and Institute traces its Buddhist heritage and practices directly to Tibet and some of Tibet’s most influential female Vajrayana practitioners. In the 20th century, the original Shugsep Nunnery was home to the celebrated female master Shugsep Jetsun Rinpoche (1852–1953), one of the most illustrious female practitioners in Tibetan history and a recognized incarnation of the revered tantric yogini Machig Labdron (1055–1149).
“Work on the circumambulatory path began in early 2023 and was completed in October,” the TNP explained. “The sloping terrain and harsh monsoon posed challenges for construction, but the workers did an excellent job and the nuns helped to prepare the land. Railings and steps are important features of the path. The stone steps have been made with iron front edges to ensure that they do not chip and crumble. The new boundary wall at the top of the nunnery provides the nuns with excellent privacy.”
Although the original Shugsep Nunnery in Tibet was destroyed in 1959 and the resident nuns forced to leave, the nunnery was re-established in India and officially inaugurated in December 2010. Along with Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, Shugsep Nunnery and Institute was built and is completely supported by the Tibetan Nuns Project. Shugsep is now home to about 100 nuns, who have the opportunity to participate in a nine-year academic program of Buddhist philosophy, debate, Tibetan language and English.
“The kora path is good for the nuns’ physical and mental health. There was no safe area near the nunnery where the nuns could walk. The main road has no sidewalks and it is not safe for girls and women to be walking in these areas because crimes against women are common,” the TNP noted. “Our deepest thanks to all those who supported this huge project and made the nuns’ dream a reality!”
The Tibetan Nuns Project provides education and humanitarian aid to refugee nuns from Tibet and Himalayan regions of India. Established under the auspices of the Tibetan Women’s Association and the Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration, the TNP supports hundreds of nuns from all Tibetan Buddhist lineages and seven nunneries. Many of the nuns are refugees from Tibet, but the organization also reaches out to the Himalayan border areas of India, where women and girls have little access to education and religious training.
** Kora or circumambulation is the act of walking around a sacred place or object to generate religious merit and cultivates bodhicitta, the awakened mind.
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