Venerable Robina Courtin, a Buddhist nun in the Vajrayana tradition, will offer teachings at the new premises of Kunsang Yeshe Tibetan Retreat Centre in Australia in early September. Ven. Robina will offer two classes while visiting the center, which is located in the Blue Mountains, 90 minutes west of Sydney.
The first class, “Becoming Your Own Therapist,” will take place on 7 September. The second class is “Courageous Compassion” on 8 September.
Helen Patrin, acting director of Kunsang Yeshe, said of the upcoming talks:
We’re very excited to host Venerable Robina as our first teacher at the new Centre. It’s a perfect way to launch the next part of our journey after 30 years in the mountains. Robina has a way of reaching people with her down-to-earth and entertaining teaching style. She breaks Buddhism down into everyday concepts that we can all relate to and use in our lives.(Blue Mountain Gazette)
Ven. Robina was the second of seven children in her family. She grew up Catholic and expressed interest in religion from an early age, even telling her parents that she wanted to become a priest. She described this time in her life: “On the one side, I was a very naughty girl, always rebellious, always making trouble, and on the other, always religious.” (Blue Mountain Gazette)
Ven. Robina pursued many different life paths prior to becoming a Buddhist nun. Shetrained as a classical singer, a martial artist, and was deeply involved in the activist movements of the 1960s and 1970s. She converted to Buddhism after meeting Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa, the guiding teachers of Kunsang Yeshe Tibetan Retreat Centre.
However, donning the robes did not stop her from being involved in activist movements. An example of this can be seen in the Liberation Prison Project, a non-profit that Ven. Robina started to offer the Buddhist teachings and support to people in prison. On the Liberation Prison Project’s website, the organization states its mission as:
Liberation Prison Project offers spiritual advice and teachings, as well as Dharma books and materials, to people in prison interested in exploring, studying and practicing Buddhism. Since 1996, the project has supported the Buddhist practice of over 20,000 men and women in prisons around the world to transform their lives.(Liberation Prison Project)
Ven. Robina’s work with the Liberation Prison Project eventually led to the filming of the documentary Chasing Buddha. In the documentary, she describes the life events that led her to the Buddhist path, and takes viewers with her to Kentucky state prison in the US where she teaches the Dharma to inmates, many of whom are serving life sentences.
Kusang Yeshe Tibetan Retreat Centre is run completely by volunteers and Lama Zopa Rinpoche serves as the guiding teacher. Lama Zopa, the spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), was born in Nepal and as a young child was recognized as the reincarnation of Kunsang Yeshe, the Lawudo Lama. Lama Zopa studied Buddhism in Tibet until 1959, when he was forced to live in exile in India. He is a disciple of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and highly esteemed in the Tibetan lama community
Kunsang Yeshe Tibetan Retreat Centre is open to people of all ages and spiritual traditions. It serves the local community by offering authentic Tibetan Buddhist teachings, meditation, art, and a range of other activities.
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