Sacred & attained Nuns of Gebchak Nunnery

Jun 28, 2012 | Views: 3,393
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Dear friends,

I came across this and was extremely inspired. Here’s a Gebchak nunnery with 400 nuns (largest in Tibet) that are focused on life long retreats and intense practice. They receive their practices then go into deep meditational retreats gaining high attainments and visions of various Buddhas. They commit themselves to their temple/nunnery and remain there. During the long retreats of three years, three months and three days, you are not allowed to cut your hair by tradition. Seeing the length of hair growth on the nuns, you can see they have been in secluded extended retreats. It’s only after completion of retreat the hair is cut.

Please take your time and read through this post. Read through each of the nun’s stories, their interviews and their backgrounds and how they came to Gebchak Nunnery. You will be blessed just to hear how powerful these lady practitioners are. How they can devote their lives to intense practice and so strong guru devotion in this day and age we claim is so hard to engage in intense spiritual practice. 

May everyone be blessed and become like these holy daughters of Buddha who have seen the true nature of their minds and therefore liberated. May Gebchak Nunnery grow and get the support they need.

Tsem Rinpoche

 


 

 

Ani Lama Sherab Zangmo

 

The Great Yogini, Ani Lama Sherab Zangmo. © Karen Harris, 2007.

Ani Lama Sherab Zangmo was a resident nun and meditation teacher at Gebchak Gonpa. Often referred to as “The Great Yogini of Gebchak Gonpa”, Sherab Zangmo was famed among the lamas in Eastern Tibet for her high realization. She passed away in the autumn of 2008 with many signs of an accomplished practitioner. She spent 70 years in unbroken meditation practice since first coming to Gebchak Gonpa when she was 16 years old. She was the last remaining from the earliest generation of nuns at Gebchak Gonpa, and was integral in rebuilding the Nunnery in the late 1980′s and in the revival of its unique system of Buddhist practice for women. Sherab Zangmo was extraordinary in many ways: for the spontaneous enlightenment she gained through devotion to her guru, Tsang-yang Gyamtso[1]; the profound simplicity of her teachings; and her flexibility in the face of challenging conditions.

Sherab Zangmo guided the younger nuns of Gebchak Gonpa in their practice right up until the moment of her passing. As she neared the moment of her death she laughed as she encouraged the nuns, and narrated the clear visions of buddhas that were appearing before her. Read more about her passing below.

Lama Sherab Zangmo’s repeated teaching was this: “Knowing one thing, everything is liberated” – by knowing the mind through practice, everything is liberated.

 

An interview with Ani Lama Sherab Zangmo & Wangdrak Rinpoche

[Wangdrak Rinpoche requests Sherab Zangmo for mind-teaching and meditation instructions. She was 85 years old at the time of the interview.]

 

 

Wangdrak Rinpoche with Ani Lama Sherab Zangmo, 2007.

 

Sherab Zangmo: What can I say? I don’t know, Rinpoche!

Wangdrak Rinpoche: Please, it will benefit practitioners.

Sherab Zangmo: [She recites a verse.]

From the very beginning the mind’s nature is empty,
Practice naturally, free from fabrications.

Pray strongly to one’s lama, keeping one’s mind at all times in an undistracted state of devotion, faith, and pure perception.

Wangdrak Rinpoche – Question: What is the antidote when a lot of conceptual thoughts arise? How should we meditate?

Sherab Zangmo: Do not try to stop conceptual thoughts, but let them arise. Know their nature by praying to the lama, understanding that the lama’s mind and one’s own mind are inseparable. Rest in the nature of the thoughts and in this way they are transformed.

It’s impossible to stop conceptual thoughts that arise, and if you try to stop them they will only increase. See the very nature of the thoughts as they arise, pray to the lama, and rest in meditation.

[Throughout the whole interview Sherab Zangmo is continuously chanting a prayer to Tsang-Yang Gyamtso while spinning her prayer wheel.]

Sherab Zangmo: I was 16 or 17 when I first came to Gechak. At that time the Nunnery and all of the nuns were under the care of the first Wangdrak Dorje. The first Tsang-Yang Gyamtso and Tsogyal Rinpoche had both passed away by then and I never got to see them.

In the beginning of the Cultural Revolution the remaining nuns and local nomads in the area were forced to live together in tight communes. During those days I would sit in meditation up on the mountain in the daytime and return to the camp to sleep at night. After our local commune broke up I lived in my brother’s home and pretended as though I had no legs and couldn’t walk. In this way nobody forced me to work and I was able to continue my practice quietly within my mind. In 1988 when some religious freedom was regained I got up out of bed and surprised everyone by doing circumambulations around Dzong-go Ling! From then on I continued my meditation practice in a cave near the Nunnery.

Wangdrak Rinpoche: Really she is someone who has spent her entire life in meditation practice. Even though she is in her 80′s now, her intelligence and clarity of mind have not degenerated. She experiences no suffering or discomfort in her mind whatsoever, even though her body has some sickness. She is extraordinary!

She doesn’t give lengthy teachings; just a few essential words are enough. If the meaning was elaborated vast amounts could be explained. As it is taught, “Knowing one thing, everything is liberated”. By knowing the mind through practice, everything is liberated.

Sherab Zangmo:

[Sherab Zangmo recites a verse of supplication to Wangdrak Rinpoche.]

Outwardly a master of all tantras, statements and instructions,
Inwardly accomplished in the channels, winds and essences,
He who has attained the realization of Samantabhadra,
At the feet of Wangdrak Dorje, I pray.

Wangdrak Rinpoche – Q: In the old days did the nuns at Gebchak have shaven heads? I heard that it was a pure vision of Tsang-Yang Gyamtso that the nuns wear their hair slightly grown out, because they were practitioners of Secret Mantrayana.

Sherab Zangmo: Yes, the nuns all wore their hair slightly grown out. But I don’t think this tradition is written down anywhere.

Wangdrak Rinpoche: Gebchak Nunnery has an exceptional system of practice, unlike other nunneries, and the practice of the Gebchak nuns themselves is exceptional. Adeu Rinpoche has praised Gebchak Nunnery and said that it is difficult to find other nunneries with the same caliber of practice.

Sherab Zangmo is now the last nun remaining from the early generation of nuns at Gebchak. We are very fortunate to have this chance to visit with her and receive her teaching.

Sherab Zangmo: Before when I meditated I thought that I was practicing samantha[2]. When I discussed my meditation experience with my lamas they told me that it wasn’t samantha, but spontaneous recognition of the nature of mind.

[She recites another verse.]

Maintain the original natural state,
Practice free from conceptualizations.

Wangdrak Rinpoche: All Dharma is included within these two lines.

Sherab Zangmo declines to teach any Dharma. She says she has nothing to explain about what is or isn’t the true nature of mind. When we understand the true nature without stopping what arises in the mind, praying wholeheartedly to the lama whose mind is inseparable from our own, while constantly developing love and compassion for all beings… this is the Dharma.

These instructions are the same as what she taught last year.

Sherab Zangmo:

Keep one’s independence through one’s own practice of maintaining the natural state of the mind,
Protect the wishes of others through the practice of love and compassion.

Wangdrak Rinpoche: When it comes to practice, besides these two lines nothing else needs to be said. There are many stories of beings who realized spontaneously, for example that of King Indrabhuti who was liberated simply through receiving an empowerment, or Aryadeva’s realization when Nagarjuna hit him on the head with a shoe. For them, besides these simple introductions nothing else needed to be explained. When put into words there are many texts of the Buddha’s teachings, but all of these are not needed in order to realize. “Knowing one thing, everything is liberated”.

[1] Tsang-Yang Gyamtso: the founder of Gebchak Nunnery. The first Tsang-Yang Gyamtso was a heart disciple of the first Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche.
[2] samantha: calm-abiding meditation.

Note: This interview was conducted in July, 2006, at Gebchak Gonpa. Translation by Tenzin Chozom.

[Extracted from: http://gebchakgonpa.org/gebchak-nuns/interviews-with-nuns/sherab-zangmo/]

 

 

Ani Lama Sherab Zangmo Passes Away

By admin | Published: February 25, 2009

Ani Lama Sherab Zangmo, the Great Yogini of Gebchak, in 2007.

The great yogini of Gebchak Gonpa, Sherab Zangmo, passed away in the autumn of last year at the enlightened old age of 86 or so. She had been unwell for some time, but then seemed to recover and was strong and in high spirits for some days. During these days she gave meditation teachings to the nuns and often sang the prayer “Calling the Lama From Afar.”  Near the time of her death her complexion lightened, and her face and body became youthful and small like a child’s. She told those who were with her that she could see Jetsun Tara clearly before her, and that she was now going to Dewachen, the Pure Land of Amitabha. She counseled the nuns to serve their lamas well and to live in harmony with each other, and told them not to worry, and that all would go well for them in the future. The sky remained like a morning sky, bright and clear for the whole day of Sherab Zangmo’s death, and she remained in tukdam meditation for six days afterwards.

Forty-nine days after her passing, Sherab Zangmo was cremated at Gebchak Gonpa, with the great yogi Pema Drimey, Gebchak Wangdrak Rinpoche, and all the Gebchak nuns performing the ceremony. The sky was clear blue and the temperature unusually warm on this day, in a season of constant inclement weather. After the ceremony, many white crystalline relics of different shapes were found in her ashes.

Very sadly, four other nuns passed away as well at Gebchak Gonpa over the last year. Oser Chomtso, who was in her 50s, Choying Paldron, an elderly nun, Kunzang Jinpa, in her 20s, and Pema Palmo, also in her 20s, passed away from various sicknesses. Their deaths are a great loss, and more so of a tragedy because each of them likely could have survived had they had proper medical treatment.

The death of the young Pema Palmo, however, is another story with cause for inspiration. She passed away in the first year of a three-year retreat, in the small retreat house where 25 nuns live side by side in their meditation boxes. After her death, Pema Palmo remained for seven days in tukdam meditation and had other amazing occurrences accompanying her death, which the other nuns in the retreat all saw and experienced.

Being so remote and removed from easy access to proper medical care, the nuns at Gebchak Gonpa have always been resolved to bear with and sometimes die from illnesses that could be easily treatable in the modern world. This has been the way of life and death for most Tibetan people in the past.

With the help of the Gebchak lamas, the nuns, the local medical community, and sponsors like you, the aim now is to set in place a system of regular check-ups, providing health care training for a few of the nuns, recognizing the symptoms of disease, and monitoring that the nuns follow through with necessary treatment.

Please keep the Gebchak nuns in your mind and prayers, and remember their dedicated practice towards enlightenment for the sake of all beings. There are still places in this world where human beings reach their full spiritual potential, and the benefits very positively reach each one of us. However, these nuns need our continued support to be able to continue their practice.

Wangdrak Rinpoche and all the nuns at Gebchak Gonpa wish you a very blessed and joyful Tibetan New Year!

Very best wishes,
Tenzin Chozom

[Extracted from: http://gebchakgonpa.org/sherab-zangmo-passes/]

 


 

Takme Wangmo

[Takme Wangmo was 70 years old in 2006.]

I first entered Gebchak Nunnery when I was 12, during the time of Chodrak Gyamtso (the second Tsang-Yang Gyamtso[1] Rinpoche). Now I stay in the Jig-se[2] retreat division.

When I was about 18 years old I began my three-year retreat, during which we practiced a sadhana[3] of Guru Rinpoche along with tsa-lung and trul-kor[4]. A profound experience from the practice occurred for me and I had a clear vision of the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche. As a result of this vision my mind was deeply transformed.

Immediately following my three-year retreat the Cultural Revolution occurred and Gebchak Nunnery was completely destroyed. Most of the 700 nuns there at that time were killed or eventually starved to death. I managed to escape and fled to Lhasa, where I stayed with my family. Of course we weren’t allowed to do any visible Dharma practice during this time … But I relied on the Three Jewels in my mind and continued my practice internally, and in this way there were no obstacles for me.

When some religious freedom was regained in the late 1980′s, my family and I returned to Gebchak. About 30 older Gebchak nuns like me returned to help rebuild the Nunnery. We taught the new nuns the former traditions of practice – how to practice the Trolo sadhana (wrathful Guru Rinpoche), the manner of practicing in retreat, the chanting tradition and so forth. Nowadays there are only about seven of these white-haired, older nuns left at Gebchak. The rest have passed away.

 

Question: You and your family suffered greatly during the Cultural Revolution, and many of your loved ones were killed. How have you dealt with sorrow and anger?

Tamke Wangmo: Yes, there was a lot of suffering. Some of my relatives were killed, some died from starvation, but I understand that the nature of life is impermanent. I rely on my meditation practice and I don’t feel anger.

 

Q: Now, what is the essence of your practice?

Tamke Wangmo: My yidam is Jig-se**[5]. Basically my practice is to pray to my lama, knowing that my lama’s mind and my own mind are inseparable, and to meditate on the awareness nature of mind.

When I was a young nun in Gebchak, the senior nuns who had accomplished their deities would go straight to the buddha-field when they died and remain in samadhi[6] for several days afterwards. That’s not all. In those days the nuns would practice tsa-lung and trul-kor sitting on the tops of high cliffs above a nearby river, and some of the nuns could fly across the river due to the power of their yogic accomplishments.

 

Q: How do you think Gebchak Nunnery can preserve this pure and profound lineage of accomplished nun-practitioners?

Tamke Wangmo: The nuns here are practicing the lineage of Ratna Lingpa, and both in and out of retreat the practice is maintained very well. But in order to maintain this practice lineage the food, clothing and shelter at this Nunnery are presently insufficient. We are all nuns, females, and the lamas of Gebchak are all still young, and therefore it is difficult for us to generate financial income. The nuns need improved conditions, particularly more food, so that they can remain in practice and in retreat year after year, day after day, dedicating their lives solely to accomplishing the Dharma. This is my hope. But I don’t know what the future will bring. How wonderful if it is possible, as it will allow this Dharma practice to continue.

As Milarepa said:

The meditator in retreat on the mountain
And the benefactor who provides his or her sustenance
Share the mutual karma to reach buddhahood at the same time
Due to the blessing of the heart of dependent-arising.

How wonderful it would be!

[1] Tsang-Yang Gyamtso: the founder of Gebchak Nunnery. The first Tsang-Yang Gyamtso was a heart disciple of the first Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche.
[2] Jig-se**: an aspect of Yamantaka which is the wrathful aspect of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom.
[3] sadhana: Skt -’Means of accomplishment’, Tib – སྒྲུབ་ཐབ།. Tantric liturgy and procedure for practice. The typical sadhana structure involves a preliminary part including the taking of refuge and arousing bodhichitta, a main part involving visualization of a buddha and recitation of the mantra, and a concluding part with dedication of merit to all sentient beings.
[4] tsa-lung and trul-kor: yogic methods which lead to the control of the internal channels and the vital energy
[5] yidam: personal meditational deity.
[6] samadhi: meditative absorption.

Note: Interview conducted in July, 2006, at Gebchak Gonpa. Translation by Tenzin Chozom.

[Extracted from: http://gebchakgonpa.org/gebchak-nuns/interviews-with-nuns/takme-wangmo/]

 


 

Urgyen Chodron & Chemchok Palmo

Both Urgyen Chodron and Chemchok Palmo are Gebchak nuns and were in their late 30′s at the time of the interview in 2006. Urgyen Chodron is the ritual master that travels to other branch nunneries to teach nuns. Chemchok Palmo is also a ritual master and leads most of the twenty great prayer ceremonies (drubchens[1]) that take place at Gebchak throughout the year. Both nuns are considered by Wangdrak Rinpoche to be very strong practitioners who will become known in the future as “Ani Lamas”.

 

An interview with Urgyen Chodron, Chemchok Palmo & Wangdrak Rinpoche

Urgyen Chodron

Urgyen Chodron: I came to Gebchak Nunnery when I was 13. I had two older relatives already at the Nunnery – one died at age 95 and the other is Sherab Zangmo[2], who is now about 85. When I was a young girl my parents wanted me to join Gebchak Nunnery, and I wanted to become a nun myself. I knew that I would enjoy being a nun. I have made the promise to stay at Gebchak Nunnery until I die.

When I first came there were about 40 or 50 old nuns with white hair. The previous Ngaksam Rinpoche was here at that time, and well as the old Lama Tenchok. Lama Lodro Wangchuk was here but he passed away in the autumn of my first year at Gebchak. The senior nun Ani Palmo taught all of the nuns the yogic practices of tsa-lung[3], and Sherab Zangmo gave the nuns mind and meditation teachings.

The first practices I did were the 500,000 preliminaries (prostrations, refuge prayer, Vajrasattva, mandalas, and guru yoga). At that time there was no big building for the 16 retreat divisions, each group did their practice in separate little houses. There were about 30 other new nuns doing the preliminary practices with me at the time. For one month we all slept in the two main temples and did our practices there together. After finishing them I became the junior chant master for three years, and then the senior chant master for four years – altogether for seven years. After being the chant master I stayed in Vajrakilaya retreat for seven months, and after that my three-year retreat began. I really enjoyed this time in retreat, I felt very happy. To tell you the truth, I enjoyed being in retreat more than coming out!

There were twenty nuns in the three-year retreat house together. The first year of the retreat was a little difficult because we had to learn all of the chanting and meditation practices. The second year was more enjoyable because I’d become familiar with the meditation practices and my own mind. By the third year I enjoyed the retreat so much. We practiced six sessions every day and night, with almost no breaks except fifteen minutes or so to eat our meals. Throughout the three-year retreat we also did over a million prostrations in between our meditation sessions. We had no boards for these prostrations, we just covered our knees and hands and prostrated on the dirt ground in the basement of the retreat house. Each day we at least did 1000 to 1500 prostrations.

At that time there were two retreat houses: one for the Vajrakilaya retreat and the other for the three-year retreat. When the new retreat division building went up the old Vajrakilaya retreat house was torn down and since then a new one hasn’t been rebuilt. Akong Tulku sponsored the new building for the retreat divisions.

My mind transformed while I was in retreat. I didn’t want to come out when the retreat was finished. Although the practices were hard physically, in my mind I was very joyful. Before I did my three-year retreat I had a lot of wild emotions and distractions. But during the retreat these emotions were pacified and transformed into the five wisdoms.

Now my retreat division is Guru Drakpo [Wrathful Guru Padmasambhava]. Every morning from 6 until 8 o’clock each retreat division holds a practice session of meditation and prayers. There is a big room downstairs in the retreat division building where all the nuns do their daily practices of trul-kor[4] and tsa-lung. We have to do these yogic practices everyday throughout our whole lives.

Gebchak Nunnery’s practice of specialty is tsa-lung, and it is practiced here according to the unique teachings of the first Tsang-yang Gyamtso[5]. Tsang-yang Gyamtso wasn’t a scholar, but wrote these practice commentaries from his pure vision and meditative realization.

 

Wangdrak Rinpoche & Chemchok Palmo at Gebchak Nunnery.

 

Wangdrak Rinpoche: Now the Nunnery’s practice lineage is completely in tact. All the practices of tsa-lung, trul-kor, the 20 drubchens, and all the original traditions of the Nunnery have been passed down by the senior nuns to the young nuns. At present they are all being upheld.

Before they enter the three-year retreat the nuns have faith and belief. But during the three-year retreat they practice the Three Roots[6] and the Six Yogas[7], and from their meditative experience they develop a very strong, unshakable faith in the practice.

During the three-year retreat the five negative emotions become transformed, not by rejecting them but by realizing their wisdom nature.

Urgyen Chodron: When we are in retreat there are no particular times for meditation; we constantly maintain our practice. We chant along with visualization and contemplation of the meaning, and we meditate on the inseparable prana[8] and mind. During the stage of mantra recitation the lama is visualized above the head, during the stage of accomplishment the lama is at the throat, and during the stage of activities the lama’s mind and one’s own mind merge as one.

 

Chemchock Palmo

Question: What are the differences between the practices in the 16 retreat divisions and those in the three-year retreat?

Chemchok Palmo: The yidams [deities] are different, but the practices of trul-kor and tsa-lung and the fundamentals are the same.

If one hasn’t received the transmissions of trul-kor and tsa-lung, you are not allowed to view these yogic practices. If you happen to see them without having received the transmissions, there is a danger that the Dharma protectors will cause harm to your eyes and limbs.

After you’ve received the transmission, teachings, and permission you may practice these yogas. Trul-kor and tsa-lung are hidden, secret teachings.

Q: What would be your heart advice to other Buddhists in foreign countries?

Urgyen Chodron: Have faith in the lama, have belief and certainty in the lama’s instructions, have the compassionate mind to benefit all other beings, and have renunciation of samsara.

Chemchok Palmo: Abandon harming others.

 

Q: Do you pray to be reborn in a male body in your next life?

Chemchok Palmo: There is no male or female in enlightenment. Once you’re a Dharma practitioner it is joyful and there is no difference for monks or nuns. I don’t think that a fully ordained monk is superior and I’m worse off. I just think that accomplishing the Dharma is joyful.

In the past there have been nuns at Gebchak Nunnery who have attained the rainbow body. Gebchak is a particular place for women to accomplish the Dharma. Here is a well known story: Many years ago at the place called Kilakar some lamas were giving a Dharma teaching to the nuns. Two older nuns named Tendron and Yendron were in retreat some distance away at Gyarong. From their hermitage they took on forms as small birds and flew to Kilakar to receive the teachings. They flew around the lamas and with their beaks they tugged at the lamas’ ears. The lamas knew who they were. These two nuns later attained rainbow bodies.

 

Q: At that time how many Gebchak nuns were there?

Urgyen Chodron: There were many. And many nuns could miraculously cross the Kyichu River without need of a bridge. These miracles came through the yogic accomplishments of the Sang Tri Rig Nga[9] – such as emanating from the state of dream yoga.

Wangdrak Rinpoche: Gebchak Nunnery must seem like another planet to these visitors! You can see the meditation practices and bodhicitta here are very good. Please introduce Gebchak Nunnery to others and tell them what you’ve seen and heard here.

Urgyen Chodron: During the winter there is not even one day break, we are continuously staying in drubchens. Besides these 20 drubchens we also have various other ritual ceremonies for removing obstacles.

 

Q: What are the benefits of these drubchens?

Wangdrak Rinpoche: We begin each drubchen by going for Refuge to the Three Jewels and contemplating the Four Immeasurables. Then is the main practice of generating the deity, followed by mantra recitation along with the inner, outer and secret visualizations. We make many offerings to the Three Jewels, and at the end of the drubchen we make a proper dedication of the merits for the temporary and ultimate happiness of all sentient beings. In this way we are accumulating merit and wisdom and accomplishing the three bodies of a buddha. All the chanting of the drubchens is performed together with contemplation of the meaning.

Chemchok Palmo: It is said that Gechak Nunnery is a second Zangdog Palri[10]. Whoever sees the Nunnery and witnesses the practice here feels joy. Even hearing about it brings joy. Coming here is like taking the first step towards buddhahood.

[1] drubchen: Great accomplishment practice; a sadhana practice undertaken by a group of people which goes on uninterruptedly for seven or more days.
[2] Sherab Zangmo was a highly accomplished nun who was known as the Nunnery’s “Ani Lama”.
[3] tsa-lung: the yoga of channels and energies.
[4] trul-kor: yogic methods which prepare for the practice of the internal channels and the vital energies.
[5] Tsang-Yang Gyamtso: the founder of Gebchak Nunnery. The first Tsang-Yang Gyamtso was a heart disciple of the first Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche.
[6] Three Roots: guru, yidam (personal meditational deity), and dakini.
[7] Six Yogas: Six Yogas of Naropa: tummo, illusory body, dream yoga, clear light, bardo, and phowa
[8] prana: the wind element; vital energy.
[9] Sang Tri Rig Nga: the Six Yogas of Naropa as practiced according to the revealed treasure of Ratna Lingpa.
[10] Zangdog Palri: the Glorious Copper-colored Mountain; the pure land of Guru Rinpoche.

Note: Interview conducted in July, 2006, at Gebchak Gonpa. Translation by Tenzin Chozom.

[Extracted from: http://gebchakgonpa.org/gebchak-nuns/interviews-with-nuns/urgyen-and-chemchok/]

 


 

Karchug, the visionary nun

 

Karchug with Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo in 2007.

 

I have lived at Gebchak Nunnery for 25 years. I was 14 years old when I first came here, and besides me there were only about 12 other new nuns here at that time. The previous Ngagsam Tulku was here then. Now his reincarnation is at Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok’s monastery, and he must be 16 or 17 years old. Lama Lodro Wangchuk, Lama Tencho, and Achen were also here at Gebchak when I first came.

Last year, for five days before Wangdrak Rinpoche came to the Nunnery I could see the protectors and local deities were all preparing for his arrival, and I knew that he would be coming soon. Also last year, while Wangdrak Rinpoche was giving a teaching to the nuns on Tsang-Yang Gyamtso’s commentary of the Bodhisattvacharyavatara there was an enormous parasol floating over Rinpoche’s throne, and all of the nuns listening to the teachings were adorned with white silk katas. It was marvelous, but the other nuns couldn’t see this. Outside the main entrance of the temple the two smoke-offering vessels were overflowing with white yogurt.

Usually there is a Mani drubchen[1] every year. Last year’s was exceptional. The giant torma[2] offering melted like butter in to the skull cup below it, and I could hear the Hayagriva torma[3] was neighing.

This year for ten days before Wangdrak Rinpoche came the protectors and local deities were preparing for his arrival with even more elaborate displays. There were three rows of deities forming a circular parade in the sky and the whole Nunnery was resting on a giant lotus throne. All around it were victory banners and the Eight Auspicious Symbols, and it appeared more resplendent and luminous than usual – like Zangdog Palri[4] itself.

At another time when the nuns were all gathered in the temple Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Tsang-Yang Gyamtso Rinpoche and Wangdrak Rinpoche all appeared on elevated thrones, although they were actually in Nepal and other places. They explained that they were not able to come in body because they had to be elsewhere. And they declared Gebchak Nunnery to be an extraordinary, wondrous place of great blessings. I saw all of the nuns chanting the feast offering songs and offering music to the lamas, and the temple appeared more majestic and vivid than usual.

Before any prayer ceremonies that we have in the temple, the protectors and other deities have performed them a day or so in advance of us. This happened before the Yeshe Tsogyal prayer ceremony that we recently did. During all the drubchens and ritual ceremonies that we have the deities, dakas and dakinis, and protectors are all present in the temple, and the main yidam[5] of our practice in front of the mandala.

This year, more than ever before, I have seen many amazing signs and occurrences. Tsering Che-nga [the Five Sisters of Long Life; female protectors] appeared, and during our Om Mani Padme Hum accumulation retreat the great compassionate bodhisattva was clearly present in the temple, along with so many buddhas and bodhisattvas – I couldn’t count them. The same thing happened during our Vajrakilaya drubchen. No thangka painter on earth, no matter how talented, could paint how magnificent all these deities appeared.

There is no Zangdog Palriother than this very Nunnery. As far as I see it, aside from Gecbhak Nunnery and the way of life here, there is no other way to some separately existing Zangdog Palri. Tsang-Yang Gyamtso said that Gebchak Nunnery is the second Zangdog Palri – the heavenly one is in the Akanishta pure realm, and the earthly one is here.

In my visions I’m able to see what fortune or misfortune lies ahead for the Nunnery. If I see obstacles approaching for people, I let them know what rituals and practices to do in order to avoid them.

I don’t want to be anywhere else but here, spending my time practicing these unique teachings. I made a promise to the previous Ngagsam Rinpoche, before he passed away, that I will spend my entire life practicing here at Gebchak Nunnery. To me this is a pure land.

 

[1] drubchen: a “great accomplishment practice” where a particular sadhana practice is undertaken by a group of people. It goes on uninterruptedly for seven or more days. “Mani drubchen” would be a great prayer ceremony of accomplishing the practice of Chenrezig.
[2] torma: sacrificial sculptured cakes made according to the type of deity to which they are addressed.
[3] Hayagriva: the Horse-headed One; the wrathful aspect of Amitabha.
[4] Zangdog Palri: the Glorious Copper-colored Mountain which is the pure land of Guru Rinpoche.
[5] yidam: personal meditation deity.

Note: Interview conducted in July, 2006, at Gebchak Gonpa. Translation by Tenzin Chozom.

[Extracted from: http://gebchakgonpa.org/gebchak-nuns/interviews-with-nuns/karchug/]

 


 

Yeshe Zangmo

[Yeshe Zangmo was 34 years old in 2006.]

Yeshe Zangmo: I entered Gebchak Nunnery when I was nineteen. My first retreat was to complete the 400,000 preliminary practices. After that I did the mantra accumulation retreat of Vajrakilaya[1], and then 100 sets of Nyung Naes[2]. And then I began my three-year retreat. It’s been five or six years now since I completed it.

My practice group is that of Dorje Trolo [Wrathful Padmasambhava], and I am presently the drubpon [retreat leader] of this retreat division. This means that I have to recite the daily protector prayers, which takes about three hours. So far I’ve been the drubpon for two years, and I have one year left. All of the nuns in my retreat division take turns holding this responsibility for three years.

All of the nuns in my retreat group live together happily, as we’ve spent so much time together.

 

Question: Why did you first become a nun at Gebchak Nunnery?

Yeshe Zangmo: I knew that samsara is meaningless and I was happy to become a nun. My parents supported me in coming here. Gebchak is the most famous for its practice among all the monasteries and nunneries in Nangchen.

 

Q: During all the years of intensive retreat practice that you’ve done, has your mind transformed?

Yeshe Zangmo: Yes, it has transformed!

 

Q: How so?

Yeshe Zangmo: In a good way. My mind has turned from samsara and I know now that samsara is no good. I only ever think to stay here at Gebchak Nunnery, and my mind is happy.

Wangdrak Rinpoche is very kind. Because of his kindness in providing us food, Gebchak Nunnery is a very joyful place. I only want to stay here at Gebchak Nunnery.

 

Q: What is your main practice?

Yeshe Zangmo: Meditation. My personal deity is Dorje Drolo.

 

Q: Why is samsara meaningless?

Yeshe Zangmo: Samsara has no happiness, only suffering, and so there is no joy. There are the sufferings of heat and cold in the hell realms, hunger and thirst in the hungry ghost realm, stupidity and exploitation in the animal realm … in every place in samsara it is all suffering. It’s the same for the gods and demi-gods. All of the six realms are suffering. Aren’t they??

 

Q: And yet you say your mind is so happy. You have poor facilities here – the food is not so good, nor are the buildings, the weather is freezing cold in the winter, and every night you stay in a meditation box. If most people saw your meditation box and the conditions that you live in, they would be aghast and see it as suffering! So why are you so happy?

Yeshe Zangmo: Because my mind is happy.

 

Q: When you were a child did you hear many teachings about the sufferings of samsara?

Yeshe Zangmo: I heard these teachings from my root lama, Pema Drimey, after I came to Gebchak Nunnery.

Yeshe Zangmo: Do you still have your parents? [The interviewer nods yes]. If you have no parents it is sad. I have an older brother and sister, two younger brothers and a younger sister. I’m in the middle. None of them are monks or nuns. They come once a year to bring me tsampa, wheat and rice.

 

Q: Do you have any money?

Yeshe Zangmo: No. I plan to stay at Gebchak until I die. I don’t think about going anywhere else.

 

Q: How is your health?

Yeshe Zangmo: It’s good, except for my eye. Since I’ve been at Gebchak Nunnery I have read the Kangyur twenty times, together with the rest of the nuns. Now my eyes give me problems. The electricity is not good.

 

Q: Are you afraid of death?

Yeshe Zangmo: Yes, I’m afraid. I could die today, or tomorrow – nobody knows. So I’m afraid.

 

[1] Vajrakilaya: Tib – རྡོ་རྗེ་ཕུར་པ།, a wrathful deity embodying enlightened activity. This deity is noted for being the most powerful for removing obstacles and destroying non-compassionate forces.
[2] Nyung Nae: a two-day purification of Chenrezig. On the second day the practitioner may not speak, eat, nor drink anything, and on both days many hundreds of prostrations are performed.

Note: Interview conducted in July, 2006, at Gebchak Gonpa. Translation by Tenzin Chozom.

[Extracted from: http://gebchakgonpa.org/gebchak-nuns/interviews-with-nuns/yeshe-zangmo/]

 


 

Kunzang Pantso

I first came to Gebchak Gonpa when I was 15 and now I am 23. In my very first year here I had the job of looking after the yaks. After that I completed two sets of preliminary practices, and then I spent a year doing 100 sets of Nyung Naes[1]. Then I did the accumulation retreat of Vajrakilaya[2], and once I finished that I began my three-year retreat. It has now been a little over three years since I finished my three-year retreat.

My yidam[3] is Vajrasattva[4], and I currently have the responsibility of being the leader in my retreat division.

 

Question: How did your mind change in your three-year retreat?

Kunzang Pantso: I developed complete renunciation of samsara. Thinking about the sufferings to come in the future, I now feel an unshakable resolve to get out of samsara. My mind can no longer be discouraged toward this goal.

 

Q: When you were a young girl, what were your thoughts before becoming a nun?

Kunzang Pantso: I liked the life of a nun, and I didn’t like samsara. Due to Tsang-Yang Gyamtso’s[5] compassionate blessings, I was inspired and entered Gebchak Nunnery with the wish to stay in retreat.

 

Q: Did your parents support you in this decision?

Kunzang Pantso: Yes, as well as my siblings. I have three younger brothers – one is a monk at Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok’s monastery, another is at Achen Rinpoche’s monastery, and the youngest is at home with my parents. My family is very religious.

 

Q: Has it been difficult doing all the intensive retreats and practices you have done so far – for example, never being able to leave the three-year retreat house, or sharing such a small space with the 18 other nuns in retreat with you, or not sleeping more than three hours a night?

Kunzang Pantso: No, it was never really difficult. As long as I remembered the Dharma and my future lives, I remained happy.

 

Q: Why do you have such s strong renunciation of samsara? What are its faults?

Kunzang Pantso: All the higher and lower six realms of samsara are by their nature suffering, and there is no real freedom until we reach the spiritual level of no return. Only then will there be no more suffering rebirths in samsara. I strongly pray to my root lama, Tsang-Yang Gyamtso Rinpoche, with the great aspiration to reach this level.

 

Q: The physical conditions at Gebchak Nunnery are quite difficult. Your food is not very good, neither are the buildings. You never get to go on any holidays, you have to be separated from your parents, and the weather becomes extremely cold. What is the reason why you are so happy?

Kunzang Pantso: Because I’ve got this precious human life. I’ve met with an authentic lama, and I’ve received practice instructions from him and from my other teachers. I really feel how precious this life of Dharma is.

 

Q: Do you have complete faith that you can become liberated from samsara?

Kunzang Pantso: Yes, I do.

 

Q: And this state of liberation from samsara, what is it like?

Kunzang Pantso: Once you reach the level of no return, you can go to Dewachen[6] where you don’t need to wander in samsara, and there you can quickly get enlightened.

If your mind is attached to samsara, then that is where you will stay. If you’re not attached to samsara, then you can get free and go to the true happiness of buddhahood.

 

Q: What qualities do enlightened beings have to accomplish the benefit of others?

Kunzang Pantso: They have great blessings to help others. I pray to reach the same state of enlightenment myself.

 

Q: Isn’t it difficult living everyday in your meditation box? Doesn’t your body ache?

Kunzang Pantso: No, it doesn’t, due to the kindness of the Three Jewels. Our system of practicing in meditation boxes was set out by Tsang-Yang Gyamtso, and so it is very blessed.

In the beginning it was difficult to sit like that and my knees hurt, but then after two or three months it became fine, and now I can sit like that for as long as I want.

 

Q: Nowadays you practice continuously in your Vajrasattva retreat division. What would you say is at the heart of your practice?

Kunzang Pantso: Mainly the Four Reversals, the four thoughts that turn the mind from samsara: the rarity of a precious human rebirth, death and impermanence, the inevitable results of karma, and the faults of samsara. Mainly I think about these in my practice sessions. If you don’t have these thoughts then your attitude in your practice is no good. We need to practice with an understanding of impermanence, how rare human life is, and so forth. First we must meditate on these thoughts, and based on them we can practice Dzogchen and Mahamudra. These Four Reversals are really at the heart of my practice.

 

Q: Can you tell me more about the reasons your mind is so happy? Is it because you have the faith that you are going to buddhahood?

Kunzang Pantso: Yes, I have this faith and happiness. If you have the faith that you can achieve buddhahood, then you can achieve it. If you don’t believe that you can achieve buddhahood, then you can’t achieve it, can you?

 

Q: How did you develop such a faith?

Kunzang Pantso: From my lamas Tsang-Yang Gyamtso and Pema Drimey, and from my spiritual teachers like Khenpo Kargon – from all of them I learned about the suffering nature of samsara, the preciousness of human life, impermanence and so forth, and that through good practice we can go to a Buddhist pure land in our next life.

 

Q: How many nuns are there in your retreat division? Does it ever disturb you living in the same room everyday and night with so many other nuns? Like for example, if others are talking while you’re trying to meditate?

Kunzang Pantso: No, not at all! The nuns here are all [gives the thumbs up gesture]! Among the nuns here at Gecbhak there are never any disputes. This is due to Tsang-Yang Gyamtso’s compassionate blessings.

 

Q: Now Gebchak Nunnery is quite poor, and in the future it will have to depend on relationships with many sponsors from modern, foreign countries. There is a big difference between the simple way of life here in Nangchen and that of the outside, developed countries where the pace of life is so busy and materialistic. How can Gebchak’s lineage of pure practice be preserved in the future?

Kunzang Pantso: In order to preserve Tsang-Yang Gyamtso’s lineage, his special system of practice that he established, each nun has to fulfill the instructions of the lama. If the teachings of Tsang-Yang Gyamtso are practiced and upheld by each nun, then his lineage will remain unbroken in the future, which is good. Otherwise, the lineage will be broken, won’t it? Therefore, all of the nuns now practice and pray strongly to maintain the practice in their future lives. And they pray that by Tsang-Yang Gyamtso’s compassionate blessings his lineage will remain forever and continue to flourish. All of the nuns pray in this way. It depends on the nuns themselves; as it’s taught that the teachings of the Buddha depend on the sangha, it depends on all of the nuns. The 84,000 teachings of the Buddha need to be upheld by the nuns, the sangha. If the nuns, the sangha, practice well, then the teachings of the Buddha, the lineage of Tsang-Yang Gyamtso will remain pure and grow ever greater.

 

Q: Do you have a wish that in the future, once you feel you’ve accomplished the Dharma, you may teach the Dharma to others?

Kunzang Pantso: Yes, yes I do. Now I’m not able to teach others in this way. But I pray to the Buddha that in the future I may be able to teach and benefit all my mother sentient beings, and lead them to perfect buddhahood. Once I’m a buddha myself, this is my plan. All sentient beings of the six realms have at one time or another been our father or mother. All beings are our mothers! But under the power of karma they are being born again and again in samsara.

 

[1] Nyung Nae: a two-day purification of Chenrezig. On the second day the practitioner may not speak, eat, nor drink anything, and on both days many hundreds of prostrations are performed
[2] Vajrakilaya: Tib – རྡོ་རྗེ་ཕུར་པ།, a wrathful deity embodying enlightened activity. This deity is noted for being the most powerful for removing obstacles and destroying non-compassionate forces.
[3] yidam: personal meditational deity.
[4] Vajrasattva: Tib – རྡོ་རྗེ་སེམས་དཔའ།, A sambhogakaya buddha who embodies all of the five or hundred buddha families. He is also a support for purification practice.
[5] Tsang-Yang Gyamtso: the founder of Gebchak Nunnery. The first Tsang-Yang Gyamtso was a heart disciple of the first Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche.
[6] Dewachen: Amitabha’s pure land of Great Bliss.

Note: Interview conducted in July, 2006, at Gebchak Gonpa. Translation by Tenzin Chozom.

 

[Extracted from: http://gebchakgonpa.org/gebchak-nuns/interviews-with-nuns/kunzang-pantso/]

 


 

Gebchak Nuns

About the nuns

Spiritual Training

Senior Gebchak nuns, 2007.

 

Gebchak Gonpa is unique for its intensive retreat system, which includes a three-year retreat for all nuns followed by entry into one of sixteen retreat groups where they remain in practice for the rest of their lives. This retreat system and all Gebchak meditation practices are based on sixteen Volumes composed by the first Tsang-Yang Gyamtso. These Volumes outline detailed instructions on the Six Yogas of Ratna Lingpa, with adaptations of these yogas for the female body, including eight volumes of meditations that the nuns continue to practice today in intensive group practices. These are: Hayagriva, Troma Nagmo, Tamdrin Nagpo, Tamdrin Marpo, Garuda, Varjapani, Yamantaka, and Yeshe Tsogyal. To this day the nuns continue to read and follow these texts.

For the nuns’ practice teachings including Tsa-lung and other yogas, as well as Dzogchen meditation, the senior nuns provide instruction. All the official monastic posts are filled by nuns, such as the role of Vajra Master, chant leader, disciplinarian and bursar. A committee of nuns decides regulatory matters by consensus.

The nuns rely on and request their Gebchak lamas for necessary empowerments, spiritual guidance, as well as their welfare. Gebchak Gonpa has strict rules in order to maintain their spiritual endeavors with purity and integrity. As the nuns are not permitted to leave the nunnery for extended periods of time, the nuns depend on outside support.  Wangdrak Rinpoche oversees their spiritual training and holds responsibility for their food, health care, and material well-being.

[Extracted from: http://gebchakgonpa.org/gebchak-nuns/]

 


 

About Gebchak

 

Gebchak Gonpa at 14,000 ft.

 

My prayer is to preserve and protect this female lineage of Gebchak Gonpa. My request to people throughout the world is to pray for the Gebchak lineage to be entirely preserved in the future.
- Wangdrak Rinpoche.

 

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.

The Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (yellow) lies within Qinghai province, China. Nangchen county (pink) is in the south.

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.

 

Founding

 

Tsogyal and Tsoknyi Rinpoches, Pema Drimey & Wangdrak Rinpoche with Gebchak retreatants.

 

Men and women have an equal right to enlightenment, but for women that right often went unrecognized. The first Tsoknyi Rinpoche instructed his heart disciple, Tsang-Yang Gyamtso, to build nunneries so that women would have the opportunity to devote their entire lives to spiritual practice.

Tsang-Yang Gyamtso was a vanguard in Tibetan culture for taking the radical step to establish a community for women where they could gain full confidence in attaining enlightenment. He founded Gebchak Gonpa in 1892, adapting practices in the Ratna Lingpa tradition to specifically suit the female body.

At that time Gebchak Gonpa was the only nunnery of its kind. Women from every school of Tibetan Buddhism traveled from all over Tibet to be admitted. The nunnery grew to over 800 nuns. To this day Gebchak Gonpa retains its true non-sectarian character, where the nuns pray with devotion to masters of all lineages.

[Extracted from: http://gebchakgonpa.org/about/]

 


 

A feminine tradition

 

Wangdrak Rinpoche talks about the Gebchak system & the importance of the feminine:

 

Wangdrak Rinpoche in Nangchen.

 

At the time Gebchak Gonpa was founded [in 1892] there were quite a few monasteries for monks, but no nunneries existed for women to practice Dharma. So the first Tsangyang Gyamtso built Gebchak Gonpa. His root lama was the first Tsoknyi Rinpoche.

Tsangyang Gyamtso, Wangdrak Rinpoche, Ngaksam Rinpoche . . . there were several masters who together established the tradition of Gebchak Gonpa. They built Gebchak Gonpa because in having Buddha Nature, there is no difference whatsoever between male and female. Buddha Nature is equally present in everyone, and whoever practices the path can reach enlightenment – all male and females are exactly the same in this.

Despite this, however, conditions didn’t exist back then for females to practice Buddhism; their rights and opportunities were not equal to those of monks. So out of compassion, love, and a great need, Gebchak Gonpa was built specially for women to practise. Many nuns came to join and at its height, in the late 1950’s, there were over seven hundred nuns in Gebchak Gonpa. There are many stories from those days of great nuns who gained accomplishment and enlightenment, and the Nunnery became renowned throughout Tibet.

Then from around 1956 to 1981 some events occurred and Gebchak Gonpa was emptied. In 1981, when religion resurfaced, the old nuns returned and began to rebuild and reestablish Gebchak Gonpa and its tradition – and today there are 340 nuns.

 

Entry to the 16 retreat divisions at Gebchak.

 

Today the Nunnery’s practice system and traditions are exactly the same as they were originally; they haven’t degenerated or been changed at all. There are two three-year retreat centres, followed by entry into one of 16 retreat divisions. At Gebchak Gonpa they do intensive meditation and yoga practice. They spend their entire time practicing; they don’t engage in critical study, comparing texts, or various activities.

In Tibet Gebchak is still regarded as a unique, outstanding nunnery. How will it be in the future? I don’t know. Times are really changing and it’s something that concerns and worries me. For now, though, it is still very good.

As well, in the area surrounding the Nunnery the nuns are a great help to many people. How so? When you dedicate yourself to deep Dharma practice you can truly realize the Buddha Nature, and through that comes extraordinary compassion, love, and an open mind. With these qualities the nuns have a strong motivation to benefit others. They’re able to give counsel and insight and genuinely help a lot of people.

I believe that even globally there is great benefit from doing such genuine meditation and dedicated retreat.

Because these days in society there’s so much progress in technology and resources, and with that come a lot of distractions. People can never find enough time to stop and do meditation practice and retreat. People need to work full-time, in order to make a living, and they have very little free time. At Gebchak Gonpa there are no phones, no TVs, no computers, etc. The nuns stay their whole lives in meditation practice and they realize extraordinary qualities of the mind, just like Milarepa – the great Tibetan yogi. So it’s very important.

These days in the world there are many forms of spirituality and many people who teach about them, but a lot of it is mere talk. People who actually practice and realize the essence of being, the Buddha Nature, are very rare. Because nobody has time, right?

At Gebchak Gonpa … they can realize the originally pure Buddha Nature of mind. With this realization comes a joy and strength of mind, which in turn inspires others to do the same.

They realize clearly how everybody wants to be happy, nobody wants to suffer; they have a profound motivation in their mind-stream to help others and the prayer for all beings in the world to have peace and well-being. The nuns make sincere prayers for world peace.

 

Nuns in retreat.

 

I believe their prayers are truly effective, because of the mind they pray with… At Gebchak Gonpa last year a few nuns passed away. As they were dying they were thinking, “My whole life I’ve meditated and practiced Dharma. I know the nature of my mind. I’m not afraid of dying.” They have confidence and even joy when they die!

Likewise some doctors came and told these nuns they would die in two or three days, but they had the mental strength to stay vibrant and alive longer. Like this, extraordinary qualities develop if you’re really able to do genuine practice.

If you respect Gebchak Gonpa as a unique place where the nuns have such rare conditions for practice, please pray that it may be preserved in the future as well.

I have the hope that Gebchak Gonpa’s traditions can continue to be upheld like they were in the beginning. Nowadays, though, material conditions are rapidly developing everywhere. There are more things to see, to compare, more things to want . . .But I have the aspiration and the resolve to preserve Gebchak’s traditions as much as I’m able to.

The main thing – whether within religious practice or not – is to have love and care and to try to help others. In helping others it’s necessary to have some kind of potential and confidence. That confidence comes from knowing the true nature of your own mind, the pure Buddha nature. We need to know that we have it! If we can realize this Buddha nature we will have uncommon courage and strength of mind to accomplish vast benefit for others. We can work and be of great benefit to others.

Moreover at Gebchak Gonpa the lineage of practice is a female lineage.

 

Nuns performing ritual prayers.

 

For example, the protectors include Ekadzati and Palden Lhamo [female protectresses]. The personal ‘yidam’ deities practiced are Arya Tara and Vajravarahi [female buddhas]. And when it comes to the yoga practices they are from an entirely female lineage practice, uniquely adapted for the female body. The nuns are still thoroughly upholding this lineage; it’s not been lost or mixed at all.

Before people thought that men had higher status than women, and that if males did Buddhist practice they would reach a higher level than females. There were no practice opportunities provided for females.

But now that’s not the case at all; there are unique practices for women. For example, the most essential practice teaching in Tibetan Buddhism is the Khandro Nyingtik, a female lineage that means “The Heart Essence of the Dakinis” – a teaching given directly from the dakinis [female embodiment of enlightened energy]. We should all know this – what are female lineages.

As it’s explained in the context of the earth in the following verse,

“The female is like the earth, like the elements;
Like the earth, it is the basis for all qualities.”

The verse likens the female body to the earth. Being like the earth, if we have a good relationship with the earth and a good relationship with the feminine, there will be peace and balance in the world. Diseases, famine, epidemics, fighting . . . there isn’t peace in the world now because the earth elements are disrupted and the earth goddesses displeased. They mainly come about due to this imbalance, don’t they?

 

View from Gebchak Gonpa.

 

In Tibet we believe in these female spirits – dakinis, earth goddesses and so forth. We believe that if we’ve disturbed or aggravated them, we must do confession and purification ceremonies to appease them. We perform confession and feast offerings, and when the dakinis are pleased the environment will be peaceful. Prayers that we make to the dakinis have a special power to come true. The dakinis have also made prophecies about these things in their symbolic language.

At Gebchak Gonpa the yoga practices are from a female lineage, which bring closer, more direct accomplishment for women. There are these unique qualities of the feminine and a female lineage of practice.

My prayer is to preserve and protect this female lineage of Gebchak Gonpa. My request to people throughout the world is to pray for the Gebchak lineage to be entirely preserved in the future.

Recorded on October 24, 2010 at Xining, Qinghai (gateway city to Nangchen, Tibet).

[Extracted from: http://gebchakgonpa.org/about/feminine-tradition/]

 


 

Nunnery of yoginis

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (1920-1996) was one of the outstanding Tibetan Buddhist teachers of his generation. Born into a family with some of the greatest masters and fascinating figures in Tibetan history, he was inspired to spend over 25 years meditating in various caves and holy places throughout Tibet.

Blazing Splendor is a book of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s memoirs. In this book there is a chapter entitled, “The Nunnery of Yoginis”. He tells “one story that people should definitely hear”. This story is his recollection of the Gebchak nuns and lamas when he visited Gebchak Gonpa as a boy. It provides a valuable record of Gebchak Gonpa from around the 1930s together with Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s extraordinary insights.

Excerpts from “The Nunnery of Yoginis”:

Tsang-Yang Gyamtso, the founder of Gebchak Gompa, had passed away long before my stay there as a child. Tsang-Yang Gyamtso had been born into an important local family and was rich, powerful, and quite arrogant. As a young man he had enjoyed hunting. In those days rifles could shoot only one bullet at a time. One day he saw a herd of deer in a valley. Taking aim, he hit a fawn. Its mother turned toward him and, letting out a pleading cry, continued to guard the rest of the herd.

As she stood there looking straight at him, Tsang-Yang began to have second thoughts, “Oh no! She knows I am going to kill her and yet she lingers there to save her fawn. I am a true murderer!”

As he reflected on this a deep sense of self-loathing welled up within him. He flung down his rifle and smashed it with a large stone. Next he threw away his knives and daggers; unleashing his horse and yak, he set them free. At a villager’s house along the way, Tsang-Yang told the owner where he had left his horse and that the man could have it.

Then he set off on foot with only one thought in mind, “I must meet Lama Tsoknyi!”

At this time the first Tsoknyi was the lama at Nangchen palace’s main temple. That morning Tsoknyi had told his attendant, “A man will probably come to meet me today, a stranger. Let me know the moment he arrives!”

At mealtime, Tsoknyi asked, “Has anyone come yet?”

The attendant replied, “No one special, just this frazzled, tired-out guy. I gave him some food and a place to rest. No one important has come, only him.”

“That’s the one!” exclaimed Tsoknyi.

“I told you to notify me right away. Bring him up here immediately.”

As soon as they met, Tsang-Yang Gyamtso said, “I have completely given up the aims of this life. Now my only goal is to practice the sacred Dharma from the core of my heart. Please accept me as your disciple.”

“Very well;” Tsoknyi replied. “If that’s what you really want, you must start from the beginning. I will teach you only if you follow my instructions while you stay in retreat.”

Tsang-Yang Gyamtso was then given a small hut on the hillside. It’s still there; I’ve seen it myself. After a while Tsoknyi told him to stay in that hut and not come back for three years. Tsang-Yang readily accepted. Noble beings make faster progress than others during a three-year retreat. The story goes that after those three years, he had attained a very high level of realization.

Tsoknyi himself was an incarnation of Ratna Lingpa, one of the major revealers of terma treasures. I was recognized as an incarnation of Chöwang Tulku, who was also one of the first Tsoknyi’s disciples.

Under Tsoknyi’s guidance, Tsang-Yang Gyamtso became an eminent practitioner. He was also very bold and intrepid. For example, once he traveled to the lower part of Kham to visit both Khyentse and Kongtrul. Upon meeting Kongtrul, he insisted on being given a complete set of the wonderful new collection of sacred scriptures that he heard Kongtrul was about to publish. Because of his audacious tenacity, Tsang-Yang was the first lama to receive a printed version of the Treasury of Precious Termas from Old Kongtrul himself.

Tsang-Yang Gyamtso became an outstanding master, and had between five and six hundred disciples who showed signs of accomplishment. These disciples themselves had innumerable disciples who were able to benefit beings in countless ways – I personally met many of them.

~~~

One day, Tsoknyi told Tsang-Yang, “Your forte in benefiting beings lies in building nunneries. Female practitioners are often not valued, and so they have a harder time finding proper guidance and instruction. Therefore, rather than keeping a congregation of monks, you should take care of nuns. That is your mission.”

Tsang-Yang followed Tsoknyi’s command and built two major nunneries, one of which had thirteen retreat centers. His benefit for beings became broader than his master’s. Most of the nuns practiced the revealed treasures of Ratna Lingpa, which include Hayagriva as well as the peaceful and wrathful deities. Each retreat center focused on a different cycle of these treasures.

 

Gebchak’s main abbey had thirty-six connected nunneries. Some of these had as many as four or five hundred nuns each, while even the smallest had about seventy. On the other side of the valley was a gompa for male tokden meditators, literally, “realized ones,” with their hair tied up on the top of their heads—many of whom actually were quite realized. But I noticed some of them covered up their lack of realization by putting on pretentious airs.

Looking down through the valley, you could see at least twenty large stupas. This entire valley was unique, but you only realized how unique when a great master was passing through. Then, as far as the eye could see, the landscape became a sea of red robes. Another time it became visible was once a year when the nuns would put up prayer flags by the thousands. When they were done and the wind blew, the entire mountain seemed to come alive.

 

The head lama had made a rule that there should be no loud talking outside. The nuns could talk to one another in a low voice. But if they wanted to call someone, they couldn’t yell. They had to clap their hands and beckon the person with a wave. Even with so many nuns living on that mountainside, I always felt it was totally quiet.

Each nun would sit in a little box about one square meter—only slightly larger than her. The boxes lined the walls, with a space in the middle, so that about sixteen nuns could reside in an average room. The program was to practice throughout day and night. Upon entering a practice center, a nun would take her seat in a box containing a stuffed mat. After that there was no more lying down—not even to sleep!

I visited these rooms, which were on average the size of my small living quarters here at Nagi. Each room would have an altar with the representations of body, speech, and mind. One or two of the senior nuns would keep the schedule. In the early hours before dawn, a gong would be rung. In the center of the room was a small hearth for keeping the teapot warm and, sometimes, the soup. There was no fixed duration for this kind of retreat, but many nuns would stay for life.

The nuns’ simple way of practice deeply impressed me. I felt it would be a meaningful way to spend one’s life.

~~~

When I was a bit older, I returned with my father to Gebchak when he was invited to teach a group of two hundred nuns who were quite adept at yoga. Whenever he taught there, in the evenings his room was always packed with fifty or more nuns asking additional questions.

Many of these nuns displayed signs of accomplishment, such as the inner heat of tummo. Once a year, on the night of the full moon of the twelfth month of the Tibetan calendar, there was a special occasion to show their mastery in the tummo practice of inner heat called “the wet sheet”. In the eight directions around the practice center nuns lit fires to melt snow where the sheets would be soaked. At this time of the year it was so cold the wet sheets would instantly freeze upon being pulled from the cauldron. Despite the bitter cold, many local people would come to witness the ceremony, often bringing their children along as well.

The nuns were naked underneath the large sheets, except for short pants. I forgot if they were wearing boots or not; they may have been barefoot. Those without any tummo experience found the cold almost unbearable; they would get stiff legs and frozen toes as the night wore on. For ordinary people it was virtually impossible to even take a few steps wearing only shorts, let alone a wet sheet.

The nuns began at midnight by singing the beautiful melody of supplication while walking one full circumambulation of the monastery complex covering the hillside, which was quite a long distance. The nuns wearing the sheets would walk slowly during the song. They were singing and asking for the blessings of Tsoknyi, Tsang-Yang and the other masters of the lineage, as they continued to circumambulate until dawn. They begin at midnight, at first the sheets are not soaked; the nuns merely walk while practicing tummo.

Halfway through the night, their sheets are lightly moistened from the water in the cauldrons and you begin to see a wisp of vapor from the heat of their tummo. Then the time would come to completely soak their sheets, immersing them longer in the cauldrons. Sometimes the vapor from the line of nuns would be like a bank of mist drifting down the mountain. You could see beads of sweat on their bodies while the rest of us were standing there shivering. I saw this with my own eyes several times. There were about eight hundred nuns participating. Of these, around two hundred had some degree of mastery in tummo; only these nuns would soak their sheets in the water cauldron.

It is incredibly inspiring and moving to watch such a procession and I haven’t heard of this happening on such a scale anywhere else in Tibet or Kham. Those nuns were quite impressive. Upon passing away, a great many of them remained in samadhi and some even left relics in their ashes.

I feel that this is one story that people should definitely hear.

Acknowledgment:

Reproduced for this website with kind permission from Rangjung Yeshe Publications. For English and Chinese versions of the entire book, please see www.rangjung.com

Schmidt, Erik Pema Kunzang and Marcia Binder Schmidt, 2005. “Chapter 16: The Nunnery of Yoginis” In Blazing Splendor: The Memoirs of the Dzogchen Yogi Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. Compiled, translated and edited by Erik Pema Kunzang and Marcia Binder Schmidt, with Michael Tweed. Excerpts from pages, 157–62. Rangjung Yeshe Publications.

[Extracted from: http://gebchakgonpa.org/gebchak-nuns/nunnery-of-yoginis/]

 


 

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s letter

Wangdrak Rinpoche with Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo in Tibet. Photo: Karen Harris.

 

In 2007 at the invitation of Khenpo Wangdrak Rinpoche, I visited Gebchak Gonpa, a Nunnery situated in a remote region of Nangchen, East Tibet, and renowned for its yogini nuns.

These women have devoted their entire lives to practicing the Dharma, and in particular the yogic disciplines of tummo (psychic heat) and deity practices. The 400 nuns sit in small meditation boxes lining the walls of their dormitories and they do not lie down to sleep. Their dedication to meditation practice is a deep inspiration because they are both highly accomplished and at the same time friendly, unassuming and happy.

 

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo with a Gebchak nun. Photo: Karen Harris.

 

It is rare in this world to come across such committed women whose renunciation is heartfelt and at the centre of their lives. They are very fortunate that their Lamas are devoted to instructing and supporting these nuns in every way.  The Lamas appreciate that these women are upholding their tradition in an exemplary way which is an encouragement for us all. It is of vital importance – especially in this day and age – to have realised women who can hand on their direct experience into the future.

It is easy to read about the Dharma and attend some courses and retreats embedded in the midst of our daily round, but to dedicate one’s whole life to disciplined practice is not common.  Therefore these courageous nuns deserve our respect and support for enabling them to continue their profound path of practice.

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery, India
April 15, 2011

[Extracted from: http://gebchakgonpa.org/gebchak-nuns/tenzin-palmo-letter/]

 


 

More Images

 

Tantric retreats.

 

2 beautiful nuns enjoying the sunshin.

 

Reciting Tibetan scriptures.

 

Gebchak Gonpa, 14,000 ft above sea level.

 

[Extracted from: http://gebchakgonpa.org/]

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78 Responses to Sacred & attained Nuns of Gebchak Nunnery

  1. Ivy on Jun 28, 2012 at 7:49 am

    This is so inspiring Rinpoche. I rejoice to see women so seriously devoted to practice. Thank you so much for posting this :)

  2. Ethan Hoo on Jun 28, 2012 at 9:38 am

    This is so inspiring. I’m so humbled by their complete guru devotion and sheer focus of their practice. May their devotion inspire us all to do the same.

  3. Lai on Jun 28, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Thanks Rinpoche for sharing this inspiring interviews, there is no difference whatsoever between male and female. Buddha Nature is equally present in everyone.

  4. ugyen wangmo on Jun 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Dear Rinpoche,
    This is very inspiring and as i my is doing Nyendro its sometimes difficult to deal with my thoughts and by going through the story of these amazing nuns it really helped me……
    so thank u beyond the earth and sky…..

  5. Paul Yap on Jun 28, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    I respect these nuns a lot, under such harsh conditions, many of them remain calm and continue practice dharma in their mind, this shows their devotion and true quality of a renounced person. Most of us grow up in a comfortable environment and almost everything is provided for, However we did not make use of the good conditions to benefit other, instead it becomes a trap for everyone chasing the material dreams, resulted in deeper sufferings and lost of hopes.

    I really like what Lama Sherab Zangmo’s repeated teaching: “Knowing one thing, everything is liberated” – by knowing the mind through practice, everything is liberated.

    I wish all of us can have the merits to realize that in this life time

  6. Sheryl - KH (JB) on Jun 28, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Thank you Rinpoche for bringing information on Gebchak Nunnery to us. There is a massive amount of knowledge and inspirations contained within this article:

    By reading through this article, I learn:

    - The dedication, trust and devotion that these nuns have towards Three Jewels. Perhaps we can easily say due to the lack of other options, it is easier for women within Tibet than those in more developed countries to choose to take up Dharma path. Yet, I believe that there exist many other possibilities within Tibet that it perhaps is equally easy/possible for them to choose other paths. Yet, these women choose to enter into strict retreats (so strict that only unordinary human beings will opt to go through them) and dedicate their whole lives starting from their tender age towards enlightenment for the benefits of others. I guess I have to attribute this to strong imprints within their minds from their previous lives for them to choose to do this.
    - Total faith, belief, certainty and reliance towards own’s lama/Guru.
    - Physical conditions at Gebchak Nunnery are difficult. We can help to maintain this sacred and profound lineage through financial aids, which can help improving their health and living conditions so that they can fully dedicate their energy and time onto the path of enlightment. The benefactors and meditators share the mutual karma to reach buddhahood at the same time.
    - One can stay happy despite difficult physical conditions. It is about the mind, and the beliefs that one has towards his/her life aims.
    - Men and women have equal right to enlightenment. And because of Tsang-Yang Gyamtso, many women benefits in their spiritual journey.
    - With sincere minds, prayers can be effective.

  7. Pastor Ngeow on Jun 28, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    How inspiring! The answers and advice each of the nuns shared are blessings for our mind as they arise from realization and years of sacred selfless practice.One heartfelt common trait amongst them is their devotion to their gurus as whatever they say , the guru’s name is always mentioned.
    May the nunnery grow and fulfill all its objectives. There should be no more doubts that enlightenment is not gender biased.

  8. Joy on Jun 28, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Thank you so much Rinpoche for this wonderful inspirational post! It shows… yes women can do it… no excuse and Buddha says we can gain Enlightenment! We hardly see or come across such great Yoginis and nuns around here or anywhere easily… it is rare and often forgotten.

    I love the story on Sherab Zangmo… it was so simple… she just focused on her guru… like the post says – “extraordinary because for the spontaneous enlightenment she gained through devotion to her guru, Tsang-yang Gyamtso[1]; the profound simplicity of her teachings; and her flexibility in the face of challenging conditions.

    I also love Tenzin Palmo, she reminds me that there is really nothing impossible. I remembered many years back reading about Tenzin Palmo from a book called Cave In the Snow. It was such a moving bio of her written by Vicky McKenzie… every should read that book. It is amazing what she went through in a great retreat in the Himalayas in the snow! The challenges and difficulties she faced but the results, an awakening… Amazing devotion, focus strength, faith, and will power! I hope…… one day, me too <3

    • Li Kheng on Jun 30, 2012 at 11:10 pm

      I agree with you Joy, these amazing individuals are powerful examples for all of us.

      What struck me very much about Sherab Zangmo is the simplicity of her practice. In 2 sentences:

      1) “Keep one’s independence through one’s own practice of maintaining the natural state of the mind,
      Protect the wishes of others through the practice of love and compassion”

      and

      2) Knowing one thing, everything is liberated”

      she encompasses all that requires to be practiced.

      This prompts me to simplify my mind and let go of my perception that “many” things is required for any matter to carry weight.

  9. Paris on Jun 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Thank you Rinpoche. It excites me to the core and there’s a tremendous joy reading about these nuns and even just seeing the pictures. It’s true what Tenzin Palmo says, that “It is easy to read about the Dharma and attend some courses and retreats embedded in the midst of our daily round” but really quite another thing to engage in a whole lifetime of practice, maintaining that level of consistency and devotion until you die. It’s true that so few of us can do that.

    But seeing the example of these nuns prove that it is not impossible. It’s not that so few of us can do it, but that we choose not to. I’d like to hope, in a big way, that I can be there someday within this lifetime, to be practising in the same way – whatever that way may be determined by my own teacher.

    It’s quite incredible to see the old anis – to think of how many decades and how many millions of hours they have dedicated to practice. And then, it is also incredible to see the young anis – only in their 20s and 30s who have such a strong sense of renunciation and such a stalwart devotion to the path. It’s most incredible above all to think of this community of yoginis living together – the older anis passing down generations of practice to these new younger anis. It’s extremely heartening too, to see the strength of the female sangha alive in Tibet. I have heard some nuns talk about the difficulty of establishing an equal space within the monastic world for female practitioners – not because of any overt sexism, but because of the way that society has shaped itself around the male / female monastic communities. It is really good to know that the practices remain very much alive, powerful and steady in this community. Most of all, they show us how resilient they are – that even if they didn’t have much support, they would still be practising as best as they could anyway.

  10. Shin Tan on Jun 28, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    I felt tremendous joy after reading the accounts of Ani Lama and the many devoted nuns who spent their whole lives in retreat, and maintaining their practice despite the cultural revolution.

    When I read the descriptions by Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, it was as if I can ‘see’ the holy nuns doing practice in their community. What a great way to spend one’s life totally devoted to practice, and to have the great fortune to have entered nunnery and life long meditation from a young age.

    This is another great testimonial of practice, that even in this day and age, such great lineage that is made to suit women is still alive and being upheld by nuns who has strong renunciation, guru devotion, and dedication to meditation and nothing else. And I love the fact that they are non-sectarian and devoted to true practice.

    I pray that may this holy lineage continue to benefit many and may all of us develop great virtuous mind and devotion to Dharma practice like these holy nuns, so that we too may spend our lives in Dharma practice and gain attainments.

  11. Grace( KSJC ) on Jun 28, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Thank you Rinpoche for the sharing to let us know that there is group of great nun how to practice for enlightenment path. regardless how difficult the life and outside condition, they have overcome it with calm mind and endure the suffering without complaining.i can felt that their happiness is truly and without any agenda. Their confidence and devotion towards guru samaya is my learning modal.

  12. June Tang (KH-JB) on Jun 28, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing the post of Gebchak Nunnery.
    This is so inspiring,reminds us that nothing is impossible,men and woman have same equal right to enlightment.I respect them a lot,they overcome all the challenges and difficulties to spent their whole lives in retreat,meditate and pratice dharma.May we have the same merit to do so.May Gebchak Nunnery grow and get the support what they need!!

  13. Choi Kim Yok on Jun 28, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    I was very impressed and inspired by these Gebchak nuns who continue to uphold their lineage in spite of the difficulties they face. I read about this nunnery in a book entitled “Tibetan Buddhist Nuns” by Hanna Havnevik. The nuns here did intense retreats and their practices included fasting, prostrations, chulen, tummo and those who were highly advanced spiritually could walk through walls and locked doors. From the interviews in the article, it can be seen that the nuns take their practice seriously and many have realisations during their retreats. I hope the nunnery will receive support from sponsors so that these yoga and meditation trainings will be preserved and more women can be trained. Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo is well-known for her efforts to help women practitioners.

  14. Milly on Jun 28, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    These holy nuns all have strong guru devotion and the wish to be out of samsara and the compassion to benefit other beings. I bow down to them and am awed by their strong commitment in their spiritual practice. Lets pray that Gebchak Gonpa will thrive in generations to come.

  15. Sofi on Jun 29, 2012 at 3:20 am

    Wow, really a mind opener. What struck me the most is “the lama’s mind is inseparable from our own”, by Ani Lama Yeshe Zangmo. From this, I understand the strength of her guru devotion and her reliance on guru devotion to bring her realisations, even without having met with her guru. Her faith and trust is so complete.
    “Keep one’s independence through one’s own practice of maintaining the natural state of the mind, Protect the wishes of others through the practice of love and compassion”, makes me realise that my independence is really thru the state of my mind…to understand and be untouch by the circumstances. Thru this understanding, we are able to show our love and compassion by offering victory to those who needs it.
    All the testimonials showed very strong practises according to the Lamrim.
    This post really shows that attainments can be achieved and in this very life, if we are willing and surrender to our guru fully.

    • Sofi on Jun 29, 2012 at 3:23 am

      P.S. We really need to manifest KFR to benefit all!

  16. Wan Wai Meng on Jun 29, 2012 at 4:12 am

    The story of the Gebchak nuns shows very much that no matter one is in a male or female body Buddhahood is possible for all. Their efforts in doing retreats and discipline is truly an example for all of us. How much efforts they put into what they are doing is how much they realize how important it is for them to strive for enlightenment.

    All the nuns show the real meaning of renunciation, the true meaning of it by their actions, a powerful pocket of spirituality amidst the forces of samsara.

  17. Irene Lim on Jun 29, 2012 at 10:22 am

    This is my first time ever reading such renown nunnery producing so many accomplished practitioners and yoginis. It is certainly most inspiring and reminds me for sure if one is zealous, regardless of male or female, like the nuns of Gebchak Nunnery one can achieve and become accomplished in the practice. I believe these nuns are so meritorious to be born in the right place, time and conducive conditions for practice without much distraction of the modern age and samsaric desires and attachments.

    If they were to be viewed by our modern sophiscated perspectives and standards these nuns would be thought as primitive, uneducated and superstitious. It will be wonderful to share this story to the whole wide world that there is such thing as yoginis, attainments and enlightenment and that this is for real, is possible and can be developed.

    Apart from the story we read of Gebchak Nunnery, Tsem Rinpoche has similar plan to showcase Kechara Forest Retreat and Kechara World Peace Centre to manisfest with many accomplished yogi and yoginis. This will lead to refresh, remind, re-invigorate, preserve and keep in touch with our modern society that this ancient unbroken wisdom and practice transmitted from Tibet still exist in this world is indeed unfictitious but potently efficasious!

    We pray that all obstacles of Kechara be dispelled quickly and this plan will swiftly arise to benefit many.

    Much love

  18. Doreen Teoh on Jun 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Dear Rinpoche, I would want to be a nun at this life and now, but to be honest I am not able to do so at this moment. This what I need to accept, but I am practising and creating a cause this life to have a strong imprints and knowledge which I am able to carry in mind when i die. I do not need to have a given instruction then I start be nun, but if I know it benefits me, like dharma is an antidote for me, I shall practise it with full faith and devotion to my Guru, and Lama.

  19. DR on Jun 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    These nuns are the Unsung Heroes during these degenerate times. I am so happy that their stories are being shared on this blog. Their guru devotion and tenacity is awe inspiring.

    On several juncture when I was reading their stories, i did contemplate that whether being born in my situation is actually bad karma. They were born in a country where pursuit of spirituality is in the mass consciousness of Tibetans. Hence the whole system supports renouncing family life in pursuit of spirituality.

    Then i remembered Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, who was raised in London and whilst in her teens she became a Buddhist. In 1964, at the age of 20, she decided to go to India to pursue her spiritual path.
    (her full story can be found in her biography Cave in the Snow, written by Vicki Mackenzie, published by Bloomsbury.). So the answer is not where one is born, but how serious we want to take our spiritual path.

  20. MayOng on Jun 29, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    May the nuns at Gebchak Nunnery continue their unbroken meditation practice to continue their lineage and be an inspiration to others. These nuns guru devotion to one’s lama are undisputed because it will lead them to liberation from samsara. To commit into the 3 years and 3 months retreat keep their mind in in-distracted state of devotion, faith, and pure perception.

    The mind is the key to liberation, from the quote “Knowing one thing, everything is liberated”. By knowing the mind through practice, everything is liberated. We have much, much to learn from them.

  21. Uncle Eddie on Jun 29, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Though situated in a remote mountainous highlands of Nangchen in eastern Tibet of the southern province of China, “Gebchak Nunnery”, is known as the mother of all nunneries. It looks a very beautiful, serene, extraordinary and wonderous place of great blessings, as declared by the Lamas in the interview. It is said to contain a community of yogini-nuns exemplifying “kindness, peace and joyful adherence to spiritual practice for the benefit of the entire world”. It is also very gratifying to know that the nuns are famous for accomplishments in profound yogas and meditation through very hard efforts and inseperable Guru-devotion. May it continue to receive great blessings for its lineage to be preserved entirely for its futures to come. Thank you Rinpoche, for this invaluable sharing of your teaching.

  22. Veron Tung on Jun 29, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    This is really really truly inspiring Rinpoche. I’m rejoice and respect their devotion and sheer focus of their practice.
    Even under such a harsh conditions they can just remain calm and tried a lot of ways to continue practice dharma in their mind, such as Sherab Zangmo.
    I have bookmarked this page and will keep reading it again and again. I would not say i have truly fully understand all the words of all they have said, but i will read and understand more everytime because this really benefits me in my dharma path.

    With hand fold, thanks Rinpoche for sharing this, and may Gebchak Nunnery grow to get all the supports they needed.

  23. joey wong on Jun 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    It is very touching to read about the Guru devotion and the determination and the level of Dharma practice that these nuns have. My spine tingles with happiness and excitement because it shows that there are results from Dharma practice that are tangible and that can bring us to enlightenment. If this is not proof that retreats and Dharma practice does have results, what is?

    There is no words to describe how much happiness and awe I feel when i read about the nuns. As much as sometimes I feel that it is very hard or impossible to gain attainments fron this day and age, there is this group of nuns who do. You can see fron their faces that they are very happy and at peace with themselves, a face that is rare for people of our time.

    This does increase my faith in the Buddha’s teaching, once again! May the nuns be able to benefit infinite beings one day!

  24. sockwan on Jun 29, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Amazing women, how they devoted they are to their Guru and Dharma. They all said the same thing about engaging in spiritual practice:
    1) with love and compassion, we can bring peace
    2) it is our mind that determines if we are happy, not the material stuff
    3) with strong guru devotion, we will be able to gain attainment

    I found this youtube video called ‘Blessings’, I think it is the same monastery. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqimgbbjrg4

    • su an on Jul 3, 2012 at 12:54 am

      Thank you Tsem Rinpoche. These nuns are absolutely incredible! Their accounts of the senior nuns’ accomplishments are mind boggling. Their responses to the questions are exactly what the Lamrim tells us, they are living and breathing the Lamrim! It is so saddening to know that the first nunnery was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, but also uplifting that despite all the hardship the nuns found their way back to each other and re-established the lineage and practice. They truly took on the responsibility of attaining enlightenment and because of that they were happy to go through whatever hardships there were to rebuild the present nunnery.

      I particularly found Kunzang Pantso’s responses more straightforward to absorb… e.g.

      “If your mind is attached to samsara, then that is where you will stay. If you’re not attached to samsara, then you can get free and go to the true happiness of buddhahood.”
      - We don’t feel that our samsaric lives actually gives us more pain than happiness, hence we don’t want to renounce it. It is like staying in a relationship that just cannot work, but we can’t bring ourselves to break it off even though we know it is unhealthy, because we think that there’s still a chance the other party can make us happy.

      “If you don’t have these thoughts then your attitude in your practice is no good. We need to practice with an understanding of impermanence, how rare human life is, and so forth.”
      - We are still not practicing properly because we still believe we are going to live forever, we will definitely be reborn as a human at any rate, we can’t imagine falling into the lower realms. Because of this we procrastinate in our practice. The nuns realize this and hence their practice is so joyful despite the harsh conditions, cramped space, lack of facilities and limited access to health support. They turned their environment into the most favorable condition to practice with their minds.

      “If you have the faith that you can achieve buddhahood, then you can achieve it.”
      - These beautiful nuns are showing us that Buddhahood, achieving high attainments is real and possible in this human form, in this life. We CAN do it if we believe… but do we really believe? I suppose our minds are still wishy washy about this.. we believe enough to start creating some minimal causes now but not enough to make the leap into true renunciation.

      Thanks Sock Wan for finding this video, it does look like it is the same nunnery! I would love to visit if there’s a chance. Meanwhile will support them by making donations via http://gebchakgonpa.org/donate/

  25. lewkwanleng on Jun 29, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Reading this article and with a bit of contemplation,

    1) I always thought that I am very lucky to be born in a place where life is easy, air-condition is easy, lots of facilities and internet available for me. However, from a spiritual point of view, these are the main distractions to my practice.

    2) I can’t sit down and meditate for 20 minutes, and when I heard 3 years and 3 months, it kinda freaks me out. I asked myself, how can I do 3 years, and more of meditation? My mind is like monkey jumping from 1 topic to another.. However, having the fortunate to work with Tsem Rinpoche, and under His guidance, I can slightly control my mind. Those day I will never sit down and chant, but now I am doing my daily Sadhana with a bit of meditation. In due time, I hope I can start doing a whole day retreat and then 3 years retreat.

    3) Faith and Guru devotion is important. I need to rely on someone who has experienced the joy of liberation to guide me on what is the correct things to do.

    4) Female or male, there is no difference in terms of getting to Buddhahood.

    5) I live in a country where things are so easy, and yet i still complaint about the minute things. As in the interview with Yeshe Zangmo, when she is asked about the poor condition she lived in and the cold whether etc, she said she is happy because “my mind is happy”. To me, that is the most important message about this article.

    6) I rejoice for these nun because they are holding up and preserving the thousand years old lineage. If not because of their willing to go into retreats for the rest of their lives, we will not see these practices today.

    7) It amazes me to see that many of the nuns wanted to become nuns when they are in their teenage years. During my teenage years, I was only thinking about money and fun. Why is there such a big difference in thoughts? Is it because of society? It gives me strong motivation to instill Dharma to my kids, so that when they grow up, even in their teenage years, to cut down their attachments to samsaric pleasure and to teach them about serving others, have the courage to let go, etc. And I can only achieve this if I myself show a good example to them.

  26. justin cheah on Jun 29, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    I have a lot of respect for these holy nuns, they remain very calm and happy although they have so little to live on. The terrains, weather, living conditions and facilities are not welcoming to them for retreat but they did not uttered a single word about being uncomfortable and just focused on their retreat.

    It made me think that is it because they were living in these condition that made them so humble and focused on their spiritual goals. I was particularly inspired by what Takme Wangmo have said in the interview statement. She was asked if she was angry over the Culture Revolution that occurred and made her relatives either killed or died of starvation. She replied with just a simple and yet profound answer, she understood all these arised from samsara and she won’t be angry about it.

  27. Leann Lim on Jun 29, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    谢谢仁波切分享这精彩的真实故事。让我们知道在这世上还有很多人把她们的一生奉献在学习佛法,实践佛法上。这让我想起密勒日巴-西藏最闻名的大瑜伽士,他忍辱的精神和艰苦的修行,让这尊者即生成就,实为‘实践佛法’的经典。 在看密勒日巴的故事,常有种错觉这是神话故事,但看了这文章后,突然觉得‘神话故事’是存在的。所以她们说得对,没有男女之别,只有佛法的知识,佛法的实践才是最重要的。从这些文章中,发现像我们平凡的人,其实实践佛法可以从信赖上师,相信三宝,跟从上师的指导,和平的相处,存有慈悲心,别伤害他人,及利益众生开始…虽然感觉这有些困难,但从这些让人敬佩的Anila的笑容中,感觉到佛法的真正美丽,开始觉得这都是有可能的,只在乎你想要达到的是什么…

  28. Han on Jun 29, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Very Inspiring post, feel very blessed by just reading the post and seeing all the nice pictures of the nuns.
    The nuns really have strong determination and faith with their lama in their spiritual journey. They are very serious, focus and very committed in their practices. Many of them spent their entire life in meditation practice and achieved liberation in mind, very powerful !

    The Great Yogini – Ani Lama Sherab Zangmo’s wisdom words that’s make me contemplate more,
    “Understanding that the lama’s mind and one’s own mind are inseparable. “

    They have very Guru devotion, I love what Urgyen Chodron said :
    “Have faith in the lama, have belief and certainty in the lama’s instructions, have the compassionate mind to benefit all other beings, and have renunciation of samsara. “

  29. Lim Han Nee on Jun 30, 2012 at 12:47 am

    These lovely nuns and yoginis of Gebchak Nunnery,who have devoted their whole lives (from a young age) to disciplined and intense practice, are truly awesome and inspiring in so many ways.

    For one thing, they go on very long meditation retreats.Also,imagine them doing their intense practice, seated in a little box about 1 square meter, only slightly larger than themselves. They would be seated on a stuff mat in the box throughout the day and night for as long as their practice and retreat programs are on!

    There is also the way they maintain silence. There is no loud talking outside and they talk to one another in low voices. They cannot shout to one another. Hence, as is reported, even though this mountainside has so many nuns, yet there always appears to be total quietness.

    There is such strong Guru devotion as exemplified in the doyen of them all, Ani Lama, and seen in her advice:” Pray strongly to one’s Lama, keeping one’s mind at all times in an undistracted state of devotion, faith and perception”.

    Despite a tough environment with poor facilities and the freezing cold, they have such happy minds. To them,it’s like being in the Pure Land of Guru Rinpoche.How beautiful!It’s all from their practice and meditation.

  30. terri on Jun 30, 2012 at 8:23 am

    this is so wonderful, it is hard for me to read it. i am digesting it kind of slowly. i wish someday a place like this would exist in the United States.

  31. Yoke Fui on Jun 30, 2012 at 9:16 am

    I’m surprised that this nunnery is so well run and flourishing. I remember Tenzin Palmo said in her book ” Cave in the Snow” that the Vajrayana tradition has double standard regarding monks and nuns. Many higher teachings and practices are not open to the nuns and nuns are expected to serve monks at monasteries. Due to this unfairness, Tenzin Palmo decided to establish a nunnery herself.

    This post gave me a better understanding of the situation.

    I rejoice the attainments of these pure practitioners and their action is a statement to all the female practitioners that Buddhahood is available to everyone as long as you are a sincere student with a pure motivation.

  32. Girlie OOI on Jun 30, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    I concur with Lew that our present comfortable life is a distraction. These beautiful nuns are living in a place that is so remote yet they are always happy not allowing such material discomforts sway them.

  33. henry ooi on Jun 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Someone who spent 70 years in unbroken meditation like Ani Lama Sherab Zangmo definitely had attainments yet remained humble. To me, attainments like flying, changing form into animals, seeing what others could not see, hearing what others could not hear, generating heat from the body in extreme cold conditions, are miraculous feats but to the attained masters, they are just side benefits of their real attainments. Even though some lived in poor conditions and had to endure physical difficulties, their minds remain happy. I wonder if I could. I like very much that Gebchak Gonpa is non sectarian hence nuns whose family of different sects are welcomed.

    These nuns are the real unsung heroes in the spread of dharma who dedicated their lives following instructions from their lamas.

    I cannot imagine living and committing a whole life to just doing practices and retreats. While those dedicated nuns carry on with their practices, I am carrying on with my samsara’s activities. It shows how weak my mind is.

  34. shelly tai on Jun 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Shelly on 30june at 6pm
    Dear Rinpoche
    Thank you for sharing such a inspiring post after reading it i do devoloped a sense of happiness and relief,because i know by having a strong guru devotion everything will be ok.Thank you once again Rinpoche for all your precious teaching u have give to us.

  35. Jace Chong on Jun 30, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    谢谢仁波切跟我们分享那么感人的真实故事,在我们现在这个五花八门的年代,这一群女尼还能那么坚持自己的信仰和传承,愿她们这一个传承能不间断地完整地流传下去。

    Inner heat of tummo实在令人大开眼界,相信她们的修行已经到了非常高的境界。

    以前我总是在想,到底做法会,打坐和观想等如何能够帮助这个世界?现在稍微明白一点就是,当我们用念力发愿的时候,真的有其功能。所以这些尊敬的女尼们的修持,他们的法会,他们的闭关等等,一定有非常强大的力量引导这个世界往好的方向走,能间接影响更多人修行佛法。

    就像其中一些女尼说的,我们所处于的娑婆世界实在没有任何的意义,唯有修行佛法才是投生为人最有意义的功能。

    希望Gebchak Nunnery日益壮大,愿她们身体健康长寿,早日修成正果!

  36. yenpin on Jun 30, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    谢谢仁波切分享这故事。让我们知道在这世上还有很多人把一生奉献在学习佛法,他忍辱的精神和艰苦的修行,这些修女是,这些变质时代的英雄。我很高兴,他们的大师的献身精神和坚持是令人振奋的
    这些修女们对三宝有奉献,信任和奉献精神。这些妇女选择进入严格的闭关(如此严格,只有不平凡的人才会有这样选择),奉献自己的一生。用真诚的心灵,祈祷可以是有效的。

  37. Wan on Jul 1, 2012 at 4:32 am

    Its an inspiring to read about what the nuns has been doing the whole life, apart from renunciation from family to become a nun. They are serious with their practices, put lot of effort, energy, time etc into the practice and it brought result.

    Their minds are so firm and their trust and devotion is beyond words and it lead to her realisation. Even thought it is in the degeneration time now, but it not the excuses for them to not practice and gain results. Its show that it doesn’t matter how the world will be, it depend on the mind to make it.

  38. Julia Tan on Jul 1, 2012 at 8:32 am

    Thank you Rinpoche for posting this very beneficial and inspiring article that can benefit so many. I love reading everything about them, at the same time I am touched by their sincerity to Dharma and their Guru. They live in such harsh condition and with little to live on but very devoted into their intense practice.

    I am very touched particularly what Yeshe Zangmo said. She said samsara has no happiness and only suffering, and so there is no joy. She also mentioned it is the same in everywhere as long as we are living in samsara. How true this is. The most important thing is the mind must be happy.

    Just like Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo mentioned it in her letter that it is easy to read the Dharma and attend some courses and retreats but for one to dedicate her life to disciplined practice is not common. The quality of these nuns are extraordinary. My respect and solute to them on how they have offered their lives for Dharma is more than words that can describe.

  39. Monteiro Neto on Jul 1, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Dear Rinpoche,

    I can truly say that this is THE most inspiring article that I have ever read in this life. The nuns at the Gebchack Gonpa are not only wonderful Dharma practitioners, but also, VERY strong women. I deeply admire them for their tenacity, faith in the Dharma, and utter conviction that heir liberation will be attained.

    One of the nuns states that just seeing images of hearing about the Gonpa brings happiness and joy. That is exactly what I felt. The images of the nuns, the Gonpa, and the Tibetan landscape made me want to be there, and it is now my wish to visit this holy place in tis lifetime. I will definitely work towards gaining merits for this trip to happen.

    It is so inspiring and empowering to read about haw the nuns are devoted to their practice, which makes ours shun in comparison to theirs. I no longer have any doubts that attainments and liberations can be accomplished in this lifetime. That is what this female Mahasiddhas just taught me – pure Dharma.

    I pledge to support the monastery until my last breath in this life. I do that not for me, but in recognition of the devoted and genuine practice of these amazing yoginis.

    Love,

    Neto

  40. Valentina Suhendra on Jul 1, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    This is a very inspiring story. While reading this, I admire these nuns so much.
    They have devoted their lives to practice Dharma. They have renounced the convenience
    Of modern lives. I think they are more free than I am in the truest sense.

  41. June Kang on Jul 1, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Is a very inspire article, few things attract me :

    1. Guru Devotion
    They had shown us for enlightenment guru devotion is important.
    Ani Lama Sherab Zangma –spontaneous enlightenment she gained thought
    devotion to her guru
    Urgyen Chodron mentioned have faith in the lama, have believe and certainty in the lama instruction.
    Other also mentioned about it but the above two is in my mind after finished reading.
    2. Intensive Practice
    Lesson I learned is enlightenment required intensive practice.. From their meditation experience they develop very strong, unshakable faith in practice. Through intensive retreat practice, their mind transformed.
    That is really amazing that their five negative emotions become transformed not by rejecting then but by realizing their wisdom nature.
    3. A Happy Mind
    Yeshe Zangmo mentioned she has a happy mind therefore she would not feel suffering event thought the physical conditions at Gebchak Nunnery are quite difficult and food is not very good, neither are the buildings.
    A happy mind can really overcome all the suffering we faced.

    I still has some point I cant digest- means don’t understand, but I am very happy Rinpoche share this article for us to learn. Thank you Rinpoche

  42. Cynthia Ng on Jul 1, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    感谢仁波切的分享,这群尼姑都在她们年纪轻轻就把她们的一生奉献于实践佛法,实在太鼓舞人心了。。这群尼姑是多么的圣神,她们完全奉献于佛法,也很有强烈的上师依止心。她们很清楚方向与目的是为了要达到证悟,也了解快乐是源自于思维转换而非世俗的追求。

    从她们面上看到的是无忧无虑的,我感到很随喜这群尼姑能在那样的环境下进行闭关,大家互相扶持,互相修行,从而达到修行的最高境界=证悟。

    这也劝勉我们只要我们严守戒律,一心一意的听从上师的指示,身为俗人的我们也可以向她们一样!我诚心祈愿Gebchak尼姑庵以及所有的尼姑能够继续把佛陀教诲以及难得的修行生生世世的传下出,利益众生已达证悟。

  43. Christine Wang on Jul 2, 2012 at 12:41 am

    It is a very powerful interview. These nuns have such a difficult living condition while they seemed very happy! Their lives are simple while their faith is strong. Their words are sincere and their mind is not waving…single concentration to practise dharma and do retreats.

    We are surrounded by samsara yet we surrender to all kinds of “nice” things that make us ” happy”. Our living condition is so different to the one in Gebchak Nunnery. And at beginning when I look at the pictures, the first thought came to my mind was ” how can they live there? I can’t!” But after reading their interviews, I realized their living condition is better for Dharma Practitioners. Less distraction from samsara.

    I enjoy the short simple quotes from Ani Lama Serab Zangmo. We often ask for more teachings when so many wise words were told already by Rinpoche yet we don’t practise but still keep asking for more teachings. From the time we wake up, all kinds of delusion start to come to our mind and yet do we really check on our mind often? We can’t transform if we just let the wrong views arise and even allow the wrong views to lead us to wrong speech and wrong deeds. Sadly, sometime we don’t even know if they are wrong views or not. We have to practise daily to deal with our mind and make peace with them. As Serab Zangmo said” See the very nature of the thoughts as they arise, pray to the lama, and rest in meditation. ”

    Christine

  44. NadiaG on Jul 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    When I think about such dedication, it just blows my mind. But if I take the time…and look deep within, it makes perfect sense. I can only imagine the happiness they feel although its clearly visible in their faces. They are so beautiful and not just on the inside. Perhaps one day I will visit with them and feel what they feel :)

  45. David Lai on Jul 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Wow! It’s just simply amazing that such powerful practitioners still exists in today’s world. These nuns are exceptional practitioners because they carry such a rare level of practice and I think it is good that someone is promoting them and making their story well known because it will inspire many practitioners.

    I really think many of these yoginis are living Bodhisattvas or at least at a high level of realization. I don’t really know how to gauge but its pretty obvious from the way they talk and how they explain the teachings. The serenity they found with their practice and their simple way of life is just incredible because that’s so rare these days.

    Also, these nuns are the living proof that the Tibetan meditational methods work and all the Tantric practices do have result if we are consistent and we put our effort towards developing the practice.

  46. lucy yap on Jul 2, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    The nuns story is a classic example of dedication and tenacity. Gebchak nuns is unique for it’s retreat system.Many do three year, nine year or even lifetime retreat.They are staying centered and engaged in their bodhisattva practice of inner transformation despite drastic changes in their surrounding Tibetan community.
    Their passion to preserve their unique spiritual tradition in a rapidly changing modern world remains unshaken and this is possible because they are sustained by the compassionate support from sponsors.The compaassion, dedication and wisdom of the nun radiates as a bacon of hope and a force of change to the rest of the world.
    Thank you Rinpoche,for sharing this inspiring post with us.

  47. Sean Wang on Jul 2, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Dear Rinpoche:

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful stories.

    This is really inspiring and humbling. I completely bow down to their accomplishments through actions of guru devotion which is an undeniable bond between guru and student. This proves that women are even more capable in achieving a state of enlightenment than most men. Actually, enlightenment is genderless, anyone can attain it. However, due to the evils of man, men decided to be the dominant gender. But know the tables are turned and women are much more successful than men in both secular and spiritual ways.

    Another thing I respect these nuns for is that they are able to endure such harsh conditions. Most laymen would turn away from spirituality if they notice even a possibility of leaving their comfort zone. That makes me lose my faith in humanity. However, after reading these touching stories, it feels as if my faith in humanity has been restored. Their ability to be able to continue their Dharma practice in these harsh conditions also shows that they have a really powerful mind. Minds like these are great minds. I aspire to be able to achieve such a beautiful state of mind. If more people were like these nuns, there would be less emotional suffering in this world.

    Also, faith plays a massive role in these nun’s lives. If they do not have faith in their practice, they would have most probably given up by now. But, they didn’t. We must all have faith like theirs. With faith comes devotion.

    Once again, thanks for sharing this.

  48. nicholas on Jul 2, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Wow! It’s so inspiring. Reading through the interview most of the common qualities that you can notice from the nun is their great guru devotion. Pray strongly to one’s lama, keeping one’s mind at all times in an undistracted state of devotion, faith, and pure perception.

    Being in the retreat is such a happy moment. The nuns enjoy the retreats and mind transformed during this retreat period. They are really real and pure practitioners that can really commit their whole life in doing retreat to gain realization and attainments. There is no gender boundaries but just devotion, realization and attainment.

    My deeply respect to the nuns and is a great reminder for me even facing such a tough condition but they still continued to their practices.

    One more thing that really struck me was the consistency of nun upheld the practice and the lineage of Tsang-Yang Gyamtso for the growth and future generation.

    “If you’re not attached to samsara, then you can get free and go to the true happiness of buddhahood.”

  49. Carmen on Jul 2, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    Reading this, what struck my mind was that the nuns are practising everything that the Lamrim states, with guru devotion at its forefront. A nun by the name of Kunzang Pantso said that her heart practices are:

    “Mainly the Four Reversals, the four thoughts that turn the mind from samsara: the rarity of a precious human rebirth, death and impermanence, the inevitable results of karma, and the faults of samsara….We need to practice with an understanding of impermanence, how rare human life is, and so forth.”

    I do remember reading all these in the Lamrim – The four noble truths to turn the mind away from samsara. From knowing the suffering that is caused in samsara, like these holy nuns they are determined to renounce from samsara because of its worthlessness.

    Then there’s the rarity of obtaining a precious human life, which is explained at the very beginning of the Lamrim that our human life is more precious than we could ever imagine because it is our chance to practise the Dharma and make sure that we take control of our own future lives. This is one’s shot at liberation for we don’t know where we will be going next, but what we know is that we can, through our actions in this life, do all that it takes to benefit our future.

    What struck me is that Rinpoche has taught all of us this before, and constantly reminds us to meditate on death, for it is the only certain thing in life. Everything that the nuns meditate on, has been told to us by Rinpoche in one way or another thus I find the quote from the same holy nun so apt:

    “Because I’ve got this precious human life. I’ve met with an authentic lama, and I’ve received practice instructions from him and from my other teachers. I really feel how precious this life of Dharma is.”

    These holy nuns are such an inspiration, and I do hope that Gebchak Nunnery is preserved for the benefit of all sentient beings for the many generations to come. I have not heard many stories, achievements and attainments about nuns, I mostly hear about monks so this is real inspiring and refreshing, that enlightenment is the same regardless of gender. There is no difference between monks or nuns.

    Also, being able to enter the nunnery at such an early age, be dedicated, devoted, hardworking, consistent and focused on their practise is really admirable and inspiring, when I myself find it so hard to even sit still and meditate for 10 minutes… My mind jumps from “what I have to do”, to “what am I going to eat”, to reacting to every single sound that I hear.. imagine the nuns meditating for the entire day, sleeping for 3 hours each day upright, and in a room with 18 other nuns. Wow. What good karma they have to be born in an environment which strongly encourages and is conducive to them to devote strongly to spiritual practise, and without being tainted by the delusions of samsara; achieving liberation and high attainments in this very lifetime alone.

    Their faces highlights a state of joy and serenity,…that they are extremely at peace and happy to do what they are doing and be where they are.

    Their message to bringing world peace is aligned to that of ours here in Kechara and our vision with Kechara World Peace Centre. How amazing that like Gebchak Nunnery, Kechara is also full of female energy, and that the core vision of highly realized Dharma practioners, like Rinpoche, is to bring peace to everyone through spirituality and eventually from that, world peace.

    Thank you Rinpoche for this splendid and inspiring article.

    Love,
    Carmen

  50. Sharon Saw on Jul 3, 2012 at 2:42 am

    Dear Rinpoche,

    Thank you for sharing this post. What struck me was the Guru devotion of the nuns; everything is surrounding their teacher.

    Sherab Zangmo said, “Do not try to stop conceptual thoughts, but let them arise. Know their nature by praying to the lama, understanding that the lama’s mind and one’s own mind are inseparable. Rest in the nature of the thoughts and in this way they are transformed.”

    The dedication of these women to true dharma practice is also astounding. From such young ages, they could renounce by realising that samsara was suffering and hence they found their peace of mind.

    My favourite quotes are from Kunzang Pantso, who said it was never really difficult. “As long as I remembered the Dharma and my future lives, I remained happy. Because I’ve got this precious human life. I’ve met with an authentic lama, and I’ve received practice instructions from him and from my other teachers. I really feel how precious this life of Dharma is.”

    Another nun, Yeshe Zangmo was asked why she was so happy despite the poor facilities and she replied so simply, “Because my mind is happy.”

    Even though we have so many modern conveniences so many of us are unhappy , which really shows that it is our mind that liberates or restricts us.

    Lastly, it is inspiring to read that these nuns achieved accomplishments as a result of their meditational practices. Some could even see deities. These are nuns who are still alive, or recently passed, not some ancient historical yogis or yoginis who could perform these magical feats. This means that if we are committed to our Lama and our Dharma path, accomplishments and attainments are definitely possible.

    • Su Ming on Jul 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm

      I read this article twice. I am so amazed that such place assisted. I have heard stories about nunnery else where in both Tibet and also India but it was never revealed to us how intense/powerful their practices were in this day and time. In my eyes, it is such good news to know that these nunnery still exist.

      I agree with you Sharon that the interviews with the nuns are inspiring. Most of them when they were young already knew they wanted to be out of samsara. Their imprints must be so strong from their previous life : to be born in that conducive condition whereby they can advance into the dharma so easily.

      Please watch this video of Wangdrak Rinpoche (Presentation about Gebchak Nunnery) who was in America to raise funds for the orphanage of Gebchak Nunnery and other facilities after the earthquake. (Video at the bottom of the article).

      http://acelebrationofwomen.org/?p=24565

      Thank You

  51. Datuk May on Jul 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    This is so inspiring, I wish I did not lead my life till now in such a hopeless manner. However, I am still fortunate to have found the Dharma.

    May I if I am fortunate enough to reincarnate and be a nun with all elements to practise the Dharma.

    What truly inspires me is that these nuns practised through faith and concentration on their Guru. And all their experiences are in today’s age. Therefore under any circumstances we can practise the Dharma to benefit others.

  52. william on Jul 3, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Beautiful to see that this ancient tradition still continues till today and there are so many devoted nuns still going on retreats and practicing. The crux of it is that Guru devotion is utmost important. They all visualise their guru/lama when they go on retreats to gain attainments and realisations. Some of the realisations are like having visions of Guru Rinpoche and other Buddhas, attaining rainbow bodies and the ability to cross rivers when there are no bridges.

    “Knowing one thing, everything is liberated” is very profound and simple. Liberation comes when we realise the one thing that is important to us and that is our mind. Having the mind of faith to achieve Buddhahood and keep on practicing will cause happiness in our lives.

    It is good to know that this practices are still alive and there are younger generations who are following the footsteps of the older generation. Thank you Rinpoche for sharing.

  53. Pastor Susan on Jul 3, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    The Gebchak nun stories are truly incredible. Not just one or two but so many of them are incredibly accomplished. We don’t need to look further how Buddhas are created…just read this story and if need be, go visit Gebchak Nunnery!

    I love looking at the pictures and seeing how happy they are makes me happy! I love the way they share their experiences, so sincere and full of joy and faith. I love reading about how disciplined they are, about the many miracles, about achieving the rainbow body, about their devotion to their teachers.

    Seeing how much they accomplished makes it all possible that anyone of us can also accomplish too when practiced sincerely with guru devotion.

    I thank Rinpoche very much for all the teachings and practices and the examples such as this story of Gebchak nuns to inspire us. Any accomplishment achieved will be the greatest offering to my lama for his care and love he has shown me..and i intend to offer the best to my lama. Wouldn’t you do the same too?

  54. Joe Ang on Jul 3, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Having read this article regarding Gebchak Nunnery and stories of Ani Lama Sherab Zangmo and a few other nuns (Takme Wangmo, Urgyen Chodron, Chemchok Palmo, Karchung the Visionary nun, Yeshe Zangmo and Kunzang Patso), it felt like I was brought on a journey to a mystical land so pure in its Buddhist teachings and practice. It is really inspiring how Ani Lama Sherab Zangmo and these nuns dedicate their lives to practice Dharma. Ani Lama Sherab Zangmo spent 70 years in unbroken practice of meditation since age 16, this requires massive discipline and integrity especially during the time of Cultural Revolution where spiritual leaders and practitioners was being hunted down and persecuted.

    The nuns of Gebchak nunnery who were interview all seem very contented and happy just being able to do their practice. It is all they want! Takme Wangmo who should be 76 year old this year, spoke about how the Gebchak nunnery was destroyed, friends, family members and relatives were abused and killed during the Cultural Revolution. A person must be extremely strong and devoted in her faith to be able to go through all that and went back to rebuild Gebchak Nunnery. If not for those few very devoted nuns, Gebchak Nunnery wouldn’t have existed till today.

    Urgyen Chodron spoke about her first practice which was 500,000 preliminaries (prostrations, refuge prayer, Vajrasattva, mandalas, and guru yoga). Wow! And that is just preliminaries! Though she spoke a little about the ill equipped facilities of the nunnery, but it seems she’s truly happy because she has achieved much realization during her retreat.

    “My mind transformed while I was in retreat. I didn’t want to come out when the retreat was finished. Although the practices were hard physically, in my mind I was very joyful. Before I did my three-year retreat I had a lot of wild emotions and distractions. But during the retreat these emotions were pacified and transformed into the five wisdoms.” – Urgyen Chodron

    All the nuns interviewed (Takme Wangmo, Urgyen Chodron, Chemchok Palmo, Karchung the Visionary nun, Yeshe Zangmo and Kunzang Patso ) have very strong Guru devotion and common realization, which is complete renunciation of samsara. By thinking about the endless cycle of suffering, they developed unshakable resolve to get out of samsara and a mind that won’t be discouraged towards that goal.

    I am amazed with the ability of Karchung the Visionary nun. She must be highly attained to be able to see and hear things that normal people can’t! Imagine seeing protectors, deities and other celestial beings and all the beautiful emanations. With the rigorous training and practices in Gebchak nunnery, I have no doubt that many nuns would have very high attainments and a certain level of clairvoyance. It is most fortunate for one to be born in a place where the Buddhist practice is so pure and without external distractions. The only thing is that the facilities at Gebchak nunnery need to be improved so the nuns will get proper food, clothing, shelter and most importantly medical treatment. It is sad to know that due to lack of medical facility many died of sickness which could have been treated.

    Joe

  55. Jeffrey Yee on Jul 3, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    It is true that nuns and female practitioners have not been given equal rights to study the Dharma. There is a set of rules that must be followed strictly by nuns e.g. to stay 6-hours journey away from monks, the most senior nuns must sit behind the junior monks in teachings etc. How compassionate are the great lamas like Tsangyang Gyamtso, Tsoknyi Rinpoche and Wangdrak Rinpoche to provide the facilities and resources that caters specially to the nuns of Gebchak Nunnery. The result: largest nunnery in Tibet with more than 350 nuns who have dedicated their lives in preserving a unique lineage.

  56. Elena on Jul 3, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    What an incredible account of incredible nuns. I think Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo said it the best: “It is rare in this world to come across such committed women whose renunciation is heartfelt and at the centre of their lives.”

    It’s 2012 and whilst the rest of us allow ourselves to be carried away by samsara (I say allow because it’s a choice), these nuns made a conscious decision to say no, enough is enough, and this life is not all there is.

    I admire them for their perserverance which to me is a reflection of their Dharma practice. People whose beliefs are even the tiniest bit lesser than these nuns will not be able to undertake the practices that these nuns have. Who in today’s world can do 3 years, 3 months and 3 days of retreat in a tiny space where you can’t even lie down to sleep? (haha even the way I write makes it sound like what they did was a sacrifice, but the nuns don’t view it that way!)

    Actually, these nuns show me that Rinpoche has been teaching real Dharma – perseverance, commitment and guru devotion are the keys to successful spiritual practice. And the nuns remind me so much of Tara actually…girls CAN do it. I hope one day Malaysia will see the same kind of practitioners achieving the same (or greater!) attainments.

  57. Alex C.J.Tan on Jul 3, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    “Knowing one thing, everything is liberated” – by knowing the mind through practice, everything is liberated. The nuns certainly understand the precious meaning behind this simple and yet powerful teaching.

    When we realize the importance of our goal and pursue it wholeheartedly, whatever difficulties we face can be overcome. In the case of Ani Lama Sherab Zangmo, she pretended to be handicapped for almost 30 years in order to continue with her practice during the Cultural Revolution.

    In these modern days, despite our technological advancement, our minds have remained relatively stagnant. It would be wonderful if more people are curious about mind development and transformation.

  58. Karen C. on Jul 3, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    My deep respect to these nuns. The complete guru devotion and dedication to Dharma are so strong that no matter how poor their living condition is, they accept it happily because all these outer obstacles are not an obstacle for them. They are not attracted to the samsaric temptation but stay focus in their retreat and practices, this shows how firm their minds are. The nuns’ renunciation from samsara is indeed inspiring and they lead by example, I truly respect them a lot.

  59. Pastor Yek Yee on Jul 4, 2012 at 12:41 am

    Through my heart, I really want to say thank you to those nuns because of them then Dharma can continue in this planet. The determination of their mind make the lineage not going to stop even though the Guru not here.

    No TV, no handphone, no computer, no laptop…what they have only Dharma. Their live is so simple compared with mine one. But their achievement in their live is far higher than me. Their live is to serve Dharma, no matter what happen. In this century people like me don’t know what meaning or purpose of life and spiritual, all I know is make myself live in good condition. This is more important than other stuffs. It is very sad but that is true.

    Yes, I inspiring by all the nuns. Thank you of their effort. However I found out they are no complain, absorb everything happen to them, always ready for Dharma. These is all qualities we need if we want others to respect us, work with us. It seems not easy to achieve but it still can be achievable. All depends on myself. The choice I need to choose…what choice I choose that is what result I get. I am contemplate more…while I read.

    Last, thank you for Rinpoche shared with me this post. It is an opportunity let’s me think more deeper!

  60. JP on Jul 4, 2012 at 2:58 am

    It is very inspiring to know that there are still people who dedicate their entire lives in meditation and gaining attainments as a result. The practice is very focused with one lama and one deity. It is “simple” and specifically catered to women practitioners.

    It’ll be great if there are more facilities similar to this nunnery for people to dedicate their entire lives to meditation retreats. When more people gain attainments, these attained people will be able to help others more effectively.

  61. winnie on Jul 4, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    看了这些故事和照片,想起仁波切教导我们的一番苦心。我尊敬这些女尼的修持精神和她们的一生奉献在学习佛法,实践佛法上更希望她们的将来可以运用在日常生活中和利益更多的人。最后愿她们这些女尼早日修成佛果!

  62. KH Ng on Jul 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Reading these stories and interviews really inspire me to do more for the Dharma. Our “sacrifices” are really insignificant to say the least. Their practices are pure and their discipline are not even a discipline to them. It is a way of life to them on the path of pure happiness. A few things that stick out in my mind is the verse, “From the very beginning the mind’s nature is empty,
    Practice naturally, free from fabrications.” and the fact that they do not lie down to sleep.

  63. Thierry on Jul 7, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    These nuns show:

    Incredible resilience
    Incredible determination
    Incredible faith in the 3 jewels
    Unshakable conviction in the 3rd Noble Truth
    Inspiring motion of the 4th Noble Truth

    This is not just about retreats, this is about renunciation, it is about a commitment that goes beyond a life-time, a commitment motivated by a great compassion towards all that suffer anywhere.

  64. sweekeong on Jul 9, 2012 at 3:27 am

    Wow. It is amazing there is a female lineage of Buddhist masters in modern times. Truly amazing and inspiring to me. What is awesome they have an official website and a blog to update everyone of us across the web. Wangdrak Rinpoche is the main support to the nuns in order for them to concentrate on their practices. :)

  65. Phillis Chin on Jul 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    This is very inspiring! I respect very much of all the Gebchak’s nun! VERY!! They devote their lives time to Dharma, no matter how bad is the situation they are facing/going through, before or after at Gebchak Gonpa. All these ladies are truly amazing, strong determination to Dharma and extreamly storng guru devotion!! While reading this story, I feel sad about the condition at Gebchak Gonpa and Tibet. As Ani Lama Sherab Zangmo mention, the nuns at Gebchak Gonpa have always been resolved to bear with and sometimes die from illnesses that could be easily treatable in the modern world. This has been the way of life and death for most Tibetan people in the past. I believe even now….
    I have never seen, heard nor know there’s similar monastery like those at Tibet. Similar as, the monk’s, nuns have such strong determination to Dharma! Especially the different retreat system in every of the monastery in Tibet. Although is very harsh in Tibet, but I rejoice for every of them sincerely.
    Thank You Rinpoche to share Gebchak’s nunnery info here, Thank You!!

  66. sarahyap on Jul 11, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    This is a wonderful article, it is so fortunate to read and have a little insight on how these great nuns in Gebchak Nunnery live their practice through meditation and retreats. Looking at how these great nuns put aside all worldly concerns just to practice the Dharma is so inspiring. They too have faced so many obstacles but they never let these difficulties affect their Dharma practice.

    I particularly like what Urgyen Chodron said “practice were hard physically, in my mind I was very joyful”. I too wish and aspire towards reaching such a peaceful state of mind through practising the Dharma tirelessly like how these Gebchak nuns have done for so many years.

  67. Ethan Chu on Jul 13, 2012 at 3:32 am

    Upon reading this post, it is inspiring to know that there are many out there who is preserving Buddhadharma. Based on the interviews, most of them entered the nunnery since a very young age and never looked back ever since. They have dedicated their entire lives meditate, we can say it is this and that practice but the ultimate practice is so that they can benefit others.

    It is inspiring to read through their thoughts and experiences. The answers that they gave proved such clarity and wisdom, it must have come from their practice. Particularly I like the fact that enlightenment is for everyone, not whether you are a nun or a monk or what race.

    Just like what Chemchok Palmo said below:

    “There is no male or female in enlightenment. Once you’re a Dharma practitioner it is joyful and there is no difference for monks or nuns. I don’t think that a fully ordained monk is superior and I’m worse off. I just think that accomplishing the Dharma is joyful.”

  68. Lim KH (JB) on Jul 14, 2012 at 5:27 am

    “Sherab Zangmo: Do not try to stop conceptual thoughts, but let them arise. Know their nature by praying to the lama, understanding that the lama’s mind and one’s own mind are inseparable. Rest in the nature of the thoughts and in this way they are transformed.
    It’s impossible to stop conceptual thoughts that arise, and if you try to stop them they will only increase. See the very nature of the thoughts as they arise, pray to the lama, and rest in meditation.”

    Thanks Sherab Zangmo’s advice that we are hardly to control or stop conceptual thoughts but we may stop them to increase by strong Guru Devotion and doing meditation. For us, our Guru always beside us so i think we have a good chance to transform our mind from conceptual thoughts by Guru Devotion. Its rather than we go meditation in cave.

    All nuns in Gebchak Nunnery hold their Guru Devotion until their last breath, then how much we do??? I respect them from my bottom of my heart and i wish that Gebchak Nunnery will always get what they need and always grow.

  69. Pradip on Aug 15, 2012 at 2:38 am

    I am interested to join your monastery. How can I join Budhist Monoastery. Anybody can help me pls.

  70. tsemtulku on Sep 19, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    These were sent to my assistant Beng Kooi, I thought to share it here. Thank you Anila Chozom. I am honoured to share the lives of these holy nuns with the world.

    Tsem Rinpoche

    ______________________________________

    Thank you for your help forwarding the email to His Eminence.

    I’m Tenzin Chozom and I’ve worked for Gebchak Gonpa since 2007 – as translator to the abbot, Wangdrak Rinpoche, and as secretary to the Nunnery’s fundraising projects. I’ve never lived within Gebchak Nunnery, only visited several times. I’ve lived in India since 2000 in Drukpa Kagyu and Nyingma nunneries (Dongyu Gatsal Ling near Dharamsala, and Tsogyal Shedrubling in Bylakuppe). Presently I’m studying Indian Philosophy at an Indian university in Varanasi.

    Thanks again and best wishes in your work,
    Chozom

    ________________________________________
    Dear Tsem Tulku Rinpoche,

    We found your June posting on the Gebchak nuns (while searching for a bardo teaching) and want to say thank you for taking inspiration and drawing attention to the nuns among your students and friends. The Gebchak nuns are so remote and their renunciation so pure, people don’t hear much about them except for the noise we try to make on their behalf. So thank you for your support and sharing.

    Thank you for your blog and teachings as well. They never fail to provide the hearty laugh and kick in the pants needed when I’m feeling blue!

    With all best wishes,
    Ani Chozom

  71. Koh Hee Peng on Nov 25, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    Should our prayers are sincere, the merits collected would e vast, and if we do not want the merits to be wasted by anger,etc, is best if we dedicate the merits to the flourishing of dharma to.create the cause of not being separated from.dharma in.our future rebirth. Our dedication would also.help.create causes.for.dharma.to.grow without much obstacles.

  72. andrew on Apr 1, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    only for recognition that the story has been trasnferred from mouth and digitally trascribed to both my eye and ear other than this have no comment because one can not improve on sufferring for perfection more than this

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  • SoftLink Int’l
    (Wednesday, Jul 30. 2014 08:17 AM)
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  • Pastor Yek Yee
    (Wednesday, Jul 30. 2014 12:39 AM)
    Dear All, please join Kechara Animal Liberation Day on this coming Sunday(3/8/2014) in different venues: KL, Kuantan, Ipoh and Johor.

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203493064821499&set=a.1255513382184.39311.1060057013&type=1&theater
  • Pastor Adeline
    (Tuesday, Jul 29. 2014 10:29 AM)
    If you love someone, tell them & don’t hold back. Tsem Rinpoche @tsemtulku on Twitter
  • Pastor Adeline
    (Tuesday, Jul 29. 2014 10:29 AM)
    Love is not something easy to get, so treasure it if you have it. Tsem Rinpoche @tsemtulku on Twitter
  • Pastor Adeline
    (Tuesday, Jul 29. 2014 10:28 AM)
    H.H. 10th Panchen Rinpoche was a great teacher & inspiration. Tsem Rinpoche @tsemtulku on Twitter
  • Pastor Adeline
    (Tuesday, Jul 29. 2014 10:28 AM)
    Clearing our impules may not be easy, but easier then cleaning up their results. Tsem Rinpoche @tsemtulku on Twitter
  • Josselynn
    (Tuesday, Jul 29. 2014 09:35 AM)
    Dear Tsem Tulku Rinpoche

    I am new but 3 days ago I attended my father in law’s (FIL) Christian funeral which he converted 4 years ago. We got to know only now during my sister in law speech who was a Christian pastor. although he was baptised to Christian but he has never mentioned to us at all. I remembered my FIL told me but not the son that; one day when I die he wish to be cremated with his ashes to be thrown to the sea only. Yes he was cremated yesterday. On the first day of the wake service I couldn’t feel any peace, on the 2nd day I brought 7 lotus candles offered to Buddha and lit up with my children and told them chant OM MANI PADME HUNG and a bouquet of flowers too. I must share with you the candles light from what I learned from Rinpoche is the light of WISDOM yes I can find peace then. I chanted 20 malas on the 3rd day and my feeling of sadness was calmer yes, I understand Buddhism more about death & reincarnation again from your blog & transcript so the feeling of sadness was more calm then before. I am more accepting about Rebirth, Old aged, sickness & death. I understand about human suffering. My deepest appreciation from your Buddhadharma talk it really changed my life. It’s a miracle and magic I guess, one fine day I just needed to go Kechara Paradise to invite Je Tsongkapa home early this year without realising it was actually Tsongkapa day. In no time I think 10 days I can memorised Migstema so well. I do my chanting when my mind disturb and I am still on medication for my depression. Migtsema indeed calm my mind…. Every night if I am disturb again I will plug on my earphone and listen to your voices of Buddhdharma talk on YouTube to find peace and I can sleep rather I rely on the one medicine that put me to sleep.
    That’s wonderful for me too.
    We were grateful to have attended the children baptism on Wesak day and the children were officially baptised by Rinpoche’s blessing. I was afraid someone will convert my children if I don’t do something. They chant OM Ah RA Pa SA NA DHIH and wearing the Manjushri chakra too. I got them Tsongkapa box set each for (body speech & mind) and a stupa too.

    Warmest regards
    Josselynn
  • Josselynn
    (Tuesday, Jul 29. 2014 05:15 AM)
    Dear Rinpoche

    I want you to know from the bottom of my heart that your teachings have changed my life a lot. First of all, is your inspiration book “Why You Make Yourself Unhappy” how this book can changed my life. It’s amazing! I sincerely want to find out more about you and in depth towards Buddhism. Along the journey finding about Rinpoche I went into YouTube learning what I want to know about Buddhism. It’s so awesome as if I am there listening to you. I decided to find out about Kechara. My first visit I bought Tara pendant, immediately the 2 box sets of Tsongkapa & Setrap prayers but never approach anyone yet for a year. Until last September, I decided to write a mail to you personally and here I am since January 2014 I became member. Of course, when I first came to Kechara I request to meet you unfortunenately you have gone to US.

    Kind regards
    Josselynn
  • Pastor Adeline
    (Monday, Jul 28. 2014 10:51 PM)
    Offering lights to the Buddha creates causes for wisdom. Tsem Rinpoche @tsemtulku on Twitter
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/butterlamps.html
  • Pastor Adeline
    (Monday, Jul 28. 2014 10:49 PM)
    We are only free when we expel the samsara within us. Tsem Rinpoche @tsemtulku on Twitter
  • Pastor Adeline
    (Monday, Jul 28. 2014 10:49 PM)
    Give me enlightenment on a silver platter please? Tsem Rinpoche @tsemtulku on Twitter
  • tsemtulku
    (Monday, Jul 28. 2014 05:47 PM)
    Dear Chuah Su Ming,
    You are naturally a kind person. You can think deeply and give yourself to those around you. You are super intelligent with high IQ and EQ..rare combination. I didn’t teach you anything about kindness. It was in you already. You are naturally caring, naturally responsible and naturally a loyal person. Anyone who has the good fortune to be your friend will find a true friend in you. Even when people play mind games with you, you are forgiving and let it be. You have a huge capacity to forgive beyond ordinary mortals. You always give people a chance and focus on their strong points.

    You never ask anything from people for yourself. You have contributed to the growth of dharma, the benefits of those around you very much. You always take care of those around you without ever showing anything but true love. I’ve witnessed this again and again. You are a very good representative of kindness, strong woman, good human being, good Buddhist and excellent example of a Kechara member.

    You have benefitted me and my life very much beyond a doubt. I often reflect on so much you have done and I am indebted to you. I mean every word.

    You are one of the best persons I have met in my whole life. I am very honored to have you as a friend, family and student. I wish to have a pure and good relationship with you for the rest of my life. Gold like you must be kept. Not easy to find solid gold among the rocks. In you I can trust and believe in you, because we are living in a world that trusting others is a difficult thing to do. Whenever I think of you, only warm and grateful thoughts arise in my mind.

    Thank you for really absorbing the dharma within your being because dharma just made you even more beautiful than you already naturally are. You are a stunning person because you choose to care about others. You have genuine compassion with action coupled with results. You are always results orientated and very good example to those around you.

    You have my good wishes, loyalty, care and genuine love. Much respects and fondly, Tsem Rinpoche
  • Pastor Adeline
    (Monday, Jul 28. 2014 01:18 AM)
    Visit Kechara outlets in Sunway Paradise, 1 Utama, SS2, Viva Home & Penang for this month’s irresistible promotion now!

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  • Pastor Adeline
    (Monday, Jul 28. 2014 01:17 AM)
    Ullambana is also a very time to repay the kindness of the Three Jewels, one of which is robes offering to the sangha.

    The sangha’s robes represent the vows & commitment held by an ordained person. It is also one of the 4 main necessities of the sangha. By making this offering, you create the causes to continue the growth of the sangha who in turn remain to spread the dharma – the highest form of giving to all.

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  • Pastor Adeline
    (Saturday, Jul 26. 2014 07:10 PM)
    All stimuli that serves to excite or disgust are based on lack of true permanence therefore only exist in a projected manner. ~ Tsem Rinpoche

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I must thank my dharma blog team who are great assets to me, Kechara and growth of dharma in this wonderful region. I am honoured and thrilled to work with them. I really am. Maybe I don't say it enough to them, but I am saying it now. I APPRECIATE THESE GUYS VERY MUCH!

Tsem Rinpoche

What I am writing now

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The Unknown

The Known and unknown are both feared,
Known is being comfortable and stagnant,
The unknown may be growth and opportunities,
One shall never know if one fears the unknown more than the known.
Who says the unknown would be worse than the known?
But then again, the unknown is sometimes worse than the known. In the end nothing is known unless we endeavour,
So go pursue all the way with the unknown,
because all unknown with familiarity becomes the known.
~Tsem Rinpoche

Photos On The Go

Click on the images to view the bigger version. And scroll down and click on "View All Photos" to view more images.
This is one of the best Avalokitesvara thangkas I have ever seen. I rarely see an Avalokitesvara that draws me or I really like. I am very particular about thangka paintings. But this one is really done by a super skilled artist. The eyes are perfect and the gaze is the correct angle of calm/contemplativeness. The lips, nose and proportions are stunning. The coloring and feel is regality and serenity with great compassion. He feels alive. I would love to get a copy of this very much. Tsem Rinpoche
2 days ago
Look at this massive thangka of the Lord of Wisdom Manjushri in Tibet. The bigger the thangka it is believed, the more blessed the area will be. See all the people congregated around it to pay homage and make offerings. Amazing. May you all be blessed by this too and be connected to Manjushri. Tsem Rinpoche
2 days ago
There is a devil there is no doubt, but is he trying to get into us or trying to get out? ~Tsem Rinpoche
2 days ago
These fresh tomatoes just plucked from our garden here in our USA Ladrang. Tomatoes are some of my favorite foods. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
We had some very special guests come to volunteer at Kechara? Guess who they were? And they turned out to be very humble in their works that night. Please see the love and care: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=51852
2 weeks ago
This is so true. When teach dharma to some and ask them to change or explain why, they reject and become unhappy and speak ill. 
2 weeks ago
If my endurance of so much suffering these past years have benefitted you and took some away from you, then it was not in vain and I am content and I would take more.~Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
A sketch by a eye witness in California-1987
2 weeks ago
Existing is not true existence but mere labelling because the causes removed, we are empty.~Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
People from different parts of the world who have no prior obvious connections can connect to do dharma together. This is wonderful because what we did in the past together can manifest in the present again to continue where we left off. Tsem Rinpoche 
3 weeks ago
ELEPHANT WEEPS AFTER RESCUE: A 50-year-old elephant that had spent much of his life shackled in chains, wept when he was finally freed from captivity. "Raju" had tears streaming down his face, as wildlife rescuers released him. SHARE this amazing story. -Details of Raju's rescue: http://kiro.tv/AmazingElephantStory
3 weeks ago
This is profound and the secrets to our success or failure. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Are you the sign of the pig? Do you want to know more about yourself? It would be interesting: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=23608
3 weeks ago
Vegetables harvested from our garden in our USA residence today...nice. TR
3 weeks ago
See who are in these nice pictures and how they are connected to me please....I just posted the Gratitude series #2...do take a look: See: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=51490
4 weeks ago
Powerful!!
4 weeks ago
Having a healthy strong body is important so we can take care of the people and animals around us, to do our dharma practice and to be able to contribute to society. Practices like Je Tsongkapa and Amitayus are very helpful for extending our life energies and healing from within. I spoke about it: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=29398
4 weeks ago
There are over 75,182 views of this post already! It's on horoscopes and how compatible you are with someone or not compatible and why. Perhaps it would be good to understand why someone so close could have or not have conflicts with you. Find out about yourself and understand your character: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=24905
4 weeks ago
Dear friends, This is a very good documentary on bigfoot. It is very scientific and examines a new footage of a bigfoot running very fast. Examines and gives you reasons why this cannot be a man or a person in a suit..very nice. I've not seen this one before. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zUhKhv3Z-I
4 weeks ago
Please click and enlarge the picture. This is something I strongly feel. Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
This will be my gratitude series where I share all that I am grateful for. This is my first post: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=51490
4 weeks ago
Mr. Lai, the proud dad of Pastor David Lai. Mr. Lai has expressed how proud he is of his son and what he is doing for others. Mr. Lai is very happy his son David is a Pastor of Kechara and rejoices in the Dharma shared with others. Mr. Lai himself is a very kind and steady person and an important member of Kechara also who always keeps his promises. Many in Kechara respect and love Mr. Lai. Like father like son. Kind people. Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
I agree with what Martin T. Bosnev says about Pastor David. Martin is a very intelligent person, so when he compliments, he has thought it through. I appreciate Martin's input. Pastor David always teaches Dharma from his heart and with enthusiasm. He truly believes in what he shares. He has been blessed by Tsongkapa to speak because he is sincere. Many enjoy listening to the Dharma from him very much. Please see what Martin is talking about: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=4197
4 weeks ago
This may be short, but it's one of my favorite documentaries also you have to take a look. Very good. I wanted to share with you all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUDjCmg4awI
4 weeks ago
Our group who went on a spiritual pilgrimage in the holy places of Kathmandu, Nepal.-June 2014. I rejoice for them. These trips have infinitely so much more meaning than the usual vacations.  Tsem Rinpoche 
4 weeks ago
Burning eyes? A special story for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e548MkrkGWk
1 month ago
Do you know what is a Wenatchee? Let me share: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUm3ldZhZIU
1 month ago
Beautiful Sampheling Monastery. The home monastery of H.H.Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. This is a place to visit!
1 month ago
Dear friends, Are you ready to witness something extremely brutal but with a happy ending? See here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=50488 (Viewer discretion is advised as very graphic)
1 month ago
Dear friends, Did you know there are three holy mountains of Avalokitesvara, Manjushri and Vajrapani in Yating, Kham -Tibet??!! It's not that difficult to get to either. I have just finished blogging about this. I watched a travelogue earlier and was AMAZED at the footage they showed of certain holy places in Tibet that I have heard of from senior monks but never seen. You MUST watch this excellent travelogue and enjoy. Tsem Rinpoche See here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=50824
1 month ago
Zamkar, Dharma, Mumu and Oser are always smiling and super cute. Tsem Rinpoche 
2 months ago
New book from Kechara just launched! http://Www.vajrasecrets.com
2 months ago
I've always tried my best to escape secular dreams because it's all a big wheel of disappointment. Get me out of samsara! Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
Look at my Mumu boy. You can never take a bad picture with him. He is super cute from any angle. I love you Mumu. Tsem Rinpoche 
2 months ago
Please remember this. A dog is not a pet but a part of your family. Tsem Rinpoche 
2 months ago
Lineage lamas and root lama in Vajra Yogini's tantra. Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
This is excellent! Must read and share. Tsem Rinpoche 
2 months ago
When on the hospital bed nearing our last breath, nothing matters except for the practice and transformation we have done in dharma in our lifetime. Our money, wishes, houses, clothes, jewelry, reputation, spouses, desires, dreams, greed, anger, possessions, explanations will be of no use at all. It will in fact even be a hindrance scratching at our mind's energy to let go and we cannot. Since they are no use at that momentous event, we should continue that thought now and understand what we should truly cultivate now. This thought must translate into action not just scholastic thoughts and meanderings of the mind for self deception or imitation spiritual satisfaction. This is what I think daily and everyday as part of my meditations on death and impermanence according to first chapter of Lam Rim. Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
I totally agree with this. Some vent out their anger, get attention or want to send messages to people and justify by saying it's their space their posting on and they can post what they want. Be it so, your space is seen my hundreds and it's public domain and you know that. So if others post otherwise to your views, why get upset? You invited it. Maybe that is what you wanted? Attention? LOL.Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
Wow. How perfect is this. This is exactly how I feel when I shared dharma with some people. Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
I like this one. I just found it. Wonderful and simple for those who have to seek either one. Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama in Yong He Gong temple in front of the beautiful Tsongakpa main altar in Beijing, China.
2 months ago
Another must read and must have book. I ordered it last week and it arrived today. So very much looking forward to reading/studying it. Dharma knowledge is something that should not remain stagnant. We must improve and apply upon it always. Applying it is the secret. I have so much more to learn. Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always. Mahatma Gandhi
2 months ago
Look at my cheeky and cute Mumu boy!! The camera loves him! I love him. Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
It would be wonderful if everyone can obtain a beautiful Vajra Yogini statue like this and it's available at http://www.vajrasecrets.com. Would you have Her body red painted or just copper color or brass colored? Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
Lifelike Supreme Tara painted in Indian style. Stunning. Wish I can get artist to reproduce this exactly. Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
Holy and lifelike Lord Manjushri painted in Indian style in which it should be. Wish I can have this reproduced exactly with every holy detail. Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
Click on "View All Photos" above to view more images

Videos On The Go

Please click on the images to watch video
  • 14th Dalai Lama with Mrs.Indira Gandhi , Delhi INDIA 1966
    14th Dalai Lama with Mrs.Indira Gandhi , Delhi INDIA 1966
    2 months ago
  • The Girl Who Couldn't Cry - Water is Life
    The Girl Who Couldn't Cry - Water is Life
    It's really hard to educate a generation of people born in conditions where they take things for granted. A simple slogan campaign that says, "Save water, It's precious" isn't sticky enough to make inroads. That's exactly where this video steps in: to make people realize how precious water actually is. A brilliant video that follows the heartbreaking story of a young girl that cannot cry. Sounds like fiction? Sadly, it is not.
    2 months ago
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    Dear everyone, All sentient beings deserve to live, be happy and not hurt, including animals. We should never hurt them or eat them. Look how much this chicken welcomes a hug and love. Observe carefully. Don't eat beings who can feel pain because the karma comes back. Tsem Rinpoche
    3 months ago
  • The appreciation shown here is so deep and touching.
    The appreciation shown here is so deep and touching.
    Dear friends, See this incredible video. This chimp was found in captivity for many years. Dr Jane Goodall released him into the wild. Look how he comes back to thank her with deep apprecition. It's amazing. Animals have such strong feelings of pain and happiness just like us. We should never hurt them and share with others to not hurt them. Tsem Rinpoche http://www.tsemrinpoche.com
    3 months ago
  • Aki drinking some water in the aviary
    Aki drinking some water in the aviary
    Aki is a rescued bird, he now lives in Kechara Forest Retreat Aviary
    5 months ago
  • Jamyang enjoying some fresh corn
    Jamyang enjoying some fresh corn
    Jamyang is one of our rescue birds that live in Kechara Forest Retreat Aviary
    5 months ago
  • The Cute Mumus Practising Dog Orchestra at Kechara Forest Retreat
    The Cute Mumus Practising Dog Orchestra at Kechara Forest Retreat
    Today the Mumus (dogs) decided to do a dog orchestra rehearsal together with the Kechara Forest Retreat (KFR) dogs.
    5 months ago
  • Incredible footage you must see!
    Incredible footage you must see!
    Description
    6 months ago
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    Gongkar is our new bird for Kechara Forest Retreat's aviary. Gongkar never had friends and the original owner could not bring him to his destination. Now he is with us and assimilating in his cage within the aviary for a few weeks then released into aviary. Look at how much he wants attention from the other birds. Cute. Tsem Rinpoche
    9 months ago
  • Mumu, Oser and Dharma running and having a good time. I love seeing them playing. Tsem Rinpoche
    Mumu, Oser and Dharma running and having a good time. I love seeing them playing. Tsem Rinpoche
    9 months ago
  • Mumus running at Kechara Forest Retreat
    Mumus running at Kechara Forest Retreat
    10 months ago
  • Kechara Forest Retreat panorama, September 2013
    Kechara Forest Retreat panorama, September 2013
    11 months ago
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    Dechog our cockatoo at Kechara Forest Retreat grabbing long beans which he loves. Nice bird. We love him. Tsem Rinpoche
    1 years ago
  • The mumus having outdoor evening stroll!!!
    The mumus having outdoor evening stroll!!!
    1 years ago
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    17 May 2013, heavy rain at Kechara Forest Retreat from 7am-8am (1 hour). Water overflowed the existing drain and also opened up a much wider new "route" for itself.
    1 years ago
  • Must see video from Rajendra on our disciplined dogs
    Must see video from Rajendra on our disciplined dogs
    1 years ago
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    Dato' Ruby won the Bella Awards!
    1 years ago
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    This is a wonderful video for Moh Mei because she is sleeping in the KECHARA FOREST RETREAT CONTAINERS all alone...ehehehhehe...this is a new friend to keep her company....tsem rinpoche
    1 years ago
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    Answer to Jo
    1 years ago
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    The 2 tortoises in Tsem Ladrang, Kadro and Menlha are enjoying their fresh veggie meal.
    2 yearss ago
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    Organic vegetables at Kechara Forest Retreat
    2 yearss ago
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    This is Dorje our friendly fish that lives with us. He captured my attention the first time because he was exceptionally friendly. TR
    2 yearss ago
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    Mumus go bye bye!!!
    2 yearss ago
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    SP's mom said that she is from Penang. This is her first trip to bodhgaya, and she truly finds bodhgaya is very holy and spiritual.
    2 yearss ago
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    Very touching video...Buddha said it was very important to visit the four holy places associated with Him before our deaths. Remembering this, I had instructed Paul to take this senior group to Bodhgaya and make sure they are able to plant imprints. When this life of 'fun', money, parties and socials are over, we cannot leave empty handed. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 yearss ago
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    Our two rescued tortoises who live at Tsem Ladrang happily and will be transferred to Kechara Forest Retreat where they will have much more space to roam and run. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 yearss ago
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    Aki is the old African Grey that was abandoned by his owner. Because he is old, no one wanted him. Well we wanted him and we took him and in and love him. He is in a big aviary and he likes his cage. We leave his cage open at all times so he can go in and out as he likes. His cage is his security blanket. Cute. He gets nice food and sunshine daily and also we play monks chanting for him to be blessed. We love you Aki. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 yearss ago
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    Meal time for all the cute mumus!
    2 yearss ago
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    Dear james, very nice video of Kechara outlet and the activity led by Kien. You must always make more videos. Thank you. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 yearss ago
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    This little birdie was at a pet shop. He has maimed leg, permanent damage to his wing and cannot fly and also one eye blind. I don't think anyone would want the poor thing, so I adopted him and keep him safe, fed and with lots of fresh air. He's also in a large aviary so he can be with other birds and not be alone. He is alert, active, and has a good appetite. I like him very much and will make sure he is safe, happy and has a good life. I name him Lucky. Lucky will always be safe now. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 yearss ago

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My Blog in Chinese:
zhandugu.blog.163.com
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www.tsemtulku.com
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CHAT PICTURES

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4 hours ago
Kechara Penang Study Group has completed White Tara Puja on 30th July'14 for Rinpoche's long life. May Ripoche lead healthy life and continue turning the Dharma Wheel - Soon Huat
8 hours ago
Weekly White Tara puja at Kechara House gompa dedicated to the long life of our beloved Guru, H.E.Tsem Rinpoche and the growth of Dharma. Lucy Yap
9 hours ago
Dear Kimberly, It is very kind and caring of you to bring your friends to vegetarianism. Most important is you stay firm and you stick your way of eating. Over time during conversations, you can slip in informtation here and there. You can gift them with videos on their Birthdays, World Earth Days, or Kuan Yin Days. Make it look like a gift. Since they are your friends, you would know them better how to skilfully bring them the message. Over time, if you persist, you can convince some. It took me years to convince my friends also. The key is to be skilfull and not to give up because you don’t want animals butchered, tortured and eaten. Never give up.Much good luck to you. ~Tsem Rinpoche http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/questions/page/22 From: June Tang (Khjb)
13 hours ago
~Question asked by Kimberly~ Thank you so much for all the articles and videos promoting why we should all be vegetarians. I have friends who are eat meat, in fact some without meat in their menu will feel the meal is incomplete. How can I communicate for them to stop eating meat without sounding fanatical and flooding them with information they are mentally not ready to receive? I really just want them to start a day at a time. From: June Tang (Khjb)
13 hours ago
~Question asked by Raluca~ Dear Rinpoche, More and more people are talking about the fact that the law of karma is slowly getting "out of the picture" on this planet.Some claim love/law of attraction will be dominant. I would appreciate your point of you. Thanks.With love, ****************************** Dear Raluca, Whether ppl accept the law of karma or not, will make no difference to the truth of the matter. Karma does not exist on the basis of ppl’s belief in it…. In that way, it is ok. If ppl believed in karma, then the situation would be so much more different. More would take responsibility for every action they take. That would be a utopian situation for sure. Buddha’s teachings, thoughts and lineage will wane with time..as the merits for it cannot support. Shakyamuni predicted this Himself. So hearing the belief in karma will dwindle, I am not surprised.I wish you well. ~Tsem Rinpoche http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/questions/page/22 From: June Tang (Khjb)
13 hours ago
(Part 2) When I gave to the homeless in the past, I recieved many types of responses. Some thanked me and talked to me. Some wanted more. Some didn’t want food but money instead. Some stared at me that I would give them anything. Some screamed and ran away. Some just ran. So I had so many reactions. But you see, how they reacted is ok, I know my intent. I gave and it was between me and my Buddha. Buddha would want me to serve others and benefit others and that is all that matters in the big end. Much good luck to you. Always be generous and kind no matter what responses you get back. It will change people’s lives in one way or another. It will change your life for the better. ~Tsem Rinpoche http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/questions/page/23 From: June Tang (Khjb)
13 hours ago
(Part 1) Dear friend, When you practice generosity at first, it is about you and the recipient. How the recipient responds greatly affect your motivation to do more or less…in the beginning I stress. Everyone likes to be appreciated of course. But as you progress, it is not so much about the recipient. It is about you and your ‘God’. It is between you and your ‘Buddha’ or your ‘karma’ or your sense of universal responsibility. How the recipient responds has very little to do with why you actually give as you progress on this wonderful path of generosity.~Tsem Rinpoche From: June Tang (Khjb)
13 hours ago
~Question asked by ExperimentingWGenerousity~ Dear Rinpoche, What are the benefits of practising generousity in the larger context? How/should one encourage oneself to practise generousity and develop empathy? What is required for an act to truly be categorised as generous? Thank you very much for all of your help and caring example. From: June Tang (Khjb)
13 hours ago
~Question asked by Louis~ Rinpoche, you said in one place that Yamantaka practice is sufficient–one need not take any other practice. But in another place (one of your answers below) you said that father tantra is needed to provide the subtle body, mother tantra the clear light, and nondual tantra for something else. Could you please explain? I have to admit that it seems strange to think that say, Tsongkhapa is incapable of taking us all the way to enlightenment, unless visualized as Manjushri (but as Yamantaka, not ordinary red form) or Avalokiteshvara *(but as Hayagriva or Gyalwa Gyatso, not as ordinary white form). ****************************** Dear Louis, Let’s make this simple, your yidam will be according to your lama, your karma, your imprints, your current needs, your strongest afflictions. If your strongest affliction is anger, Yamantaka is wonderful. If you strongest is desire, then Heruka/Vajra Yogini, etc. Whatever Yidam you take, can take you to full enlightenment for
13 hours ago
~Response by tsemtulku~ Dear Ken, I have a great team of ppl helping me behind the scenes for our youtube videos, websites, online work and my blog. Your comment of appreciation left above will go a long way. People will be so blessed to know their online work has helped you in the way you have described. I myself am so happy to hear that there is a chance for you and your wife now partly because of us-I thank you.. Do not let the chance slip past you. The love we give others, the ppl in our lives, our pets are what makes our lives what it is..we must treasure them by listening to their needs. When you win, everyone loses. We must make sure everyone wins. Sharing is love..Love is to share..let others win and realize everyone deserves to be heard and appreciated. I wish you luck and supreme success. May you and your wife find closeness again and spirituality in your lives. http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/questions/page/23 From: June Tang (Khjb)
13 hours ago
~Question asked by ken~ Dear Rinpoche, Actually I have no question. I just want to thank you very much! I heard your teachings on you tube and certain words you said opens my mind and heart. Your words,"Force yourself to listen! and love is not giving up." I realise I was not listening to my wife for a long time. We were inches away from splitting. We were not talking for a year. And I change after hearing your talks and I do basic mediation. To me, a miracle happened, we actually make peace and are talking now. From: June Tang (Khjb)
13 hours ago
Share the blessings of this Ramazan with mTunes
16 hours ago
The heavens and the earth may be captured by the mind's eye.~Buddha_Hee TS
19 hours ago
Peace...._Hee TS
19 hours ago

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