Imagine You Are a Nun...
Imagine you are a nun, living at a Tibetan Buddhist nunnery in the Himalayan region – Tibet, Nepal, India or Bhutan. You have no possessions, except perhaps a photograph or two of your family members, and maybe a cheap cell phone so you can contact them. Everything else – your crimson robes and yellow outer ceremonial robe; your shoes, books, bedding, toiletries, and so forth – is provided by your nunnery, which has changed very little in the decades (or centuries) since it was built. You live there from a young age; you learn to read there, you eat and sleep there, and you do whatever is expected of you in upholding the dharma (the teachings of the Buddha). You learn to chant pujas in the large communal shrine hall. Perhaps you are chosen to participate in special practice retreats. Occasionally, if you are very lucky, you will have a chance to go on a short pilgrimage.
Now imagine a group of generous and caring sponsors provides your nunnery with additional funding and support. You will receive more nutritious food: eggs and yogurt and beans and fresh vegetables and fruits to supplement the potatoes and rice you're accustomed to. Your gompa (temple) may be able to complete timely repairs. A three year retreat may be initiated, and you may have the chance to do the retreat and accelerate your practice. A shedra, or monastic college, may be built, and you may have the chance to study there, becoming a dharma teacher in your own right, a khenmo. Your opportunities for pilgrimage travel will expand. Perhaps you can even attend an annual prayer festival or nuns' dharma gathering with thousands of other monastics in Bodh Gaya, India, where the Buddha attained enlightenment. At this festival, you meet other nuns from all over the Himalayan region. You get the chance to engage in debate and discussion, clarify your understanding of the teachings, and draw inspiration from meetings with great meditation masters. When you get sick, your nunnery will have a small medical clinic and medicines to heal you. Your nunnery may also have the resources to develop small crafts and industries, such as making traditional incense, that will generate further financial income.
It actually doesn't take much to make this vision a reality; in this part of the world, small gifts go a long way. We at Help Tibetan Nuns invite you to partner with us, as many of you have in fact done, to make this expansion of opportunity possible for the women who uphold the Buddha's teachings in the world. As you may know, in this part of the world, the lion's share of financial resources go to the monks. Yet His Holiness Karmapa, the head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, has repeatedly stressed the need for further investment in female monastics. He is modernizing and upgrading and encouraging nuns' educational opportunities. Please join with us as we join with His Holiness in this joyful and rewarding work.