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Karmapa announces plans to empower female Buddhist practitioners

February 8, 2016

Lions Roar, February 4, 2016 - His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, has announced plans to create a monastic college for Buddhist women as part of his ongoing efforts to educate and empower female Buddhist practitioners from the Himalayan region.  The announcement came during the 3rd Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering in Bodhgaya, an annual three-week event that the Karmapa established in 2013.

Noting tremendous improvement in the nuns’ study and debate skills, and a visible increase in their confidence, the Karmapa said, “Nuns are future holders of the Buddhadharma. This education will help prepare you to fulfill that great responsibility.”

The Karmapa outlined the rigorous scholarly education that will be offered to nuns in the school of Tibetan Buddhism that he heads, the Karma Kagyu. The backbone of the curriculum will be five major Indian philosophical treatises (shastras), based on a series of rare commentarial texts that have recently been rediscovered in his Dharma lineage. The planned monastic college will offer educational opportunities to laywomen as well as to Buddhist nuns.

In presenting planned steps to increase the intensity of the nuns’ scholarly training and debate skills, the Karmapa told them, “I believe you are ready.”

The event, which has just concluded, included daily discourses by the Karmapa himself especially for nuns, intensive study and formal debate sessions, as well as special pujas and meditative practices. To encourage the nuns, the Karmapa himself composed a sadhana (liturgical text) for the flourishing of the nuns’ Dharma, which he performed with them on the final day of the gathering.

Over 400 nuns from nunneries across the Himalayas attended the Dharma gathering. The Dharma discourses and other events were attended by nearly a thousand people daily, with thousands more watching live webcasts.

As head of the 900-year-old Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, guides millions of Buddhists around the world. At the age of fourteen, he made a dramatic escape from Tibet to India to be near His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his own lineage teachers. The Karmapa created an eco-monastic movement with over 55 monasteries across the Himalayan region acting as centers of green activism. He recently announced plans to establish full ordination for qualified female practitioners. His emphasis on formal education for nuns is foundational to this noble aim.

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