|Shechen Orgyen Chozong Nunnery
Shechen Orgyen Chozong Nunnery newsletter
Nuns and women hermits, practitioners and spiritual teachers have played an important role in Tibet. Although in a typically patriarchal society the role of women is often difficult, in Tibetan Buddhism, women are respected and symbolize wisdom or prajna. There have been many enlightened female teachers such as Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal, Jomo Menmo, Machik Labdron, Jetson Mingyur Paldron, Sera Khandro and Shuksep Jetson. However, since the Tibetan diaspora, very few nunneries have been built outside Tibet.
Nestled in the rugged hills south of Thimphu, the capital
of Bhutan, in a secluded area known as Sisinang, Shechen
Orgyen Chozong Nunnery is one of the few facilities in Bhutan
where women can study and practice. Bhutan is the only country
that recognized Vajrayana Buddhism as its official religion.
This small nunnery was the first monastic center built by
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
after his escape from Tibet. He gave numerous important
teachings there and its beautiful temple frescoes are painted
according to his instructions.
present over seventy nuns, mainly Bhutanese and ranging
in age from 15 to 60 years old, live and study at the nunnery
under the guidance of Shechen
Rabjam Rinpoche. The Nunnery offers women the rare opportunity
to study and train in the lineage of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
The Nunnery provides for the nuns complete education
in addition to covering all expenses for their food, shelter,
and clothing. Eleven of the nuns have taken Bhiksuni ordination
in Hong Kong and were the first group of nuns from the Nyingma
tradition of Tibetan Buddhism to receive this full ordination.
In 1998, Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche and Khandro Lhamo, (1913-2003)
the wife of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, began the process of
improving and expanding the nunnery's facilities to meet
the growing demand for proper accommodations and in-depth
teachings for nuns in Bhutan. Water and electricity were
brought to the site and a building with 12 double rooms
and a study hall was constructed.
Two graduates from the Shechen
Shedra teach an extensive course of meditation and study,
including reading and writing for the younger girls. The
older nuns follow a five-year study course and this training
equips them to eventually return to their communities to
teach and create further opportunities for women.
Additional work was urgently needed to accommodate the community's
growth and to insure a proper quality of life for these
dedicated women. To meet their needs, Rabjam Rinpoche built
a dining room, new kitchen, living quarters for resident
teachers and nuns and a library. Construction has now begun
on a small retreat center for the nuns to be built on the
hill above the Nunnery. There will also be individual cabins
for elderly nuns. Rinpoches goal is to extend to provide
the same quality of life and standard of education as the
monks at Shechen Monastery receive.
The flourishing of Shechen Orgyen Chozong as a place for
education for women is a wonderful step in establishing
the equality of women practitioners in the East. Your help
is still needed to create a place that gives women of all
ages an opportunity to study and teach and keep alive the
wisdom tradition of Tibet for the next generation. Please
contact us if you would like to support this project or
sponsor a nun.