Empowering Non Himalayan Nuns with the Gift of Retreat



My name is Ven. Tenzin, I am American. After ordaining as a Buddhist nun it was advised by many of my teachers to make meditation my focus and study, and to leave service. It was not until very recently, three months ago that I was able to take the leap of faith and do so. This is due to the kindness of Bodhicitta Foundation, Thosamling Institute and Nunnery, and a few kind individuals.

I was a functional addict for over 25 years, and in an abusive relationship for 20 years. This harmed my health and led me to live in poverty. At the end of all of that I found myself in Prison. While in prison I began to practice again at my family’s encouragement. Upon my release I went to work for a Buddhist Prison Program. I have been serving in Dharma Centers every since.

While I was serving my time I spent every free moment absorbed in the Dharma until there was no difference between other activities and my practice. I experienced first hand how beneficial it could be to live such a life for not only myself but for others. Everyday it gave me the strength to walk through my fears and stay clean and helped me hold the hand of others to do the same. I was able to show others that a life of sobriety, contentment, and inner joy was possible. For me this is what living an ordained life represents in a way.

When I look at ordained people I see a living-breathing lifeline to the Buddha, and an example of another way to be in the world. We are in this age, constantly being told that the next thing we buy or own will bring us happiness and this has created a society of really depressed and stressed out people always looking for a quick fix for an uneasiness deep within them that they cannot even name. I know I was one of them, but I have gone cold turkey on samsara!

Sometimes I sit in teachings and feel such gratitude for just being there, and I am filled with joy that I cannot convey. As an ordained person especially, I struggle with (an internal struggle) of how I can convey this to others in a way that will help others through their struggles with dignity and a real sense of inner love for themselves, for with this comes an outer love for others. This is the meaning and purpose of my life as an ordained person. As a nun, and practicing dharma, I hope to be not just an example that inner change is possible, but to show that loving others purely for the sake of love is possible. We can learn to move through life in an un-harmful way and be happy. This is the Mahayana ideal of altruism and compassion.

I have, since my release, supported monastic and lay Sanghas. Sometimes I gave my last dollar to monastics because I feel their role in society is really needed. It is because of the Sangha continuing to live as the Buddha did and preserving his teaching that I was able to transform my own life.

Now that I am a monastic Sangha member I see the struggle for Western monastics a little bit more first hand. I have seen alot of good monastics (mainly young people without penaions) disrobe. We have a 75% disrobing rate and many centres do not offer monastics much time for their own practice, or charge them to stay.

After having struggled for quite a few years I am so grateful to receive support from others for my practice is a revelation and big learning for me. I am doing a 200-million Mani retreat, with a mixture of meditations on loving kindness, tonglen practice, and study. There is no doubt that this is infused with the kindness of all the support, which I have received for this next chapter of my life. Whatever happens I want to say thank you from the depths of my heart.

May all beings find true joy, learn to care for themselves and others in healthy ways and be of immense benefit _/\_

Thank you Kalyanamitra fund & Bodhicitta Foundation for the scholarship, making it possible for people like me to become free of suffering and to serve others!


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