Ordained Nuns and Their History: The Karmapa Reports
Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India
the second half of his teachings this morning, the Karmapa shared his research
into the history of nuns and their status. He began by explaining the
background of the name “Arya Kshema,” given to the Winter Dharma Gathering. He
noted that among the disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha, there were his eight
greatest male monastic disciples, known for their prajna (supreme wisdom) or
miracles and so forth. Likewise, there were female master disciples who were
greatest at miracles or known for their prajna and other outstanding qualities.
Arya Kshema is one of these and she is described in theSutra of the Wise and
greatest in wisdom and confidence, so the Winter Dharma Gathering is named
giving this name,” the Karmapa explained, “we are also following the saying,
‘Later disciples should practice the example of past masters.’ Previously,
during the time of the Buddha Shakyamuni, there were woman arhats, bhikshunis,
and woman with the eightfold purity. My thought was that we could look to them
as examples, train properly in Buddhist teachings just as they did, and achieve
the result of liberation. I thought they would provide inspiration and a role
we had originally planned to have a conference during this nun’s Winter Dharma
Gathering. The main topic was to be the lives of great individuals who achieved
liberation in a female body, in particular those bhikshunis who were important
disciples of the Buddha Shakyamuni. But we didn’t have enough time and it
didn’t happen, so we will look into it again later.
any case, in Tibetan history—and this is something that historians have not
paid much attention to—Karma Chakme wroteMountain
Dharma for Nuns.This
is from the genre of texts called “mountain dharma” that compile the
instructions necessary for meditating in mountain retreats, and this is a
mountain dharma text that Karma Chakme compiled particularly for nuns. In it,
he says that at that time (of the 10th Karmapa), there were more nunneries than
monasteries in Central Tibet, and all the nuns in these nunneries had a good
basis of discipline. He wrote that they kept their precepts extremely well. For
this reason, historically the nuns’ teachings spread widely in Tibet.
those who wrote the histories did not pay much attention to this, and later
only a very few took interest in how the nuns’ Dharma spread in Tibet or in the
great beings who appeared in a female body. However, in history and in fact,
there have been many individuals in Tibet who gained siddhis in a female body,
and there must have been many female learned individuals as well. Nuns’
communities must have flourished greatly.
when the monastic community was first established in Tibet, which is said to be
during the time of King Trisong Deutsen (742-800), there were the Seven Men for
Testing. Some say “Seven Men” and some say “Six Men.” But whether it was six or
seven, when they first established the monastic community, there were not only
men who went forth, but women as well. Among the queens, those who had not
given birth to children went forth. When they did so and were ordained, I don’t
think that they were just called nuns and dressed in monastic robes. When we
say the Seven Men for Testing went forth, we clearly understand that they
received the entire ordination. Likewise when women went forth at that time, I
do not think it means that they merely held the intermediate vows of going
forth. So when Buddhism first spread to Tibet, it seems that a community of
ordained women was established from that very time.
there are important Sakya histories calledDocuments
of the Kingsandthe Sakya Familial Lineage.
These say that many daughters born into the Sakya family line became bhikshunis
and give many stories about them. Later there were people who say these are not
true, but that is a little hard to accept. For one thing,Documents of the Kingsand theSakya Familial Lineageare considered reliable historical
documents. Also, it is a bit difficult to say that only the stories of women going
forth or becoming bhikshunis are false but everything else is true.
Furthermore, among the scholars from Minyak, there was one named Kashiwa Rikpe.
It states in his biography that there was a community of bhikshunis at Minyak
Rapgang and that there were three to four hundred nunneries. Therefore, there
was a time in Tibet when there were quite a few nuns’ communities.
the time of Lha Lama Yeshe Ö and his successor, there was a royal proclamation
that stated no one was allowed to prevent women who wanted to go forth or
become bhikshunis from doing so; one must let them go forth and become
bhikshunis. So at that time there must have been female aspirants; otherwise,
it would have been unnecessary to say that they should be allowed to go forth and
become bhikshunis. Similarly, there are several biographies of Lotsawa Rinchen
Sangpo that are of varying length. One of these tells how a younger sister of
his was ordained as a bhikshuni. There are many such stories.
don’t know, however, what the situations or circumstances were that led the
nunneries and nuns’ communities to decline later. This should be researched, as
there must have been some conditions for it. Later, nunneries in Tibet were
quite poor and badly off. Many of you probably don’t know this, but those of
you who have stayed in nunneries in Tibet probably do. The living facilities
are poor, and the opportunities for study are weak. This is very clear. We
don’t know whether the reason for this situation is related to politics, the
dominance of any dharma lineage, or something else. This needs to be examined.
any case, when we say nowadays that nuns should be educated, that they should
develop their qualities, and that a community of bhikshunis should be
established, this is not something that has only now become important. It is
not saying that what was previously insignificant has become important.
Instead, it was crucial in the past, and we need to explain how that was and
also dispel any doubts or misconceptions about it.
is a text called theGreat
Exposition of the Abhidharma. When we speak of the four
philosophical schools, the reason the Great Exposition school was given that
name is because they explain their tenets based upon this text. When it
discusses how long the teachings would remain, it mentions that the Vinaya said
that Buddhism would endure for one thousand years. But when theGreat
one thousand years had probably gone by since the Buddha passed away, yet the
teachings still endured, even though the thousand years were over. So the
arhats discussed why it was that the Buddha’s teachings remained even though a
thousand years had gone by.
the Vinaya states that the Buddha’s teachings would only remain a thousand
years, but because women were ordained, that was shortened by five hundred
years. However theGreat
in the first or second century, when the Buddhism was supposed to have
disappeared. So they had a discussion about this to figure out what could have
been meant by saying the teachings would remain five hundred fewer years if
women were ordained. The arhats had two ways of explaining this. One was to say
that this meant the teachings of complete liberation, which refer to what we
usually call the ‘period of results’ when we describe the duration of Buddhism.
The other explanation says that if nuns had not accepted the eight heavy
dharmas, the teachings would have been shortened by five hundred years. But the
nuns did accept the eight heavy dharmas, so the duration of the teachings was
not decreased by five hundred years. That is the explanation they gave.
we received the text of theGreat
Exposition, Geshe Rinchen and I had discussed this point and
thought it could be explained like that. Our understanding is exactly what we
found in the text, so we gained some confidence. In any case, not knowing the
entire situation, people have explained a few aspects and made a lot of noise
while exaggerating things. This has led to many misapprehensions and misperceptions,
which should be dispelled.
train in validity and say ‘It follows that…’ or ‘Because ofx….’ We stomp
our feet and clap our hands, and train in debate for many years primarily to
dispel misapprehensions and misperceptions. We don’t do it only to become
facile. The point of studying validity and logic is to dispel misapprehensions
and misperceptions. If we say we study validity and follow logic but our
misapprehensions and misperceptions increase, it is a sign we have not studied
well. Since we study validity and use our logics, we must examine how they
accord with facts. This is what we should consider most important. Being
rigidly old-fashioned and holding to one’s own biases or views without proper
reasons is not the way logicians should do things. I think that this is another
reason why we need to consider this thoroughly.” With a look to the future and
on-going research, the Karmapa drew this special morning talk to a close.
Government agencies had for long suspected that the Karmapa was a “Chinese spy”, but a decision was recently taken to review the restrictions on his travel in an attempt to “engage” him.
Written by Rahul Tripathi | New Delhi | Published:May 24, 2017 2:26 am
The government is set to lift the travel restrictions imposed on Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa. The Home Ministry has proposed to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) that the Karmapa be allowed to travel to any part of the country, except Rumtek monastery in Sikkim, without seeking prior permission from New Delhi.
Ogyen Trinley Dorje, head of the Karma Kagyu (Black Hat) tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, was born in Tibet and escaped to India through Nepal at the age of 14. He reached McLeod Ganj, the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile, in 2000. He lives in Dharamshala and is recognised by the Dalai Lama.
Government agencies had for long suspected that the Karmapa was a “Chinese spy”, but a decision was re…
Aldershot, Hampshire, England – Morning, May 27, 2017
Early on this day of the Karmapa’s visit to the Nepali community in Aldershot, the double arch of a luminous rainbow filled the sky. It recalled his first visit to the US when rainbows followed him everywhere on the East Coast. The Karmapa was invited by the Buddhist Community Centre UK to this beautiful area of England, famous for its military garrisons and home to a sizeable population of Gurkha soldiers who have served in the British army. In 2006 they were allowed to live in England and in 2007, the Buddhist Community Centre UK was founded by Mr. Kaji Sherpa. He had the vision of establishing a Buddhist monastery to serve the growing Buddhist Community in this southeast region of the UK.
His daughter explained that about half of the Gurkha population in Nepal is Buddhist, and that her father felt a need for Buddhist guidance in this community, so a committee of Nepalis purchased a social club and completely transformed it into a …
May 24, 2017 – St Catharine’s and King’s College, Cambridge, England
Today His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa left London and travelled north to Cambridge, a city whose name has become almost synonymous with its world-famous university. The Karmapa’s visit to Cambridge was hosted by the International Buddhist Confederation’s Secretary for Environment and Conservation, Dr Barbara Maas.
His Holiness’s day in Cambridge began with an academic seminar on animal sentience and animal welfare science, and their significance for our relationship with and treatment of animals. Veterinarians turned animal welfare scientists, Dr Murray Corke and Peter Fordyce from the University’s Department of Veterinary Medicine, provided His Holiness with background about the complexities of assessing the wellbeing of animals and introduced him to some of the latest research developments that have transformed our understanding of animal awareness and suffering. These include a wide range of behavioural and physio…
During his first visit to the UK from May 17 to 28, 2017, the Karmapa, a prominent Tibetan Buddhist leader, joined former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Rowan Williams together with scientists, scholars and cultural figures for a dialogue on the environment hosted by the International Campaign for Tibet and Inspire Dialogue Foundation.
The round table discussion, held on May 24, 2017, was intended to bring together perspectives “between disciplines and generations” as the beginning of an ongoing exchange, according to Lord Williams, Master of Magdalen College and a noted poet and theologian. It involved figures from the arts and sciences, including Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre in London; James Thornton, the founding CEO of ClientEarth; Dame Fiona Reynolds, former Director-General of the National Trust; Dr Bhaskar Vira, Director, University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute; Tracey Seaward, film producer …
Centre may allow him to visit any place, except Sikkim, without seeking its nod
Urgyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, may be allowed to visit any place in the country, except Sikkim, without seeking the government’s permission. The Home Ministry has moved the proposal before the Cabinet Committee on Security, a senior government official said here on Tuesday.
The move assumes significance in the wake of China’s repeated warnings over the recent Northeast visit of the Dalai Lama, who Beijing describes as a “separatist” for spearheading the Tibetan freedom movement. No certainty
Though the Dalai Lama has endorsed Urgyen Trinley Dorje as the 17th Karmapa, it does not necessarily mean that the latter succeeds him, said Amitabh Mathur, Adviser to the Home Ministry on Northeast subjects, including Tibetan affairs.
“But that doesn’t mean he is seen as his successor. That will depend on how Tibetans see him and whether they will look up to him for s…
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, made his first visit to the United Kingdom this month.
At 31 years old, Ogyen Trinley Dorje is head of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, a reincarnation lineage that dates back more than 900 years. His Holiness was born in eastern Tibet but fled to India in 2000, where he now resides at the Gyuto Monastery near Dharamshala. He is the only reincarnate Lama to have been recognised by both His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese communist government.
The Karmapa’s 11-day visit began on May 17 and the first public event was held on May 20 in London’s Battersea Park.
“I would like to express my great delight at this opportunity that has come to pass for me to visit London, the capital of the United Kingdom, for the first time. Especially, I would like to extend my warmest greetings to all you friends who are gathered here. I have been waiting for a long time to visit the United King…
DHARAMSHALA, MAY 24: In a positive development for the Tibetan religious figure 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee, the Indian government is reportedly set to lift the travel restrictions currently in place.
The Home Ministry has proposed to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) that the Karmapa be allowed to travel to any part of the country, except Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, without seeking prior permission from New Delhi. The CCS chaired by PM Modi is a core committee on National Security with the MoD and the MEA among other significant panels, which offer directives on the Karmapa’s security and movement among other things.
The move in question has received a shot in the arm earlier this week when a delegation of monks from various monasteries in Sikkim met with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh urging permission for the Seventeenth Karmapa to visit Sikkim.
The delegation led by the Sangha MLA Sonam Kelyon Lama, who is the elected poli…
May 29, 2017 - The 17th Karmapa, one of Tibet’s leading Buddhist figures arrived in Toronto yesterday on his first visit to Canada. Known for his concerns about current global issues as well as for his spiritual leadership, the 31-year-old Karmapa will engage in a wide range of religious activities and will speak on environmental and social responsibility at various universities.
During his month long trip to Canada, the Karmapa will travel to Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. In doing so, he is following in the footsteps of his predecessor the 16th Karmapa, who travelled extensively throughout the country and was instrumental in introducing Canadians to Buddhism in the 1970s.
Head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, is the 17th holder of a 900-year old lineage. Born in a nomadic family in eastern Tibet, he made headline news in 2000 with his dramatic escape to India, where he now lives near the Dalai Lama. The 17th …
Karma Kagyu Association of Canada (KKAC) May 25, 2017 11:25 ET
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 25, 2017) - The Karma Kagyu Association of Canada (KKAC) is privileged to officially host the first Canadian tour of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje. The month long visit will begin with a large welcoming group upon his arrival at Toronto's, Pearson International Airport on May 29, http://www.karmapacanada.org. His Holiness's visit will proceed to Calgary and end in Vancouver while experiencing many of Canada's natural beauties in his travels across the country.
Born in June 1985, Karmapa was born into a nomad family in Lhatok, in the remote highlands of the region of Eastern Tibet. He was given the name, Apo Gaga, meaning "Happy Brother". In the months prior to his birth, his mother had wonderful, spiritual dreams. On the day of his birth, a cuckoo landed on the tent in which he was born, and many people in the area heard a mysterious trum…