A Model of Compassionate Vows for Buddhist Women:

Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo Visits DILA

On April 21, 2017, Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts College received a special visitor – the world-renowned Tibetan bhikshuni Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo, professor at the University of San Diego, and the founder and former president of Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women (國際佛教善女人協會). She gave a talk on “Women in the Transformation of Buddhism,” sharing her experiences of over 20 years in care-giving and Buddhist nun training through providing education and working with international organizations.

In the lecture, she discussed the evolving status of Buddhist nuns from the Buddha’s time all the way to the modern era, as well as the causes and conditions behind the development. By giving the example of Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī (大愛道比丘尼) , a historically influential bhikshuni who laid the foundation for women’s Buddhist practice, the venerable raised her concerns over the current status and treatment of Buddhist nuns in some countries, such as the ten-precept nuns in Sri Lanka, the eight-precept nuns in Myanmar, and the Tibetan anis. After receiving the full precepts as qualified nuns, they are still not duly recognized; for those who aspire to become a monastic and to be fully ordained, hardly any monastery would conduct the ceremony for them. Moreover, they even have to suffer frequent shortage of daily necessities. Hence, they are experiencing a challenging situation on their Buddhist path.

Therefore, the venerable founded the Association to enhance the interaction between Buddhist women worldwide, and to safeguard the rights and safety of the Buddhist women. She also consequently established the Jamyang Foundation and the Jamyang Choling Institute, aiming to provide education programs and projects for Buddhist women in developing countries.

Later on, Karma Lekshe Tsomo expressed her aspiration that all Buddhist women around the world will be able to have an ideal learning environment, meet their needs for basic daily necessities, and receive universal education for self-development, thereby better serving the world. She urged all Buddhist women to cherish the opportunities to practice the Dharma, and exert their influence from the female perspective. She hoped that in the future there will be no more gender inequality in Buddhist education, teacher training, and Dharma propagation.

Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo is a most representative figure in the West who endeavors to address current difficulties facing Buddhist women and promote the development for Buddhist nuns in today’s society. The spirit and strength reflected in her great vows and works has inspired contemporary Buddhist women to keep up their efforts for further advancement, achieving exemplary contributions and accomplishments.

Texts: DILA News
Translation: Agnes Chan (Canada)
Editor: DDM Editorial Team, Chang, ChiaCheng (張家誠)

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