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.
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 …
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 …
Worshipped as a living god, will the 17th Karmapa Lama also inherit the Dalai Lama’s imagery of divinity and celebrity? By MARTIN REGG COHNOntario Politics Columnist Tues., May 30, 2017
It is not his destiny to be the next Dalai Lama. For he is already reincarnated as the 17th Karmapa Lama.
Yet he may one day succeed his 81-year-old teacher and protector.
Revered since age 7 as spiritual leader of a 1,000-year-old branch of Tibetan Buddhism, Ogyen Trinley Dorje is making his first trip to Canada this week at the age of 31.
Meeting Ontario politicians Tuesday before sitting down for an interview, the Karmapa padded around Queen’s Park in a pair of brown hiking shoes peeking out from under his simple maroon robes. A picture of youthful wisdom with his direct gaze, towering above other monks at six feet tall, he may yet emerge as the public face of Tibetan Buddhism
Worshipped as a living god and the Buddha of Compassion, will he also inherit the Dalai Lama’s imagery of divinity and celebrity?
Transforming Disturbing Emotions: Dialogue of the Three Major Traditions of Buddhism Date: Thursday, June 1st, 9:30AM – 12:00PM Place: University of Toronto, Convocation Hall (MAP) Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gp9TaET_SNw
How to Apply Ancient Wisdom in Modern Times In these two sessions, His Holiness will discuss the basic nature of mind and the methods of obtaining happiness through listening to and contemplating the teachings of the Buddha, and then meditating according to the teachings. Date: Friday, June 2nd, 9:30-11:30AM, 2:00-4:30PM Place:The Enercare Centre, Hall D (MAP) Video: How to Apply Ancient Wisdom in Modern Times 1…
May 31, 2017– In the morning after his arrival, at 9:00AM, Wednesday, May 31, 2017, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje arrived at Karma Sonam Dargye Ling– a Tibetan Buddhist centre under the direction of Lama Tenzin Dakpa. This was a visit of great significance, as the centre was first established in 1976 by the venerable Lama Namsel Rinpoche under the request of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje.
Upon arrival, His Holiness was ushered into the main shrine hall and seated on the highest throne, on which he proceeded to receive a body-speech-mind offering from the sangha. The yellow rice and tea ceremony followed in sequence for the welcome ceremony. Shortly after tea was served, the current resident teacher of Karma Sonam Dargye Ling, Lama Tenzin Dakpa, rose to speak.
Lama Tenzin referenced the founder of this centre, Lama Namsel Rinpoche, as one of the first Canadian resident lamas to request for His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa to visit Canada. …
Thursday, 01 June 2017 16:04Lavania Saraf, Tibet Post International
London, UK — "Free from concretizing the eight worldly concerns, we train our mind in the illusion-like outlook that sees things as not real," the 17th Karmapa said during his first trip to the UK, Through training our mind, "our compassion and patience increase and our minds open up."
The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, was received with anticipation and delight on his first visit to the United Kingdom on May 17th, 2017. His arrival in central London was received by numeral devotees and included a special reception with traditional English afternoon tea.
The visit had been highly anticipated by Karmapa himself, especially due to the strong dharmic connection between the United Kingdom and the Karmapa lineage, believed to be established earlier by the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje. On May 18th, Karmapa visited the British Museum where some of the most crucial documents and artifacts in the his…
After a very successful visit to the United Kingdom, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, arrived early afternoon for his first ever visit to Canada. He was welcomed at the Toronto airport by members of the Karma Kagyu Association of Canada (KKAC) and numerous devotees, who displayed a colorful bilingual banner with the KKAC insignia, ¨Karmapa, Welcome to Canada.¨ As he walked slowly past a long line of devotees offering white katas, the Karmapa smiled warmly at everyone.
Still looking delighted, he arrived at his hotel where an official reception followed that included over one hundred guests. Dungse Lama Pema began with a welcome speech thanking His Holiness for accepting the invitation to come to Canada, and his staff members for working so hard to make this visit possible. Lama Tenzin Dakpa and several members of the legislature followed with short speeches to express their joy and gratitude. A welcoming Tibetan ceremony was…
In his first ever visit to Canada, the 17th Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu, the largest sub-school of the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism paid a visit to the Ontario Legislative Assembly and attended the fifth anniversary of Tibet Day at the invitation of the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet, Canada at the provincial parliament on May 30, 2017.
Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje also met with five members of the legislative assembly and thanked them for their support for Tibet and Tibetans settled in Ontario area, and urged the officials to continue their support towards Tibetans in Canada.
Mr. Sonam Langkar, the President of the Toronto Tibetan Association, along with members of the local Tibetan community attended the event.
Karmapa and his entourage toured the legislative assembly building following the gathering, and as part of the Tibet Day celebration, the organizers with the help from local Tibetans prepared traditional Tibetan cuisine.