Education Now - Traditional versus Modern

Khenrinpoche 2

Monasteries and nunneries provide the best environment for the study and practice of the Buddha's teaching without distraction. The main emphasis is on developing the mind by studying philosophy, debate, and lam-rim, the graded path to enlightenment. Traditionally, ritual arts and scholastic study have been a prerogative of Tibetan Buddhist monks, with their ordained sisters receiving little or no training in these areas, being mostly confined to reciting prayers and performing pujas.

In Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery, however, this is not the case. The nuns of Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery have had the doors of the classical Buddhist education opened to them. They are provided with highly trained scholars to teach them, and are now instructed in classical Tibetan debate, the performance of ritual music, the creation of sand mandalas, and other ritual arts.

tibetan language class P800 copy copy

Not surprisingly, once given access to scholastic training, the nuns have shown an intense determination to excel in their studies. Their studies include Tibetan and English language, mathematics, philosophy, meditation, debate, rituals, chanting and art, along with other teachings and practices of the Buddha. Their goal is to become qualified Dharma teachers so that they may teach others both, at their mother nunnery and in Dharma centers internationally.

education now 2 nuns

The key to the success of Khachoe Ghakyil Ling Nunnery lies in its approach to education. Whereas even as little as 30 years ago, nuns were relegated to performing pujas and prayers, reciting mantras, and performing the Nyung ne retreat, Lama Yeshe's vision for the nunnery was very different. Seeing the potential in these intelligent young women for a deeper understanding of Dharma, he insisted from the beginning that the nuns follow the same schedule of study as the monks. By providing secure living conditions, well trained teachers, and an inspiring environment, the nunnery was set on the path to success.

After completing their primary and secondary school education, all nuns undertake training in all aspects of Buddhist teachings, including philosophy, ritual arts, chanting, and playing ritual music as well as general knowledge subjects and languages. Great emphasis is put on the philosophy study program at Khachoe Ghakyil Ling Nunnery.

 geshe mas 2017graduation

Khachoe Ghakyil has established a geshe study program (the Geshe ma degree is the monastic equivalent of a Doctor of Divinity) - one of several nunneries in India and Nepal to offer such an opportunity to their nuns. The curriculum is based on the same 16 - year course of philosophical study as the monks. Groups of nuns now participate regularly in the annual inter-monastic debate. This debate is hosted by the various nunneries in India and Nepal that participate in the Geshe program. Already two of the senior nuns have completed the Geshe degree, with many more following in their footsteps. The nuns will be the future teachers and leaders of the nun’s community. Read about  Future-Female-Buddhist-Leaders

Providing this kind of Dharma education also plays an important role in the preservation of the Dharma outside Tibet, where the teachings of the Buddha are under constant threat. There’s a very great risk that the priceless wisdom and teachings of Tibetan Buddhism may be lost. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said “Tibetan Buddhist philosophy is something precious which we can be proud of and should strive to preserve.”

Read more here on Debate