“The nuns need improved conditions so that they can remain in practice and in retreat year after year, day after day, dedicating their lives solely to accomplishing the Dharma. How wonderful if it is possible, as it will allow this Dharma practice to continue.”
Tamke Wangmo, senior Gebchak nun
The remote mountain highlands of Eastern Tibet are home to a unique tradition of female spiritual practitioners. Gebchak Nunnery, a community of more than 350 nuns, has been praised by many great Buddhist masters for its rigorous training in Dzogchen meditation and yogic practices. Few monastic communities in Tibet maintain such a level of practice today.
Tulku Urgyen’s memoir, Blazing Splendor, features Gebchak Nunnery in the chapter “The Nunnery of Yoginis.” For her entire life, each nun practices and sleeps in a meditation box of about three square feet—similar to the one Jetsunma used in the cave. Among the nuns’ impressive qualities, it is their warm-heartedness and down-to-earth wisdom that stand out. With the rapidly changing social and economic context of Tibetan contemplative culture, new approaches and broader financial support are required to preserve Gebchak’s yogic tradition. With this in mind, Wangdrak Rinpoche, a Gebchak lama responsible for the nuns’ wellbeing, has developed Dongtsang Ritro hermitage as a future hub of the Gebchak lineage. Dongtsang Ritro exists on an ancient meditation site, near Nangchen town where the nuns’ families, food, and medical supplies are now based. A 3-year retreat centre has been built at the hermitage and currently houses 12 young nuns learning Gebchak’s practices. More elderly Gebchak nuns will gradually move here as the original Nunnery’s high-altitude setting strains their health.
Gebchak Wangdrak Rinpoche was formally recognized by His Holiness Sakya Trizin as the reincarnation of the Gebchak yogin, Wangdrak Dorje. He and Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo (pictured above) are close Dharma friends. In 2014, they gave a talk together at the University of Sydney on female lineages.
Yushu Orphans Fund
True to DGLI’s mission, we are happy to support Gebchak’s wider community of 22 children orphaned after the 2010 Yushu earthquake. Wangdrak Rinpoche provides them with sponsorships for their higher secondary and university education. Contributions of any amount to a child’s scholarship will make a crucial difference to their lives.
With a suggested donation of US$200, the Gebchak nuns will pray for specific individuals in their ongoing drubchen, which are group prayer ceremonies, each lasting 7-10 days. The nuns perform 19 of them a year. Drubchen is integral to Gebchak’s tantric practice tradition. These rituals are powerful in removing obstacles and negative energy and thus generate positive spiritual forces.
Food and Health Care
The estimated cost of food and health care for one nun is US$250. Any amount large or small is gratefully accepted. In keeping with Gebchak’s Gonpa’s “one-pot” tradition, all donations are shared equally amongst the nuns.