In the remote mountain highlands of eastern Tibet, there exists a unique lineage of female spiritual practitioners at Gebchak Gonpa, a nunnery of more than 350 nuns. Many great Buddhist masters praise Gebchak Gonpa as being unrivaled in the training of spiritual practitioners, upholding rigorous meditation and yoga practices. It is the subject of the chapter “The Nunnery of Yoginis” in Tulku Urgyen’s memoirs, Blazing Splendor.
Each nun practices and sleeps in a meditation box of about three square feet for her entire life. Many are revered for their accomplishments in profound tsa lung yogas and Dzogchen meditation, as well as excelling in the practice of tummo, which controls the inner psychophysical channels and vital energies. Above all else, it is their compassion, dedication, and wisdom that radiate. Few monastic communities in Tibet maintain such a level of practice today. With the rapidly changing social and economic context of Tibetan contemplative culture, these nuns require broader moral and financial support to continue preserving their unique female yogic tradition.
Wangdrak Rinpoche, was formally recognized by His Holiness Sakya Trizin as the reincarnation of Gebchak nunnery’s Wangdrak Dorje. Wangdrak Rinpoche was requested by Tsoknyi Rinpoche and the nuns to accept formal responsibility for the material well-being of Gebchak’s nuns. His care for these devoted women is a living example of true compassion. In 2014, Wangdrak Rinpoche, a senior lama of Gebchak Gonpa, and Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo held a joint talk at the University of Sydney on female lineages, of which Gebchak Gonpa is exemplary.
The estimated cost of one nun’s food and healthcare per year is US$250. However, any amount is gratefully accepted towards supporting the nuns in their lifelong practice and will be used by the community as a whole. This is in accordance with Gebchak Gonpa’s earliest tradition that donations are shared equally by all the nuns.