What drives women to give up jobs, leave friends and family, and take monastic vows in a faraway land? My visit to a Tibetan Buddhist nunnery in India provides some answers.
The pale faces of the women walking in and out of the dining hall of this tibetan nunnery are distinctly un-Tibetan: they’re Australian, European, American, even Philippine. I get my bread and soup, then join the rest of the group in the sunny courtyard.
“Oh, I remember my first time,” says one woman with a smile. “I walked out thinking, oh, my God, what have I done?” The others laugh and nod in agreement.
I’m sitting with a group of Buddhist nuns, and they’re sharing their ordination stories. Typically, Asian women receive ordination when they are young and often have no choice in the matter. But these Western nuns have made a conscious decision. They are educated, have had careers, and some even have families and children. We are at Thosamling Nunnery in Sidhpur, nestled in the Himalayas a few kilometers away from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s residence. This is the first and only Buddhist nunnery in India for Western nuns.
CONTINUE READING. (Opens as a pdf.)