The Role Women play in Tibetan Buddhism (Gebchak Nuns) and culture.

 

ABSTRACT

 

Presented by

 

The Venerable Wangdrak Rinpoche.

 

The Venerable Wangdrak Rinpoche is a native Tibetan and overseer of Gebchak Gonpa, which is the largest Buddhist nunnery in Tibet. Rinpoche will be speaking about the cultural and spiritual role of women meditators in a tradition that is typically very male-identified. His talk will reveal the rich cultural heritage and important role Women play in Tibetan Buddhism and culture.

 

Wangdrak Rinpoche the third is the reincarnation of Wangdrak Dorje.  Along with the Gonpa’s founder, Tsangyang Gyamtso, Wangdrak Dorje was instrumental in building Gebchak and was renowned for his total mastery of profound yogas and meditation. The present incarnation holds the Khenpo degree in Buddhist philosophy, and has received a remarkably broad training in the almost all of the traditions.

His Holiness Sakya Trizin formally recognized Rinpoche as the reincarnation of Gebchak Gonpa’s Wangdrak Dorje, with an extraordinarily clear prediction letter describing his name, his parents’ names, the place and year of his birth, and a unique birthmark on his back. This prediction letter was issued in accordance with the signs he received in meditation. Every detail in the letter proved to be correct. This recognition was also verified by His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa, the head of The Drukpa Lineage, and His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche.At the age of nine he entered Chodrak Gonpa, a monastery of the Karma Kagyu and Barom Kagyu traditions, where he received the traditional training in all ritual practices. At the remote hilltop retreat place of Trachok Gon, he received the experiential instructions from Trachok Karma Tseten, the most renowned Karma Kagyu Dzogchen and Mahamudra lama in the vast provinces of Eastern Tibet. There Rinpoche spent three years in isolated meditation retreat, gaining experience and realization of the instructions he’d received.

Dzongsar College in Derge is where Rinpoche undertook his formal studies in Buddhist philosophy and scripture, and is well-known as the best college in all of Tibet for non-sectarian scriptural study. Rinpoche undertook the entire nine-year course, consistently placing first to third in his class and graduating with the Khenpo degree. From the highly respected Drukpa Kagyu lama Adeu Rinpoche, Wangdrak Rinpoche received all the transmissions of the Gebchak lineage. Rinpoche has been fortunate to receive many great empowerments, from many great lamas. His teachers include Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche, the late Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Dzongsar Khyentse, and others.

When he had completed his studies, Rinpoche returned to Chodrak Gonpa to teach Buddhist philosophy for three years. After moving to teach at a branch gonpa in Nepal, Rinpoche was repeatedly requested by Tsoknyi Rinpoche and the Gebchak nuns to accept formal responsibility for the spiritual and material well-being of Gebchak Gonpa. Along with caring for his students from all over the globe, this is the end to which he continually works.

Ancient practices leading to Enlightenment…

The nuns’ story is a classic example of dedication and tenacity. Organized in nunneries comprised of several “Ani houses” (dwellings where up to 15 nuns live together), they perform their spiritual practices in a group, teaching and helping each other all their lives. Many nuns do three-year, nine-year or even lifetime retreat. On retreat, each nun sits all day in meditation posture doing her yogic practices and meditation.

 

                                                              Tsoknyi Lineage Nangchen Nuns in Retreat 2005

The nuns’ daily routine captures a timeless scene from the past. A typical day starts around 3:30 a.m., as the nuns wake and immediately start their first three-hour practice session. After a short break for breakfast, they resume their second session, ending at lunch. The third session occupies the afternoon, and after a light evening meal, they complete their fourth practice session. They then continue sitting throughout the night, practicing dream yoga. 

 

Sherab Zangmo (above), a senior Tsoknyi Nangchen Nun at Gebchak Gonpa, passed away in the Fall of 2008. Here is a link to her story.

 

For more information about Wangdrak Rinpoche and his activities,

please visit Rinpoche’s official website: www.gebchakgonpa.org.

 

 

 

The Women’s Meditation Tradition in Tibet

 

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