Fourteen Female Tibetan Buddhist Monastics Given Bhikshuni Ordination

The following article is from the Summer, 1995 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

by Mary Teal Coleman (Ven. Tenzin Yeshe)

In August 1994, thirteen fellow female Tibetan Buddhist monastics and I were given Bhikshuni vows by Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh at his meditational retreat, Plum Village, near Bordeaux, France. In addition, some male and female monastics from the Vietnamese Zen tradition received this ordination.

The women with whom I was ordained had taken the Five Precepts from Gendun Rinpoche at the Tibetan Buddhist center, Kagyu Dhakpo Ling, in France, where they live. I had previously taken Sramanerika vows from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, in October of 1990.

As most readers of this publication arc aware, the Bhikshuni vows are not available in the Tibetan Buddhist lineage, so Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh showed great kindness in making these ordinations available to the female Tibetan Buddhist monastics.

The complete set of vows was given, including Five Precepts, Sramanerika (Ten Precepts), Shiksamana, and Bhikshuni (Eight Pratimoksha) vows. The Sramanerika, Shiksamana and Bhikshuni ordinations also include the taking of hundreds of minor vows, along with the major ones mentioned. The ordinations extended over a three-day period during a three-week retreat dedicated to studying the Vinaya and meditation as part of the ordination process. The required complement of senior Bhikshus and Bhikshunis were present, as they had come from many Buddhist centers around the world in order to help with this auspicious event.

Ven. Tenzin Yeshe lives near Charlottesville, VA, where she is studying for a Ph.D., runs a Buddhist teaching center called Dharma Institute and has founded a monastic retreat called Tara Gonpa. She has published a book called Monastic (see the book section of this newsletter.) You can contact her c/o Dharma Institute, P.O. Box 254, Ruckersville, VA, USA 22968 or by phone at 703832-5282.

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