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A Compassionate Journey to Ladakh in Appreciation of Buddhist Nun Traditions

Updated: Jan 24

Before the Ladakhi Nuns Association (LNA) was founded, the Buddhist nun tradition in Ladakh, India, was nearly extinct. Along with the dwindling situation of the nuns, there were other social problems in Ladakh. The few existing nunneries were located in high remote mountainous regions in small, shoddily built, poorly heated structures. In those days, nuns barely received an education and mostly learned to memorize and repeat prayers. This created an imbalance in the Fourfold Sangha, an essential Buddhist structure set down by the Buddha to uphold the Dharma, or Buddhist teachings.

Photo credit: Ven. Tenzin Dasel

The Fourfold Sangha: Upholding Buddhist Dharma

The Fourfold Sangha is the Buddhist community of ordained monk practitioners and ordained nun practitioners, together with female and male householders (also called "lay people"). The importance of this fourfold design is to uphold the Dharma like four pillars uphold the structure of a building - each relies on the other three in order for the structure to be functional, balanced, and remain intact. These four pillars of the Buddhist practitioner community practice the Dharma (sacred teachings of Buddha) through study, retreat, service, ritual, and putting the teachings into practice in daily life.

Buddha saw that if this interdependent community functioned well, the Dharma would remain a very beneficial way of instruction to bring happiness to all practitioners of the Dharma and benefit the greater society and world for a long time.

Ladakhi nuns have come far in the last few decades to re-establish this almost missing pillar of ordained nun practitioners. They were fortunate to create the causes and conditions to find the right practitioners who wish to bring the nuns well-deserved sangha support while forging meaningful lifelong Dharmic bonds.

Photo credit: Ven. Tenzin Dasel

The Ladakh Nuns Association and its Role in Resurrecting the "Missing Pillar"

Venerable Dr. Tsering Palmo, a Ladakhi nun and traditional Tibetan Medical (AMCHI) doctor, saw the strong need to resurrect this missing pillar and founded the Ladakh Nuns Association (LNA) in 1996.

Photo credit: Ladakh Nuns Association

Since its establishment, LNA has provided opportunities for young girls who choose to become nuns, many from remote nomadic villages, access to secular and monastic education and to live in the nunnery with spiritual nurturing and care from the older nuns.

In order to promote the role of nuns, LNA has given them the opportunity to obtain higher education in Buddhist philosophy and Traditional Tibetan Medical studies within Ladakh.

Photo credit: Ladakh Nuns Association

Ven Dr. Palmo shared with Tricycle in 2019, “We want to train nuns as dharma teachers, counselors, and healthcare workers. Nuns can serve a need for the community: they can be guides when people and the planet are in trouble.”

A Pilgrimage to Learn, Serve & Immerse with Ladakhi Buddhist Nuns

Global Family Travels’ pilgrimage to Ladakh, India, to immerse in the life of a Tibetan Buddhist Nun, is a rare opportunity to experience the four unbroken lineages of Tibetan Buddhism in Ladakh. In fact, Ladakh is the last place on earth with an unbroken Tibetan Buddhist tradition. All four major Buddhist lineages (Gelug, Kagyu, Nyingma, and Sakya) are thriving today as they have for hundreds of years.

Global Family Travels’ mission is to “Learn, Serve and Immerse” through community-based travel programs. Using these three pillars, together with our longtime friend and spiritual guide, Venerable Tenzin Dasel, we have designed a journey of cultural and mindfulness experiences that dive deep into the spiritual nature of Ladakh at centuries-old monasteries and Ladakhi nunneries while exploring local heritage homes, traditional markets, and craft workshops.

Photo credit: Global Family Travels

The nuns of LNA are eager to share their sacred practices, meditation, healing, and environmental wisdom with genuinely bright open hearts, and they have participated in planning this adventure and look forward to welcoming you to the land of Jullay! - which is both a greeting and a mindset. This is a unique opportunity for a seasoned practitioner and someone new to Buddhist practice to both give and receive support on a deep and meaningful level.

Photo credit: Ladakh Nuns Association

Allowing the country and its people to be teachers, this adventure provides unique experiences in local nunneries in Ladakh, India. We will learn firsthand from Buddhist nuns at several nunneries about their journey to become nuns, what Buddhist vows mean, and how they live as nuns, contribute to their community, and steward the environment.

We will also work side-by-side in the garden of Thupstan Choskorling Nunnery, serving the nuns with our labor and gardening tool donations while learning about the herbs and plants used in their medicinal practice. We are asked to be open and curious about the life of nuns, and we encourage travelers of this journey to prepare questions to ask the nuns, as there will be an opportunity to sit with them and learn about their lives and Buddhist practice.

Expand your Family Circle by joining us in Ladakh, India (rom June 20-30, 2023) to meet, mediate with and experience what it means to live the life of a Tibetan Buddhist nun. Through meditation, gardening, and being side-by-side with the nuns, participants on this adventure will experience a peaceful pace of life, centered on cooperation and compassion.

More Information about this Pilgrimage with Ladakhi Nuns:


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