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Gyalwang Karmapa Initiates Revamp of Nuns’ Education, Announces First “Arya Kshema Winter Debates” for Nuns

20130622 nun debate meeting
21-22 June 2013, Delhi.
Gyalwang Karmapa convened a meeting to initiate an overhaul of education for Tibetan Buddhist nuns, and particularly for nuns of the Karma Kagyu tradition. Over the course of two days, the Gyalwang Karmapa met with senior members of eight nunneries to discuss plans to offer nuns the opportunity to engage in rigorous philosophical study up to the highest standards.

As an initial step towards this aim, the Gyalwang Karmapa will inaugurate the Arya Kshema Winter Debates this coming winter. A bhikshuni who was a direct disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni, Arya Kshema (known as Ayya Khema in Pali) was pronounced by the Buddha to be foremost among his female disciples in wisdom and confident eloquence.

Since the nuns’ study and debate curriculum is still under development, the inaugural session of the first winter debates will center not on dialectical debate, but on laying the groundwork for the future. The Gyalwang Karmapa stated that the First Arya Kshema Winter Debates will emphasize “the importance and value of establishing full training for nuns, in terms of the three higher trainings, which include holding the full set of ethical vows as well as formal study and practice of concentration and wisdom.”

At the same time, a conference will be held to explore ways to improve nuns’ health and overall education. In addition, the Gyalwang Karmapa will offer teachings especially for nuns, mainly on Lord Gampopa’s Precious Ornament of Liberation. Karmapa Office of Administration is providing its full support for this project.

“Women and men are equally responsible for upholding the Buddhadharma,” the Gyalwang Karmapa said, explaining his reason for undertaking this initiative. “It is very clear within the Dharma taught by Lord Buddha that women and men were given equal opportunities and equal responsibilities for practicing and transmitting his teachings.”

Along with nuns from four nunneries in Nepal, three nunneries in India and one in Bhutan, a senior khenpo and nunnery representative, as well as a representative from the Karmapa Office of Administration were also in attendance at the meeting, held during the Gyalwang Karmapa’s recent stay in Delhi.

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