Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo was raised in London and whilst in her teens she became a Buddhist. In 1964, at the age of twenty, she decided to go to India to pursue her spiritual path.
There she met her Guru, His Eminence the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche, a great Drukpa Kagyu lama, and became one of the first Westerners to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun. She remained with Khamtrul Rinpoche and his community in Himachal Pradesh, northern India, for six years and then he directed her to the Himalayan valley of Lahaul in order to undertake more intensive practice. Tenzin Palmo stayed in a small monastery there for several years, remaining in retreat during the long winter months. Then, seeking more seclusion and better conditions for practice, she found a nearby cave where she remained for another 12 years, the last 3 years in strict retreat. She left India in 1988 and went to stay in Italy where she taught at various Dharma centres.
Before H.E. Khamtrul Rinpoche passed away in 1980, he had on several occasions requested Tenzin Palmo to start a nunnery. She understood the importance of this and remembers when in 1993, the Lamas of the Khampagar monastery in Himachal Pradesh India again made the request. This time Tenzin Palmo was ready to take on the formidable task and she began slowly raising interest worldwide.
In January 2000 the first nuns arrived and in 2001 the construction of Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery began and is now, with the ongoing construction of the traditional Temple, nearing completion.
In February 2008 Tenzin Palmo was given the rare title of Jetsunma, which means Venerable Master, by His Holiness the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, Head of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage in recognition of her spiritual achievements as a nun and her efforts in promoting the status of female practitioners in Tibetan Buddhism.
Tenzin Palmo spends most of the year at Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery and occasionaly tours to give teachings and raise funds for the ongoing needs of the DGL nuns and Nunnery.
To find out more about Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s life, read Vicki Mackenzie’s biography Cave in the Snow published by Bloomsbury, and see the ‘Cave in the Snow’ DVD directed by Liz Thompson.
The head of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage is His Holiness the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, to go to his website, click here. To view photos of the lineage lamas, click here.
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo has been helping the nuns in Laphag Nunnery since 2006 by building simple dwellings on land provided near Khampagar Monastery in Tibet. The nuns spent several months a year at these dwellings to receive teachings, then return to their nunnery for practice and retreat.
|Jetsunma’s new book ‘Into the Heart of Life’|
Foreword by His Holiness The Gyalwang Drukpa
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s new collection of teachings has been recently published by Snow Lion in the U.S. and Allen & Unwin in Australia. Into the Heart of Life offers a general audience the practical insights Jetsunma has gleaned from more than 40 years of engagement with Buddhist practice.
As Jetsunmna says in her Preface , ‘This book comprises some of the talks that I have delivered over the years to audiences in the East and West who are united in the common challenge to make something meaningful of their lives …. This is not a book about esoteric practices or advanced methods of meditation. The contents of this book deal with ordinary practitioners concerned with translating Dharma instructions into an ongoing life experience.
“One of the true yoginis of our time, a woman who has dedicated her life to Buddhism…Tenzin Palmo’s is a voice we need to hear, a woman who has fully experienced what she speaks about with an absolute honesty, delightful humor, and real insight.”
“Tenzin Palmo is one of the most genuine and accomplished of Western practitioners.”
|Senge Tsewai Tsoklay Chöd|
This is a recording of the nuns of the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery performing the Chöd ritual called The Lion’s Play [Seng-ge rNam.par rTse.wa].
The practice of Chöd or “Cutting Through the Ego”, was propagated in Tibet during the 11th century by the yogini Machig Labdrön and is basically a spiritual practice based on the Prajñaparamita or Perfection of Wisdom sutras. It combines specific tantric visualisation with melodious chanting to the beat of the Chöd drums.
|Welcome Dongyu Gatsal Ling Initiatives|