Women in Contemplative Traditions

The importance of female contemplatives in the Tibetan Buddhist traditions

Wangdrak Rinpoche is the abbot of Gebchak Gonpa, a nunnery located in the remote mountains of eastern Tibet, which is home to a spiritual lineage of female contemplatives renowned for their accomplishments in profound yogas and meditation.  Their practices are derived from the Kagyu and Nyingma schools within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

Wangdrak Rinpoche received a Khenpo (or high) degree from Dzongsar College, well known as the most distinguished college in Tibet for non-sectarian scriptural study. He has also received a remarkably broad training in the practices and rituals of the Nyingma, Sakya and Kagyu traditions.

After the completion of his studies and several years of teaching, Wangdrak Rinpoche was repeatedly requested by Tsoknyi Rinpoche and the Gebchak nuns’ to accept formal responsibility for the spiritual and material well-being of the nunnery which is home to several hundred nuns.

The Contemplary has invited Wangdrak Rinpoche to talk about the context and experience of his work supporting women contemplatives within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. We have asked him to address questions such as: Why does he think it is so important to support women contemplatives? What are some of the challenges in realising his goals in this direction? What is needed for women to take up more leadership roles in the Tibetan traditions? What has he learned about the contemplative experience of women that could be helpful and encouraging to aspiring women meditators living in Australia cities.

Rinpoche has also agreed to lead a meditation at some point during the evening.

Wangdrak Rinpoche is a close friend to Tenzin Palmo, a western yogini, trained in the east, who is well known in Australia and around the world as a strong advocate for women contemplatives and for her many years of sustained contemplative practice in a remote cave in the Himalayas.

Rinpoche will speak with the aid of a translator, Canadian nun, Ani Tenzin Chozom.