Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, a Tibetan Buddhist nun who is founder of the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery and a spiritual friend, is helping to revolutionize the way the feminine is viewed in Tibetan Buddhism. For many years, she has been raising the consciousness of individuals worldwide to the needs of Tibetan Buddhist nuns while pushing for their equality within male-dominated traditions. As a result of her efforts, the young nuns in her lineage at the DGL Nunnery are receiving the same level of education as Tibetan Buddhist monks studying in monasteries, and this is a historic first in Tibetan Buddhism.
The newly erected temple at DGL Nunnery in India also features feminine deities and this is another historic event, the first time feminine divine images have ever predominated in a Tibetan Buddhist temple. On Jan. 14, 2015, she spoke to an audience at The Rubin Museum in New York about those remarkable images and paintings, which were featured in a slide show.
Jetsunma's work has helped to inspire male monastics such as HH the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan Buddhist male leaders to turn their attention to the need for equality for Tibetan Buddhist nuns.
In a historic recent announcement, The Gyalwang Karmapa, who is head of the Kagyu tradition, said that in 2016, he will restore the novice (getsulma) and (shikshamana) training (shikshamana) nuns' vows. They will be conferred with the assistance of a second contingent of nuns from the Dharmagupta tradition and will lay the foundation for the bestowing of the full nun's (bhikshuni) vows in the future. This is a huge step forward in the struggle for spiritual equality for Tibetan Buddhist nuns and will help to open fresh venues to the spiritual fulfillment of female practitioners worldwide.