A Remarkable Monastic

Many of you will have heard of Tenzin Palmo. Here is an interview with her, published recently in the Guardian On-Line.

A couple of us were due to go and visit Tenzin Palmo a weeks or so ago but were not able to make it unfortunately. Too bad especially as she knew my Master before they both went to the East to become monks. And while I’m thinking about this wonderful nun I just want to pause say Congratulations on being named Jetsunma (Venerable Master). This is no small matter, not a mere title.

Tenzin Palmo has been given the title of Jetsunma, which means Venerable Master, by His Holiness the Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa, Head of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage. His Holiness bestowed this honour on Tenzin Palmo at Druk Amitabha Mountain in Kathmandu on his birthday, the 16th February 2008, in recognition of her spiritual achievements as a nun and her efforts in promoting the status of female practitioners in Tibetan Buddhism.

During the ceremony, His Holiness explained that Je means ‘accomplishment of a Yogini’ and Tsun means ‘accomplishment of the path of a Bhikshuni’. He went on to say ‘Men were always given the privilege to do all practices, but it was not given to women. This is very sad. But now it is different. It would be unkind if I would not give the title of Jetsunma to Venerable Tenzin Palmo for the benefit of all females in the world and the Palden Drukpa lineage.’


Thanks to Iain in Japan for pointing me to the interview.

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3 thoughts on “A Remarkable Monastic”

  1. “I don’t need or want a one-on-one personal relationship. That’s why I don’t get lonely”.
    That quote from Tenzin Palmo really stood out for me. In the culture I live in I am always aware that while I know plenty of single women, some with children, some without, it is still not considered “the norm” by mainstream society. It is hard to live against the mainstream. Even now, within me there is a tiny bit which says I have failed at human relationships because I prefer to live alone. Which is of course nonsense.

  2. I’m late adding this comment I know, but I did read the book about Tenzin Palmo (Cave in the Snow) quite recently, and actually wrote a review of it for Amazon, in which I said “This is an inspiring and fascinating insight into the world of an extraordinary woman (Tenzin Palmo, previously Diane Perry), who endured all kinds of privations and gender discrimination in order to follow her arduous path to enlightenment. She belonged to a Tibetan Buddhist lineage, but her story reminded me of that of another British woman (Jiyu Kennett Roshi) of the same era, who became a Soto Zen Buddhist priest in Japan. Her book (“The Wild White Goose”) is also well worth reading. In fact, although there is no mention of it, it would be surprising if the two women were not aware of each other as their paths must have crossed at some point……”

    Thanks for letting me know my hunch was correct!

  3. Many thanks for pointing towards the review and to Rev. Master’s book, The Wild White Goose. As hard as I find to travel beside her through those hard/rewarding/enlightening years in Japan I know it is well worth retuning to these writings from time to time.

    Anybody remember the story about the perfect goldfish, and Koho Zenji’s gentle way of pointing to an area of training which Rev. Master needed to look at?

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