This year following the Kagyu Monlam there will be the First Annual Ārya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering for Kagyu Nuns from January 20 to February 2, 2014. Arising out of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa’s desire to improve education for all Kagyu monastics in general and for nuns in particular, this gathering will bring nuns from seven different Kagyu nunneries together at Tergar Monastery in Bodhgaya for two weeks of teachings, classes, debate, and special pujas.
The gathering is named for Ārya Kshema, a bhikshuni from the time of the Buddha who was said by the Bhagavan himself to be the greatest of his nuns in terms of wisdom and confidence. Remembering her example will encourage contemporary nuns to pursue their training in education and meditation.
After an opening ceremony on January 20, there will be eight days of teachings, classes, and debates from January 21 to 28. During this period, His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa will teach twice daily on Gampopa’s Ornament of Liberation. The nuns will also have daily classes on logic and debate every evening. On January 30, there will be a Special Ritual for the Nuns’ Dharma to Flourish composed by His Holiness the Karmapa. On January 31, there will be a Chöd Ritual “A String of Jewels” to celebrate the special connection women have with the great female master Machik Ladrön. February 1 will feature the rituals of the Sixteen Arhats and Tara, and the Winter Dharma Gathering will close with a closing ceremony on February 2.
The purpose of the Winter Dharma Gathering is to increase awareness and understanding of as well as make progress toward the following:
1. For Buddhism, the fourfold community of bhikshus, bhikshunis, and male and female lay devotees is said to be like the four pillars of a house. It is also said in the context of what constitutes a precious human body that what determines whether or not a land is central is whether all four communities are present. There is no distinction between men and women and no separation between monastic and lay in terms of the responsibility and opportunity to uphold and spread the Dharma, especially in this degenerate age. Thus it is critical that we all join together in striving so that Buddhism may flourish and sentient beings be brought happiness.
2. In order for nuns to uphold the teachings, it is necessary that they have the three trainings in their entirety. It is imperative that they now be able to actually have full ordination in the pratimoksha discipline, able to receive a complete education in Buddhist sciences and philosophy including the Five Great Texts, and able to progress through all the stages of meditational practice and retreat.
During the two weeks in Bodhgaya, it is hoped that the nuns will lay the foundations for fulfilling these goals so that they will be able to return to their nunneries and make further progress for the benefit not just of themselves but of Buddhism and all sentient beings.
Schedule of the Ārya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering for Kagyu Nuns
|Dates:||January 20–February 2, 2014|
|Debate Topic||Collected Topics|
|Participants||Nuns from Kagyu Nunneries|
|Opening Ceremony||January 20, 2014|
|Teaching||Gampopa’s The Ornament of Liberation|
|Dates||January 21 – 28, 2014|
|Free Day||January 29, 2014|
|Date:||January 30, 2014|
|Ritual:||A Special Ritual for the Nuns’ Dharma to Flourish|
|Date:||January 31, 2014|
|Ritual||Chӧd “A String of Jewels”|
|Date:||February 1, 2014|
|Ritual:||Ritual of the Sixteen Arhats and Tara|
|Closing Ceremony:||February 2, 2014|