Tsoknyi Gechak Ling is the only nunnery practicing the Tsoknyi tradition outside of Tibet. The ancient hilltop village of Chobhar, outside of Kathmandu, is renowned for the centuries-old temple of the Chobhar Adhinath, also known as Anandadi Lokeshvara, one of the Kathmandu Valley’s four main temples of Avalokiteshvara. Situated quite near the 15th-century temple, the gompa’s main shrine hall also holds an extraordinary image of thousand-armed Avalokiteshvara, lord of compassion. The practice of Avalokiteshvara has a very long history in this village, as it was here in the 9th century that the Buddhist nun Gelongma Palmo established the Nyungne purification practice of fasting and prayer focused on this very deity. This is the site of the new home of the Tsoknyi Nuns which is now under construction. In addition, the village sits above the Chobhar Gorge, where according to legend the Bodhisattva Manjushri compassionately cut through the hills surrounding the Kathmandu Valley, opening what was previously a lake for human habitation. Tsoknyi Gechak Ling opened in the spring of 2010 with about 32 nuns and is now home to well over 150 anis (Buddhist nuns). Many of the original nuns had come from Gechak Gonpa in Nangchen, eastern Tibet, to be with their teacher, Tsoknyi Rinpoche.
The first five nuns arrived in 1994, and Rinpoche rented a house for them in Parphing, a place sacred to Guru Rinpoche just outside the Kathmandu valley. Over time their numbers increased, and they were joined by new young nuns from Nepal. Rinpoche arranged a larger residence and under his guidance, they practiced according to the Tsoknyi lineage tradition. In 2009, the entire community moved to Chobhar in preparation for the opening of Tsoknyi Gechak Ling, where Rinpoche has also established a shedra to complete the nuns’ Buddhist philosophical education. Later in 2010, Rinpoche visited his home village of Samagaon in Nubri, in the mountains of northern Nepal. He bestowed a public empowerment and helped inaugurate a joint community/government school. Rinpoche encouraged parents to send their children, including their daughters, to this school. He also mentioned that he had established a new nunnery in Kathmandu. In the spring of 2011, 82 young girls arrived in Chobhar to join the gompa. In a devout Himalayan Buddhist community like Nubri, many parents still prefer to send their children for a traditional Buddhist education rather than to a secular school. Faced with no place for the newcomers to stay, Rinpoche had to quickly turn a new administration building into dormitories and build temporary classroom space. By the end of 2011, Rinpoche had created a vision to build a new nunnery at the Chobhar location as the current facilities were just too small for the number of nuns and young ani’s in residence. In early 2012 a Capital Campaign was started to raise funds from Rinpoche’s students around the world. Rinpoche’s vision is to build a new primary school, nuns residence and shedra classrooms, three-year retreat building, international retreat center and a large shrine hall.
Tsoknyi Gechak Ling’s Shedra
Tsoknyi Gechak Ling’s Shedra offers a lengthy and detailed course of study in Buddhist philosophy. The Shedra follows the curriculum of Namdroling’s Ngagyur Nyingma’s Institute. Students follow a 9-year program. During the first four years the course covers five large Madhyamaka texts, two Abhidharma, three Tibetan language texts and several minor ones. In the fifth and sixth year, the course deals with the five works of Maitreya, Dharmakirti’s Pramana Vritti, an extensive study of Six Perfections with more emphasis on the Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom) and many other texts. The last three years of study is the Higher Tantra Course and includes Guna Prabha’s Vinaya treatise, Guhya Garbha Tantra, Longchen and Jigmed Lingpa’s works as well as Vinaya texts. The academic session runs from the beginning of the 2nd Tibetan month to the end of the 11th Tibetan month. Tsoknyi Gechak Ling’s Shedra currently has two class groups. The first group is set to graduate in the spring of 2020 and the second in 2021.
Pema Chödrön Drubde
The Pema Chödrön Drubde is Tsoknyi Gechak Ling’s three-year retreat facility. It includes a shrine room for group practice and individual rooms for each practitioner. The first group of 7 nuns entered retreat in the spring of 2017.
Tsoknyi Gechak Ling’s Trasang
The Trasang is the general community of any monastery and nunnery. Everyone accepted into the Nunnery joins the Trasang first and from there, depending on their age and previous studies or experience, they may join the school, shedra or retreat centre or remain in the Trasang. The particular responsibilities of the Trasang are the general running and management of the Nunnery and the daily prayers and pujas. TGL has an active which includes the Gyeko or discipline master, the Nyerpa who manages the food supplies and the Kitchen, and a number of nuns who ensure daily practices happen and prayer requests are completed with the help of school and shedra nuns as required.