The below message was written by our dear friend Dr Elizabeth Day, who has been a nun with us in Amaravati and Chithurst Monasteries in the UK. Please read her message, if you would like to help.
With metta from Ayya Santacitta & Ayya Anandabodhi
I usually don’t ask for help in emails like this however my dharma friend, Venerable Tenzin Sangmo, called me recently to let me know that she needed help for her Institute. This is highly unusual for someone so self-sufficient. I assured her that I would do what I can to support her.
Tenzin Sangmo established the Thösamling Nuns’ Institute in Himachal Pradesh in around 2003: www.thosamling.com
Currently she is stranded in the Netherlands – her homeland, where she is safe and in the home of friends – as she didn’t get back to India before the lockdown. Meanwhile there are community members learning to take on the running of her Institute in her absence.
However, they have had to cancel all of their dharma and Tibetan language courses which are the source of most of the income that supports the running and maintenance of Thösamling. With India in indefinite lockdown, and therefore no incoming visitors to Thösamling, Ven Sangmo is unsure whether the place will survive.
This saddens me deeply as what she has created is nothing less than astonishing. It is still very hard for women who practise buddhism to find supportive places to stay and practice, anywhere in the world. While there are now fortunately several nuns monasteries for Himalayan and Nepalese women in India, Thösamling remains the only place in India for other (non Indian nuns) in the Tibetan tradition, and lay women practitioners, to stay. It is a Rime Institute open to practitioners from each of the Tibetan schools, as well as extending warm welcome to other buddhist lineages. She has set it up frugally, and made it possible for bhikkhunis to form community there, in a potent place for practice near the main lineage holders of the Tibetan Schools of Buddhism.
Her accommodation rates for visitors are low, meaning it is an accessible and conducive place for women to come for retreats or long stays for practice. I have stayed there on pilgrimage for several weeks, and have fond memories of my time practising at the foothills of the snowy mountain peaks in a community of buddhist women. It is a haven for practice.
Ven Sangmo has initiated projects that include and support the local Indian community around her, including the development of Queenie’s bakery cafe. This started because Ven Sangmo was unhappy seeing plastic wrappers around cookies brought into the monastery. She asked a resident nun who used to be a baker to teach some local Indian women how to bake. Once the women were skilled and confident, she supported them to set up their own business in the town, employing locals. The baker sells baked goods locally, and donates some to the monastery.
This started the offshoot zero waste project that turns plastic waste into gifts (giving work to local Indian women, and teaching schoolchildren about upcycling). These are sold at the monastery and locally. There are also animal welfare and organic gardening projects (listed on her website). Ven Sangmo has made the monastery 30% self sufficient for food from her commitment to organic gardening.
I can’t bear to think that all of this could be lost! Ven Sangmo has asked me if I could let my friends know about the situation in the hope that some may be willing to offer a one-off donation or to support via a smaller monthly donation.
If you would like to support you can make a donation by international money transfer through your bank.
Here are the details you need to know:
Account name: Thosamling e.V. Deutschland
Account number (IBAN): DE66 2555 1480 0580 0104 11
Donations can be also made through PayPal to <email@example.com>.
Another way to support her is to share this on Facebook and the media sites that you use, and to email through your networks.
Dr Elizabeth Day
Kihikihi Meditation & Yoga