RECENT HISTORY OF DECHEN TSEL
Dechen Tsel Nunnery was destroyed in the political turmoil of the late 1950’s. A partial rebuild was initiated by Garchen Rinpoche in 1983. The nuns began doing 3-year Buddhist meditation retreats in 1992, even before their Dharma brothers at the Gar Monastery! They have maintained a continuous, uninterrupted cycle of 3-year retreats since 1993! There are currently 100 nuns living at the nunnery, which is overseen by Namkha Tulku Rinpoche.
The courageous, diligent, and tirelessly hard-working nuns at Dechen Tsel live without proper plumbing or reliable electricity in stone huts they built by hand themselves. They subsist primarily on roasted barley flour, as they do not have money to purchase other food from the closest city, to raise animals for milk or cheese, or to build a greenhouse in which to grow vegetables. Their only source of revenue is derived from offerings given to them by villagers and Western donors to conduct pujas or prayer ceremonies. Unfortunately, in contrast to the monks of Gar Monastery, prayers are rarely requested of the nuns and the contributions they receive are negligible. Whereas the monks are given a stipend of $12 US Dollars each day, the nuns only receive $0.73 to $1.00 US Dollars per day (depending on whether or not they are in retreat). These offerings are insufficient to provide a sustainable livelihood for the nuns. They are unable to purchase enough food, warm clothing and blankets for relentlessly frigid winters, basic first aid supplies, or feminine hygiene supplies. They don’t often receive Dharma teachings or education from visiting Buddhist teachers because they don’t have monetary or other contributions to offer such teachers. The greatest wish and heartfelt prayer of these dedicated and faithful nuns is to be able to study and practice the Dharma. They need our help in order to fulfill their aspirations.
The nuns of Dechen Tsel performing a puja.
Upon completion of a three-year retreat, these Nuns demonstrate their mastery of Tummo ("fierce heat" practice) by drying soaking wet sheets with their body heat outside in the freezing cold Tibetan winter. January, 2021
ABOUT THE FOUNDATION
The Foundation was founded in January 2015 with the intention of supporting the nuns of Dechen Tsel Nunnery.