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Journal for the Study of Religion

On-line version ISSN 2413-3027
Print version ISSN 1011-7601


SWANEPOEL, Elizabeth. The startling phenomenon of the Western Tibetan Buddhist nun: the challenges faced by Western nuns in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition living outside the traditional Tibetan Buddhist regions. J. Study Relig. [online]. 2016, vol.29, n.1, pp.127-149. ISSN 2413-3027.

This article investigates the recent manifestation of a number of Western Tibetan Buddhist nuns and the challenges they face living outside traditional Himalayan nunneries. The lives of these nuns have been researched mainly by insiders such as scholarly Western nuns and no reliable statistics are available about the number of Western monastics in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. This article uses a phenomenological perspective to determine the challenges of transplanting a Buddhist monastic community to the West and the difficulties experienced by the Western Tibetan Buddhist nuns in the process. The author concludes that despite the difficulty of adopting an ancient Asian religious tradition and transplanting its monastic institution to the West, these nuns have contributed significantly in transforming gender prejudice within the ranks of Tibetan Buddhism, and furthermore render a diversity of services in the lay and monastic communities.

Keywords : Tibetan Buddhism; Western Tibetan Buddhist nuns; Non Himalayan nuns; Buddhist monastics; monastic community; gender prejudice.

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