Reconstruction Under Way

Ever since the lama left our modest village, everyone here has been in better spirits. The restoration of the library is well on its way. The library is going to be a separate building on the nunnery compound and it is starting to come together. I am a part of a group of people who are responsible for the books in the library. There are other groups who are working on the architecture of the building and another group is putting together a printing press that the lama so generously donated to our village. Right now we are in the stage of cataloguing the books and deciding what books are necessary for our library to contain. We want to have a broad range of subjects and difficulties, so everyone in the village can find something interesting and useful.

Once we decide what books we need the main issue is where to obtain them. The great news is that once the printing press is up and running we will be able to make books here at the nunnery. Along with myself, we have many scholars in this village and this is a great opportunity for us to publish our commentaries to sutras and scripts. Another option for books are to trade them in. They can come from other towns or even other countries. I have met Lavender; a trader who also translates books. She will be a great resource for bringing books into the library. We can also purchase books with some of the gold that the lama donated to our restoration.

Besides books the library will also need a variety of other supplies and resources. They include religious paintings and statues, prayer wheels, amulets and talismans, and the list goes on. The library need to be decorated and protected. There is an artist, Jatsun, who is a apart of the group putting together the library and he has offered to provide religious art for the library. We also have ritualists who will provide protection rituals and also rituals for the opening ceremony.

I have been assigned the task of gathering biographies of influential Buddhist nuns and putting them all together to compose a book. I am really excited to be doing this, I have a large interest with regards to women in Buddhism. As a young woman, I am so grateful that there are so many inspirational women to look up to and model my life after. I am going to include a diverse range of women in the book of biographies.

On one realm I am including women in the Pali canon from the time of the Buddha. These ladies are key in the advancement of the position and responsibilities of women in Buddhism and without them, we would not be where we are today. Some of these women are Mahaprajapati, who was Shaykamuni’s aunt and foster mother. She challenged the exclusion of women from the monastic order and won the right of ordination. She was the founder and leader of the nuns sangha, and was considered chief among women disciples. Khema, also known as “Khema of great wisdom” because she was able to grasp the Buddha’s entire teaching the first time she heard it, as a laywoman. She then became a nun who helped run the women’s monastic order and was named the most exemplary nun in the Pali canon. Dhammadinna, was a nun who was a very powerful preacher who converted many to Buddhism and became the master of many disciples. Her words are claimed to be buddhavacana, or Buddha words. I am also going to include Patacara, personally the most inspirational woman in Buddhist in history.

In modern Buddhism, there are many women who continue to make an impact globally. Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche is a woman who is one of few females which are fully trained Rinpoches in the Tibetan tradition. Along with her mother and sister, she was the only female growing up at her fathers monastery in India. She want on to be a very influential teacher and has two nunneries of her own. Along with her traditional teaching, she also studied business management, journalism, homeopathy, and sciences. She is known for questioning the responsibility of women in the Buddhist society and her core belief is to educate and empower women. Pema Chodron is another inspirational woman. She is an American born Tibetan nun, who was a teacher before her conversion. She has written a number of books and is a key figure in bringing Buddhism to the West. Venerable Cheng Yen is a Taiwanese Buddhist nun who founded the international charity Tzu Chi Foundation (meaning Compassionate Relief) and also started one of the biggest non-profit bone marrow registries in the world. She is a figurehead for global compassion and charity.

All of these women are very inspirational not only to me, but to Buddhist and non-Buddhists alike all around the world. This is just a start to some of the biographies that will be included in the book. I am very exited to be working on this and it is going to require a lot of more research into the topic.

Overall, I think the library will have a enormous impact on our village. The goal with the restoration is that every person in the village feels welcome at the library. I have been fortunate enough to receive an amazing education and I hope with the new library, everyone else can too. The group of us who are working on the restoration have decided to set up and education program once the new library is up and coming. The idea is to have a session on a different topic every night of the week and they are open to anyone who wishes to attend. This is a really exciting time in our village, and I think that education is the path to enlightenment. With the library being restored the possibilities are endless to opportunities to gain knowledge.