Creating a monastery is a long-term project and is extremely beneficial, for both the nuns as well as the neighboring lay community and the environment in general. A monastery is also important for the teaching of Buddha to be available and to last in this region of the world.
Dorje Pamo Monastery mission is to provide a place where nuns can live in accord with their vows and support each other in their spiritual practice:
- Accordingly, the nuns’ schedule will follow a program of daily prayers (communal and individual), study, and service.
- Respecting the precepts of mind-training, the nuns will learn to live together harmoniously and by doing so, become a source of inspiration for others.
- For women who wish to be ordained, the nunnery offers the inspiration of an experienced community and the required training. Therefore, the continued presence of nuns in the region will be ensured.
- The nuns who would like to study can attend the Basic and Master’s Programs at nearby Nalanda Monastery and take advantage of their highly qualified teachers and advanced study programs.
In addition, Dorje Pamo’s mission is to serve the local community:
- The nunnery is a place of spiritual inspiration for all; with a meditation hall open to Buddhists and non-Buddhists.
- With their ardent wish to be useful to others, the nuns want to draw on their understanding of the human mind, acquired from study and meditation, to serve the people in their local community.
- They are available to help through counselling or spiritual guidance, especially for other women, with encouragements or advising them on various aspects of their lives, but above all along the spiritual path.
- Lay women, as well as men, will find a welcoming place where they can recharge, find resources, and interact with experienced practitioners.
Other future projects may include:
- Inviting nuns who have completed their Geshe-ma studies (equivalent to a doctorate in Buddhist philosophy) and nuns who are respected teachers.
- Building a stupa, for blessing being and the environment.
- Care of elderly nuns.
- Retreat cabins or special retreat housing for women.
- Organic vegetable garden on 1.5 hectares of the nunnery’s land, which was used for organic farming for decades. The aim of this project is to provide vegetables for the Institut Vajra Yogini, Nalanda Monastery and the Dorje Pamo community.
- Animal refuge for rescued animals or those nearing the end of their lives. Currently there are 2 horses and 5 goats.
- Arts and crafts to raise money to help partially finance the nunnery, which is dedicated to service, spiritual life and the well-being of the extended community.
The Story of Dorje Pamo Monastery
The history of Dorje Pamo Nunnery is part of the history of Tibetan Buddhism’s arrival in the West in the second half of the 20th century, and more specifically the history of the FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition).
– 1980 –
The founding lamas of this organization, Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, visited France in 1978 and 1979. One of the consequences of those visits was the creation of a Dharma center, the Institute Vajra Yogini, and Nalanda Monastery for monks, in the Tarn department near Toulouse, France. The first Dorje Pamo Monastery was created in the 1980s in one of the large outbuildings of the Institut.
« Don’t think that what you are doing, you’re doing it for yourself. You’re doing it for the nuns of the future, »,
declared Lama Thubten Yeshe, who founded Dorje Pamo during his first visit in 1982.
A group of young nuns of diverse nationalities started a religious community. It was closely linked to the Institut and the neighboring monastery under the guidance of the resident Tibetan Lamas. Dorje Pamo was the first monastery in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition created for Western nuns.
Those present at the time remember the positive influence that the young nuns had on those around them and their enthusiasm for study, practice, and service. Read an article of Mandala magazine (1984).
– 1987 –
Buddha taught that everything is in perpetual change, because of multiple causes and conditions, which are themselves in constant evolution. Therefore, after a number of years, the causes and conditions were such that the nuns were called upon to help out with management and teaching and in various FPMT centers. This was the end of the first generation of Dorje Pamo Monastery.
A few decades have passed and the question of a monastery repeatedly comes up in conversations. More recently, nuns living in the area around Lavaur have come together to regularly practice and discuss issues related to daily life, ethics and support for nuns.
– 2016 –
In 2016, we joyfully received the donation of a large house surrounded by 6 hectares of land, orchards, woods, a pond, and fields. We had finally found a home for our future monastery! Naturally and following the recommendations of our spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who endorsed the project, we have revived its original name, Dorje Pamo Monastery.
– 2018 –
The project is gaining momentum. People are volunteering, the plans have been drawn up, and the estimates for renovations have been completed.
The “major structural work” of the nuns’ accommodation part of the building started in March and was finished in the beginning of the summer. This included: repairs to the roof, changes of all door frames, creation of new rooms and new doors and windows, installation of a new heating system, complete renovation of electricity, plumbing, water supply and drains.
Before the first nuns could move in, the building required painting. Courageous groups of volunteers took turns throughout the summer working throughout the oppressive heat to get the work done. The first nuns moved in, in September. From the beginning of October, the professional workers (plasterers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc), returned to resume work on the Gompa / Library / Reception areas.
– 2019 –
As for August, works on the temple / gompa and library are near to completion. Courageous volunteers are setting up the floor boards. The beautiful altar has been delivered and put in place. A final phase of decoration is necessary. Lama Zopa Rinpoche would like classical Tibetan decoration for the Dorje Pamo altar, and suggested a few local artists. The statues will also have to be chosen.
We are very grateful for all the donations which enabled the building of the altar. New donations are needed in order to pay for the rest of the furnishings: altar decoration, throne, tables, carpets, cushions, mats, audio-visual equipment, etc. and of course thankas and statues.
You are invited to contribute to the installation of the gompa.
The altar in our gompa that will be decorated
Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s altar that will serve as inspiration
We are fortunate that the convent buildings are in the middle of 6 hectares of countryside. This is a haven of nature conducive to recharging, meditation, and above all offering an ideal, peaceful haven for nuns to study, to practice and to work for the benefit of others.