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Seven Weeks in Tibet:
A Summer in Nangchen with Lama Norlha Rinpoche

The first monastic college for women in Tibet

From top to bottom:
Kala Rongo Monastery.
Neighboring mountains and the
  swiftly running Mekong River.
Nuns at retreat construction site.

The next day it was on to Kala Rongo, the women’s monastery Rinpoche founded in 1990. Our jeeps followed a procession of nuns playing conches, drums and jalings as they led us along the windy cliffside pass to the shrine room, where Rinpoche again received katas and offered blessings to the nuns and local villagers. We visited the shedra (monastic college), where since 2001, forty nuns a year are being given unprecedented opportunities to continue their Dharma studies following three-year retreat. The nuns wept as Rinpoche spoke with them, overwhelmed by his return and his kindness to them.

We toured the construction site of the new three-year retreat, and spoke with many nuns diligently building what they hoped would be their home for the next three years (more than 80 nuns have expressed interest in entering the next retreat, though there will be room for only 45). And we visited the medical clinic, its walls lined with bags of herbs and cabinets of tinctures. During our visit, it was also serving as temporary housing for the construction workers, but eventually it will be a central location for medical treatment and teaching for the nuns and the surrounding community, in an area where there has been no access to medical treatment for decades.

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