Venerable Tenzin Palmo was raised in London and became a
Buddhist while in her teens. In 1964, at the age of twenty, she
decided to go to India to pursue her spiritual path.
There she met her Guru, His Eminence the 8th Khamtrul
Rinpoche, a great Drukpa Kagyu lama, and became one of the first
Westerners to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun. She
remained with Khamtrul Rinpoche and his community in Himachal
Pradesh, northern India, for six years and then he directed her
to the Himalayan valley of Lahaul in order to undertake more
intensive practice. Tenzin Palmo stayed in a small monastery
there for several years, remaining in retreat during the long
winter months. Then, seeking more seclusion and better
conditions for practice, she found a nearby cave where she
remained for another 12 years, the last 3 years in strict
retreat. She left India in 1988 and went to stay in Italy where
she taught at various Dharma centres.
Before H.E. Khamtrul Rinpoche passed away in 1980, he had on
several occasions requested Tenzin Palmo to start a nunnery.
She understood the importance of this and remembers:
'When I was staying at a small monastery in Lahaul I saw
for myself that nuns, however intelligent and devoted, had no
opportunity to study and no access to higher teachings. It made
me so sad because the monks were given all the teachings and put
into retreats while the nuns were overlooked and treated as
In 1993, the Lamas of the Khampagar monastery in Himachal
Pradesh India again made this request. This time Tenzin Palmo
was ready to take on the formidable task and she began slowly raising interest worldwide.
Cave in the Snow: Tenzin Palmo's Quest for Enlightenment
(Bloomsbury USA, 1999)
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