About Pajapati Foundation
Pajapati Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting Tibetan Buddhist nuns living in the West. Learn more about who we are, what we do, and how you can help.
Many thanks and many blessings!
TRADITIONAL SUPPORT FOR NUNS AND MONKS
Today as in the past, the vast majority of Tibetan Buddhist nuns and monks are traditional practitioners living in traditional monastic settings. That means they are mostly of Tibetan or Nepali descent and live in established monasteries in Tibet, Nepal or India (or in a relative handful of monasteries located in other parts of the world).
These traditional monastics enjoy the support of the local and international Buddhist communities and are offered traditional training by experienced — if not great and venerable — teachers. One might assume that every ordained monk or nun enjoy these same benefits. But that is not always the case.
MONASTIC LIFE ON ONE’S OWN
Many Western monastics, for a variety of reasons, don’t have the option to live and study in an Asian monastery or are able to travel to one for only short periods of time. Having to live and practice at home, far from the heart and soul of their tradition and the support that traditional system provides, they must make their own way.
These dedicated “non-traditional” nuns and monks not only forgo the support and nurturing presence of a large and established Sangha and the ongoing guidance of experienced teachers, they also have to manage their own basic needs: obtaining adequate room and board, maintaining financial stability, taking care of their health and wellbeing — all things considered by the Buddha to be the absolute prerequisites for practice (in the Buddhist tradition referred to as “the Four Requisites”).
WHO PAJAPATI FOUNDATION SERVES
Without adequate spiritual or material support, many of these non-traditional practitioners become isolated and disillusioned. Challenged by the lack for camaraderie and proper support many eventually exhaust their most precious qualities for practice: faith, inspiration and optimism, winding up with little choice but to give back their vows and return to lay life.
Western sangha members need understanding and appreciation, but they very seldom receive it. Because they often do not live in monastic communities but in Dharma centers or by themselves, they cannot do things that the lay people can do. Yet they do not have the conditions to live a monastic life either. They lose out on the pleasures of a family life, and at the same time, they have few of the joys of a true monastic life. — Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
Pajapati Foundation was created specifically to support these courageous and pioneering practitioners. But Pajapati is about more than just supporting ordained Westerners. We have gone a step further, and are principally dedicated to supporting monastic women.
WHY ONLY WOMEN?
While recognizing that both monks and nuns generally face the same kinds of challenges and certainly share the same basic needs, the fact is that women — in religious life as in lay life — face unique hardships and obstacles, at the same time as they are needed to play a vital role in helping to establish and lead the nascent Tibetan Buddhist monastic tradition here in the West. Pajapati Foundation recognizes not only the critical importance of establishing a strong monastic system here at home, but also recognizes and seeks to directly support the role of women in that effort.
A significant aspect about Buddhism in the West is not simply the ordination and greater participation of women, but that the feminine presence is going to transform the expression, understanding, and presentation of Buddhism significantly…It will bring to manifestation certain elements already embedded within the Buddhist tradition that have not yet come to full expression. — Bhikkhu Bodhi
WHO CREATED PAJAPATI FOUNDATION?
To find out more about Pajapati’s founding Board Members, please visit our Founders page.