Extraordinary Women Shaping the Transmission of Buddhism in the West

Dakini Power honors contemporary female Buddhist teachers and practitioners.

Venerable Karma Lekshe Tsomo (Patricia Zenn)

Why shouldn’t women have the same opportunities? More and more, I see it as a human rights issue.
— Karma Lekshe Tsomo

Surfing to Realization

How a Malibu beach girl became mother to the "Daughters of the Buddha"

Venerable Karma Lekshe Tsomo already had a religion when growing up in Malibu: surfing. But being constantly teased by her classmates about her family name, Zenn, (“Are you Buddhist or what?”), she borrowed a book about Buddhism to find out what this was all about and instantly knew that this was it. Becoming ordained in 1977, she quickly realized that conditions for Tibetan Buddhist nuns were dire. Almost 30 years ago, she started a movement to give nuns access to education, at a time when this idea was, at best, treated as a waste of time, or even frowned upon by the established monasteries. She is the co-founder of Sakyadhita ("Daughters of the Buddha"), the most important international association of Buddhist women, and the founding director of Jamyang Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the education of Himalayan women. In a way, the California girl has come full circle: now she lives in California again, where she is a professor teaching Buddhist philosophy at the University of San Diego. But whenever she can, she goes to see “her” nuns in the fifteen study centers dotted all over the Himalayas that would not exist without her untiring efforts.

Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo in a great new interview with Buddhist Door:

"Most Buddhists seem unaware of the critical role women can play and do not seem to care about women’s disadvantaged status. Buddhists seem to believe their own propaganda that women and men are equal in Buddhism, and are blinded to the blatant inequalities that currently exist. Some Buddhists pay lip service to women's importance, but institutional structures do not reflect any commitment to women's advancement or to women's equal participation. In fact, the mantra that women and men are equal in Buddhism acts as a kind of smokescreen to mask inequities that are clearly visible. Women continue to be sidelined in public forums, even by educated and otherwise compassionate people, both women and men." 

Read the whole interview here 

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Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo speaks about women in Buddhism: