Tenzin Palmo was born in England in 1943. Her original name was Dianne Perry, from and early age Dianne Perry was described as being introspective and reclusive child. She became a Buddhist at the age of 18. She decided to chase her spiritual journey by heading to India to pursue her curiosity in Tibetan Buddhism. Here in India Tezin Palmo meet her guru the Eight Khamtrul Rinpoche she decided to ask if she could become a Buddhist nun and if he could ordain her, he replied, “Yes of course”.
On the 24th july, 1964 she was ordained and became Drubgyu Tenzin Palmo. She was only the second Western woman to become a Tibetan nun. Fredi Bedi was the first. It was here in Dalhousie India that Tenzin Palmo had her first, first hand experience of gender inequality or here she witnessed the sexiest views present in Buddhism. Women were not given access to the same teachings as monks, nuns where seen as a distraction for the monks path to Enlightenment. It was believed in Buddhism that you could not reach Enlightenment in female form.
One of Tenzin Palmo’s main contribution to Buddhism was the increased awareness of gender discrimination present in Buddhism at the time. she established the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery and through her dharma circuit to raise money for this investment. This nunnery reestablished a lost line of Tibetan Buddhism but also gave Tibetan nuns a place of refuge and sanctuary of equality that allowed the Buddhist nuns to follow there spiritual path. This Buddhist nunnery has allowed Buddhist nuns to access teachings of the Drukpa Kagyu tradition.
Tenzin Palmo stated at the “Happiness and its causes” conference in Sydney that her nunnery has been responsible in “raising awareness and self esteem of young nuns as well as educating them to become better practitioners”. Tenzin Palmo was also heavily involved in the congress movement on Buddhist Women’s Role in the Sangha held in Hamburg in 2007. At this congress they discussed the reestablishment of the Bhikshun ordination (A bhikkhuni or bhik? u? i is a fully ordained female Buddhist monastic) and the status of women within the Buddhist community.
At the Congress the Dalai Lama stated, “ I express my full support for the establishment of the Bhikshuni Sangha in the Tibetan tradition”. Therefore Tenzin Palmos man contribution to Buddhism was the recent change in attitude towards women in the tradition and what they can achieve as Buddhist. This had a huge impact on women’s spiritual growth with the Buddhist religion. She had given women to acknowledge that they were much more then domestic servants and encouraged them on there spiritual growth.
The Goals of the DGL nunnery are: To provide a program of study, meditation and service that will allow women to realize their intellectual and spiritual potential * To train women in integrating their daily life and work with Dharma principles * To encourage a life based on monastic vows and communal harmony and eventually to reintroduce the bhikshuni (higher) ordination. * To re establish the precious Togdenma ( yogini) tradition of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage and trains the nuns as teachers in meditation. Tenzin Palmo goal to reach enlightenment has inspired many Buddhist nuns to achieve more.
Tenzin palmo had heard of a cave in the mountains, which had water nearby, and a place to grow food. She moved into this cave at the age of 33. The cave was to be her home until she reached the age of 45. Within her 12 years in retreat Tenzin Palmo proved many critics wrong. She had survived the most extreme conditions of weather and isolation and meditated her way towards enlightenment in the body of a woman, therefore giving women a living example of female spiritual excellence a female role model. Tenzin Palmo became a teacher. Something she had never versioned herself as. Solitude and introspection were the chosen paths and her calling.
Tenzin Palmo travelled the world as an inspired teacher. She always spoke from the heart and not from notes and in doing so revealed a spiritual maturity, which impressed the people who heard her. Her message was practical, down to earth and brilliant. She was able to speak to western people and yet she revealed the depth of the Buddhist tradition in a way that the Tibetan lamas had been unable to do because of their cultural difference. Therefore Tenzin Palmo has been responsible for the widespread of Buddhism throughout the western countries. Buddhism has become popular because of Tenzin Palmos bility to communicate the message of Buddha to the western world in a way we can understand and interpret.
Tenzin Palmo have contributed to the recent popularity and wide spread of Buddhism through her range of intellectual, spiritual and her context. Tenzin Palmos ability to interpret and teach the teachings of Buddha has seen her become a role model in the Buddhist tradition. Her movement in the equality off Buddhist nuns has also had a huge impact on the Buddhist community. She has giving the women the right to because fully learned in the teachings of Buddha and no longer seen as just domestic slaves.