Ceng Gu Buddhist NunneryOctober 16, 2019 in China ⋅ ☀️ 12 °C
Shortly before he died some of his disciples asked the Buddha, “Teacher, shall we allow women into our number or not?” Gautama replied, “I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it, but, I don’t see why we shouldn’t.” So from the earliest days of the new religion, women were allowed on an equal footing with men. Today we went to visit a Buddhist nunnery located in a densely populated neighborhood in Lhasa. Before we reached the ornate ceremonial gate of the nunnery, however, we passed a number of shops selling women’s dresses, fruit and electric appliances.
“These shops belong to the nuns,” my guide told me. “They raise money and it supports their work here in the community.”
“What is their work,” I asked.
“They have a small private school here, but their main work is to run their neighborhood clinic. They have a doctor trained in both traditional and modern medicine. Some of the nuns are nurses, other clean the facility, others are simply chore workers, but they do much good here.”
A few more steps took me through an elaborate archway painted in ornate designs of blue and gold. It led to a plain courtyard whose main attraction was a tall staff that looked like a flagpole covered with a rainbow of prayer cloths. Tibetan Buddhists believe these colored, meter-square colored cloths represent prayers. They string them on lines draped from the top of the flagpole. Then at a religious celebration, the flagpole is twisted, and it becomes a color clad monument to the prayers they have offered.
As I passed by an open door I saw that the nuns were filling a need in this poor community. A room full of older adults and children waited to see the doctor. We happened to arrive at lunchtime when the nuns were eating their common midday meal. The first red-robed figure I saw looked like a boy with shaved head. Then I saw that the monk had a beautiful face, and I realized that she was a nun, maybe sixteen years of age. I saw others whose gender was hard to determine. Nevertheless, they welcomed us with smiles and had already given our guide permission to allow us to photograph them at their meal. On several instances my eye caught that of a nun. Whenever that happened she would smile. I would nod, and she would return the greeting.
Whatever their religion, I feel that God must be very pleased with the work these women are doing to help their neighbors. I can only guess what effect they may be having on the people in their poor community, but I know they certainly had an effect on me.Read more