About Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron

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  • Portrait of Venerable Thubten Chodron

    Venerable Thubten Chodron (Photo ©Phil Borges)

    Born in Chicago in 1950, Venerable Thubten Chodron grew up near Los Angeles. She graduated with a B.A. in History from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1971. After traveling through Europe, North Africa and Asia for one and a half years, she received a teaching credential and went to the University of Southern California to do post-graduate work in Education while working as a teacher in the Los Angeles City School System.

    In 1975, she attended a meditation course given by Venerable Lama Yeshe and Venerable Zopa Rinpoche, and subsequently went to Kopan Monastery in Nepal to continue to study and practice Buddha’s teachings. In 1977 she was ordained as a Buddhist nun by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan.

    She studied and practiced Buddhism of the Tibetan tradition for many years in India and Nepal under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tsenzhap Serkong Rinpoche, Zopa Rinpoche and other Tibetan masters. She directed the spiritual program at Lama Tzong Khapa Institute in Italy for nearly two years, studied three years at Dorje Pamo Monastery in France, and was resident teacher at Amitabha Buddhist Center in Singapore. For ten years she was resident teacher at Dharma Friendship Foundation in Seattle.

    Venerable Thubten Chodron was a co-organizer of Life as a Western Buddhist Nun, and took part in the conferences of Western Buddhist teachers with H.H. the Dalai Lama in 1993 and 1994. Keen on interfaith dialogue, she was present during the Jewish delegation’s visit to Dharamsala, India, in 1990, which was the basis for Rodger Kamenetz’ The Jew in the Lotus, and attended the Second Gethsemani Encounter in 2002. She has also been present at several of the Mind-Life Conferences in which H. H. the Dalai Lama dialogues with Western scientists, and regularly attends the annual Western Buddhist Monastic Gatherings. She is active in Dharma outreach to people who are incarcerated in prisons.

    Venerable Thubten Chodron travels worldwide to teach the Dharma: North America, Latin America, Israel, Singapore, Malaysia, India, and the former Soviet countries. Seeing the importance and necessity of a monastery for Westerners training in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, she founded Sravasti Abbey, a Buddhist monastic community in Washington State, USA, and is currently the abbess there.

    Her books include Don’t Believe Everything You Think; Open Heart, Clear Mind; Taming the Mind; Buddhism for Beginners; Working with Anger; Guided Meditations on the Stages of the Path (with CD); Cultivating a Compassionate Heart: The Yoga Method of Chenrezig; and How to Free Your Mind: Tara the Liberator. She recently co-authored Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and An Open-Hearted Life with psychologist Dr. Russell Kolts. She has also edited several books, including Transforming Adversity into Joy and Courage and Insight into Emptiness by Geshe Jampa Tegchok; A Chat about Heruka and A Chat about Yamantaka, both by Kyabje Zopa RinpocheChoosing Simplicity by Bhikshuni Master Wu Yin; and Karmans for the Creation of Virtue by Vinaya Master Bhikshu Ben Yin. Many of her talks can be found on this site in both written and audio form as well as short daily talks on video, longer video talks, and live Internet teachings.

    Venerable Thubten Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings.