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 Lama Yeshe and Kyabje 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, Kyabje 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.
Ven. 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’s 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.
She travels worldwide to teach the Dharma: North America, Europe, Latin America, Israel, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, 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. It is the only Tibetan Buddhist training monastery for Western monks and nuns in America.
Well-known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings, Ven. Chodron emphasizes the practical application of the Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She has published many books on Buddhist philosophy and meditation in several languages, and is the only nun who has co-authored a book with His Holiness the Dalai Lama—Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions. Her latest book is Good Karma: How to Create the Causes of Happiness and Avoid the Causes of Suffering, and her Buddhism for Beginners and Open Heart, Clear Mind are widely recommended introductory books.