Ven. Thubten Chodron

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Born in 1950, 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 Ven. Lama Yeshe and Ven. 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 Founation 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' 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.

Ven. Chodron travels worldwide to teach the Dharma: North America, Latin America, Israel, Singapore, Malaysia, India, and former communist 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 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; How to Free Your Mind: Tara the Liberator. She has also edited several books for her teachers, including Transforming Adversity into Joy and Courage by Geshe Jampa Tegchok; Choosing Simplicity by Bhikshuni Master Wu Yin; A Chat about Heruka and A Chat about Yamantaka, both by Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche. Many of her talks can be found on the web in both written and audio form as well as short daily talks on video, longer video talks, and live Internet teachings.

Ven. 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.

• If you'd like a CD with the latest Power Point Presentation on Venerable Chodron and Sravasti Abbey, please email Sravasti Abbey.

Articles/ Interviews

video Video clip:

Interview with Ven. Chodron (7 min): Dec 2007, Pagoda Phat Hue, Germany.

  • What attracted you to Buddhism?
  • Why did you become a nun?
  • How is it being a Western nun?
  • The issue of gender equality and why Sravasti Abbey was set up.


Audio Clips Audio clips:

Participants at a Dharma workshop that Ven. Chodron conducted in Nov 2001 in Singapore asked Ven. about her life and how she met the Dharma:The early years; meeting the Dharma and being attracted to it; ordination; teaching in different places. [27 min] Download | Listen (RealAudio format)

Author Rosie Rosenzweig interviewed Venerable Chodron, asking her to recount her journey from growing up in a Jewish family to becoming a Buddhist nun. Ven. Chodron talks about the influences of Judaism on her life and how she met the Dharma and decided to ordain. She describes teaching the Dharma in Israel and compares Buddhist and Jewish practices. Her experiences as a nun and Buddhism in America are also discussed. April 11, 2005. [49 min] Download mp3 file

speaker Ven. Chodron was interviewed by Barbara Stewart from MORE magazine on the subject of ageing (picture below). The magazine is read by 1,000’s of women over 40. You can be assured that Venerable’s Dharma advice was a little different than what most middle aged women hear about ageing! 22 Apr 2007. [Note: due to a recorder malfunction, only the front portion of the interview was recorded.] [34 min] Download mp3 file

speaker On 8 December 2007, Ven. Chodron was interviewed by Korean nun Ven. Seogwang Snim on Dharma practice. Ven. Seogwang Snim was working on her PhD in transpersonal psychology at the time. She asked Ven. Chodron the following:
- How do you think meditation practices affect healing?
- What are the most important factors for spiritual growth?
- What are the obstacles in the way of liberation?
- What are the eight worldly dharmas?
- How does individual suffering influence how we see ourself and others?
- What advice would you give to a monastic who did not experience marriage or sexual relationships before ordination?
- Some masters are in a relationship: what do you think of that?
- Could you comment on the claim of the study that the spiritual development stages of the Mahayana practices are related to the level of deconstructing the boundary between I the subject as the perceiver and you as the object, the perceived?
- Do you have a personal story to share to help myself and others engage in the truth of the Mahayana practice?
[69 min] Download mp3 file

Interview by Barbara Stewart

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