Nurturing Our Future Leaders

This project seeks to enrich the American Buddhist community by developing a modern model of monastic life that stays true to the fundamentals of the traditional approach, one that flourishes here in Oregon and can eventually be a curriculum to be shared worldwide. The long term goal is to offer access to well trained and deeply committed women in leadership and service roles to support the flourishing of the Dharma in the western world.

Stepping Forth: A 3-7 Year Training Program
The First Step: Inaugural Retreat June 14-28, 2024

This project is a new initiative of the Maitripa College community to empower Buddhist women who seek to deepen their internal and external practice through a monastic model.  Our first step in this aspirational program is a summer intensive to gather Buddhist women from throughout the country for a two-week training to assess whether the longer program is mutually beneficial. This retreat will take place June 14-18, 2024, at Tara Farms, in Corbett Oregon—a property just outside of Portland owned by a community member who shares our vision of women’s empowerment through this model.

Tara Farms in Corbett, Oregon

The Maitripa Rabjungma Community project is dedicated to the empowerment of Buddhist women into service and leadership through an education based in scholarship, meditation, and service within a monastic and practice-based community.

A project of Maitripa College in Portland, Oregon, and situated at Tara Farms in nearby Corbett, this experiential program will include a three year period of monastic ordination and training (with options to extend that timeframe).

During this time, the “nuns-in-training” will learn and be supported in offering Buddhist spiritual care for the community on the basis of the integration of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy, with a focus on an in-depth and living practice of the bodhisattva vows, lojong (thought transformation techniques), and deep meditation practice.

Yangsi Rinpoche and Venerable Yönten

This program will be residential and full-time, led by senior nun Bhikshuni Lozang Yönten and supported by Yangsi Rinpoche, as well as a number of senior lay and monastic practitioners connected to our broader Maitripa community.

The women in the program will undertake the “rabjung” or “stepping forth” vows of a trainee monastic and undergo a 3-7 year training in diverse ways of offering service to the Buddhist community, including familiarity with leadership roles such as that of a Chanting Master, a spiritual caregiver for Dharma students and for the dying and bereaved, Ritual Celebrants, and Meditation and Philosophy Instructors. There will be a focus on living compassionately and interdependently with the land as this project is developed, as well as an emphasis on the body and mind connection through food, Tibetan Medicine, and movement practices such as Qi Gong.

The INTENTION in creating this community is for the people, for the community — to serve sentient beings through FOUR PILLARS:

Pillar #1. Ethics (Foundation)

The ethical foundation will create conducive conditions to overcome attachment, accumulate merit, develop shine, and live simply:

Three Rabjungma Vows

Eight Mahayana Precepts

Twelve Pledges of Aspiring Bodhicitta

Pillar #2. Spiritual Formation

Rabjungma Prayer Element

The Rabjungma Community will pray together six times  a day. Each prayer session will be 10-15 minutes.

  • Praises to the 21 Taras
  • Recitation of The Heart Sutra.

Rabjungma Education Element

Most of the education element will be incorporated with the Maitripa College curriculum. Four key points:

  • Buddhist philosophy
  • Buddhist rituals
  • Buddhist counseling methods
  • Tibetan medicine

Rabjungma Meditation Element

The meditation element will be comprised of both group and individual meditation. All of the meditation practice will be done at the location where the rabjungma live. The four great ngondro practices:

  • Refuge ngondro and shiné meditation
  • Guru yoga ngondro and shiné meditation
  • Vajrasattva ngondro and shiné meditation
  • Mandala offering ngondro and shiné meditation

Pillar #3. Holistic Wellbeing

Psychological Wellbeing
(Seeing a Buddhist counselor)

Monthly counseling:  There can be a tendency to use dharma practice to avoid facing unresolved emotional issues and psychological wounds, but bypassing even small painful things can block our spiritual evolution. Therefore, psychological wellbeing will be cultivated through counseling.

Physical Wellbeing
(Practicing physical yoga) ~To inspire honor and respect

  • Elegantly worn robes
  • Yoga practice
  • Simple and healthy diet

Environmental Wellbeing 
(Living simply)

Simple housing — all energy goes towards spiritual formation, not to construction. Initially each rabjungma will have her own simple tiny house with a shared bath and toilet. There will be a general meeting space & dining room, etc.

Genuine Sisterhood

The mindset we want to create is a willingness to compromise and take care of each other … so… the daily structure of study, practice, service, meditation, etc. will be clear from the beginning.  This creates the cause for harmony.

Pillar #4. Transformation

The transformation will be the bodhisattva mentality: action, engaging, unconditionally able to benefit sentient beings.