Day Seven — New Shugseb and a Goodbye

Today we visited the new site of the Shugseb nunnery. Currently the nuns are staying up in Dharamsala near Kashmir Cottage, but their housing is substandard and during the monsoon practically uninhabitable. The drive from Dolma Ling was the first time I’d been north since I’d been here. Some of the others had gone to a TIPA performance during the week when a few of us had gone to a tara puja instead.

Today is the day we’re set to leave Dolma Ling. It is really sad, but I think I’ll be glad to move. There have been petty lines of demarcation drawn between members of the group–and it will be nice to move to somewhere new, away from the emotions I want so much to leave behind. Yet, leaving the nuns and the quiet solitude of the nunnery will be a big change. I did not go to the last three prayers for several reasons. Mainly because I felt I would rather pray quietly in the intimacy of my own space. Sometimes I feel as though people use the term “buddhist” as a status symbol. I don’t know. My thoughts are confused and hurt by words and actions of others here–and I never expected to experience these things on such a trip.

Nestled at the foot of the mountains stands the new construction of Shugseb nunnery. The current ‘nunnery’ near Dharamsala is substandard and almost completely uninhabitable during the monsoon. I think 60 or so nuns live there currently. All have been political prisoners under the Chinese and later released. I think that there are many still held in Chinese prisons–but since they stopped releasing prisoners and information, it’s hard to know. The original Shugseb was destroyed along with many others I believe. I just can’t believe that even today it’s still  happening, and no one from the international community has done anything…

At least now the nuns will have a wonderful and safe new home. At least now they’ll be able to study and follow their religion in peace. It’s hard to comprehend what these brave women have been through. It’s so heartwarming to stand here and see the new construction and know that soon it will resemble Dolma Ling. The peace even here was so palpable.