Acceptance Speech by Bhiksuni Jampa Tsedroen
Your Royal Highness , Your Excellency , Most Respected Venerables, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Friends in the Dharma
The message that I had been chosen as an „Outstanding Woman in Buddhism“ and that I would be honored here today at the United Nations reached me on Christmas eve, December 24. I was in India, conducting research related to my PhD thesis in Tibetology at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath and in the libraries of Tibetan monasteries in South India. The message was forwarded to me by Dr. Thea Mohr, co-organizer of the forthcoming First International Congress on Buddhist Women's Role in the Sangha, that will take place from July 18 to 20, 2007 at the University of Hamburg. Both of us felt very much encouraged in our efforts to organize this historic event, which will be attended by
- H. H. the Dalai Lama, who will be a guest of the City of Hamburg for ten days on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Tibetan Centre Hamburg, a Centre for Buddhist Studies and Meditation;
- Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile;
- Leading Buddhist monks and nuns of all Buddhist traditions;
- Scholars on Buddhist Studies, especially on Vinaya, such as Professor Oskar von Hinüber, and on the History of the Bhikkhuni Sangha such as Professor Peter Skilling.
At the time when I learnt that I would be honored by your award today, I had already heard of the award, because some of my dharma sisters, whom I have been in touch with since the 1980s, have received this award before. They are, for example,
- Late Ven. Bhikkhuni Voramai Kabilsingh, honored with the award 2002. I was lucky to meet her in October 1991 during the 2nd International Sakyadhita Conference at Thammasat University here in Bangkok, organized by her daughter Ven. Bhikkhuni Dhammanada, the former Prof. Dr. Chatsumarn Kabilsingh; and
- Ven. Bhiksuni Thubten Chodron (USA), honored in the same year. She is a member of our Committee of Western Nuns, which was established on the wish of H.H. the Dalai Lama to work towards the revival of the bhikkhuni precepts in Tibetan Buddhism; and
- Ven. Bhikkhuni Dhammananda (Thailand), honored with your award in 2004. I first met her in 1987 during the 1st International Sakyadhita Conference in Bodhgaya and worked with her on the Sakyadhita Vinaya Research Committee for many years. I admire Ven. Bhikkhuni Dhammananda very much;
- Mrs. Ranjani de Silva (Sri Lanka), President of Sakyadhita Sri Lanka, was likewise honored in 2004. I first met her during the Sakyadhita Conference in Bodhgaya 1987 as well. Mrs. de Silva organized the 3rd Sakyadhita Conference in Colombo 1993; and
- Ven. Bhiksuni Prof. Dr. Karma Lekshe Tsomo (USA), Founder and President of Sakyadhita International, the International Buddhist Women's Organization, that was founded in 1987 in Bodhgaya. She co-organizes Sakyadhita Conferences every two years, so far nine conferences, and connects all of us. I met her first in 1980, and she helped me to get fully ordained in 1985.
Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo, Ven. Thubten Chodron, Ven. Dhammananda and Mrs. Ranjani de Silva will all be speakers at our Congress at the University of Hamburg. We are all united in our wish as women to share full responsibility for the preservation of the Buddhasasana. We consider it as most important that Buddhist women have the chance - as intended by our common teacher Buddha Sakyamuni - to strive for liberation from samsara in accord with our full capability - as bhikkhunis.
I consider the „Outstanding Buddhist Woman Award“ to be an acknowledgement and support of our 25 years of efforts to revive the bhikkhuni sangha in Buddhist countries where it is no longer available. Thank you very much for your trust, your support for the cause of Buddhist women, and for choosing me as a recipient of your award. It is a great honor. Thank you very much!
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