As the New York Times reported last month, there has been a sharp decline in the number of women choosing to become nuns in the United States. They are in fact a dying breed.
How to fix this problem? Check out what’s happening on the other side of the world!
Teaching Martial Arts To 300 Nuns
Buddhists in Nepal have the answer. A Buddhist monastery near Kathmandu is enjoying a surge in popularity after its spiritual leader directed its 300 nuns to start learning martial arts techniques.
Enrollment is rising and Buddhist nuns as far afield as the Himachal Pradesh in India want to become kung fu instructors.
The Druk Gawa Khilwa (DGK) nunnery near the Nepalese capital teaches its nuns a mixture of martial arts and meditation as a means of empowering the young women. In Buddhism, like many religions, the voices of women have traditionally been muted, even though according to Buddhism, it is not justifiable to regard women as inferior.
Kung Fu Introduced Three Years Ago
From The Guardian:
“As a young boy growing up in India and Tibet I observed the pitiful condition in which nuns lived,” says His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa, the spiritual head of the Drukpas.
“They were considered second-class while all the privileges went to monks. I wanted to change this.”
Although nuns have usually carried out only household chores in Buddhist monasteries, the nuns of DGK, who come from places as far apart as Assam, Tibet and Kashmir, are taught to lead prayers and given basic business skills. Nuns run the guest house and coffee shop at the abbey and drive DGK’s 4X4s to Kathmandu to get supplies.
Balance Of Spiritual And Physical Well-being
But for many, the breakthrough was the introduction of kung fu three years ago, shortly after the Gyalwang Drukpa visited Vietnam and observed female martial arts practitioners there. Deciding that spiritual and physical well-being are both important for nuns, he brought some of those Vietnamese instructors back with him.
From the BBC:
Rupa Lama, a 16-year-old nun from India, says kung fu helps her concentrate.
“It’s good for our health. Meditation is very difficult and if we do kung fu, then afterwards meditation becomes much easier,” she says.
Another nun, Konchok, also from India, says she likes kung fu because it gives her strength.
“It’s very helpful for our safety. If somebody teases us or something, then we can hit them and be more powerful,” she says.
The shaven-headed DGK nuns recently stunned an audience with a colorful martial arts display at the third annual Drukpa council summit held in Ladakh.
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, a former librarian at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, says she will introduce kung fu at the nunnery she has set up in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
Memo To The Catholic Church: Consider Martial Arts Classes For Your Nuns
I love the combination of spiritual and physical health — and what a fantastic switch from the accepted notions of how a nun behaves.
So here’s my memo to the Catholic Church: if you’re concerned about the decline in women signing up to become nuns, why not consider offering kung fu classes?
Photo Credit: otabi