Convent in the clouds

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-11-27 22:13:01

A nun looks at tents erected for nuns to sit inside and meditate for the whole day. Photo: Wang Yuanling

Hidden high in the mountains of the Tibetan plateau is a giant Buddhist monastery called Yachen. The monastery, in Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, was established by the influential Lama Akhyuk Rinpoche in 1985. Though not ancient, it is considered to be irreplaceable by Tibetan Buddhists.

The Buddhist practitioners of Yachen Monastery come not only from Tibetan regions but also from other parts of China. There are also a number of foreign monks practicing Buddhism in the monastery.

Yachen has the largest number of nuns of any Tibetan monastery, with around 10,000 of them living there.

The monastery is like an isolated town hanging at 3,700 meters above sea level and covering an area of more than 3 kilometers. The nuns, who live on a small peninsula formed by a river that runs through the monastery, brave the harsh living conditions and the lack of basic everyday comforts available at such high altitude. Potatoes are the only food available for much of the year.

Due to its altitude, the monastery is closed to outsiders throughout the winter, allowing the nuns and lamas to meditate undisturbed during the day in their individual tents.

Nuns are segregated from the lamas both in their accommodation and when they attend lectures given by gurus. Lectures are given during the summer and when they finish, the nuns  study meditation for more than 100 consecutive days.

Global Times

Nuns cross the river to return to their peninsula after an open-air lecture. Photo: Wang Yuanling

Nuns react to a guru's jokes during an lecture. Photo: Wang Yuanling

A nun takes pictures of the of nuns' houses. Photo: Wang Yuanling

Washed clothes are left outside to dry as nuns do laundry by the river. Photo: Wang Yuanling

A nun holds the bottle for her own IV drip. Photo: Wang Yuanling




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