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What I learned living with nuns

by Rikke Braren Lauritzen

A glimpse into everyday life within a contemporary Tibetan nunnery, as experienced by a Western woman. Excerpted from LEVEKUNST art of life.

Here the nuns are satisfied and happy with the conditions and they smile and spread their love everywhere they come and go. In Denmark I sometimes have the craving of isolating myself from others, going to remote places and meditating and in daily life appreciating just doing my own things in my own way. I normally call for people’s company and have my social rendez-vous scheduled a long time ahead. There can be days when you really need a smile and a happy encouragement from another fellow human, and when you may feel as the most lonely person in the world. In the West we are becoming more and more isolated and many people are suffering from lack of contact. According to new scientific studies the root of many physiological, psychological and mental diseases is actually loneliness and isolation. We are simply not born to be alone and it is our basic human right to share our lives with others. Somehow the feeling of living together with the nuns here in this big four floor building where they are sitting outside my door chanting from early morning to evening, is really nourishing for my soul. I have come to really value other people’s presence in a new way and I know that I am not really happy alone.

Here in the nunnery we live with open doors side by side and a nun always has her sisters. In fact she belongs to a sangha, a community which functions as a support for everyone’s practice and well-being. I have come to love these nuns, and I have come to admire them so much. Their strength, their discipline, their dignified aura and still their sweetness and warm hearts. They represent to me the best qualities of a woman’s nature. I can see myself in them, like ”if they can do it, so can I”, and it’s so motivating to have role models both for my own practice and my whole perspective on life, when I get sucked too much into the samsaric wheel of everyday’s attachment or self-centredness.

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