Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo (see bio below) responds to participant questions in this rich and lively session hosted by Ven Candā. Questions put to Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, with loving respect from the Anukampa Community, all answered brilliantly, below in this inspiring and extraordinary Q&A session!

Personal questions:
• I have read your book and your story is remarkable. Can you talk a little about how you kept going in the cave for so long and what were the most difficult aspects of living alone at high altitude?
• Having spent twelve years practicing in a cave, do you think one needs to spend a lot of time in retreat/ in solitude to live a fulfilled spiritual life or even enlightenment?
• What was most challenging in setting up your nuns’ monastery Dongyal Gatsu Ling?

• Do you have any advice on how to deal with the terminal illness of a loved one? Impermanence and death are part of the path, but we are human, and it hurts to see a loved one suffer and not be able to do much.
• What is your advice for lay women who have found the path later in life and are too old for ordination but want to focus seriously on developing their practice?
• In the wake of COP26, how do you envisage humanity creating enough metta, wisdom and activism to save the planet?
• How do we practice compassion toward authoritarian regimes that create so much suffering, for example the regimes in Myanmar and Syria?
• I am in the process of uncovering emotions conditioned from childhood that I thought I had dealt with but was just putting a band aid on. I can function but these suppressed emotions stop me from being fully alive. Please can you advise the best way to go through this process?
• What is the Tibetan equivalent of jhana, and do you teach jhana? Are such profound states of samadhi essential for profound insights into reality?

• I have been practicing regularly with body sweeping meditation for more than a year now. Every time I move my attention to my heart area, I feel my heart sunk, scared and anxious. How shall I look at this properly? Usually I move on, thinking one day this fearful feeling will disappear.
• How do people’s characters influence their choice of meditation subject?
• As a grandma and activist, with a job, how can I remain still and experience deep blissful meditation? As a normal (stressed out) person all I can manage is to just sit and enjoy a bit of quiet time.

Buddhist Doctrine:
• Please can you explain/give an understanding of rebirth?
• Please can you tell me if Mara ever visited the Buddha after his enlightenment?
• In Buddhism the animal realm is considered a lower realm. As a pet owner whose dog is loved, spoiled, and looks quite happy, can you give me some clarity on the suffering of animals?
• What do you think is the best way to translate samadhi into English and why?

Bio: Tenzin Palmo grew up in London and felt the vocation for Buddhism at an early age. She went to India in 1964 at the age of 20 and was one of the first western women to be ordained a Tibetan Buddhist nun. For several years she lived in a Himalayan monastery and then moved to a small cave where she remained for 12 years in order to work at her spiritual practice. In 2000 she started to build a Nunnery for Himalayan women in North India named Dongyu Gatsal Ling (Garden of the Authentic Lineage]

Prior to the covid lockdown Tenzin Palmo spent six months out of the year travelling the world to give talks on Buddhism. In 2008 she received the title ‘Jetsunma’ (Venerable Master) from His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa in recognition of her achievements.

She is the subject of “Cave in the Snow” by Vicki Mackenzie, and author of “Reflections on a Mountain Lake”, “Three Teachings” and “Into the Heart of Life”.

Jetsunma wishes that donations go towards Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project For further details about Jetsunma’s Dongyu Gatsal Ling Monastery, please visit This established monastery was founded by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo for Himalayan nuns.

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Audio teachings are available to download from our BSWA Podcast Channel (Dharma talks and guided meditations) and BSWA DeeperDhamma Podbean Channel (retreats and suttas). Videos can be viewed on our BSWA Youtube Channel and YouTube Playlists. Books and articles are available on our website here.

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