“The thing about India is that you can’t tell anyone why they should love it. You either do or you don’t.” ~ Betsy Napper
My conversation today is with Betsy Napper, co-director of the Tibetan Nuns Project located in Seattle.
The organization started 30 years ago in Northern India, where Betsy had been traveling, and she’s been a part of the organization for 25 years.
Betsy is a scholar of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism, she’s the author of the book Dependent-Arising and Emptiness: A Tibetan Buddhist Interpretation of Madhyamika Philosophy. She’s the translator and editor of Mind in Tibetan Buddhism, and co-editor of Kindness, Clarity and Insight, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Though she now spends most of her time in Seattle, she does spend quite a bit of time in Dharamsala, India. And between the two of us and our travel schedules, we were really lucky to be in the same place at the same time to record this.
The Tibetan Nuns Project works with over 800 refugee nuns from Tibet who have relocated to India.
In this episode, she gives us a bit of historical perspective on what happened to the Tibetans when they fled to India due to Chinese rule in the 50s.
We also talk about how in the 80s she, as a western woman, had access to things that women in the Buddhist tradition normally wouldn’t have access to and how her work with the Dalai Lama opened doors for her.
My big takeaway from our conversation was how Betsy observed that these nuns in Northwest India needed help and she figured out a way to do it. She realized that, unlike the monks, the nuns did not have access to scholastic study and not being schooled meant that they didn’t have the education to start up their own institutions.
Betsy and her colleagues helped change all that when she left her job teaching at Stanford to work in a field that she was uniquely qualified for.
Betsy wasn’t alone in making the Tibetan Nuns Project successful, but she was one woman with a desire to help many others. And she figured out where her talents could be best utilized and put herself to work, following her passion.
Enjoy this conversation with Betsy Napper!
Connect with the Tibetan Nuns Project
Mentioned in this episode
Dependent Arising and Emptiness (Betsy’s book)
Tibetan Buddhism (Betsy is co-author)
Kindness, Clarity and Insight by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Betsy is co-editor)
Four Schools of Tibetan Buddhism (wiki article)
Chuba dress (wiki article)
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