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CERN | Geneva | Switzerland

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Gyalwang Drukpa: Fostering science and promoting gender equality

This is the mission His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa set for himself. He paid a colourful visit to CERN yesterday accompanied by two Lamas and twelve kung fu nuns. The Gyalwang Drukpa is a spiritual leader only slightly below the Dalai Lama in the Buddhist hierarchy. His philosophy is based on principles of mutual aid, respect of the environment, education and women empowerment.

“People like to see the nuns perform”, he told me when I asked him why he was touring Europe accompanied by twelve nuns and not monks. “This way”, he said, “I hope to raise awareness about gender equality in the world.”

A few years ago, Gyalwang Drukpa realized the Buddhist nuns in his homeland of Ladakh, a small region nestled between Tibet, India and Pakistan, were often mere servants for the monks, confined to cooking and cleaning for them. He sought to emancipate them and had the nuns trained in kung fu practice to improve their health and spiritual balance while also providing them with a means of self-defence. He even allowed women to perform all the sacred rites once reserved only to monks.

When asked a bit more about it, His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa explained that he is seeking more than just equality between the genders. “Men and women carry different energy”, he explained to a few puzzled physicists while gesturing with his arm pointing in the direction of the ATLAS control room. He likened this energy with the one released at that very moment a hundred metres under our feet in the Large Hadron Collider. “Both male and female energies are needed to better the world”. He stated how profound and scientific this principle is, as fundamental as the relation between the Sun and the Moon.

His interest in CERN stems from the importance he sees in science and education to improve human condition. He started a foundation called “Live to Love” that fosters education especially for young girls, humanitarian aid and sustainable development. His foundation holds the Guinness record for having planted 50033 trees in 33 minutes.

All of the nuns exuded health and inner balance, cleanly shaved and beautifully clad in long burgundy robes. The Gyalwang Drukpa himself smiled and joked a lot, clearly enjoying his visit. When I asked some of the nuns what their role was in the group, one of them simply answered: “Just sightseeing”.

The nuns in my school sure looked different. Good thing Sister Minguy, the school head, did not perform any type of martial arts or I would have been in deep trouble!

Pauline Gagnon

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4 Responses to “Gyalwang Drukpa: Fostering science and promoting gender equality”

  1. Richard Breedon says:

    What I great story and picture! I wish I could have been there.

    Many years ago I hosted Swami Vishnudevananda for a visit to CERN and toured the UA1 Experiment before the discovery of the W and Z bosons. (Swami V. founded the international organization that runs the Centre de Yoga Sivananda in Geneva.) When I saw him a year or so later in New York, he asked me enigmatically, “So, have you found it?”

  2. Mala Morrow says:

    I would like to know more about how to
    contact Gyalwang Drukpa and his Kung Fu
    nuns. Thank you.

    Found the English version of your e-mail
    sorry about my confusion.

    Mala

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