Friday, July 10, 2009

Venerable Robina Courtin

Venerable Robina Courtin has been a Tibetan Buddhist nun for over thirty years. She is an internationally renowned Dharma teacher who is famous for her no nonsense approach. At the end of 2000 she resigned as editor of MANDALA, international magazine of Buddhism, to increase teaching at Buddhist centers around the world. Since 1997, she has run the Liberation Prison Project for Buddhist Practitioners, which works with people in prisons throughout the US, helping them with their practice and studies by writing them and sending books and tapes and other materials. She visits prisons in California, Massachusetts, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia, giving teachings to groups and meeting them one-to-one. Several of these men are on death row or have life sentences, and some have been involved in gangs, both on the streets and in prison.

Venerable Robina was born in Melbourne, Australia and brought up as a Catholic. She studied classical singing until her early twenties, then went to London in 1967, where she lived for four years. She became actively involved in the radical left, working mainly with a London-based support group for black and Chicano prisoners. In the early seventies she became a feminist and returned to Melbourne in 1972 to work with other radical feminists. Robina began studying martial arts in 1974 in her quest for a spiritual path, moving to New York where she studied karate. She continued karate in Melbourne until 1976, when she attended a Tibetan Buddhist course in Queensland given by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. She went to Kathmandu, Nepal, and eighteen months later in November 1977, she left everyting behind and ordained as a Buddhist nun at Kopan Monastery. Nowadays, Venerable Robina Courtin is one of the most popular teachers of Buddhism in the west. Venerable Robina's prison work was recently profiled in an award-winning documentary, Chasing Buddha.
The Mitra Youth Buddhist Network

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