On the Eastern Tibetan plateau of Kham, at an altitude of 14,000 feet, subsistence farmers and nomadic herding families sprinkle the craggy mountains of Nangchen. Their way of life has changed little in over 2,000 years, and for most it is a life of illiteracy, poverty and hunger. In Nangchen, everyone is born Buddhist, and the Buddhist path is believed to be the only path out of suffering. It is therefore an honor for a family to have a son become a monk and practice Buddhism without distraction.
Living at a monastery, he transcends the hardships of everyday life and gains spiritual training, an education, and status as a community leader.
This option has traditionally never been available to a daughter - her single destiny is to be married off in exchange for livestock, and to bear children who will become workers on the family farm. Within the socio-economic realities of rural daily life, it was believed that to educate a woman was a waste of valuable resources.
But now, for the first time, the women of Nangchen are being given the choice to change the course of their lives. Built with their own hands and ever expanding, the Kala Rongo Monastery is home to nearly 300 nuns who study and practice full-time, creating new opportunities for themselves and for the community they serve.
DAUGHTERS OF WISDOM is an intimate experiential portrait of these nuns, who are receiving unprecedented educational and spiritual training, and preserving their rich cultural heritage even as they slowly reshape it. Some shy, some outspoken, all committed to the often difficult life they have chosen, the nuns graciously allowed our camera a never-before-seen glimpse into their vibrant spiritual community and insight into their extraordinary lives.
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