Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi is a Buddhist nun, activist and teacher of both Buddhist and secular programs. She loves bridging the worlds of Buddhist thought, current events, and the latest research in the field of positive psychology. 

Ven. Tenzin is especially interested in bringing the wisdom of Buddhism into modern culture and into alignment with modern cultural values such as racial and gender equality, and environmental awareness. She has been exploring the presentation of traditional teachings using modern pedagogical methods such as experiential exercises, dialogue and small group interaction. She feels that Buddhism had many rich perspectives and techniques to offer for the development of the whole person in all aspects – emotional, cognitive, social, and so on – and can be used to help us deal more skillfully with the challenges of our lives. To this end, she has been collaborating with teachers of Non-Violent Communication, conflict resolution, psychotherapy and other disciplines to design programs to meet specific needs.

As well as being passionate about her spiritual practice, she is a social justice activist and is involved in several interfaith social justice groups. She believes, in the words of the Occupy movement activist Pancho Ramos Stierle, “It is time for the spiritual people to get active and the activist people to get spiritual so that we can have total revolution of the human spirit… I think that we need both now, and that we need to combine this inner revolution with the outer revolution to have the total revolution of the spirit. Then you can build the alternatives to a collapsing system built on structural violence.” She feels strongly that a genuine and meaningful spiritual path includes not only personal transformation, but social and cultural transformation as well.

Venerable Tenzin first became interested in meditation in the early 1970s and then started studying Tibetan Buddhism in early 1991 during a year she spent studying in India and Nepal. Venerable Tenzin has worked at various positions within Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s organization, the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). She also completed several long meditation retreats over a six-year period. Venerable Tenzin took monastic ordination in 2004 with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Since 2006 she has been teaching at various FPMT centers around the world, in North and South America, India, Nepal, Australia, and New Zealand. She has been the resident teacher of Mahamudra Centre in New Zealand, Gendun Drubpa Buddhist Centre in central British Columbia and Vajrapani Institute in California. She is also a visiting teacher for the Liberation Prison Project and has taught in prisons in the US, Colombia, Australia, and New Zealand. 

Venerable Tenzin is authorized by the FPMT to teach at both the foundational and in-depth levels, and to lead long retreats. She is a certified teacher of Compassion Cultivation Training, a secular compassion training program developed by Geshe Thubten Jinpa and colleagues at Stanford University. She also teaches the Cultivating Emotional Balance program, a secular program using contemplative techniques drawn from Buddhism for managing emotions, developed at His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s request. She is a facilitator of the a.r.t. of Fulfillment, one of the secular programs of the Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom.

She is an adjunct faculty member at John F. Kennedy University and in December 2018, she taught a course entitled “Engaged Buddhism and Social Change” for the College of Psychology at the San Jose campus. She loves interfaith collaboration and is a volunteer for the Interfaith Speakers Bureau of the Islamic Networks Group in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

Since August 2018, she has been based at Land of Medicine Buddha in Soquel, California, a beautiful center in the redwood forest close to the Monterey Bay where she teaches in the local community, continues her prison work and her engagement in social justice activism.