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Some QA with the Buddhist nuns

There are currently about 500 nuns in Eastern PEI. As a Buddhist monastic school, we periodically enrol new students and nuns at GWBI.

Our age range is from 15-71 years old (average: 30 years old). Individuals, especially minors, can only join the monastery with their family’s support. If someone feels the monastic life isn’t for them, they are welcome to leave at any time.

Most of our Buddhist nuns are from Asia–mainly Taiwan–but we also have nuns from other parts of the world, such as the US, Singapore, New Zealand, and other parts of Canada.

GWBI is funded through donations, primarily from our 80,000 followers around the world, including parents of our Buddhist nuns.

There are rumours that GWBI is funded by a large corporation called Bliss and Wisdom. This is not true.

Bliss and Wisdom is a religious community, not unlike a community of Christians, Jews, or Muslims. It is not a large corporation. The name references the Buddhist community founded by the late Venerable Master Jih-Chang. There is no big business or unit that funds the community.

Anyone who acknowledges the late Venerable Master Jih-Chang and Teacher Zhen-Ru as their spiritual teachers is part of the Bliss and Wisdom community. However, that does not mean that their business or land are part of the community.

If Mary MacDonald was a devout Christian and ran a jewelry store, should we consider the jewelry store as part of her parish’s? Should we consider her land to be part of her parish’s?

We have tried to understand how the 17,000 acres was calculated as we have been unable to arrive at the figure ourselves. Our Buddhist community has contacted the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Lands to verify how they arrived at their number.

As mentioned above, our Buddhist community has monks, nuns, and lay followers. Just as one wouldn’t expect the land of a member of St. Mary’s or the United Church to belong to the church, the properties of Buddhist lay followers do not belong to the Buddhist monastery.

In fact, there are Islanders (ie, Island names, such as Stewart, McInnis, McKay) who attend Buddhist classes hosted by the Buddhist monasteries. One could consider them to be a Buddhist lay follower. Should their land be considered part of the Buddhist monasteries?

We have no right to disclose the personal land holdings of followers, but we would like to be open and transparent about GWBI’s land ownership.

GWBI currently owns roughly 670 acres of land in Brudenell and Uigg.
In 2019, we donated around 7 acres to Island Nature Trust for conservation.

On a separate note, as stated at the October 15, 2020 Standing Committee, around 270 acres are owned by individuals who are nuns.

In addition to finding a serene place to build our monastery and home, we farm our own land and work with local, small organic farmers to keep all our farmland in production.

A serene environment is conducive to our Buddhist lifestyle, and PEI’s rural landscape is the perfect backdrop. Many of us left the noise of urban sprawl, and we hope to preserve the precious greenspace and natural areas around our monastery for future generations.

Teacher Zhen-Ru is our spiritual teacher.

She was directly appointed by the previous teacher, Venerable Master Jih-Chang, for her profound understanding and application of Buddhism.

In our current society, it is not as common for a female layperson to be a spiritual leader, including a spiritual teacher. As such, this appointment demonstrates both Venerable Master Jih-Chang’s forward-thinking as well as Teacher Zhen-Ru’s innate grasp of Buddhist teachings.

Our teacher does not have final say on things like land acquisition. GWBI has an operating committee which discusses and decides how to run the monastery.

All comments about Teacher Zhen-Ru having close links to the CCP are false. She has not set foot in China for more than 15 years.

If Teacher Zhen-Ru had close links to the CCP, her top priority would not be preserving Tibetan Buddhism and nurturing monastics who can translate Tibetan sutras. This 1959 Time magazine article details the history between China and Tibet (

Currently GEBIS and GWBI have embarked on the world’s largest translation and preservation project of Tibetan sutras. This requires nurturing translators on a scale which the world has not seen the likes of in the past centuries: being fluent in the Tibetan language and well-versed in the traditional Tibetan Buddhist curriculum (known as “The Five Great Treatises”). On multiple occasions, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has publicly expressed his gratitude toward our Buddhist community for carrying on this task.

Due to existing political and religious tensions, a location was needed to support the long-term study and translation-work of Buddhist monastics. Canada is one of the few places in the world to offer stability, safety, acceptance, and religious freedom. And PEI is rare in having such kind-hearted people and a serene environment, ideal for studying Buddhism.