Brambosch-Schaelen Foundation

A new foundation for Buddhist nuns

Ursula Brambosch-Schaelen worked at the Albert-Einstein-Gymnasium in Kaarst, North Rhine-Westphalia. Since the 1980s she has been an individual member of the German Buddhist Union. She probably learned there about the difficult situation of Buddhist women and especially Buddhist nuns. The study director was very interested in the situation of women: She did not only support the publication of a standard work of feminist theology, a "Compendium of Feminist Bible Interpretation"2, but in the 1990s she was also involved in a women's shelter in Koblenz for victims of domestic violence. When Ursula Brambosch-Schaelen died in 2015, she left 500,000 euros to the German Buddhist Union for Buddhist nun projects. After a two-year preparatory phase, the "Brambosch-Schaelen-Stiftung der DBU" (Brambosch-Schaelen Foundation of the German Buddhist Union) was able to officially start its work on April 1, 2019.

Purpose of the foundation

The purpose of the foundation is to promote Buddhist nun projects and to support Buddhist women on their way to ordination. The foundation will provide public information about the living conditions of Buddhist nuns in different traditions and promote the integration of Buddhist nuns in European society. In concrete terms, it can support Buddhist nuns and candidates for religious orders in the following areas:

  • Establishment and expansion of Nunneries in Germany
  • Education, training and further qualification programmes for nuns and monastic aspirants
  • Initiating and supporting basic scientific research on the ordination of Buddhist nuns and the position of women in Buddhism.
  • Cooperation with research institutions with similar objectives at national and international level
  • Promotion of Buddhist nunneries (in the sense of helping people to help themselves) as well as legal advice on issues relating to the status of the order, such as old-age pension provisions and other social insurances.
  • Public relations work in Germany and beyond to improve the situation of Buddhist nuns in the long term
  • Promoting a contact point for Buddhist nuns and women who aspire to become nuns
  • Promotion of events (congresses) and publications on the subject of nuns and women in Buddhism

The focus of the work is to open up modern perspectives for Western Buddhist nuns who wish to live self-determinedly according to the Vinaya in the 21st century.

Organization and next steps

The external responsibility of the Brambosch-Schaelen Foundation of the DBU lies with its Board of Directors: Dr. Carola Roloff (Bhiksuni Jampa Tsedroen), Gabriela Frey (Sakyadhita France), Rev. Vajramala, Honourable Councillor of the DBU.

The advisory board of trustees, which is controlling the board of directors, consists of three fully ordained nuns: Ven. Miaoshiang (Chinese Buddhism), Ven. Doko Waskönig (Zen Buddhism) and Ven. Thubten Choedroen (Tibetan Buddhism). Unfortunately, Theravada nuns cannot actively participate at the moment due to lack of personnel.

In order to best achieve the Foundation's goals, the Board of Directors and the Advisory Board decided at their first joint meeting in December 2018. Since then they invite nuns and knowledgeable laypersons to workshops every year.

For information or interest in participating in further workshops, please contact:

Applications to the Foundation can be submitted until 30 June each year. Details can be found on the foundation's website Around 25,000 Euros will be awarded annually for 20 years. Please note that only applications for projects in Germany can be considered.

In the spirit of the Founder, it should be taken into consideration that the proposals are not primarily about preserving the tradition, but above all for a reform movement, about the future of Buddhism in Germany and about concepts for a life as a Western Buddhist nun in the 21st century.

© - 2023