Australian Buddhist nun shares life & mind as a “river of energy”

Michaela Haas – WNN Religion & Belief

Buddhist nun Ven. Robina Courtin
Buddhist nun and Dharma (truth) teacher Ven. Robina Courtin counsels one of her students following a class on Tibetan Buddhist principles in 2007. Image: Chris Baranski

(WNN) Sydney, AUSTRALIA, OCEANIA: Ven. Robina Courtin, a dynamic and renowned Australian teacher, has had a particularly turbulent life. Growing up as a Catholic girl in a violent, even abusive family, in Australia, she trained as a classical singer before embarking on a journey searching for “truth, the big picture, a coherent worldview, and freedom.”

She joined black politics in London, became a radical lesbian separatist feminist, and an accomplished martial arts fighter, before she found her calling: In the late 1970s, at age 31, she was ordained as a Buddhist nun.

Since then she has worked full time for the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Teachings (FPMT). She has served as editorial director of Wisdom Publications, editor of Mandala Magazine, and the executive director of the Liberation Prison Project. She does not really have a home, but travels tirelessly to teach around the world.

“I’m just the same radical person,” she said in our interview for ,u websote ‘Dakini Power’ when I asked about her radical political past. “I’m radically working on my own mind. Not believing in the way things appear to us: you can’t get more radical than that. I want to uproot the causes of all suffering, which are mental. In that, I am more radical than ever.”

She learned to face even violent encounters with clarity and fearlessness. “Learning to be fearless is what practice is all about, isn’t it?” Quoting her teacher, Lama Zopa, she says, “When we’ve realized emptiness, there is no fear.” Also, when we have developed genuine love and compassion we would be fearless. The logical consequence of practice is to go beyond fear.

And what would this practice look like?

Easy. If every day we happily welcome the things that make us angry, isn’t this becoming fearless? If we forgive the person who harms us, isn’t that becoming fearless? If we praise instead of criticize, isn’t that becoming fearless? It’s not complicated. It’s just difficult, because we’re addicted to giving in to ego, which is what perpetuates fear.”

Her amazing life, and her work with prisoners have been featured in the documentary film Chasing Buddha by her nephew Amiel Courtin-Wilson, which has just been newly released on DVD.


This is the official trailer from the award winning filmmaker Amiel Courtin-Wilson, the nephew of Ven. Robin Courtin, called ‘Chasing Buddha‘, that outlines the eccentric, powerful and extremely honest life of a unforgettable Buddhist nun and Dharma teacher. “Chasing Buddha is the portrait of a Buddhist nun, Robina Courtin: strong, aggressive and revered. A bundle of contradictions, a violater of expectations, someone with a robust and confrontational view of what it is to lead a spiritual life,”says Melbourne, Australia independent news daily The Age.


As an international reporter, Michaela Haas has lived in Asia for many years and has often reported on issues like trafficking, poverty, and child labor. With a PhD in Asian Studies, she is currently a visiting scholar in Religious Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara and has published Dakini Power: Twelve Extraordinary Women Shaping the Transmission of Tibetan Buddhism in the West, the first book about the lives of the most remarkable female Buddhist pioneers in the West, (Snow Lion, an imprint of Shambhala Publications) in April 2013. As a TV-host, interviewer and documentary filmmaker, Haas is also the founder of Haas live! Communication Coaching Consulting, an international coaching company which specializes in media and mindfulness training for business leaders and media professionals.


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No part of the text in this article release may be used or reproduced in any way without prior permissions from the author. This release has been republished with permissions from Haas who’s work can also be found on Huffington Post. Some of Haas’ special work can also be seen on her site Dakini Power.