Karma Lekshe Tsomo is a Buddhist nun, scholar and social activist. She is a professor at the University of San Diego, where she teaches Buddhism, World Religions, and Dying, Death, and Social Justice. She is co-founder of the Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women and the founding director of the Jamyang Foundation, which supports the education of women and girls in the Himalayan region, the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, and elsewhere. She took novice precepts as a Buddhist nun in France in 1977 and full ordination in Korea in 1982.
A bhikkhunī or bhikṣuṇī is a fully ordained female monastic in Buddhism.
Male monastics are called bhikkhus. Both bhikkhunis and bhikkhus live by the Vinaya, a set of rules.
Until recently, the lineages of female monastics only remained in Mahayana Buddhism and thus are prevalent in countries such as China, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam but a few women have taken the full monastic vows in the Theravada and Vajrayana schools over the last decade. .
The first Tibetan Buddhist lama to have American students was Geshe Ngawang Wangyal, a Kalmyk-Mongolian of the Gelug lineage, who came to the United States in 1955 and founded the "Lamaist Buddhist Monastery of America" in New Jersey in 1958.
Among his students were the future western scholars Robert Thurman, Jeffrey Hopkins, Alexander Berzin and Anne C. Klein.
Other early arrivals included Dezhung Rinpoche, a Sakya lama who settled in Seattle, in 1960, and .