‘Honey-child, listen to me’: a radical Buddhist nun on how to be happy in a crazy world

Venerable Robina Courtin - Australian buddhist nun

It’s a Tuesday evening in the small country town of Milton on the south coast of New South Wales, and the scent of the freshly brewed chai and homemade soup about to be served is wafting through the draughts in the Country Women’s Association hall as discussion veers between death, killing, war, abortion, prison and suffering.

Around 50 people, some longtime members of the local Buddhist group, others curious newcomers, are seated cross-legged on the wooden floor or on plastic chairs, a portrait of a young Queen Elizabeth II looking down, listening to a Buddhist nun. The topic for the night: “How to stay positive in a negative environment.”

“Our problem is we think the outside world is the main cause of our suffering – and our happiness,” says Venerable Robina Courtin, an Australian, now 77, who was ordained in the Tibetan Buddhist Gelugpa tradition in the late 1970s.

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