Sunday, September 12, 2010
Courtin was raised Catholic, and in her youth she was interested in becoming a Carmelite nun. In her young adulthood, she initially trained as a classical singer while living in London during the late 1960s. She became a feminist activist and worked on behalf of prisoners' rights in the early 1970s. In 1972 she moved back to Melbourne. Courtin began studying martial arts in 1974, living in New York and, again, back in Melbourne. In 1976, she took a Buddhist course taught by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa in Queensland.
In November 1977, Courtin traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal to study at Kopan Monastery, where she was ordained as a Buddhist nun. She was Editorial Director of Wisdom Publications until 1987 and Editor of Mandala until 2000. She left Mandala to teach and to develop the Liberation Prison Project.
Robina Courtin's work was featured in two documentary films, Christine Lundberg's On the Road Home (1998) and Amiel Courtin–Wilson's Chasing Buddha (2000), and in Vicki Mackenzie's book Why Buddhism? (2003). Her nephew's film, Chasing Buddha, documents Courtin's life and her work with death row inmates in the Kentucky State Penitentiary. In 2000, the film was nominated for best direction in a documentary by the Australian Film Institute.
Since 2001, Courtin has led pilgrimages to Buddhist holy sites in India, Nepal, and Tibet to raise money for the Liberation Prison Project.