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5 things to discover about the Tibetan Holy month of Saga Dawa by Stéphanie

01 June 2017

So what’s all this talk about Saga Dawa? As a western woman, I’m new to the whole ‘Saga Dawa month’ concept. In fact, you could say that I’m new to the whole Tibetan-Buddhism concept altogether. For those that have read my earlier blog “An Aussie in Dharamshala”, you can see that my recent sea-change to India has been an eye-opening one- but I’m getting there. And little by little I’m learning what it’s like for the Tibetan community living in exile. We often get caught up in the struggles of our daily lives that we forget how lucky we are to be living in countries where our national identity is never in question. Here, national culture and traditions become a deliberate choice and a continual conscious effort. So, it’s no surprise that the words ‘Saga Dawa’ are on the lips of pretty much every Tibetan I’ve encountered over the last few days. They speak of it like the Christians speak of lent and the vices they are going to give up for the month such as “no more cigarettes” and “I’m going vegetarian”. But what exactly is Saga Dawa? Here’s the low down for all those religiously-challenged folk out there like myself. What is it? It’s considered the holiest of months in the Tibetan Lunar calendar. This year it started on 26th May and goes right through to 24th June. It’s a celebration of the three most significant events in Buddha’s life; his birth, enlightenment and death- all of which are believed to have happened in this auspicious period. Where does the name come from? Dawa means month in Tibetan and Saga is the name of the star that shines most prominently during this month. Astrologically, this month marks the perfect alignment of the stars and planets in such a way that a person’s energy “flows freely into the external world, thus creating a synergy between man and the cosmos”. It’s also the time of the Taurus-Gemini axis, which has been referred to as the ‘cusp of energy’ where the elements of earth meet air. What happens during this time? The Tibetans primarily adhere to the 5 Buddhist precepts during this month; being no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no lying and no intoxicant abuse. You will also see an influx of pilgrims visiting temples and reciting mantras as they perform the kora, mala beads in hand. Beggars will […]

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7 things to know about the Dalai Lama’s teachings in Nubra by Stéphanie

dalai-lama-teaching-ladakh-journey

30 May 2017

Do I need a permit to visit Nubra Valley ? If you are Indian national or tourist you will need an Inner Line Permit : it is available online from this official website : http://www.lahdclehpermit.in. If you are a foreigner, you will need a restricted area permit (Protected Area Permit, PAP) to go to Nubra Valley. Applying for the Protected Area Permit : – For foreigners : You have to be at least two to apply. Where ? At the DC Office, Leh How ? With required fees through a registered travel agent. You will register with the group, even if you are a single traveler (however you don’t need to travel with them afterwards). Please take 8-10 photocopies of your permit as you will need it at each check point of your journey. How long ? 7 days. You will have to re-apply if you want to extend your stay in the area. Here you can download the Protected Area Permit Form: Inner-Line-Protected-Area-Permit-Form – For citizens of Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Burma : You have to apply at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for a  permit. – For people who have a diplomatic official VISA : You have to apply for a permit at the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in Delhi.   When will the Dalai Lama’s teachings be held ?   How to reach Nubra Valley ? Drive from Leh over Khardong pass or Warila pass :   What is the Yarchoes Summer Buddhist Council ? In the heart of the Annual Summer Buddhist Council in Ladakh continues the old buddhist tradition of philosophical debate and discusssion of core buddhist tenants. This brings together the different buddhist traditions of Ladakh and the relevance of spirituality in hopes of building a peaceful and harmonious society. This summer meeting will also be a platform for students from different schools to engage in discussions on spirituality, culture and moral values in a changing time. Where are these teachings located? Teachings will be held in Diskit Monastery. Perched high atop a hill overlooking the flood plains of the Shyok river is the historic Diskit Monastery. Built in the 14th century, this monastery is one the largest and oldest in the Nubra region and houses over 100 monks within its halls. With panoramic views from the rooftop, this monastery is considered a sub-gompa to Thiksey Monastery and draws in masses of pilgrims from the Gelugpa tradition. Near […]

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An Aussie in Dharamshala by Stéphanie

25 May 2017

So what’s an Aussie girl doing in Dharamshala? I come from a corporate environment. A dog-eat-dog world where, as an ABC (Australian born Chinese) woman I’ve not only had to battle against the corporate glass ceiling but a bamboo one as well. Long work weeks and back-to-back meetings dominated my time as I trained a team of staff to take over my role. Whether by fate or subconscious manifestation I found myself at a crossroads not long ago. Do I continue in a company that, out of desperation finally offered me the promotion I should have gotten long ago? Or do I give it all up and step into the unknown. I chose the latter. And so, began a series of events and synchronicities that led to me selling my apartment and packing my bags for India. I had decided to leave the bustling streets of Sydney where everyone is in a rush to get somewhere, and head to the small town of Mcleod Ganj where no one is in a rush to get anywhere. As the current home of H.H. the Dalai Lama, I had ‘eat-pray-love-esque’ expectations of finding a wise old guru who would impart pearls of universal wisdom. And that I would, in a sudden flash of realization, reach enlightenment and then disappear in a puff of smoke like the ancient Mayans did so very long ago. Well I’m still here. So we all know what happened with that little fantasy. My first few days were spent in a rented apartment with nothing more than a bed and a side table. Nothing. No chairs, no wardrobe, no internet. It was here that I learned the art of squat bathing and eating in the dark when the electricity cut out. Here in the mountains, the smog of Delhi is replaced by the dirt from the terrains. A fine dusting of earth coats practically every surface and one learns here to be perpetually ‘dirty’. The 1st world princess in me balked at having to sit on the dusty ground the first time around and no amount of hand sanitiser was going to keep my hands in salubrious condition. It’s here, in a place where people seemingly have ‘nothing’, that you realise they have everything. When your choice of soaps are ‘option A’ or ‘option A’, you come to appreciate that it’s not about the presence of ‘organic jojoba extracts […]

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My first Sang Puja with a Tibetan family by Stéphanie

22 May 2017

It’s inconceivable how the universe conspires to see you thrive. My mind has been stuffed. I haven’t been able to feel happy; mostly numb and in a dream-like state. The heaviness of losing loved ones, and not doing too well at living in the present moment. It’s normal. I am in a place where I am leaving an experience and diving deep into the waters of another. Loving myself and those around me. I’ve become closer and more aware of my weaknesses than I have ever experienced. It’s not a bad thing, but it can be heavy. I’m trying not to push away these feelings, but really experiencing the depths of confusion. Every feeling demands to be felt; and what a shame it would be to push away what is not My inner voice tells me it will pass, to be patient. So I wait, and here I’ve been sent. Following my best friend to Dharamsala, India. Only a few miles away from where His Holiness the Dalai Lama resides. I’m staying in a small village on top of a mountain where rivers gush fresh water, forests and tenderness of the Tibetan people surround me. The little shops all have photos of the Dalai Lama. In fact, the pool hall I go to on Friday nights filled with tattooed men, blaring hard rap, reeking of cigarette smoke has a happy little photo of His Holiness on the wall. Even the young scar faced Tibetan man who approached me mid-game who I thought would laugh at my ability to miss every ball I shot, gently gave me instructions on how to improve my game. Speaking  with me and smiling so brightly I could have melted into a little puddle. I asked Tenzin, my new friend, if he could describe the personality of Tibetan people to me. He responded, “kind, patient, and peaceful.” Yup. The people here are just that beautiful. How I ended up in a place like this at a time when my heart is in such need for rest is beyond my comprehension. And how I ended up being in a purification ritual? You can’t just make these things up. – The welcoming to my first sang puja, or ritual, went a little bit like this: There was a monk in the corner, sitting; chanting his chant. Drumming his drum. He wore deep red robes, an yellow vest underneath, prayer beads hanging around his neck. A presence of peace. […]

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100th birth Anniversary of Arahat Bakula, 19 May 2017 by Stéphanie

arahat Bakula

18 May 2017

The 19th May, 2017 marks the 100th birth anniversary of H.H The 19th Bakula Rinpoche. In honour of his extraordinary accomplishments in this lifetime; a celebration will be held at Leh Pologround which will draw devoted Buddhist followers and local Tibetans alike. This joyous occasion will include various events that will encourage the happy and harmonious participation of all who attend. Among these activities are running marathons, football matches, painting and archery competitions as well as the planting of trees in support of the Clean Ladakh Movement. The ongoing competitions that begin on this occasion in the different villages of Ladakh will continue for a whole year, and culminate in a closing ceremony to be held on the 19th, May 2018 in Spituk village. A beautifully presented photo exhibition detailing the life of the 19th bakula Rinpoche will also be available for viewing in Nastsn Lakhang Spituk monastery school on the 19th May. His story The 19th incarnation of Arahat Bakula was Thupstan Chognor; born on 19th of May 1917 into a royal family in Matho village, Ladakh. He was recognized by H.H The 13th Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of Arahat Bakula; the 16th Arahat(NastanChutuk).He traveled to Lhasa(Tibet) at the age of 13 and received his education at the great Drepung monastery which was the largest monastic institution in Tibet. There he was awarded the degree of Geshe Larampa(the highest degree in Buddhist metaphysics) at the age of 25 and received his geshe ordination from the 13th Dalai Lama. After returning from Tibet he dedicated his life to serving the people of Ladakh in hopes of creating a better future. In the very first democratic elections in Ladakh in 1949 the people of Ladakh had elected Bakula Rinpochey as their leader and the president of the National Conference Party. He served as Minister of State in J&K State Government from 1953 to 1967. He was the member of the fourth and the fifth LokSabha from 1967 to 1977. He also served as a member of the consultative Committees in Indian Parliament for defense, education and planning. His role in education was unforgettable and under his guidance the then Ladakh Buddhist Association and Gonpa association was able to establish the Buddhist philosophy school on 23rd October 1959(now CIBS) with only ten students. In 1949 again with the tireless efforts of Bakula Rinpochey the Government of India sanctioned scholarships for eighteen Ladakhi novices to obtain modern education […]

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His Holiness The Dalai Lama’s teaching at Annul Summer Buddhist Council in Nubra, Ladakh, India by Stéphanie

08 May 2017

The Deskit Yarchos Chenmo 5th Ladakh’s Annual Summer Buddhist Council with Dalai Lama In the heart of the Annual Summer Buddhist Council in Ladakh continues the old buddhist tradition of philosophical debate and discusssion of core buddhist tenants. This brings together  the different buddhist traditions of Ladakh and the relevance of spirituality in hopes of building a peaceful and harmonious society. This summer meeting will also be a platform for students from different schools to engage in discussions on spirituality, culture and moral values in a changing time. The discussion will cover a wide range of topics; from practising Dharma, and the Four Noble Truths to the Three bases of Vinaya. It will cover the social issue of the harmful effects of alcohol and tobacco, rising suicide cases as well as the importance of the local Tibetan language which is spoken both by Buddhists and Muslims of Ladakh. The aim of this rare summer gathering; presided over by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is to bring about spiritual understanding, the importance of moral values and to promote inter-religious harmony in Ladakh. The Dalai Lama full schedule 2017 Ladakh, of the visit is as follows: The final  exact dates  will be  available soon at  www.DalaiLama.com July 10, Monday – Arrive Disket Monastery July 11, Tuesday – Deskit Monastery: Attend Closing Ceremony of Yarcho Chenmo at Disket Monastery July 12, Wednesday – Deskit Monastery: Teaching on Kamalashila’s. The Middle Stages of Meditation (gamrins barpo) and Gyalsey Thakme Sangpa’s Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva (laklen sodumna). His Holiness will engage in interaction with Students from various schools July 13, Thursday – Deskit Monastery: Teaching on Kamalashila’s. The Middle Stages of Meditation (gamrins barpo) and Gyalsey Thakme Sangpa’s Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva (laklen sodumna). Long Life Offering (tenshuk) July 14, Friday – Deskit Yul Phodrang: Long life Empowerment followed by Long life Prayer Offering July 15, Saturday – Visit to Turtuk July 16, Sunday – Visit to Samstantiing Monastery July 17, Monday – Visit to Samstaniing Monastory July 18, Tuesday – Depart Shewatsal Phodrang To Attend the Dalai lama’s teaching in Nubra ,ladakh ,India with Omalaya. The Deskit Yarchos Chenmo – Ladakh Summer Buddhist Council  His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama will visit Nubra. In this journey, you will attend the rare teaching given by His Holiness The Dalai Lama in Ladakh, India, with introduction into the heart of Tibetan traditions. You will also […]

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