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The Rock Roof Temple of Ladakh by Stéphanie

Rock Roof Temple in Ladakh

22 August 2015

Thakthok Monastery Thakthok Monastery is a Buddhist monastery located near Shakti village, 46km east of Leh. The name ‘Thakthok’ means ‘rock roof’ and both the monastery’s roof and walls are built from rock. Thakthok is the only Nyingma monastery in Ladakh and is home to around 55 lamas. It was founded around the mid-16th century during the reign of Tshewang Namgyal, on a mountainside around a cave in which Padmasambhava is said to have meditated in the eighth century. Every year, on the ninth and tenth day of the sixth month of the Tibetan calendar,celebrations including sacred dances are held at the monastery.   ‘To Earth’, a poem written by our Enlish-language editor Matthew Singh-Toor (Meditation whilst sitting on a wall opposite the Rinpoche’s residence At Thakthok Monastery)   Three boxes, Rectangular, Side by side, The middle box shorter, No divide. (The Rinpoche within Nods). * Three boxes, Uniform Against rock. Rock chaotic, Strata diagonal. Hewn and polished Spliced and eroded, Fissured and curved, Corners rounded.   (The Rinpoche within Muses on A line of scripture). * Four windows Cross-barred black, Grimy, Reflecting grey In heavy wooden frames. Maroon frames, Black borders, Thick paint On the whitewashed façade Of dripped plaster. Discoloured.   (The Rinpoche within Presses his fingertips together). * Five prayer flags, Yellow, green, red, white, blue, Against rock, lichen-rusted And the vast blue sky, Deep and flat and even, Ready to engulf.   (The Rinpoche within Listens). * Five creatures, Moo, chirp, buzz, bark, coo. Flutter of wings, flags, polythene against broken window. Shush and hush of breeze. Roar and honk, approaching, receding.   (The Rinpoche within Murmurs). My eyelids droop closed. * Fingertips graze rough plaster, Skimming chalky over sun-warmed distemper. Palms grow gargantuan to cup rounded corners. Eyelashes flutter over prayer flags, Flutter-tickled in return.   (The Rinpoche within Looks down from the window) * To earth, sand and scrub, Rock chipped, shattered, Shards scattered. I revive in the dust, Prostrate.   (The Rinpoche within Sees everything).

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Bodhgaya: the birthplace of Buddhism by Maryama

Bodhgaya

24 April 2015

Bodhgaya is perhaps the most sacred site for the followers of Buddhism. Located in the Indian state of Bihar, it is the place where Gautama Buddha, the sage whose teachings are the foundations on which the religion is established, is said to have attained enlightenment after a six-year long penance. According to Buddhist literature, the term Enlightenment means a state of awakening that helps one acquire profound knowledge about the universal truths sought by mankind. Legend has it that Buddha performed deep meditations under a sacred fig tree known as the Bodhi tree before attaining enlightenment. Buddhist texts even suggest that Buddha was extremely grateful to the tree because he believed that it catalysed his quest for enlightenment. Though the original tree is long gone, the followers planted a new tree and continued the tradition every time the tree was cut down or died due to old age. The Bodhi tree that is currently in existence in Bodhgaya is called the Sri Maha Bodhi and was planted more than a hundred years ago at the exact same spot as the original tree. In fact, the Bodhi tree has become a symbol of Buddhist religion and it can be seen in every Buddhist monastery around the world. The Sri Maha Bodhi tree is located inside the Maha Bodhi temple (Maha Bodhi means great awakening) complex. A UNESCO World heritage site, the temple is the seat of the Buddhist religion and was originally founded by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka in the third century BC. The temple underwent significant restorations and renovations before transforming into its current form. A majestic fifty-metre tall spire rises above the sanctum that houses a bright golden-coloured, two metre tall statue of Lord Buddha. The temple complex itself is one of the four Buddhist shrines that have a direct association with the life of Buddha (the others being Sarnath, Lumbini and Kushinagar). In addition to the main Maha Bodhi temple, many temples and monasteries add colour to the gorgeous canvas of Bodhgaya. Many of them have been built by foreign Buddhist communities in their traditional national style. Visitors would be fortunate enough to witness temples modelled on Thai, Bhutanese, Vietnamese and Japanese architecture at the same place. It is indeed a pleasure to witness the fusion of architectural styles from different cultures at Bodhgaya, the quaint little town in the Indian hinterland that gave this world Gautama Buddha.

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A short movie about the “Kora” by Stéphanie

24 April 2015

A short movie about the “Kora”, which is a Tibetan word to describe the circumambulation around a sacred object. In this video, the Kora is happening around the residence of His Holiness the Dalaï Lama in Dharamshala. A contemplative walk surrounded by prayer flags, mantras and prayer wheels. OM MANI PADME HOUNG…

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