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May 2015

The profound joy of travelling by Stéphanie

Night in mountain

30 May 2015

The fourteenth century explorer Ibn Battuta famously said  that Travelling leaves you speechless and turns you into a storyteller. He couldn’t have summarized the joy of travelling more appropriately. Of all the stories one can find in this world, the best ones are found in between the covers of a passport. How true! Travelling is more than just having a bucket list of places to visit and jumping from one place to another. It is an experience in itself, one that creates memories for a lifetime. When we travel we open our hearts and eyes to new and wonderful experiences. Only when we travel do we realize that the stereotypes we hold about other countries, races and culture are not necessarily true. In fact, the freedom of travelling whirls us around, turns us upside down and stands everything we took for granted on its head. One is reminded of Aldous Huxley’s words “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries”. The reasons to travel are aplenty. Some travel to discover themselves, some to travel to find peace, some travel because they love to while some travel just for the sake of travelling. Whatever the reasons might be, the experiences are very likely to be profound. Otherwise, why would countless people even forsake their careers and normal lives just for the sake of joys of travelling. There have even been cases of people who have visited every country in the world. To them every place is their home, every person is a friend and every day is a new horizon. However, one doesn’t have to quit his/her work or study an become a full-time vagabond. Travel can most certainly be an unobtrusive hobby. In fact, travel is one the best ways to oneself from the stress and mundanes of normal everyday life. In a way travelling is a tool to keep our minds and spirits awake and lively. One can even go on to say that travel is a heightened state of awareness in which we are not only mindful and receptive but are ready to be transformed. That is why the best travels do not end!

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Why you should go on a spiritual journey at least once in your life! by Stéphanie

Spiritual journey

29 May 2015

People go on all kinds of travel: adventure travel, weekend travel, business-cum-pleasure travel, long-term slow travel and so on. However, there is one kind of travelling that we all should consider trying at least once in our lives – the spiritual kind. Well, first of all, what is a spiritual journey? In simple terms, a spiritual journey is one that creates a positive change in your mind. On a deeper level, it is one that helps you in the process of finding your purpose in life. The obvious question that comes to mind is how can travelling help us  in these regard. Well, the answer is it might or it might not. Only those who can experience a profound joy in travelling are capable of finding a higher purpose in travelling. Having said that, why should one go on a spiritual journey? Well, firstly, travelling is more than just packing your bags and visiting new places. It is a feeling, an emotion, a source of joy and sometimes even a life-changing experience. To quote the famous words of H.C.Anderson, “To travel is to live”.  One might ask what kind of a journey can be classified as a spiritual journey. Well, the answer depends on the individual. One might find deeper meaning in visiting places of religious worship while one might be at peace with nature. There is no right answer to this question. However, any kind of journey that leaves a deep and strong thought about your life in your heart is inherently spiritual in nature. A spiritual journey is a journey that touches you inside. There have been countless instances where people have made life-altering decisions that can be attributed to a journey they had taken. When you travel, every day is a new landscape, a new horizon and endless possibilities. Naturally, it has a deep influence upon us. So, it is time to tie your shoe laces, pack your bags and start exploring.

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Hindu places of worship in Dharamshala by Maryama

Butter Lamp in Dharamshala

28 May 2015

Though Dharamsala is renowned around the world for being the residence of the Dalai Lama, the guru of Tibetan Buddhism, this tranquil hamlet plays host to many an ancient Hindu temple. Hinduism and Buddhism co-exist peacefully in this beautiful hill town, located in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Here is a list of some of the popular Hindu temples in and around Dharamshala: Baijnath temple The Baijnath temple is the shrine of Lord Shiva, one of the members of the supreme trinity of Hindu Gods. The mandir was constructed in early thirteenth century by two local merchants named Ahuka and Manyaka. The temple is an excellent example of medieval Indian architecture. The walls of the temple are adorned with beautiful paintings and carvings of numerous Hindu deities. The water in the temple is believed to contain therapeutic properties that cure people of their illnesses. A unique feature of this temple is the presence of the two Nandi statues (Nandi is the gatekeeper of Lord Shiva) unlike the other Shiva temples where only one Nandi statue can be seen. Devotees perform a famous ritual whereby they whisper their wishes into the ears of the Nandi idol and their wishes would be granted by the God. On a sunny day, one can be treated to spectacular views of the Dhauladhar hills of the Himalayan mountain range. The tall peaks stand majestically on either side of the Beas valley where the temple is located. Chamunda devi mandir Located on the banks of Baner river in Kangra district (approximately 15 km away from Dharamshala) of Himachal Pradesh, the Chamunda Devi mandir is the abode of the deity Goddess Durga, known locally as Chamunda. According to the legends, the Goddess killed the two demons Chand and Munda in a fierce battle, and was thus endowed with the title Chamunda Devi. The Devi’s idol is flanked on either sides by the idols of Lord Hanuman and Lord Bhairo. Devout followers believe that worshipping at this shrine would give them and their ancestors mohksha (salvation). The temple itself features a diverse range of images from various Hindu sacred texts such as the Devi Mahatmyam, the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha. These images vividly portray various aspects of Hindu folklore and tradition. Jwalamukhi temple Located in the valley of Beas nearly 60 km away from Dharamshala, the Jwalamukhi temple is believed to be more than 1000 years old […]

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Guide to the great Monkey year teaching 2016-ladakh by Gokul

Monkey year teaching

26 May 2015

The Drikung Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism has a spiritual  tradition where each monk year in Tibetan lunar  calendar is make by grand teaching attended by hundred of people and The Great Drikung Phowa (Transferance of Consciousness) teaching by H.H Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche is well known through out Tibet,ladakh,Himalaya and beyond. The next year, according to Tibetan lunar calendar, is dedicated to the monkey. In August 2016, an intense teaching programme has been planned to mark the Monkey year.  The Monkey year teachings are dedicated to the sacred place of Tsari, an important meditation center for the Drikung Kagyu order. It is also believed that Guru Padmasambhava, a revered Buddhist God, appeared here seated on the blossom of a lotus flower. His appearance happened in the seventh month of the monkey year of the Tibetan Lunar calendar. The teaching is also held in memory of the birth anniversary of Lord Jigetn Sumgaon, the founder of the Drikung Kagyu tradition.  From Aug 5 to Aug 12, 2016, the Shachukul Monastery Teaching Committe will organize the teachings in order to commomerate the Monkey year. Conducted by H.H Drikung Skyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche, the teachings will be held at the Shachkul monastery in Ladakh, India. It is only the second time that the teaching is held here. A large number of devotees and high Lamas of the Drikung Kagyu lineage are expected to attend the teachings. Below is the detailed teaching schedule: August 5: Inauguration ceremony; Ritual consecration of the newly made silk borcade Thangka August 6: Birthday celebration of H.H Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche; Teaching and Empowerment of Buddha Shakyamuni August 7: ‘Go Green Go Organic’ Project Committee’s programme and cultural show August 8 – 10: The Drikung Great Bodhichitta (The mindset of full awakening) teaching and transmission August 11: The Great Drikung Phowa (Transferance of Consciousness) teaching August 12: Empowerment of Guru Padma Lingpa; Long life offering to H.H Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche We will  be organising special tour to attend the great monkey year teaching in Shachukul near Pangong lake, ladakh and write to us at info@omalayatravel.com

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What can atheists learn from religion? by Stéphanie

Atheism and religion

25 May 2015

Theism and atheism are black and white concepts. As their names suggests, they are mutually exclusive of each other and no person can claim to be a believer of both the concepts at the same time. However, that does not mean there cannot be flow of ideas and thoughts from one domain to the other. Though atheists might strongly denounce God to the point of being fanatic, there is a thing or two that they can learn from religion. In fact, it is possible to be a strongly atheistic and yet find religion useful in life, even though not on a day-to-day basis. For such a thing to happen, an atheist might find common ground between some of his/her principles and that of religion. For instance, many religious faiths around the world profess a certain code of morality that we as humans should abide by. When we lack clarity about our own sense of morality, then it isn’t erroneous to turn to religion to seek help. That doesn’t mean we have to blindly accept what religion has to offer us. Instead, after deeply studying the various tenets of the particular religion, we can draw our own conclusions. One might even say that religion has no place in an increasing scientific world. However, many religious principles are valid and enduring even in the 21st century. Many religions teach us the importance of compassion, community, family and love. Stripped of their super-natural overtones and archaic rituals, religions are in essence about humans and society. While one doesn’t have to entirely agree with all that religion says about how we as humans should live, one doesn’t have to summarily reject it either. In short, religions are too useful, resourceful and perspicacious to be left in the hands of theists alone.

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Is there such a concept as Atheist spirituality? by Maryama

Atheism and Spirituality

24 May 2015

Atheists are more often than not perceived to be non-spiritual people. The foundation for this argument lies in the belief that the concepts of religion and that of spirituality are built on a common platform. Such a belief is not entirely false as there have been innumerable instances of people seeking for the meaning of their lives in their religious faiths. This is because religion consists of many narratives, principles, symbols and myths that define the ways and rules by which we as human beings should live. These tenets of religion many a time overlap with that of spirituality, which can be described as the process of realizing one’s meaning in life. However, it is a misconception to infer that this overlap means that religion and spirituality are one and the same. It is entirely possible for someone to be spiritual and not religious. For a deeper insight into this debate, kindly read our blog on the differences between religion and spirituality. Therefore, it is entirely possible for someone to be an atheist and still be a spiritual person. Spirituality is simply a term used to describe the search for one’s place in this world. Religion is just one of the tools that people employ in this search. For instance, it is possible for someone to find his/her purpose in charity instead of God. Such a person is definitely a spiritual person. In essence, self-realization is subjective and therefore specific to each individual. Hence, it is only obvious that not every individual has to make this realization by means of religion. That being the case, atheism is definitely compatible with spirituality. For atheists who are wondering the appropriateness of describing themselves and their attitudes using the term ‘spiritual’ the key question to be asked is whether such a description resonates emotionally with them. If so, then then it is most certainly appropriate for an atheist to call himself spiritual. In fact, in recent times, there has been a growing trend of people identify themselves as spiritual but not religious.

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