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May 2017

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


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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Saga Dawa- The Holy Month by Tashi

26 May 2017

The Holy month of Saga Dawa takes place in the fourth month of the Tibetan Lunar calendar. Its duration is marked from new moon to new moon which, in 2017 begins on May 26 and ends on June 24. It is a time of honouring the Buddhas life and is often referred to as the “month of merits”. The word “Saga” denotes the name of a star prominent in the sky during this time and “Dawa” means month in Tibetan. It is a period in which the stars and planets are perfectly aligned in such a way that the internal energies of a person are allowed to flow freely into the external world thus, creating a synergy between man and the Cosmos. Legend has it that the five major events of Buddha’s life occurred on the full moon nights of Saga Dawa; these being conception, birth, defeating evil forces, nirvana and paranirvana (death).   The Tibetans believe that the month of Saga Dawa is so sacred that the merits obtained by the performing of good deeds in this time is multiplied tenfold. It is often for this reason that we see a large increase in acts of charity and devotion, as well as commitments of sacrifice similar to those made by millions of Christians during the time of Lent. The most popular action taken during this month is the that of giving – dana. Donations flood the local temples and the roads of Saga Dawa Duchen can often be seen with rows of beggars lined along the sides in expectations of receiving money. Masses of pilgrims can be seen circumabulating local shrines or holy places as the murmur of mantras carry across the wind. Abstaining from killing animals and eating meat is also a common occurrence amongst the Tibetans as is the lighting of butter lamps to banish the spiritual darkness. During Saga Dawa, laypeople often follow eight precepts on the particularly potent new moon and full moon days. These are: No killing No stealing No misusing sex No lying No abuse of intoxicants Eat only one meal before noon Avoid sleeping on a high, soft bed No jewellery or makeup   Whether as a devout Buddhist or spiritual observer, the month of Saga Dawa has played a significant role in the Tibetan’s cultural history. It is a reminder not only of the achievements of Buddha but also the importance […]

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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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Ngari Darchen Kusheng, Saga Dawa Festival, Mt Kailash, 9 June 17 by Tashi

22 May 2017

Ngari Darchen Kusheng, Saga Dawa Festival, Mt Kailash, 9 June 17 Marked as one of the most spiritual festivals in Tibet, The Saga Dawa Festival was established by General Gaden Tsewang with the blessings of H.H the Dalai Lama in 1681. This culturally significant festival is scheduled on 9 June 2017 to coincide with the first full moon on the fourth month in the Tibetan calendar. The Tibetans believe that their mountaintops are the sites to which their early kings descended from heaven and so it is no coincidence that this deeply spiritual event is set amidst the breathtaking peaks of Mt Kailash- one of the most energetically potent locations in Tibet. It is said that the month of Saga Dawa is so sacred that the merits obtained by the performing of good deeds in this time is multiplied tenfold. It is often for this reason that many Tibetans refrain from killing animals during this period. This traditional and charming festival draws in crowds from all walks of life, from the religiously devoted to the curious traveller and is often used as an opportunity to showcase the open hospitality of the local Tibetans. The entire event is guided and overseen by a Lama to ensure that all the religious rituals are completed, but the most significant ceremony of the day is undoubtedly the “Ngari Darchen Kusheng” -the hoisting of the prayer flags. Each year; to a crowd comprised of travelling pilgrims as well as both Chinese and Western tourists, the old Tarboche flagpole is brought down and new prayer flags replace the ones from the previous year. The intention for the ritual; to ensure the continual welfare of the Tibetan peoples. The crowd then flock to the new pole and attach their own small prayer flags to invite peace and prosperity into their lives. The flags are then left there all year to carry their prayers across the wind. This celebration of the three most important events in Shakyamuni Buddha’s life; being his birth, nirvana and parinirvana (death), is truly a joyous occasion and one that encompasses all who attend in its fold. Though considered a religious occasion by many it is actually a day that casts aside all perceived barriers of race and religion, to allow all who attend to revel in a sense of community and connectedness. Mt Kailash is located on the western tip of Tibet and […]

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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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