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Co-Founder & CEO of Omalaya.Tibetan Enterpreneur at TED.I live in Dhasa and spend time in ladakh/Kerala. Interpreter of Indo-Tibetan spiritual tradition

My Dharamshala experience: Moving through the unknown by Tashi

24 December 2017

Hello dearest reader,  Thank you for joining me for part 3 of my India story. It took some time for me to ponder on how I was going to continue to write about my experiences, as perspectives are ever shifting. Each time I gain more awareness of my ego and my Self, I can see more of what was playing out in my subconscious throughout my life upon looking back. I am constantly learning so much about myself, as my shadow casts itself into my life from time to time. The way I view my past experiences now is very different than the way I have actually experienced them.   Darkness is merely the absence of light and light is information. I believe fear is fairly always caused by a lack of information so to move through darkness fearlessly requires faith and trust in the unknown.   In my eyes, the dark night of the Soul begins in the moment that you realize and accept that you are not that which you have been identifying yourself with and you realize that there is something like the Soul and so your identification starts to detach itself from your concept of “me”, the Maya, and slowly starts to wander off into the unknown. From this moment on, you are being confronted with the lies that you had accepted as truth and you start to question everything about yourself and about your life. Thoughts are looked at carefully and suspiciously and feelings arise intensely. A strong intuition is a great asset in navigating through this darkest of nights. ‘Follow your Bliss’ or walking the path of your highest Excitement, the path of least resistance, a philosophy shared by Joseph Campbell and Bashar through Darryl Anka, has been the way I have been guiding myself, looking back, to take the most feasible way.   To follow your Bliss: In any given moment accept your entire reality, allow your feeling and observe your thoughts and the possibilities they are presenting. Choose the one that causes the highest amount of Excitement or the least amount of resistance and act on it to your fullest without holding any expectations until you can take it no more further. Then repeat the process.   This path had led me straight to Dharamshala, a great place to be initiated into a more Soulful life. Time flows differently in India, for […]

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My journey to India as a spiritual seeker- Couch Surfing by Tashi

10 November 2017

My journey to India as a spiritual seeker By Benjamin De Donder Part 2 – Couchsurfing in New Delhi I must have said thank you like a thousand times to Vikas for saving me from being stranded at the airport. On top of that, I had ended up in probably the most amazing place in Delhi. There is literally not a single place in the universe where I would rather have been in that moment. I instantly felt incredibly at home and very comfortable to express myself, we shared music that we loved and had great conversations. I also instantly fell in love with couchsurfing. I found it truly an amazing experience to be surrounded by open-minded, local people and fellow travelers and backpackers. The stories were amazing and I got to see different perspectives on similar experiences to mine, such as arriving at an unknown place in an unknown country after a long flight. I imagined it must be so amazing to be a couchsurfing host and continually meet different people from all over the world with inspiring stories, on inspiring journeys. During the many times that I have returned to my friends in New Delhi, I met many inspiring people through couchsurfing: Four girls, literally from every corner of the world: South India, New Zealand, Canada, who were traveling alone and had met coincidentally in India and felt a strong connection with each other and each other’s stories and had decided to travel together to Rishikesh; A girl from Egypt, who was, at that time, volunteering at a school in New Delhi. She looked very beautiful and was passionate about fashion. I loved the way she talked and acted, as she was quite forgetful and chaotic in her mind and I found it astonishing to see how carefree she was and headed alone into New Delhi as if it was an everyday thing; Two girls from Germany who were traveling around. They were amazing photographers and one of them had left her family in Germany to travel and meet her family in India. She was planning to cut people’s hair to make some money along the way and one day, write a book about her story. Great respect struck me, meeting these empowered ladies, radiating determination, strength and fearlessness. When I went outside the apartment for the first time and headed into the city of New Delhi, I was […]

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My journey to India as a spiritual seeker by Tashi


02 November 2017

My journey to India as a spiritual seeker By Benjamin De Donder Part one — Introduction First and foremost I would like to express that I do not think one needs to go to India to learn about spirituality. Before I went to India, I was already actively learning about spirituality during my daily life in Belgium. The book of life is in my opinion the most educational read, as it is specifically written for your mind, by your soul. Personally, I have experienced that the only thing that is required to learn about yourself, life and spirituality is a genuinely seeking mind that is trying to understand the workings of creation: a questioning mind that is okay with not knowing the answers; a mind that is ever observing and open to receive answers through anyone or anything; a mind that questions everything, including its teachers and even itself; a mind that is willing to let go of beliefs and behaviour that have been proven obsolete by attained answers; a mind that when there are no more questions for some time, starts to wonder where the questions have gone and starts to look for new ones; a mind that knows that no questions means no growth; a mind that craves growth; and most importantly, a mind that includes feeling in its observations and allows it to be its guide. If you have this, you can learn profound things in any moment wherever you are, for every moment is deeply spiritual. Nevertheless, when you do have the chance to travel to India, I would definitely strongly encourage you to go. Personally, I believe traveling and staying at the same place for some time make it easier to read from the book of life, for you are in yet unobserved area, still observing with the same mind. So certain patterns you might be attracting could be noticed more easily. Plus, India is the most amazing, diverse, stimulating and eye opening place I have ever been to in my life. Not that I have traveled that much, so it was obviously very impressive. So… how did I, a 22 year old computer science graduate from Belgium, ended up volunteering in Dharamshala for 9 months? Well, I had been a spiritual seeker for some time and from my perspective, it just happened. It was coincidence, so it was my obvious next step to take. […]

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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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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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Cremation of His Holiness Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche, 19 October 2017 by Tashi

16 May 2017

  Cremation of His Holiness Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche, 19 October 2017 The Thupten Dorjedrak Nyingma Institute has recently announced the scheduled cremation date of their late and much beloved supreme chief; Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche His passing in December 2015 in Bodh Gaya sent shockwaves across the globe, not only for his followers in the Nyingma tradition but for all those in the greater Buddhist community who were blessed enough to know him. His Holiness the Dalai Lama referred to him as “a great master” and urged all that attended the Lam Rim teachings in Bylakuppe that year to pray for a swift reincarnation. Born in 1926 near the famous Yamdrok Lake in central Tibet, Rinpoche was ordained at the Taklung Tse monastery when he was five years old and was recognized as an incarnation of the great master Ngok Chöku Dorje He fled Tibet in 1959 and came to Sikkim where he spent two years at the Rumtek moastery then later travelled to a Tibetan refugee settlement in Shimla. The following years were dedicated to working not only with its local community members, but also with state government officials for the betterment of the Tibetan plight. He was renowned for his role in starting the new Dorje Drak monastic seat in exile with the Office of the Tibetan Spiritual Leader the Dalai Lama. His aim in this endeavour was to “preserve, foster and expand the teachings of the Changter lineage” following the complete destruction of the original Dorje Drak Monastery in Tibet. Rinpoche received the highest Dzogchen teachings from Polu Khenpo Dorje, a direct disciple of Khenpo Ngakchung and in 2012 was appointed the head of the Nyingma tradition. At 89 years old, Rinpoche was just as devoted to the attainment of realization as he was at 20, and without fail, woke at 3am every day to perform his rituals. It is said that on the day of his passing he arose at 1am instead to complete his morning prayers before passing into the Thuk-dam state not long after. Rinpoche’s life was one filled with courage and determination. Among his greatest achievements in this incarnation was to touch the lives of so many with his compassion and wisdom. In line with the wishes of His Holiness the Dalai lama, it is the mutual hope of his followers, that a reincarnation be imminent and worthy; in order to continue the legacy […]

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