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Three wise monkeys, a two thousand years symbol explained by Stéphanie


25 November 2016

You probably have already seen three wise monkeys in miniature or in picture where one covers his ears, the other covers his mouth and the last one covers his eyes. But do you know what it means? In western countries, it’s our habit to see them as decorative objects without speaking of their true signification. Of course, they are far from only decorative objects. Origin of the 3 wise monkeys It’s hard to date the first appearance of the three wise monkeys. They have been brought into Buddhism by a monk in the 7th century. According to the legend, this monk, while he was travelling, was escorted by a monkey. His name was Xuanzang, one of the most important translators of Buddhist texts in China. He left China for India when he realized that it was time to seek more Buddhist texts to bring to China. Nevertheless, he’s not the one who invented the three wise monkeys, but the one who made them known. The first traces lead us to the «Analects of Confucius» (between the 4th and 11st century BC). Several legends assume that those three monkeys came from Japanese Koshin’s belief. They are based on the idea that, in every human being, there are three wicked worms, the Sanshi, which, every sixty days leave our body to report on our sins to a superior entity, Ten-Tei. Still, it’s tough to make the difference between legend and reality. Moreover, one of the oldest known representations of those three monkeys is on the front of the Tshogu temple in Nikko, Japan. Would they come from Japan then? It’s possible. The three mystical monkeys (as they are sometimes called) are named the sanzaru. Their names are Mizaru, Iwazaru and Kikazaru. In Japanese language, «san» means three and «saru» means monkey. Time passing, «saru» becomes «zaru» giving birth to sanzaru. Yet, «zaru» is also a negative form, that we could translate to «not to». So the common admitted meaning «not see, not hear and not speak» could come from a Japanese play on words. Besides, in Japanese culture, monkey is supposed to ward off evils. Meaning of these three wise monkeys Those three wise monkeys are supposed to represent a way not to feel evil. The common sense is : not to see anything, not to hear anything and not to say anything. But can it really be that simple? To me, such […]

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Amritsar, the Golden Temple : an experience by Stéphanie


16 November 2016

There are some discoveries which lift the veil of indifference covering the world. There are some moments which open your heart and let this organ of love freely express itself. There are some experiences which allow you to let go, fully and truly, so vulnerable but so strong from the trust gifted to the unknown. The Golden Temple of Amritsar is one of them ! This visit opened my eyes and allowed me to take a brand new look on humanity. In Amritsar, the notion of time doesn’t exist. Women, men, children are constantly walking around the place, like a perpetual ritual of bowing down on the white marble, of meditations facing the sacred lake, of prayers, of sun rise followed by sun set, undisturbed neither by the day passing or the eternal renewal of pilgrims. The Golden Temple is always alive. The temple hosts every human being without limit of time or condition. People meet here and there, they are sleeping under the arcade of the courtyard, and eating in an extraordinary canteen which can serve up to 60 000 meals each day with an amazing organisation. Here and there we can see them pray under their turbans, exchange knowledge and smiles, be in communion together with sacred food and drinkable water offered in every corner of this place with allures of fairy tale. Golden Temple, the beauty of the place is an invitation to inside contemplation No matter whether you are a Sikh or not, no matter whether you have faith or not, no matter whether you came here for the architecture or spirituality I dare every visitor to resist the will to take 2 minutes to sit on the floor and truly appreciate the beauty of the present moment. Beauty of people surrounding you, beauty of uninterrupted prayers since the last 500 years spread with speakers all around, beauty of this golden temple, beauty of the white and sculpted marble, beauty of the love felt here. The love here deeply invades your heart, just for the time being, a precious instant shared with this community. Amritsar reveals such a powerful human reality That it’s hard to not feel connected. In this highly respected Sikh temple, it’s possible to live for free. Everything is based on donations, this notion of spontaneous solidarity which is often forgotten in our societies running after profits. We can sleep here for free, on simple […]

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Happiness, how to find the meaning of life : a DIY Kit ! by Stéphanie


04 November 2016

Let’s explore how to be happier ! Find Happiness : 10 questions / Answers with Geshe Lhakdor A bit of context before start to talk about happiness. This conversation took place in Tibet World Institute in Dharamsala, India. It was a teaching about the meaning of life gifted by a well known Buddhist Geshe Lakdor (director of Tibetan Library and Archives Centre and former translator of Dalai Lama). I arrived, of course how could I’ve done otherwise, full of stereotypes and misunderstandings about Buddhism, happiness and spirituality. Coming from European cultural background, directly arrived from my busy everyday-routine in our agitated societies, I am now sitting in this room facing this brilliant Geshe Lhakdor, trying to absorb a bit of his wisdom, drinking his words and trying to lift the veil. Which veil? The veil of the ignorance of happiness which covers our mind formatted with business relationships. So, here the questions I came with, here the answers I got It’s now up to you to choose to follow this path but at least you will, now, know the destination! What is happiness ? Quest for happiness is the meaning of life. We are talking here about long lasting happiness, not ephemeral’s one. Geshe Lakdor describes it : “Happiness is a deep feeling of satisfaction Happiness can be reached by exploration Exploration is accepting new challenges. New challenges bring new ideas, new energies inside you.” So happiness could be an energy ? A positive, warm and kind energy going through every part of your body and mind ? Let’s explore further ! Where is happiness coming from ? Knowing that we all want happiness, the universal question could be “Where are we going to get this long lasting happiness from ?” According to Geshe, “Not from what we learnt from our parents, not from religion beliefs either. You need to want to be happy. It’s all start by a commitment to yourself : Whatever happens in life I will not make my mind unhappy. I will not feed the anger but starve it like an enemy.” So happiness could come from our own experiences of life : see what makes you happy, try to analyse the reasons and decisions which lead to this state of happiness. Identify them to be able to repeat them more often in your life. Then, the answer seems clear and simple : happiness is only dependent […]

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Kalachakra How to get a train ticket to Gaya ? by Stéphanie

how to go to Bodhgaya. Train to Kalachakra. Reach gaya

17 October 2016

Website and app to check train ticket to Bodhgaya for kalachakra 2017 During Kalachakra, it can be a very hard challenge to find a way to reach Gaya. The popularity of the event increase so much every year, it’s now too late and impossible to find a flight to Gaya. Your only solution to reach the town is by bus or train. Because most of people are going to seek for the same solution to reach Gaya, soon all trains and bus may be full. Here a selection of tips to avoid missing the Kalachakra because of transport difficulties : Book a train ticket to Gaya : Secure your Kalachakra experience There is two ways to book a train ticket in India : online or directly at the bus station. During Kalachakra, the amount of people coming to Gaya is unbelievable. We highly advise you to book your ticket online to secure your journey. But, even if you do so, the only option may be to subscribe on a waiting list to board into the train. First you have to know cancellations are quite common in India and that’s why most of the Train Company keep selling tickets even if the train is full. Train to Kalachakra : which ticket you should book You can get three categories of ticket to reach Gaya : Confirmed tickets – RAC waitlist – Waitlist. If you feel a bit lost in all this system, you can check a great website in India (which also have a mobile App free to download here) : confirmtkt.com Note.You only  check the availability of seat but cannot  book a ticket on website. This great platform allow you to book your train ticket online but also to plan which is your best option to board on the train. The website is calculating automatically your chances to get a confirmed ticket for each train even if you book a Waitlist one. It’s only up to you to do the good choice then and maximise your chances to reach Gaya on time for Kalachakra 2017. Kalachakra and Gaya by Train : How to make the best of your journey ? Here some very obvious advises but still no hurt to repeat them : Take a book, music, drawing, … any activities to keep your mind busy. You can also choose to star at the window and discover the diversity of landscapes in […]

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How did Tibet look like before the Chinese Cultural Revolution? by Stéphanie

Two monks

08 February 2016

Tibet, this dream-like mystical land has been untouched by external influence for many centuries, preserving its own unique traditions and lifestyle. After Tibet’s occupation by China in 1959, the history of the roof of the world saw a dramatic and disruptive change. Little was known about this remote isolated plateau called Tibet in the Western world. A German expedition led by Ernst Schafer, a renowned hunter and zoologist, in 1938-1939 is one of the few extraordinary cases of Western visitors in the faraway Tibet. The main purpose of the expedition was to carry out research on landforms, climate, geography and culture as well as establishing German representation. Catch a contemplative view of an authentic yet endangered Tibetan way of life. It is impressive how these snapshots manage to register the culture so well.                                     If you feel inspired and encouraged to undertake a journey of a lifetime to the mysterious Tibet, please contact us for designing a tailor-made trip for you. Be sure to rejoice in the authencity of your experience. Source: Bundesarchiv .

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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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