An Announcement of 60th Birthday ‘Long Life Ceremony’ for Kuten-la by Stéphanie

21 June 2017

The Nechung Monastery has just announced the 60th Birthday “Long Life Ceremony” for one of their most revered State Oracles; Nechung Kuten Rinpoche. This three-day ceremony is scheduled for 27-29 June 2017 and will also commemorate the 30th anniversary since his appointment to this illustrious position. So, what exactly is a State Oracle some may ask. Much like many of the ancient civilizations of the world; oracles play an integral role in Tibetan religious culture, and its community often rely on these oracles for their support and spiritual guidance.  Though the call of these much-respected figures is often to foretell the future and act as healers, their primary purpose is to protect the Buddha Dharma and its practitioners. The State Oracle or Nechung Oracle plays an even greater role in the Tibetan community. As the Head of the tradition; this title is appointed by the Dalai Lama personally and maintains the responsibility as the vessel for which the Dorje Drakden (the principal protector divinity of the Tibetan government and the Dalai Lama) can manifest. In the Tibetan tradition, the world ‘oracle’ itself is referred to as an entity that enters into a person who acts as a medium between the spirit and human realms. The mediums themselves are therefore known as “kuten” which literally translates to “the physical basis” The current State Oracle Nechung Kuten Rinpoche, was born Thupten Ngodup on July 13, 1958 in Pari, Tibet. In 1966, he escaped Tibet and made the arduous journey to Dharamshala where he took his ordination as a monk at Nechung Dorje Drayang Ling Monastery at the age of 12. As a gifted and artistic youth, he quickly made his way through the ranks to become the Chief Ritual Assistant to the Nechung Protector. In 1987, following the three-year gap after the passing of the head oracle- to which no kuten was appointed, Thupten Ngodup entered into his first spontaneous trance and in September of that same year was formally recognized as the Chief Tibetan State Oracle Thus, began a successful thirty-year career that has seen Nechung Kuten Rinpoche become a much respected and beloved State Oracle. This birthday celebration will draw immense crowds and will conclude with a Khata offering ceremony along with birthday cake and luncheon. So, make the effort to attend this rare and festive occasion, you won’t regret it. I know we’ll be there.

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Mudras, the power of wisdom at your fingertips by Stéphanie

21 June 2017

Mudras are those subtle hand movements which are often attributed to Indian dances. More than an aesthetic gesture, each of them has a special meaning and is practiced as an art. Here are some examples of mudras to practice which will invite more wisdom into your daily life: Origins of the Mudras The term Mudra has several meanings in Sanskrit, one of which is: sign or seal, whereas according to the Tantric school, it comes from the decomposition of the word with the syllable mu- which means happiness and dru-, signifying to emphasize. Mudras are then a set of postures which generate a sense of fulfillment. Originally, it comes from the successors of the Veda, one of the oldest cultural traditions in the world. Brought to India by the Aryans more than 3,500 years ago and considered by Hindus as the source of all knowledge, Vedic teachings transmitted orally have always revered mudras as genuine sacred gestures. Mudras have since been introduced in yoga and meditation not only to promote mental stability, but also to stimulate energy curing points. The practice The specific positioning of fingers, hands and the entire body, create a powerful energetic field. In yoga, it is called assana. Therefore, these movements are a link between our body and the precise vibration that they are producing. Each of our five fingers is related to an element. The thumb is associated with fire; Agni, index to air; vayu, middle finger to the ether; akasha, ring finger to earth; prithvi and auricular to water; jala. By making associations with our fingers, we allow the elements to collaborate and thus release their energies into our body, bringing harmony and balance as well as promoting the vital breath; the Prana. The mudras, point by point Atmanjali Atmanjali mudra The right hand represents the sun, the left hand, the moon. By joining them, you allow the connection between the spiritual and material world. The Atmanjali is the mudra of prayer: of demand but also of gratitude. Join them at your chest, on the chakra of the heart, in order to fully feel peace and love. The Lotus There are two types of positions for this mudra, like a lotus flower that could close and open to infinity. It is advisable to visualize it during the time of your practice, to allow an opening to the nature as well as the divine that […]

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44 days in Ladakh with the Dalai Lama by Stéphanie

16 June 2017

H.H the Dalai Lama’s teaching schedule, Ladakh – 28th June – 10th August 2017 The main event : The Deskit Yarchos Chenmo’s 5th Annual Summer Buddhist Council, Nubra, Ladakh, India In the heart of the Annual Summer Buddhist Council in Ladakh continues the age-old Buddhist tradition of philosophical debate and discussion of core Buddhist tenants. The aim of this rare summer gathering is to bring about spiritual understanding, the importance of integrity and to promote inter-religious harmony in Ladakh. It will be a platform for students from all different schools to engage in discussions on spirituality, culture and morality in volatile times. But this isn’t the only event that His Holiness is scheduled to attend. His much-anticipated visit to Ladkah is sure to draw crowds from all over the world and is jam-packed with various teachings, ceremonies and monastic visits. So, to ensure that you get the most out of His Holiness’s visit; we have detailed his schedule below. June 28, Wednesday This heralds the start of this exhilarating time as His Holiness makes the journey from Delhi and arrives in Leh. July 6, Thursday Today is a very special day for everyone involved as it His Holiness’ birthday celebration! The entire region will be in a festive mood and it will be an action-packed day that begins with a Long-life ceremony for His Holiness. Throughout the morning, there will be speeches from invited dignitaries and traditional Tibetan dances performed by some of the locals. After all the formalities are concluded, the crowd will then relax and enjoy beautiful picnics with friends and family. This is a gorgeous event and is not to be missed. Take a peek at our blog on His Holiness’ 80th birthday below: July 10, Monday- July 13, Thursday The teaching schedule for His Holiness in Nubra begins with the Closing Ceremony of Yarcho Chenmo on the 10th July. The next three days will include His Holiness’ teachings on Kamalashila’s The Middle Stages of Mediation, Gyalsey Thokme Sangpo’s Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva and open interactions from the students of various schools. This event concludes with a Long-Life Empowerment followed by a Long-Life prayer for His Holiness.   July 14, Friday Today His Holiness makes his way to the Muslim region of Turtuk. This journey to the unspoiled terrains of Balti will include a visit to a local mosque as well as official speeches held […]

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5 things to discover about the Tibetan Holy month of Saga Dawa by Stéphanie

01 June 2017

So what’s all this talk about Saga Dawa? As a western woman, I’m new to the whole ‘Saga Dawa month’ concept. In fact, you could say that I’m new to the whole Tibetan-Buddhism concept altogether. For those that have read my earlier blog “An Aussie in Dharamshala”, you can see that my recent sea-change to India has been an eye-opening one- but I’m getting there. And little by little I’m learning what it’s like for the Tibetan community living in exile. We often get caught up in the struggles of our daily lives that we forget how lucky we are to be living in countries where our national identity is never in question. Here, national culture and traditions become a deliberate choice and a continual conscious effort. So, it’s no surprise that the words ‘Saga Dawa’ are on the lips of pretty much every Tibetan I’ve encountered over the last few days. They speak of it like the Christians speak of lent and the vices they are going to give up for the month such as “no more cigarettes” and “I’m going vegetarian”. But what exactly is Saga Dawa? Here’s the low down for all those religiously-challenged folk out there like myself. What is it? It’s considered the holiest of months in the Tibetan Lunar calendar. This year it started on 26th May and goes right through to 24th June. It’s a celebration of the three most significant events in Buddha’s life; his birth, enlightenment and death- all of which are believed to have happened in this auspicious period. Where does the name come from? Dawa means month in Tibetan and Saga is the name of the star that shines most prominently during this month. Astrologically, this month marks the perfect alignment of the stars and planets in such a way that a person’s energy “flows freely into the external world, thus creating a synergy between man and the cosmos”. It’s also the time of the Taurus-Gemini axis, which has been referred to as the ‘cusp of energy’ where the elements of earth meet air. What happens during this time? The Tibetans primarily adhere to the 5 Buddhist precepts during this month; being no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no lying and no intoxicant abuse. You will also see an influx of pilgrims visiting temples and reciting mantras as they perform the kora, mala beads in hand. Beggars will […]

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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 : 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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