After having left all the business of Dharamsala, we finally made our way up to Tushita, one of the main retreat center of Lama Zopa Rinpoche. We were hosted in dormitories with some other fellow participants of the course. That day we had our first session with our course leader Bhikshuni Sister Jotika, assisted by Ane Rita. As we were prepared beforehand, we received the information that no ordination would happen in February, with possibility of no ordination at all. So we had two choices: 1 to become really depressed, negative and blaming ourselves or 2 to focus positively on the content of the course which was mainly studying the vinaya and the practicing in the Vajrasattva temple vows of the individual liberation. The response of the group was amazing and thanks to Sister Jotika's love and care, we unanimely chose to go for the second option. What a nice journey was waiting ahead.
With 22 particants from 13 different nationalities (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, America, France, Holland, Germany, Spain, Austria, Greece, Switzerland, Australia and Korea) we shared our experience, our hopes and fears, our motivation for taking ordination. It felt from the start like one mandala merging together, and we really felt secure enough to expose ourselves in a deep way. We felt moved when we heard that the Pre-ordination course was initiated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to give the non-tibetans a better chance for receiving fully and upholding the ordination in the tibetan tradition (Mulasarvastivadin). This was the best way to prepare ourselves for that very special moment.
Sister Jotika, was the person appointed by His Holiness to hold the course and teach us the Vinaya, the Pratimoksha vows and many different aspects of monasticism. She has an incredible background of knowledge and experience as a buddhist nun in the three existing Vinaya traditions (the Theravada, Dharmagupta and Mulasarvastivadin). With her tremendous care and inimitable way to feel the atmosphere within the group, she was able to provide each of us with whatever that person most needed.
Our days started with personal practises, followed by a group practise until breakfast time. Afterwards we fulfilled a short work commitment and received teachings for most of the morning until lunch time. We had enough time during the lunchbreak to study and memorize the teachings. There was also time for a short walk within the retreat boundaries.
The afternoons were dedicated to more teachings, discussion groups and group practices. Then for those who needed, one could have a medicine meal composed of soup and bread, as allowed by His Holiness because of the cold weather. The day was concluded by an inspiring Ane Dhasel guided meditation and dedication.
During the course, great care was taken of everyone, not to get sick. Because if one would be sick, one was not allowed to be near His Holiness, and so one couldn't receive the ordination. But as you will see in the next blog, we were well protected....
Lots of love
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