Friday, 29 January 2010

Reflections on Shantideva and solitude

I think one of the things I find so fascinating and appealing about the ‘Bodhicharyavatara’ is that the writer, Shantideva, reveals himself not only as an enthusiastic and passionate practitioner but also as someone who uses the most convincing and irresistible logic to put his points across - logic which remains convincing even in this day and age many centuries later. No wonder, then, that Patrul Rinpoche taught on this text hundreds of times.

Whenever I read Shantideva’s works - both the ‘Bodhicharyavatara’ and the ‘Shikshasamucchaya’1 - it sparks a longing in me for solitude, a time for meditation and contemplation. I find outer solitude is a great help, in fact, sometimes a necessity, in order to find inner solitude.2 A time to spend away from ‘the cares of the world’ - in this case a somewhat busy retreat centre! - in order to return to it all again with renewed energy and enthusiasm, and hopefully a little more wisdom and compassion as well. Also as I grow older my mind turns more and more to spending time in retreat as a preparation for the ultimate retreat! I aspire to be able to let go and move on with ease.

As the Dalai Lama says about growing old “... although the body may grow old, if we have developed the faculty of the mind, then its clarity and wisdom will continue, giving us the opportunity to practise in a vast and profound way.”



The temple at sunset


There’s a beautiful story in Chapter 21 ‘The Universal Process’ of Sogyal Rinpoche’s ‘Tibetan Book of Living & Dying’ which tells of the death of an old Tibetan khenpo who had spent many years of retreat in the mountains but was arrested by the Chinese. This is followed by verses from ‘The Immaculate Radiance’ by Longchenpa which are a great favourite of mine.

In fact, if I was marooned on a desert island - although I would prefer a mountain cave! - and could keep only two books with me they would probably be ‘The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying’ and the ‘Bodhicharyavatara’.

1 In this work Shantideva devotes a whole chapter to ‘Praise of Remaining in Solitude’.
2 I recommend Longchenpa’s ‘Guide to Locations for Cultivating Samadhi’ and ‘The Practitioner of Meditation’ over at Lotsawa House. There is also ‘In Praise of Longchen Rabjam’ by Khenpo Shenga. The first two translations also appear in the book of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings at Lerab Gar in 2000 - ‘The Vision of Enlightenment’.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

For nuns' mum

My mum recently ventured away with me to Vietnam (see the many earlier blogs I posted about the Sakyadhita International Conference and subsequent tour). The last day of our tour, we were delighted when we hopped aboard a small boat and paddled into a lagoon surrounded by majestic limestone mountains, laden with lush flora, small temples and shrine and a number of goats.

I've tried to express to my mum how significant it was for me that she accompanied me to a gathering of Buddhist women and that we could share such moving adventures together. I think she gained a lot of insight into many elements of the Buddhist path that are meaningful for me, and whats more, when our Vietnamese hosts found out that she was the mother of a monastic, they showed great respect to her, as is their custom. So she was certainly met with warmth and appreciation in that culture - something not so common in Australia when she tells people that her daughter is a Buddhist nun living in France.

I've made this short video for my mum - as the visit to these caves in the Nimh Binh Province of Vietnam was a scenic highlight of our time together in Vietnam. These caves are the site where the second wave of Buddhism was established in Vietnam in 1BC!
Enjoy this mum! Thank you for your un-repayable kindness and ever present support. I love you so much.

video
A boat tour of caves near Dai Binh, Northern Vietnam

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Bhikshuni Island


As a 10 and 11 year old girl, I used to love watching 'Wonder Woman'.

In one of my favourite episodes, Wonder Woman's sister came to ask her to return to the island where their mother, the Queen of the Amazons, lived. This island was a tropical paradise, with hundreds of, wonder-women-in-waiting.
It was an island where these amazonian women could follow Pythagorian pursuits, with a strong focus on their spiritual life, training to save the world.

This fantasy of such a land could easily have been inspired by real life events in Taiwan - especially from this last week:

On Tuesday, through some connection with another Rigpa sangha member, I had a brief audience with Bhikshuni Master Cheng Yen, the founder of Tzu Chi, and 5 time Nobel Peace prize candidate. (Sogyal Rinpoche has taught at one of her 6 hospitals on one of his previous visits to Taiwan). Between her conference calls with members of her organisation who were in the Dominican Republic, on standby for relief work in Haiti, I offered Master Cheng Yen, the updated Chinese edition of the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, and asked for her blessing for our work in Rigpa. I had heard so much about Master Cheng Yen, from a close friend who is her student, and also at the recent conference that I attended in Vietnam on "Eminent Buddhist Women", where she was certainly presented as one of the most popular and significant Buddhist nun figures of this day. Yet, all the stories I had heard about her had not conveyed any of the qualities of elemental strength that I felt she had.

Master Cheng Yen appears to be a very elegant and regal woman - displaying a real grace, but when you're with her, she has the force of a large, rock, so large in fact that she dwarfs the stones on our planet - as though she were their mother! There's a sense that she magnetizes everything to her which is needed to accomplish her vast vision - enabling her to be effective anywhere, anytime.

Bhikshuni Master Cheng Yen
After our meeting, I was taken on a tour of one of her centres in Taiwan, which included a recycling station (one of 4,500 set up in Taiwan and serviced by volunteers of all ranks and backgrounds in the Tzu Chi organisation), a couple of books shops, and the DaAi TV station, (with it's own satelite in orbit, so Tzu Chi members, with a special dish can receive 24 hour DaAi TV wherever they are in the world!). It was incredibly impressive!

On Wednesday, I visited Bhikshuni Prof Cheng-Ying, who was very generous in her time and spirit when she welcomed me into her home in Taipei. We spent a lot of time together looking through the View magazines that I had brought from Lerab Ling, and then started to discuss the possibilities of Shikshama ordination for some of the nuns in Lerab Ling who wish to take Bhikshuni ordination in the future. (dear sisters in Lerab Ling - I have a lot to share with you, once I'm back in France!) Bhikshuni Cheng-Yeng has been a fully ordained nun since 1975. Her ease, confidence, simplicity and humility were tremendously inspiring, and her open manner made it very easy to talk frankly about many elements of the path.

The following day, my friend, Min Hsin and I travelled by high speed train to meet with Bhikshuni Master Wu-Yin of the Luminary Temple - many of us know of her incredible knowledge of the Vinaya through the book Choosing Simplicity. She is the senior most Bhikshuni in Taiwan, and has made an incredible contribution in "establishing Buddhist institutes and temples to train nuns so that they have the necessary skills and knowledge to transmit the Dharma to the greater society" (from Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron's introduction to Choosing Simplicity).
Choosing Simplicity - Commentary on the Bhikshuni Pratimoksha by Bhikshuni Master Wu-Yin

Bhikshuni Master Wu-Yin is also an incredible force. Very strong indeed! For close to three hours, she "processed" me - in a way that I have only felt my own teacher do to me. She challenged me, she encouraged me, she turned my opinions in on themselves, she opened my opinions out into the fullness of the history of the Bhikshuni lineage... I was brought to tears, I was puzzled, I was educated and I was inspired. And at the end of the time with her, I found a new courage in myself. I videoed this meeting, and her advice will be really useful for our 'Rigpa Vihara' monastic community! At the end of our time together, she repeatedly said "you can, you can, you can you can..."

After these three days, I see how Wonder Womans' island pales in comparison. Where else in the world would such great Bhiskhuni Masters be found in one place? Taiwan is very special in this regard!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

The Dalai Lama to ordain Rigpa students in Dharamsala

Francois (L) and Marion (R), who will be ordained by the Dalai Lama in India, and me (Tenpa Rabgye), with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the background.

A long cherished wish is coming to a closer fulfilment this week when I leave Lerab Ling and France for 5 weeks in Dharamsala, India.

Ever since I was ordained by Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche in Nepal in 2006, I have deeply wished and aspired to receive full ordination within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

During the last 4 years, life as a monk in the pure land of Lerab Ling, Southern France has been a tremendous blessing and life-changing experience. With Buddhist monasticism truly taking root in the western hemisphere, I experience it as a very fortunate situation to be able to contribute, even in a small way, to the establishment of the Buddhist sangha here in the West.

For a few years now His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been ordaining Western Dharma students. Anyone who wishes to receive ordination with His Holiness must first formally apply and, after having received approval, participate in a pre-ordination course for 4 weeks, which is held in Tushita in Dharamsala. At the end of the course His Holiness will bestow the ordination ceremony.

I was advised to come with a very open and flexible mind because ordination will happen only when it happens. I pray, then, that all circumstances may be extremely favorable for His Holiness to bestow the ordination.

The fortunate Lerab Ling residents, Marion who is French, and Francois, who is Swiss, will join in this adventure. They will leave their lay identity behind and will embrace the monastic lifestyle.

This will be the first time that students of Sogyal Rinpoche’s students will have received ordination from His Holiness. In this regard it will be an historic event. I pray that as a result, many, many, many more will have the karma and the good fortune in the future to receive ordination with His Holiness and receive, train and uphold the authentic Buddha-Dharma for generations to come.

This is my first post about this upcoming event and I will post more to keep you informed and linked to this wonderful happening.

Tenpa Rabgye

Saturday, 16 January 2010

White Tara


For a long time now I’ve been looking for a short prayer to White Tara - we have several prayers to Green Tara in our practice book but not one to White Tara. I was hoping to find one from one of ‘our’ masters and at last I found one in Jamyang Khyentsé Chokyi Lodrö’s collected works.


The sacred image of White Tara, 'The Wish-Fulfilling Wheel' found in the empowerment room of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo's residence, The Joyful Grove of Immortal Accomplishment
Image courtesy of Khyentse Labrang

So here it is for all you White Tara practitioners - with good wishes and prayers for your long life, good health and successful practice.


From Volume 2 folio 109

rab kar da shyun tong gi langtso chen
Dazzling white, in the bloom of youth like a pure new moon,
tsen péi ku chok chi dak dü chom ma
Your supreme form has all the marks and signs. You who vanquish the mara of the Lord of Death,
tsé dang yeshé ngödrup chok terwa
Grant us long life and wisdom, and the supreme attainment.
jetsün yishyin khorlor solwa dep
Noble Lady, Wish-fulfilling Wheel, to you I pray!

om tare tuttare ture soha

Tendrel



Have arrived in Taipei, one step closer to returning to Lerab Ling. (which I have been looking forward to returning to since I left at the end of November)
I'm here to spend time with Sogyal Rinpoche's Taiwan students, a small but utterly devoted sangha, who miss seeing their root teacher - I'm just a poor substitute, but at least by me coming here, they can be reminded that Rinpoche's cares for and loves them very much.

Today I met with Khamtrul Rinpoche, who spends a few months here every year as he finds the climate and diet are very good for his health. Next weekend, he will give the empowerment of the long, brief and medium Tendrel Nyesel to an expected audience of 1000 people. He feels that as many people as possible in Taiwan should be doing the Tendrel Nyesel practice.


Tendrel Nyesel thangka commissioned by Sogyal Rinpoche, under the guidance of Trulshik Rinpoche. Painted by Salga.

For me, it's very fortunate that I can be here at this time, in order to receive these empowerments again - it's certainly a sign of 'good tendrel'. Some of the monks and nuns at Lerab Ling have received the Tendrel Nyesel empowerment from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in March, 2003 when he bestowed the wang at Sogyal Rinpoche's request to thousands of lamas, monks, nuns and lay people including the 17th Karmapa. We have also received the empowerment a number of times from Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche, and have participated in the Drupchö of Tendrel Nyesel with Trulshik Rinpoche and hundreds of monks and nuns on three ocassions in Nepal! At Lerab Ling, we are practising Tendrel Nyesel ever single day, and the Drupchö is held there annually. In fact, Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche insists that it is far more powerful for us to practice this at Lerab Ling than anywhere else, as Sogyal Rinpoche is our vajra master, and it is his predecessor, Terton Sogyal, who revealed the terma, which was deciphered with the aid of the 13th Dalai Lama.

Terton Sogyal Lerab Lingpa

How fortunate to meet with this practice, which is so suited to this time. Certainly, it's custom made by the Buddhas for this degenerate time, especially when we see so many imbalances in the external elements, and so many disturbances in the minds of beings. I wonder if my brothers and sisters at Lerab Ling (or wherever else they are in the world now) would like to share a bit on how they experience the benefits of the practice of Tendrel Nyesel.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Meanwhile, back at the monastery...the snow has come






The Ice Goddess


Guru Rinpoche on Ice

 

These snowy days are ideal for practice. It reminds me of the words of the Christian Christmas carol - 'Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright...'
Winter time at Lerab Ling is always the time when I feel most inclined to do retreat.


The environment is so conducive to practice and feels especially blessed with the three years of retreat that ended in November.  The atmosphere of practice has continued and I feel will increase more and more as others also realise the benefits and, actually, the sheer joy that can come from being able to go more deeply into the practice.  No wonder those masters of old who spent many years in retreat were always singing songs of realization!

(Story and photos by Ane Tsondru)

tour tale ends

Well, our tour of Vietnam ended a couple of days ago. Towards the end of the 5-day tour of Buddhist temples and sites which spanned the whole country, the organization became increasingly haphazard, but still we visited some holy gems.

On the final day, we were taken to "the caves near Bai Dinh". No-one knew what these were, but we faithfully followed the tour leader, driving through misty semi tropical valleys framed with steep, tree-clad rocky mounds. Imagine a romantic chinese landscape watercolour - steep mountains clothed in fog, with a lake in the foreground, and a single boat on the still waters. Add a pink bus driving on a winding road, and you have something reminiscent of that drive to the caves .

At our destination, we were ushered onto 30 small boats, and cast out into the lake. Quite soon, we reached a small cave entrance that took us into the heart of the limestone mountain and then after 120 metres of gentle paddling, out the other side.

This site, which is the second place in Vietnam where Buddhism was founded, back in 1 BC, is a series of 11 cave systems which snake through the majestic mountains on streams of clear fresh water. So, for a couple of hours, we were lulled with the rhythmic beat of the wooden paddles skimming the water, and we chanted a variety of mantras through stalactite laden caves. It was certainly like stepping back in time, and offered gracious respite from the otherwise gruelling tour schedule.


Nearby, we visited what will surely be a major tourist attraction in years to come - a nearly completed pagoda mega complex, the Bai Dinh Buddhist Cultural Centre. I think we all had mixed responses to this display of grandiosity: three enormous pagodas spread over 800 metres, one pagoda for each of the three times, and a temple bell larger than a local house, and somewhere, hidden to us, a 1000 year old temple built into the mountain.

500 Arhant statues are being carved (2 / 3 of these are complete) - each taking 2 months of labour, in three shifts a day. These flank the large walkways which enclose the whole complex.

Some of the 500 Arhant statues carved from stone, each 2 metres high.

We were shown great kindness by our host, but that did not dampen the sadness that many nuns felt as we prepared to farewell each other.

The ritual of exchanging emails was a small comfort for us all, as is the trust in the laws of karma. The familiarity that we all felt amongst each other from the day we first met, on the 28th of December at the start of the Sakyadhita International Conference for Buddhist Women, is a sure sign that our connections span beyond this lifetime and, if we do not cross paths again in this life, we are sure to maintain connections in lives to come.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Arrival at Hanoi

Sakyadhita tour arrived in Vietnam's capital Hanoi today.  With a distinct air of 'we're being watched' a number of formalities have taken place with senior members of the sangha councils, the press and government representatives. Delicious Shapu Shapu for lunch at a temple built in 1650. And in the evening, the Himalayan nuns felt at home at 'Amitayus Vegetarian Restaurant' which was adorned with thangkas and sacred decorations!
Tomorrow we visit caves near Bai Dinh. And I am sad to say it will be the last day.

Amitayus Vegetarian Restaurant, Hanoi

SMS by Ane Damcho

On the Temple Tour in Vietnam


At some temples, we received very formal welcomes...


And at some, very sweet farewells. Here novices line up to wave off our bus after visiting a temple

A Nepalese Bhikshuni, and Thai Mai Chee standing outside the imperial city in Hué.


With Vietnamese sisters in a flower show in Da Lat

Friday, 8 January 2010

I can see that on TV (or, 'What you can't see on TV')

I'm sure that amongst the people who read this blog, many would love to visit Vietnam - just as I had.

We're in Hué, and today we visited one of the city's favourite tourist attractions, a UNESCO site, on the Northern banks of the Perfume River: The Citadel. It is a walled imperial city, currently under restoration. You can see things like this on TV.

entering the Kings reception room at the Imperial Citadel

In the last 4 days, our tour group, hosted by the Vietnamese Buddhists, has visited a number of other sites in Vietnam, mainly temples. I think we've stopped at no less that 25 places!
Everyplace we've seen has a special quality, a history, a story, an environment, or a personal connection that I feel lingering with me - something that you cannot see on TV.

These are examples from today:
- visiting a orphanage, which was run by a nunnery - the children offered a song and a rose to the Sakyadhita Conference delegates who are on this tour. They gave to us so freely, while holding a deep sadness in their eyes.
- meeting some of the eldest and most senior Bhikshuni's of Vietnam. A 94 year old nun composed a poem welcoming us all,
- sitting in a Chinese Zen Temple that was constructed in the 16th Century, then run by Bhikshunis for a long period of time, and was later the temple from which the 1964 movement to safeguard freedom of religion in Vietnam began.

We can be touched in such ways anywhere. I think my previous posts make it clear that it is certainly not only the temples that we are visiting that stir the heart. It is the connections.

As a new found (or re-found) friend from the tour wrote to me in a skype chat this evening:
It really felt nourishing for me too to be among number of nuns and lay women practitioners, I become more determined in my practice....and am really in awe to see the whole community of buddhist nuns (I witness sooooo many parallel worlds of women...that is amazing)....and I'm really inspired to get all of those worlds somehow together.
Also, what was very new to me is the level of compassion and loving kindness around me....it nourished my soul...and opened my heart.
(again, this is another echo of my experience)

the bus (one of four) on which much bonding has happened during the tour

Puja Travel

Here's a taste of yesterday's 800km bus journey in Vietnam from Da Lat (dep. 4am) to Hué (arr. midnight). One of the Bhikshunis from India leading a Pali chant.

SMS from Vietnam

14 hours in the bus today, and still another 6 to go till we reach our destination, Hué!
What happens when you put 35 nuns and Buddhist women together for that long? Magic!
Pali sutras, Tibetan prayers, Bollywood songs, Korean love songs, German lullabies, and accoustic REM were among the many songs (that have kept our driver awake). Short film clip is coming soon!
And, we've shared intimate discussions about our traditions, our lifestyles, and keeping our precepts. A number of people have been intrigued to hear about Lerab Ling and wish to visit us there.
Maybe a white robed Mae Chee from Thailand will come soon!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Touring Vietnam, Night at a Zen Temple



After twelve hours in a bus, we are happily tucked into our dormitory beds at the Vietnamese Zen Temple, Truc Lam, where we had the honor to meet the great Zen Master Thich Thanh Tu (who shares a close bond with Thich Nhat Hanh...and for this reason our group has to be 'contained' while staying at Da Lat...).



Thich Thanh Tu, b.1924

Another early departure tomorrow as our four buses with delegats from the Sakyadhita Conference continue on tour.

[Ane Damcho is reporting from the tour of Vietnam using text messages from her mobile phone]

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Grace of the 1st day of the tour

Mum and I were sick yesterday so we missed the first day of tours to the Buddhist Nunnerys and Temples near Ho Chi Mih City, which has been planned for the delegates who attended the Sakyadhita Conference. But today we joined (and will continue for another 6 days) on the tour by bus which will take us up the coastline of Vietnam to Hué, and then we fly to Hanoi)

The first stop today was like meditators heaven! It is Vien Chieu Nunnery, in 'the forest of meditators ' where there are always 1000 nuns and 1000 monks meditating.

In this zen temple, a certain number of nuns are in retreat, while the rest are studying and practising. The environment is pristine: lush, yet finely manicured tropical gardens, and orchards. Vietnamese Zen style shrine rooms, meditation halls and sleeping halls - all open to the garden, and sometimes elevated to the canopies of the tress so that a fragrant cooling breeze blows through the spaces.
We stayed there for 30 minutes, but I wished to stay there for 30 years - seduced by the environment as I was!

video
a kind of heaven for meditators, Vien Chieu Monastery

After visiting 4 more temples (of the 8 that we saw today), the Abbess of Quan Am Nam Hai Temple in Vung Tau absolutely melted my heart.

She was so moved to welcome 60 or so Buddhist women from around the world into her small Temple that she continuously bowed to us all, with a sincere display of faith. This in turn inspired faith and gratitude in all of us, so, for a few tender, silent minutes, we met, bowed to the ground in appreciation, with our hearts blossoming.

Such are the intimate and simple moments which express the joy I feel to be with so many other nuns.

Ribbit

This frog might go to asia and frolic in monk and nun life in the near future, for now I am just eating flies.

Ribbit

Monday, 4 January 2010

Offerings

To the mighty sages, perfect recipients of my offering,
I will present red lotus and heavenly mandarava,
Blue utpala flower and other scented blossoms,
Beautifully arranged in brightly coloured garlands.

I also offer billowing clouds of incense,
Whose sweet aroma captivates the mind,
And a rich feast of plentiful food and drink,
Fit to grace the tables of the gods.

Offerings of every kind were made to representatives of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha at the Sakyadhita Conference which has just closed in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
These verses, from the Bodhicaryavatara, are taken from a small booklet that I'm traveling with, The Brightly Shining Sun. We witnessed the 'branch of offering' in so many gestures of kindness and generosity, each day at the temple.


video

The footage in this video is set to the Bodhicaryavatara, Chapter 2, Offering, which is chanted in sanskrit by Vidya Rao (and used with the kind permission of Siddhartha's Intent)

A few more dimensions

There's only so much that I can express through a blog on the many facets of the Sakyadhita Conference (don't worry I have plenty more news to share, as I get a chance to sit down and post) But, for now, here are a number of links that I've gathered which offer some more dimensions:

1. A Vietnamese website posts some news and photos from the Sakyadita Conference for Buddhist Women in Vietnam here

2. Informative news and discussions at the blogsite of Ven. Sujato from Santi Forest Monastery, Australia:
  • The Sakyadhita Conference here
  • Discussions on the the recent episodes around Thich Nhat Hanh's monastics in Vietnam at Bhat Na Monastery (whom are being granted asylum in France)... (in response to a note by Ven. Sujato, it is true that this Sakyadhita Conference had a subtle air of being a showpiece for the Government, especially when the Nationalistic ceremonies took place on the opening and closing days, as well as through the professional cultural performances on some evenings, which included a spectacular piece of theatre based on the story of the Buddha's life and Mahaprajapati (think Bollywood meets Jesus Christ Superstar from Broadway, on a small stage);
  • Bhikshuni ordination, and especially the recent Theravada Bhikshuni Ordinations that took place in Perth, Australia. And the transcript of WWP's expulsion of Ajahn Brahm.
3. From the Buddha Channel, reflections on the Sakyadhita Conference in the form of an interview with the President of Sakyadhita, Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo here

4. Some more photos posted on Buddha Channel here

5. A Vietnamese news site report in English titled "Buddhist women discuss role in tackling global problems" here

6. And, for a wealth of photos from the conference look at the Sakyadhita Website Photo album here

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Sister Water Drop

(Please also see my earlier post Master Water Drop)
Savinder Kaur Gill (Tashi Choedron), is an environmental sociologist from Malaysia and is also a Tibetan Buddhist nun. Her advocacy for environmental change to come from each individual, is like a water offering, offering one drop at a time, into our precious oceans and waterways through educating people on polution and environmental damage.

I guess this approach can be likened to facing a world covered with thorns, and so covering the soles of ones own feet. Then we can teach others to do the same, or if they are unable to make changes in their own communities, we can carry them. She challenged each of the Sakyadhita Conference delegates to make a pledge to themselves of a change that they would make in their own life or within their own community.

A number of Buddhist women agreed to stop eating meat, and, after being made aware of the cumulative destructive force of the simple plastic bag, they committed to trying to "Say no to Plastic Bags". For all of us, it's a matter of fostering more mindfulness. Along with our own inner disarmament, through the practice of meditation, then change can really happen!

Here is Sister Water Drop:

video


In this 7 minute clip, Savinder Kaur Gill, an environmental sociologist and nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition shares her concerns for the environment, and explains what she is doing to help educate others.

A sister from the land of the Buddha

I interviewed this Theravada Bhikshuni from India. Just like me, this is the first Sakyadhita Conference that she has attended. She expressed to me her joy at being amongst dharma sisters from all traditions, and, just as I also feel, she says that there is a very close bond between us all that goes beyond this lifetime.


video
A short, educational & delightful video interview with a Theravada nun from India

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Delhi Belly amongst sisters


Some of the international delegates at the Sakyadhita Conference in Ho Chi Minh City line up for a group photo (leaves from the Temple's Boddhi tree visible in the top of the picture). Day 6

'Delhi Belly' strikes in Saigon, so no favourable conditions tonight for editing some video.

Just briefly then, today was the 6th day of the Sakyadhita International Conference for Buddhist Women, and the papers and workshops held today were just as broad, educational and enriching as the previous days. I wish to write on the exceptionally dedicated and foresighted nuns of my generation, but given my condition, I'll save that for another day...

Oh, I will mention that I interviewed a nun from Malaysia today, who is here with a Bhutanese nun. (They are also exceptional nuns, devoting their time to Environmental education and animal welfare) They were delighted to hear that Sogyal Rinpoche is my teacher as it is his book, the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying which was their first introduction to the Dharma. They continually buy copies to give to their friends.

News of their work will come soon through this blog.

Now, back to the.... (hopefully we'll all be fresh for tomorrow, the closing day of the 11th Sakyadhita Conference)

Friday, 1 January 2010

Buddha's daughters from Kinnour

These nuns in from the Kinnour region of the Himalayas are from Hindu families, and their small nunnery is the only Buddhist community in their area. It took them three years to build their nunnery with their own hands.

The delight on their faces to be here in Vietnam at the Sakyadhita Conference is a mirror of my own joy!



video

Tenzin Dechen from Kinnour shares some information about her nunnery in Northern India & her experience of being in Vietnam at the Sakyadhita Conference

Offering Lamps

A public holiday in Ho Chi Minh City, and festive treats mark the start of the new year in Vietnam. So, at the fifth day of the Sakyadhita Conference, all the delegates received even more expressions of kindness from our hosts.

In the Chinese Lunar calendar, it is also Amitahba Buddha's day (whereas in the Tibetan calendar, it was yesterday). Here are some photos of us all offering lamps together.

When I see the nuns of all traditions together offering prayer and devotion I find it so moving. There is a such a presence of purity and strength, and I feel it elevating me, stirring a recognition of my great fortune to have taking the monastic path.

video
Conference participants offer lamps for Buddha Amithaba and chant the Amithaba Mantra