Monday, 22 February 2010

not ordinary

The teachings demonstrate to us, and explain in vivid ways how we all have the Buddha Nature as our inherent true self.

Yet, due to habit, time and time again, we fall back to relating to the mundane aspect of ourself, which, ignorantly, we very easily accept.

Sogyal Rinpoche once said to me:

You are not an ordinary person, so why do you see yourself as that?
See yourself as I see you!

When a great being looks at any of us, I'm sure they see who we really are, and they also see who we're really not! And this is what they are constantly showing to us!

I realized today, as I was talking to my Dharma sister, Tsondru, that when I really nurture and honour my path as a monastic, the mundane, habitual view of myself naturally dissolves. It cannot find any foothold or ornaments to attach itself to when the precepts and the Buddhas guidance are taken as the framework of one's life.

So, in fact, by being a simple nun, I feel 'not ordinary', and instead, much more easily recognize and return to finding confidence in my true nature.

This was an important and subtle understanding through which I see how great the support is that the monastic precepts offer.

Sri Lankan and Nepali Bhikshunis in a flower garden in Da Lat, Vietnam

Wednesday, 10 February 2010


Eight years ago today, Ngawang Thubten (of France), Ngawang Sangye Chozom (of the US), and I, Ngawang Damchö Drolma (of Australia) were ordained in Bouddhanath, Nepal, by the great Vinaya master of the Nyingma tradition, Kyabjé Trulshik Rinpoche.

The ordination took place in a small shrine room, with light green painted walls, in the modest abode of Trulshik Rinpoche in Kathmandu. There were five of us who received ordination: we three, plus one Nepalese lady (whose son, famed as being the first man to scale to the peak of mount Everest, eagerly waited outside saying this day was more important for him that the physical feats he had mastered years ago), and an elderly Tibetan lady.

I still remember so many details of the day, during which we felt like we had a new birth. For many years, one of my ordination sisters from that day even had a 'birth' mark which remained on her scalp where the ordination master had poured saffron water.

When we take ordination, we give up three signs of being a lay person: our hair, our clothes and our name, and we adopt the conduct of a shikshamana precept holder, the robes of our lineage and the name which our ordination master gives us. The protection of the precepts and the robes has been tangible since that time, and it feels as though the blessing of the Buddha continuously holds us on the path of right conduct.

Ven. Matthieu Ricard translated for our ordination and Sangye Chözom asked him to give us some advise.

"Do good, be good" he said!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

So, you want to be a Bhikshuni?

Bhikshuni Heng-Ching from Taiwan, the co-editor of "Sisters in Solitude" responded to the question "what should one reflect on when checking to see if one has the correct motivation to take Bhikshuni ordination?", and she gave a very succinct and inspiring response:

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

"No Girl Friend, No Tension!" says Tenpa

Recent photo of Tenpa taken in Dharamsala, India

Before entering Tushita

Hello from Dharamsala!
We have safely arrived in the holy land of Lord Buddha, India. In Delhi we had the good fortune to practise and pray in front of the relics of the Buddha in the National Museum. A wonderful start of our adventure which, we pray, will result in receiving ordination with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala.

Relics of the Lord Buddha

After two nights in Rigpa House in Delhi we took a small plane to Kangra Airport, a 45 minutes drive from Dharamsala. It went very smooth and we enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the snow mountains. It supposed to be winter now here, but instead we experience a lovely mild spring, with many flowers already blossoming. It seems that the Namgyal Monastery practises to get snow, because otherwise there will be a water shortage in the summertime.

Spring flowers and 'mani stones' on the circumambulation trail around His Holiness the Dalai Lama's residence in Dharamsala
Upon arrival in Dharamsala we picked up our newly made monastic robes. That evening, under a full moon, we circumbulated the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In the days that followed we undertook the last preparations before entering the pre-ordination course at Tushita. We had the good fortune to mee His Holiness the 17th Karmapa at his Monastery, as well the new monastery of Garje Khamtrul Rinpoche, where we were welcomed by a beautiful and kind western monk.

In those few days we have witnessed many acts of kindness from many different people. We were often touched by the generosity of many. One time we forgot our camera in a taxi, and before we even knew about it, the taxi driver had been looking for us in order to return our camera. Or the lunch we were offered at the monastery of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, or even the tea and cake with Tashi-la, His Holiness Dalai Lama's chöpon.

Today, we will make our way to Tushita. We have been looking very much forward to this moment. It might even be a cold turkey for us...especially after all the shopping and business of the last few days...It is a joy to already see many western monastics here on the street. There is already a certain joy tangible for all that is to come. We feel very much the blessings of Sogyal Rinpoche, our master, and all the Buddhas, so clearly present and guiding us each and every moment.

(soon, we'll all be wearing skirts!)

We won't be able to have contact during our course with the world through phone or email. Something which is a relieve for the moment.
Please, enjoy and some photos of our journey till so far and also get a sense of our experience.

with much love
Marion, Francois and Tenpa

Monday, 1 February 2010

Monks are from Venus...

An unannounced guest arrived in Lerab Ling this afternoon from Venus!... (Texas). He was a Laotian monk, accompanied by another Theravada monk and three lay buddhist men who live in, or close to, a Pagoda in Montpellier.

This monk has been a Bhikshu for 36 years, and has lived in the US since 1982. He was very warm and open, and happy to meet with ordained sangha of the Vajrayana tradition. He sat contentedly in the Temple, meditating amidst the ceremonial clamor of our final practice session of the Rigdzin Düpa Drupchö. He drank some tea, took some pictures with his friends, and then eagerly told me he wishes to come back and visit again Lerab Ling in the future.

As I accompanied him to the car park, he spoke very genuinely about the benefits of being a good monastic - and I happened to film it.

My paraphrased subtitles go something like:
Practising is good. Being kind to beings and helping them is good. If we do this life time after life time, and share the Dharma with people, then that will eventually lead us to enlightenment!
A scenic stroll on a crisp, brilliant winter's day along the Lerab Ling driveway with a Laotian monk, who was offering encouragement to practitioners.