Newsletter December 2012
In August and September I visited Dolpo. Geshe Nyima Kunchap invited me to give the Victory Deities initiation to the people of lower Dolpo. The ritual took ten days. Geshe Nyima Kunchap had recently built a stupa, children’s school and retreat house for children’s five year retreat (www.zhangzhungbon.org). English, Tibetan and Nepalese language are all taught in the school. The children that attend this new school come from the lower district of Dolpo with a population of around 4000.
After the ritual, I went to my village of Charka to continue my work on the Dolpo Clinic. Two westerners traveled with me. By helicopter we brought kitchen equipment, sleeping bags, and mattresses – everything the doctors and nurses will need for living day to day. I made arrangements for wood floors to be put down and we set up solar equipment which powers 2 light bulbs – very important for the clinic operation! Eventually we will need a stronger solar set up for the x-ray machine and other medical equipment. I also furthered the plans for bringing safe drinking water to the clinic, school and monastery – the spring is about 2 1/2 kilometers away and requires careful consideration and planning in this environment. Finally I ordered a cast iron wood and dung stove from Tibet which will arrive next spring.
Before leaving Dolpo, I gave the Long Life Initiation to the villagers and advised them to take care of the environment and especially the snow leopard and other wild animals.
Later in the summer two nurses came from Upper Dolpo to the Charka Dolpo Clinic to help the village people for twenty days. Every day they worked to give advice to the women for pregnancy and helped the children and adults with health issues. The nurses were grateful to have the clinic available for their visit.
I am happy to report that Karma Sherab from Charka, has completed 3 1/2 years of western medicine training in Ambala (near Chandigarh). She now has her nursing certificate and will travel soon to Kathmandu for a 6 month specialty training on women’s health and Nepalese language training before returning to Dolpo. This special training has been sponsored by the One Heart World Wide ( www.oneheartworld-wide.org )
Karma originally finished 1st through 12th grades at the Bön school in Dholanji. We are very proud of her accomplishments.
Once a year, the Dialectic School does a special one month debating on logic. This year it took place in October. The twelve upper classes (out of thirteen) all work together during this time. This practice is very important for developing logic.
In November we had a residential Phowa retreat for my western students at Menri Monastery. It was the first opportunity that most of the group had to visit me here and to make this important pilgrimage. It was a teaching, pilgrimage and holiday all in one. We had a good time together, everyone was happy to be here and their practice was very successful. Students practiced Phowa four times a day in the new Yogi Temple. The Phowa retreat lasted seven days, ending on November 27. The final day His Holiness put the grass in the crown opening of everyone. This first retreat went very well and I look forward to having more Bön western students visit and study with me here for retreats in the future.
It also happened that the Menri monks performed the Bümtsok ritual during the students visit. This 100,000 cake offering ritual to Sidpe Gyalmo takes seven days and ended on the full moon November 29th – the day most students left for home. The time is never exactly planned, so it was fortunate for my students to be here for this experience. Everyone joined by making offerings and received many blessings. All of the monks prayed together in the main temple from 5:30am to 5:30pm for all seven days.
A pilgrimage to a monastery or other holy place is a great Bön practice. It is helpful for clearing karmic tendencies, purifying obstacles and is beneficial for the practice and for developing wisdom. If you do practice in a very holy place, it is said that wisdom develops faster.
Christmas is coming, I am praying for you all – this is an important western holiday and I am praying for all of my friends. Many people and cultures all around the world celebrate this holiday even if they are not Christians. It is a special community time similar to New Year and Losar for Tibetans – spending time with family, giving gifts, family celebrations – thinking and praying for others.
This next year is the year of the Water Snake in the Tibetan astrological calendar. If you are a Water Snake then it would be beneficial for you to purify obstacles by hanging prayer flags, saying the three heart mantras and long life mantras.
I am planning to visit the USA in for fall of 2013 (August and September) and will need to return by November for Geshe training. Once I have the schedule available, then my organizers Dika Ryan and Margaret Frison (Khyungdzong Wodsel Ling) will let everyone know.