By Ven Chantal
It has been a long time since we have given any news, yet many events have followed one another at our Monastery since.
Since last May, and with the installation of the Buddha statue in the altar, the brand new main gompa is in full operation. The resident nuns do their daily morning and evening practices there; also there are the pujas (Tara Puja, Medicine Buddha Puja, Lama Chöpa with tsog) on their respective dates, as well as the Wednesday evening guided meditations. All of these are also transmitted via Zoom for people wishing to follow online. Moreover, our abbot, Geshe Tenzin Loden, occasionally comes to teach. These events are also attended by the non-resident nuns and occasional lay people who live in the surrounding areas.
In addition, Venerable Chantal Dekyi guides Sundays Calm Abiding Practices that last the whole day. The previous one was in February with a dozen participants, and the next one is planned for the end of March.
In daily life, besides offering service to the community, we are busy studying our various programs, some via zoom, some at Nalanda Monastery.
All resident nuns have taken the opportunity of the winter break to do retreats, either under guidance of our teachers (such as the retreat with Ven. Robina Courtin at the Vajrayogini Institute), or solitary retreat.
Maintenance, both indoor and outdoor, has been done: a lot of clearing and cleaning (storage rooms and garages) and painting (shutters) . Some of this is still going on, with the help of our beautiful team of volunteers, including some Nalanda monks and volunteers during their free time.
For our gompa, Lama Zopa Rinpoche had suggested that the altar be painted in a traditional way. Rinpoche had sent us pictures of his own altars at Kopan Monastery in Nepal and at his retreat center, Amithaba Pure Land in Washington State, US, to serve as inspiration for the artist who would accomplish this mission. We contacted Thubten Gelek, former Kopan monk and well-known artist of traditional Tibetan arts, and he turned out to be the artist behind Rinpoche’s altars paintings. It was a relief for us to find an artist who could fulfill the task in accordance with RInpoche’s wishes, and that he agreed to come from the States to do so. From the middle of November, for six full weeks Gelek worked long days on the altar, and the result is heart-warming and very inspiring. A finishing touch is still needed, for which he will return in the autumn of this year.
Many exceptional events have taken place during the last year. To begin with, last summer was marked by the ordination of three nuns, of whom two already lived at the monastery as aspirants.
The ordination ceremony took place on July 14th, the special day commemorating the Buddha’s first teaching in Sarnath. Geshe Gyaltsen Jamphel conferred the vows in the splendid “One Thousand Buddhas”’ Gompa in Nalanda Monastery to four monks and three nuns: Venerables Gyaltsen Tchökyi, Tchötso and Palmo.
One of them declared: “We were inspired by our elders; from elder to elder since the Buddha showed the ordained way, without interruption! How extraordinary: Can you picture all those radiant faces raised towards us coming out of the gompa after ordination? A wave of wonder greeted us!”
Another exceptional event was the installation of our Abbot. Geshe Tenzin Loden had been appointed by Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche. After having been requested to take this position by the Dorje Pamo nuns, he was officially welcomed on the auspicious full-moon day of July 24th. A very joyous celebration took place, with many prayers including the Requests and Homage to the 16 Arhats, and an inspiring talk given by Geshe-la on the importance and the role of the Sangha in preserving and developing the Dharma, the importance of the training in ethics as the basis of all trainings and realizations, and the importance of harmony within the monastic community as the necessary condition for temporal and ultimate happiness.
On a magnificent August day, on the occasion of his teachings at Vajra Yogini Institute, we had the great honor to welcome Yangsi Rinpoche at the monastery. After a prayer session in the gompa, Rinpoche was so kind as to give us some wise advice on the direction to take in order to establish our community well. He led us in an outdoor procession with sacred texts on our shoulders around the monastery grounds, as a way of blessing the environment and all the creatures that live here.
As a beautiful conclusion to a beautiful day, Rinpoche said: “With Lama Zopa Rinpoche as your ultimate source of inspiration, thanks to the truth of his prayers and dedications, you can relax!”
The summer days were also marked by a visit of two sisters from Spain, both very experienced nuns, Ven. Paloma from Valencia and Ven. Begonia from Madrid. Ven. Paloma shared the thought: “The basis is ethics and devotion, but with joy. Then, if people outside see this joy of true practice, mutual support, respect and tolerance, they will be attracted to the community. Our role as nuns is also to open the doors of the Dharma to others.”
Our Abbot Geshe Loden’s first teachings in DPM took place on October 24th. We were seven nuns, and a dozen invited lay friends only had the chance to be present on this memorable day, given the health restrictions.
Geshe La had chosen Nam-Kha Pèl’s wonderful text ‘Mind Training Like the Rays of the Sun’, Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s favorite text on mind training. It is a distinctive presentation that combines Geshe Chekawa’s instructions, the “Seven Points Mind Training” with the pattern of the Stages of the Path, received by Nam-Kha Pèl from his main Teacher, Lama Tsong Khapa.
Geshe-la said: “One of the greatest obstacles to both ordinary happiness and spiritual progress is self-centeredness. The mind training teachings provide a variety of techniques for subduing our selfishness and transforming it into concern for others.”
The next teaching will take place on Sunday April 3rd.
Find more information about Dorje Pamo here!