Saturday, 19 April 2008

The Art of Living - Part III - art and the wider world

What follows is an excerpt from an unpublished interview with Ngak'chang Rinpoche from 2007 regarding Drala Jong. I will include more excerpts from articles and interviews over coming months to help elaborate upon elements in the Drala Jong brochure available at

The interviewer is Caroline Sherwood (Q) and all responses are from Ngak'chang Rinpoche (NCR), one of the lineage holders of the Aro gTér and a Spiritual Director of Sang-ngak-chö-dzong.

Q: Drala Jong is a 'Retreat Centre' - so, what part does retreat play in the modern world?
NCR: Same as it did in the old world. However – I would say that it plays the same part as a guitar lesson or a horseriding lesson. You have to take time out in order to learn a skill or to gain experience. Meditation is not different in that sense to any other realm of skill or learning.

Q: What help do you still need for the new centre?
NCR: A great deal of money.

Q: What will Drala Jong offer to non Buddhists?
NCR: It will offer something quite surprising. Vajrayana—or essential vajrayana—is an area in which people are already involved whether they know or not. Vajrayana is there in romantic relationships and in the Arts. Vajrayana is there in all forms of creativity and in all human endeavours. We would make that obvious to people by speaking at an essential level about whatever interests them in life. This will be especially important to people involved with the Arts – but every area of life is open to being informed by essential vajrayana.

Q:What part do art and craft play in your tradition?
NCR: You could almost say they are the tradition. Vajrayana deals with the senses and the sense fields – and in so doing touches the heart of creativity. The essential nature of creativity is compassion – but that statement would take a great deal of explanation.

Q: I notice the brochure mentions dance. What kind of dance is this?
NCR: Meditative dance. The actualisation or enactment of the realised state in terms of movement. Dance is an aspect of enlightened theatre – and as such is central to the Arts. Vajrayana contains all the Arts and expresses itself through the Arts.

Q: The name Drala Jong translates as ‘Sparkling Meadow of Primal Iridescence’ - this may seem rather grand to some people. What inspired it and what does it imply?
NCR: The ‘grand’ sound of the name stems from Vajrayana spiritual culture. If a name is given for any endeavour, then—according to Vajrayana—it needs to be inspirational. This name accords with that style. Drala Jong could also be translated in many different ways – because there is no English equivalent for drala. Jong simply means meadow – but meadow has certain connotations in Tibetan that might be lacking in English – so I made it ‘sparkling meadow’. Then drala . . . well . . . drala relates to the fact that the world is not inanimate, insensate, or uncommunicative. Drala is the living ambience of the world in terms of the personality of a place. If you take a walk in a wood—and you’re not entirely preoccupied with thought—you may well have a sense of connectivity. You may feel that the trees reciprocate within the sense fields. We’re not exactly speaking of Ents here—you understand—but maybe Tolkien did have some sense of what is meant by drala. I don’t want to make this as flowery as ‘being in harmony with nature’ – and anyway, that would only be part of the story. In terms of drala the harmony would be a two way process . . . it might even be three dimensionally contrapuntal. Oh dear . . . I think I’ve made it sound grand again.

No comments: