Saturday, 21 November 2015

Meg Taylor's bequeathment

Recently the Drala Jong was the recipient of a generous bequest from a former Aro member Meg Taylor/Dawa Khandro,  of a collection of wonderful Dharma books, her bell and dorje and a calligraphy by Lama Bar-ché Dorje. Below Naljorma Rin'dzin Pamo shares her memories of a remarkable person and someone who we are extremely grateful to for her devotion, generosity to the Lineage.

some of the titles given by Meg
 I first met Meg in London in 2006. She joined the Aro gTér membership scheme and I became her mentor. One of the purposes of the membership scheme is to make the lineage available to people who can not otherwise access it. Meg had multiple sclerosis and was house bound. She had been to open retreats when she was still able to walk and felt a strong connection to Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen. At the time we met, she was paraplegic. She could not move any part of her body voluntarily, other than her neck and head. She still had full cognitive capacity and could talk. In fact, she was always eloquent and articulate and we never lacked conversation. I was her mentor for seven years, until she died. We became good friends during that time.

During the three to four years that I lived in London I visited Meg most weeks. We had much in common. She had been a student at LSE (London School of Economics), like me. We talked about art, psychology, creativity, writing, music, documentaries, food, wildlife, the environment, birds, gardening, tribal communities, euthanasia, development, governance: pretty much everything. The heart of our relationship was Meg’s spiritual path. It included an avid interest in all these things. She was a true tantrika. Although she was limited in agency due to the physical circumstances of her life, she did not lose her capacity to enjoy. We laughed a lot. Sometimes we ate together and relished the different tastes and textures of the food. I would take fruit or something that was in season, and she often had some special culinary treat ready - she liked olives particularly. I acquired a taste for bananas with hummus from her. I think that almost every time I visited her she asked after Ngak’chang Rinpoche and the Aro sangha. She enjoyed hearing about retreats, though she was not able to participate.

She spent more than those last seven years of her life sitting in a chair, not moving. Meditation was, unsurprisingly, excruciating for her – at times. She had a beautiful voice, and I will never forget the first time that she sang for me. I introduced her to the yogic song of the Aro gTér, so that she could sing as her meditative practice when silent sitting was too ironically frustrating. She said that her voice had deteriorated due to the MS and she would only sing alone, but it sounded perfect to me.

When I moved away from London in 2010, we continued to correspond. She had the Nuance Dragon  voice recognition software. It worked pretty well for emails even though it was fairly early voice recognition technology. She called it the pet dragon. The dragon was sometimes temperamental and she’d have to shout very clearly to get him to form coherent sentences. But she trained him well, and he improved over the years. She wrote, and had published, articles exploring psychology and midwifery. She had planned to create a website and make her work available, but I don’t know if that ever happened.

When I was visiting her regularly, sometimes we discussed death and dying. She knew that she would take her own life when she started to lose cognitive function. She had, of course, discussed this with her husband and two sons. At that point she didn’t know exactly how that would be. We discussed traveling abroad to a country providing euthanasia services. There’s some risk that a British citizen can be arrested for aiding suicide, even in another country where it is legal. In the end, she decided to starve herself to death, perhaps to avoid this possible inconvenience. Or maybe because she wanted to die at home. She wrote to tell me that’s what she was doing, and carried it out with the same determination of will as she had done everything in life. I came back to Britain in time for her funeral and attended it with Mé-tsal. It was in Epping forest. There were squirrels and birds around, and the grass was fresh with rain. We read a piece on dying by Ngak’chang Rinpoche and I remembered her savouring olives in her kitchen, watching the birds build a nest in the garden hedge.  

Although she had little contact with the Aro sangha due to her circumstances, she had a strong connection with the practices and style of the lineage. She gave financial donations to Sang-ngak-chö-dzong, the British charity of the Aro gTér, and she left her collection of Buddhist books, some instruments and a calligraphy, to Drala Jong.  I was always impressed by her active, creative generosity: in communication and dialogue as much as in material gifts. I learned much from her in that respect. Although I was officially her mentor, I sometimes think I learned more from her than she could ever possibly have learned from me.

Here is the text read by Rin'dzin and Mé-tsal during the funeral:


We would like to thank Garry Saunders who has been so kind in handling the practical aspects of this bequest. You can learn more about Meg here in her website: http://megtaylor.co.uk/



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.









Saturday, 31 October 2015

A Pilgrimage to Southerndown


Nagk'chang Rinpoche, Southerndown 2015
In early October some apprentices accompanied Ngak'chang Rinpoche on a pilgrimage to Southerndown on the coast of South Wales not far from Cardiff. It was during the same weekend that Khandro Déchen and another groups of pilgrims were making their journey into Yolmo, bayul, a Hidden Land, and an area of very special significance in Nepal.

In the United Kingdom the Aro gTér Lineage has two sites of pilgrimage, one is Bird Rock, where Chris Haydon completed his fundraising walk recently, (read more here) and Southerndown.

Southerndown has significance as being the place where Ngak'chang Rinpoche and some apprentices made a visit with one of Ngak'chang Rinpoche's Root Lamas, the late great Nyigma master Khordong gTérchen Tulku Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche for a picnic. This was in 1983 when the Aro gTér Lineage was little known and the Aro Sangha not as large or as far reaching as it is today. Visits from Kyabjé Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche to stay with Ngak’chang Rinpoche were relatively frequent and  apprentices were able to receive teachings.

The day out came to be acquire significance as Ngak’chang Rinpoche recalls:
‘A picnic had been planned, but when the day arrived so did torrential rain – of the unremitting kind which is common in Wales. Apprentices arrived nonetheless and were introduced to Kyabjé Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche, who surprised everyone by showing no sign of abandoning the picnic. We set out for Southerndown, with the thought that it might possibly be clearer an hour’s drive from Cardiff – but that did not turn out to be the case. The rain thrashed down for the extent of the journey
Kyabjé Chhi'mèd Rig'dzin Rinpoche and Ngak'chang Rinpoche
to such a degree that it was, at times, necessary to drive below 20mph as if we were in a thick fog. We finally arrived at Southerndown under a lowering sky and continuous rain, but no sooner had we turned into the car park than the rain began to ease. At the moment when Kyabjé Rinpoche opened the car door a ray of sunshine flickered through a crack in the cloud-base and from that moment on, the rain stopped. We had our picnic; Kyabjé Rinpoche gave a wonderful teaching on Dzogchen men-ngak-dé; and we returned to the cars. Then – as soon as Kyabjé Rinpoche’s car door closed, the rain burst out of the sky again as if a tap has suddenly been turned on. It then rained the entire drive back to Cardiff.’

During our visit we found our way to the rocks where the picnic had taken place and Ngak’chang Rinpoche recounted the story for us all,  then we found places along the cliff to practice in silence for some time. Some of us had painted stones with Guru Rinpoche mantra and these we left amidst the rocks and gathered more on which to paint more mantra.

Afterwards, when we gathered together again, Ngakpa ‘ö-Dzin observed:

'There was a sense of connection, in the present time with the pilgrims in Nepal, and in the present place with Kyabjé Chhi'mèd Rig'dzin Rinpoche.'

Apprentices with their colourful shawls gather around Ngak'chang Rinpoche
Practising at Southerndown
Stones with Guru Rinpoche Mantra
 Over the next few posts we shall feature some accounts from pilgrims who went to Yolmo.



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The Lattè Box

, fundraising for Drala Jong

The Lattè Box

, by Ngakma Shadröl Wangmo

A couple of years ago I was thinking about how I, as a person with a small income, could come up with something like $1000 to donate to Drala Jong. It occurred to me that there was something I'd heard of called 'saving money' and though I'd never previously tried it myself, I thought it could be applied to this situation. So I came up with the idea of the Lattè Box.

The idea of the Lattè Box is that every day, instead of taking myself out to a café for my [required] morning coffee, I would dose myself at home and put $3 into the Lattè Box. Since I was going out for coffee nearly every day and sometimes spending more than $3 (although I never actually order lattès because I hate milk) I knew I could probably afford it.


Q: Why would I call it a Lattè Box if I never actually drank lattès? Why not call it a Coffee Box? Or a Caffeine Addiction Receptacle? Huh?

A: Because 'lattè box' sounds interesting and exotic and somewhat artistic. 'Coffee box' is awkward and inelegant. 'Caffeine addiction receptacle' sounds like a spittoon.

Onward: I happened to have a skull-sized black box with a matching cover which I thought would look nice sitting on my small black iron table, so I cut a slit in the top of the box and designated it as the official Lattè Box. Each day I dragged three dollar bills ('notes' for you British) out of my wallet and stuffed them through the slit into the box.

Problem #1: Not having the right change. Some days I only had a five-dollar bill. Or even a ten or twenty. The obvious solution was to make change from the Lattè Box itself, since it had a bunch of ones in it. BIG MISTAKE! [See What I Have Learned at the end of this narrative.]

Problem #2: Not having enough cash. Some days I just didn't have much cash on hand. I could go to the bank and get some, yes, but that would mean walking the vast distance (a few city blocks) to the bank and sometimes I just didn't feel like it. Especially when it was cold or raining. I realize that this confession of supreme laziness is not making me look very good. Oh well. At any rate, there was something of a Psychological Barrier to leaving the house just to get $3 to put in the Lattè Box. Usually I just figured I'd make it up in a day or so when the universe flowed some more cash in my direction or I had to go to the bank for some other, more compelling reason. Also BIG MISTAKE! 

Things went on pretty smoothly for several months. Money was accumulating in the box in spite of my now having gotten in the habit of making change from its contents (putting in a twenty and taking out a ten and two fives, for example). Soon the Lattè Box only contained large bills which made it even more likely I would delay my daily contribution if I didn't have the exact change.

And this led to an even bigger problem. A barrier had been breached. One night a delivery of Chinese takeout food arrived and I found I didn't have enough cash to pay for it so I opened up the Lattè Box and 'borrowed' some. BIG BIG MISTAKE!

After this discipline started to break down. I acknowledge that it is all my own fault rather than that the method doesn't work. I got too casual about the box and was often making change, borrowing and replacing, etc. Naturally the numbers got muddled. I'm leaving out a lot of specific details because I don't want this to get too long. Studies Have Shown that people don't like long emails.

The result of all this behavior was that at the end of the year I didn't have even close to the $1000 I thought I could easily accumulate. I still think it is not the method which is at fault but the execution. I will explain.

What I Have Learned

They make piggy banks out of ceramic with a small slot exactly because then you can't take money out once you put it in without busting open the pig. Breaching the in/out barrier is definitely a mistake. The money has to go in and stay there till it all comes out at the end. 'Borrowing' from the bank is a road to ruin.

Also, one has to be absolutely strict about paying in the $3 every day and not skipping it for a few days and figuring I'll put in $15 five days from now to make it up. It's too easy to get confused, or to forget about it. 



My Lattè Box had an easily removable cover so I could reach in there any time and play with the money, make change, borrow, steal, whatever, and tell myself I'd settle up and then forget. I ended up paying the Drala Jong contribution in installments because I had robbed the box too many times. That still worked but it would have been a lot easier if I'd just left the money in the box. Khandro Déchen pointed out that since you can contribute even small amounts easily via the Total Giving website [or PayPal], she just contributes the proceeds whenever she sells one of her streptocarpus plants rather than saving the money in an envelope or something. This is a great idea. The piggy bank would also work. It just needs to be something where you can't get the money back out. Or maybe you just need to be a more disciplined person than I am. Do as I say, not as I do.



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Drala Jong-A Bayul in Progress, Visions of Drala Jong


This post by Ngakma Yeshé Zértsal is the first of a series called 'visions of Drala Jong', posts by the Brevet Lamas of the the Aro gTér Lineage, senior disciples of the Lineage Holders who are Brevet Lamas or teachers in training and who have on their own students.


Drala Jong-A Bayul in Progress

As a practitioner of the Aro gTér for over twenty years and a Zen student before coming upon this luxurious path, I have had the opportunity to meet many great Lamas and Roshis and practice in places rife with the power of realization. It seems we as individuals and as a sangha pilgrimage to great places of practice—caves, shrines and stupas—for connection to our Buddhist heritage as well as for inspiration. Ancient artifacts, relics and artistic depictions of realization fill us with joyful tears as our awareness grows beyond our own thoughts and small wishes.

Whenever I have attended a retreat, heard a teaching or meditated in a place where practice has accumulated I am drawn into its expansive ethos much like being in the presence of Great Lamas like my own.

To me, this is bayul—Hidden Land—the kind we encounter near the stupa in Bodhanath, in Padmasambhava and Milarepa caves of realization and wherever sincere practice is manifest.

This is what I see Drala Jong becoming—a bayul. A place where the exquisitely direct and shimmering practices and teachings that comprise the Aro gTérma, and as lived and transmitted by Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen, will collect. A place where students will reside, practice, attend retreats and teachings and commence private retreats for varying periods of time. A place of practice established for new arrivals to enter and avail themselves of its bounty.

I have been a brevet lama or teacher-in-training for a short while and am grateful for the opportunity to share this lineage with others.



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Retreat Centre Appeal : Yoga - Dance

Gar’cham (sometimes called ‘Lama Dance’) is a system of sacred dance. The movements are part of a moving meditation practice, that, like others in the Vajrayana Buddhism involves visualisation by the dancers which is maintained throughout the length of the dance, whether the dancer is still or in motion.

Whilst some such dances are reserved for advanced practitioners, others may either be viewed by members of the public or in part learned by them. One such dance from the Aro gTér lineage is ‘phurba dance’.

Cham, like yoga, can be performed indoors or out, and we intend to build a dual-purpose facility at Drala Jong capable of being used for both purposes.



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Retreat Centre Appeal : Treasures - Bone Ornaments

There are many Vajrayana treasures in the care of the Aro Tradition which are seldom on public display either to dedicated practitioners or members of the public.

These treasures are the art-works and ritual objects from Tibet which have been passed to the spiritual directors by their teachers and which they have bequeathed to Sang-ngak-chö-dzong.

Some of these items are of immense value—both intrinsically and financially—and we are concerned to safeguard them for the future. In addition to these spiritual treasures – the spiritual directors Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen have a private collection containing numerous valuable shrine items which could be made available to the charity and the world at large if there were an appropriate setting.

Whilst not every treasure of the lineage is appropriate to be on constant open display, there are thangkas, costumes, shrine objects and many other items which need a permanent home in Drala Jong’s shrine room.



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

A car boot sale, Fundraising for Drala Jong

Continuing a theme of 'every bit helps' in the art of fundraising, £83.10 was recently raised and donated to the Drala Jong Retreat Centre funds by Ngak'chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen at a local car boot sale.

They gathered together various objects including a number of horse related items, both being keen equestrians and a selection of the very lovely streptocarpus plants that Khandro Déchen cultivates to create a living display.

We welcome any fundraising initiatives and projects to our shared efforts.













The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Teaching a Tibetan Exercise system, Fundraising for Drala Jong

There are a number of small, incremental, consistent activities that members of the Aro gTér Lineage sangha are involved in to raise funds for Drala Jong. One of these is that Ngakma Sang-gyé A-tsal donates £10.00 from every private Jong-dar chèd pa /sKu-mNyé class she teaches.

sKu-mNyé means massage of the psychophysical body and is one of the remarkable systems from Jong-dar chèd pa, a constellation of Tibetan exercise systems from the Aro gTér Tradition.

Sang-gyé teaches sKu-mNyé currently on a one to one basis either in a Pilates studio or people’s homes in the smart, urban bustle of West London. She has been a student of Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen since 1993 and was ordained as a Ngakma in the gö kar chang lo’i dé in 2000 When encountering the Aro gTér lineage with its valuable teachings of physical practices she began to practice sKu-mNyé, eventually becoming an approved teacher.

A former dancer and actor, turned massage therapist, she has been working with her body to a high degree for many years, and now she brings all that experience to her current work as a rTsa-mNyé (Tibetan massage) practitioner and qualified Pilates instructor as well as Jong-dar chèd pa  sKu-mNyé instructor. There are as yet not many who do teach this remarkable system and Sang-gyé does so with a remarkable insight, precision and clarity. It contains a range of movements from really quite gentle to complex, strenuous and demanding; requiring balance and fitness. The variety and depth of Sang-gyé’s training means that she is able to make them accessible to many, facilitating a gradual building up of the strength, stamina and flexibility required for the more demanding exercises.
Once Drala Jong is established, workshops and teachings in Jong-dar chèd pa including sKu-mNyé will be able to be made available there to anyone who wishes to deepen their practice and understanding of them. Currently classes are also taught at Aro Ling in Bristol and Cardiff. For more information on sKu-mNyé see Moving Being, by Khando Déchen.

Sang-gyé can be contacted for classes and workshops in London and
Bristol at info@tibetantherapies.com 07552576121












The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

A Pilgrims Progress, Fundaising For Drala Jong.

Chris Haydon's wonderful account of his fundraising walk:

Fairly recently I became an apprentice within the Aro gTèr tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism. It is very important to me that this unique blend of traditional Nyingma practice and our modern Western culture is able to survive and flourish. To that end I see it as very important that a centre is established to act as a base and provide continuity and focus. This is the Drala Jong project to purchase land and buildings on a modest scale in a peaceful and vivid rural setting. I wanted to do something to help bring this to fruition.

I had read Ngak'chang Rinpoche mention that he thought pilgrimages to sites of particular significance to the Aro gTèr tradition in this country would be beneficial, and one such site is Bird’s Rock (another being Southerdown). Since I have no time constraints I felt a walk to Bird’s rock from my home would be a great endeavour, I also had doubts about whether I was up to it. Like many plans that hatch in my imagination, this one might have been put on indefinite hold, but it seemed to have an impetus of its own, and importance outside ‘the Chris project’. When I mentioned it to my teachers they were immediately enthusiastic and supportive, and so I felt I had to see it through.

It took a while to get my fitness levels up to a level that would permit an average 15 miles of walking day after day. By early spring I felt more confident and took the plunge by publicising my plans and starting to gather route information and to book accommodation. I set off in late April and for a while entered a new dimension, that of the homeless itinerant wanderer.

The goal was so far ahead that each day I saw only the path I was walking and the changing scenery around me. The first thing that struck me was the richness and energy of the British countryside in Spring. It was a veritable feast for the senses and, as well as banquet of outrageous colours and visual forms, there were smells and birdsong and feelings of pleasant fatigue in  the body. The route up through the SW peninsula is one I have driven close to many times, but at walking pace it all seems very different. There is time to appreciate the old farm buildings, crops and animals, wild flowers, woodland and even the transport infrastructure of railways and roads, from a new perspective.

It was nice to take stock at each high point of the ranges of hills behind and ahead. It was actually possible on a couple of occasions, in clear weather, to see Dartmoor and the hills of S.Wales and all the intervening ranges. Seeing where I had come from and where I was headed grounded me in the landscape. The weather was predominantly warm and sunny with wonderful clear blue space overhead and only occasional rain that was usually a welcome blessing. Approaching Bristol and in the Hafren forest were the only times when I became totally soaked. Crossing the Severn Bridge gave further exposure to elemental forces, this time wind that made it impossible to walk upright and in a straight line.

The scenic highlights were almost too many to catalogue, Dartmoor, Exmoor, The Brendon Hills, the Somerset levels, the Mendips, Wye Valley, the Black Mountains and the scenery in mid Wales approaching Snowdonia all stand out as delightful places.

In a way I was sad, as the goal approached, that it would end but excited at reaching the destination and meeting the lineage holders Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen and my own teacher and other apprentices who had all travelled to celebrate my arrival and to make a joint ascent of Craig yr Aderyn.

On one level being with one’s lamas and fellow sangha members can seem like normal social activity, but beneath the radar of conventional mind all sorts of transmission is taking place. It would be nice to be able to recount this, but unfortunately impossible to describe. I am in any case a simple dolt who probably only appreciates a small fraction of what is happening at any one moment. Nevertheless the ascent through the special setting of that place in the company of lamas and the subsequent drive back to Cardiff are experiences I will long cherish; and I would warmly encourage anyone else, who is so minded, to seek out a similar type of endeavour. I met many kind and interesting people along the way as well and was reminded that we are all begininglessly enlightened beings inhabiting a wonderfully perfect world.

Now it’s all fading into the past. When I look at the route on Google Earth I wonder “did I really do that?” Amazingly I must have!








The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Retreat Centre Appeal : Yoga - sKu-mNyé

Vajrayana Buddhist lineages commonly contain several systems of physical yoga, used both as a focus for meditation and for secondary benefits such as general health and wellbeing.

Three such from the Aro gTér lineage are A-tri, sKu-mNyé and Trul’khor (yantra yoga in Sanskrit).

sKu-mNyé in particular has been taught by a number of our qualified teachers both to Buddhists and those interested in personal fitness on retreat and at evening classes.




The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Spacious Passion

Spacious Passion
By Ngakma Nor’dzin

Ngakma Nor’dzin Pamo explores the Sutric teaching of ‘The Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind to Practice’ as vividly relevant to our everyday lives: the extraordinarily precious opportunity to live as an honorable human being; the experience of impermanence that pervades our existence as an opportunity to awaken; the emotional and psychological patterning which dominates our lives; and the seemingly endless cycle of dissatisfaction in which we imprison ourselves.

This clear, direct and incisive commentary will be enjoyed equally by those who are new to Buddhism as well as experienced practitioners.

For more information about Spacious Passion please see http://arobuddhism.org/books/spacious-passion.html and for other books, please see http://arobuddhism.org/community/aro-books.html



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Retreat Centre Appeal : Craft - Appliqué

The creation of appliqué thangkas and costumes for cham (dance) are examples of a form of craft which requires a permanent dedicated space for the object of the craft work to rest in whilst work is undertaken.

Such projects at present are necessarily subject to the demands of completion within allotted times frames – and are therefore do not lend themselves to long term development that more detailed work would require.



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Relaxing into Meditation

Relaxing into Meditation
By Ngakma Nor’dzin

What exercises and practices will help us to live a life free of stress? Ngakma Nor’dzin, a Western Buddhist Lama, guides us through relaxation and breathing exercises that lead into meditation.

The meditation methods are described in friendly and accessible language, and will enhance the lives of those who practise them. Ngakma Nor’dzin regards meditation as a life skill that creates happier and more fulfilling relationships, and increases well-being and psychological health.

For more information about Relaxing into Meditation please see http://arobuddhism.org/books/relaxing-into-meditation.html and for other books, please see http://arobuddhism.org/community/aro-books.html



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Retreat Centre Appeal : Craft - Phurba

The phurba is three-edged symbolic weapon, which focuses the mind on the destruction of the three deluded perceptual states: obsession, aggression, and indifference.

In 2004 the (then) largest Phurba in the world was constructed in the Austrian Mountains by the students of Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen in Mainland Europe.






The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Wisdom Eccentrics

Wisdom Eccentrics
rumours of realisation as told by
Künzang Dorje Rinpoche
with additional tales of the unexpected
By Ngakpa Chögyam

A rare account of remarkable Lamas in the final years of a lost era. The author finds himself the first Western disciple of Künzang Dorje Rinpoche, a highly reclusive master known for mercurial wrath and facility with Dzogchen. He received direct introduction to the nature of Mind through ruthless interrogation on the meaning of the stories from the lives of Lineage Lamas. He is separated from his Lama for thirteen years—but they meet again and their relationship resumes.

For more information about Wisdom Eccentrics please see http://arobuddhism.org/books/wisdom-eccentrics.html and for other books, please see http://arobuddhism.org/community/aro-books.html



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.


Saturday, 15 August 2015

Retreat Centre Appeal : Craft - gTér Bum

The Treasure Vase (gTér Bum) ceramics project is an example of our craft work. It was led by one of our qualified teachers, Ngakma Nor’dzin Pamo (left).

Completed in 2005 this project demonstrates the charity’s ability to create wonderful and unique works, in support of our charitable goals.

This particular project involved donation of many vases to charitable causes whilst selling all the rest of the vases to individual donors to generate a healthy return which covered all project costs fourfold.



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Moving Being

Moving Being
By Khandro Déchen

Khandro Déchen Tsedrup Rolpa’i Yeshé is a Nyingma Lama who teaches in the Dzogchen lineage of Aro Lingma. Her clear, direct and detailed handbook of sKu-mNyé (also known as kum nye) enables those with determination to embark on an adventure into the otherwise hidden dimension of energy revealed through Dzogchen long-dé – the series of space.

Thirty-five elemental exercises cover seven dynamic movements from each of the long-dé series of symbolic animals: lion, vulture, tiger, eagle, and garuda. Aro sKu-mNyé can be practised by almost anyone, whatever their body type, because the forms range from simple to challenging – from mild to strongly aerobic.

For more information about Moving Being please see http://arobuddhism.org/books/moving-being.html and for other books, please see http://arobuddhism.org/community/aro-books.html



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Retreat Centre Appeal : Art

Facilities will be established for craft work in general, and thangka painting in particular.

Our Spiritual Directors, Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen, are both master thangka painters – but at present the number of their trainee painting students is limited not by the time of the teachers but by the size of the homes of the sangha members who host such events.

A larger, permanent, dedicated facility will enable the teaching of this rare art-form to be opened up both to a broader Buddhist population and the general public.



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Entering the Heart of the Sun and Moon

Entering the Heart of the Sun and Moon
By Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen

Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen explore vajra romance as the living application and dynamism of the ‘Nyi-da Mélong’ – a Dzogchen tantra from the cycle of visionary revelations, realised by the enigmatic Nyingma treasure discoverer Khyungchen Aro Lingma (1886-1923). The Nyi-da Mélong puts to rest the myth that celibacy holds demonstrable spiritual advantages over a natural life. It opens the door to those who are inspired by the desire to integrate every aspect of human life with spiritual practice.

Sexuality is portrayed as the pervasive stratum of the senses and sense-fields – and as such, it is appreciated as the life-blood of the creative arts. Although this teaching is common in its essential form to all Vajrayana traditions, it has never before been extrapolated in such detail with regard to how it is lived within romantic relationships.

For more information about Entering the Heart of the Sun and Moon please see http://arobuddhism.org/books/entering-the-heart-of-sun-and-moon.html and for other books, please see http://arobuddhism.org/community/aro-books.html



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Summer in the City - Fundraising in München

[This is a bilingual message, please scroll down for the English version]



Summer in the City
von Ngakma Déwang Pamo

4. Juli 2015 in München. 38 Grad Celsius, 100 Grad Fahrenheit. Summer in the City. Wir hatten aber nicht geplant, schwimmen zu gehen oder faul in der Sonne zu liegen – es war der Tag unseres geplanten Gartenflohmarkts um Spenden für Drala Jong zu sammeln.

Schon mehrere Monate zuvor hatten wir gemeinsam mit Nachbarn beschlossen, an dem jährlichen Gartenflohmarkt in unserem Stadtviertel teilzunehmen. Die Idee dahinter ist, dass alle, die mitmachen, in ihrem eigenen Garten oder Hof verkaufen können, was sich für einen Flohmarkt so angesammelt hat. Je mehr Nachbarn mitmachen, desto besser. Jede Adresse, die mitmacht, wird in einem Plan gekennzeichnet, die in den lokalen Geschäften verteilt wird und auch online verfügbar ist, um diese Initiative bekannt zu machen.

Die Vorbereitungen für die Veranstaltung waren sehr geschäftig. Die Mädchen hatten Poster gemalt, Ballons aufgeblasen und fleißig Dekorationen gebastelt. Außerdem hatten sie ihre Spielsachen und Bücher durchforstet und entschieden, was sie verkaufen wollten. Ich hatte unsere Kleider und Schuhe gesichtet und aussortiert, was nicht mehr passte und verkauft werden konnte. Wir hatten auch von anderen Mitgliedern der Sangha Gegenstände und Bücher zum Verkaufen bekommen, so dass wir im hellen Sonnenlicht ein vielfältiges, buntes Aufgebot präsentieren konnten.

Da die Sonne vom frühen Morgen an heiß herunterbrannte, mussten wir von Beginn an Sonnenschirme aufstellen. Schon unsere ersten Kunden klagten über die Hitze, und es wurde schlimmer. Bald stellten wir Eimer mit kaltem Wasser auf, um die Füße zu kühlen, und schleckten Eis, um auch innerlich abzukühlen.

Die Mädchen harrten wild entschlossen an dem Tisch aus, auf dem sie unsere selbstgebackenen Zitronenmuffins verkauften, die wir mit Zuckerperlen dekoriert hatten. Manche der Muffins sind wohl in ihren eigenen Bäuchen verschwunden, wenn gerade keiner hinsah, aber auf jeden Fall waren die Muffins der Verkaufsschlager unseres kleinen Flohmarkts. Für diejenigen, die widerstehen konnten, die Muffins gleich zu essen, wurden auch welche zum Mitnehmen eingepackt.

Am frühen Nachmittag war es dann so heiß, dass wir nach drinnen gehen mussten, um uns abzukühlen. Unsere Kunden waren wohl ähnlichen Impulsen gefolgt, denn der Strom der potentiellen Käufer schmolz dahin wie Eis in der Sonne.

Am Ende des Tages zählten wir unsere Einnahmen und belohnten uns mit Mozzarella und Tomaten. Cool town, evening in the city... und wir sind Drala Jong einen sonnigen Schritt näher gekommen!




Summer in the City
by Ngakma Déwang Pamo

4th of July 2015 in München. 38 degrees Celsius, 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Summer in the city. We didn’t plan to go swimming or lie lazily in the shade, however – it was the day of our planned garage sale to raise funds for Drala Jong.

Some months ago, our neighbours and we had decided to participate in the yearly district fleamarket. The general idea is that everybody can sell their items in their own garden or yard. The more neighbours participate, the merrier! Every address that participates is promoted on a general map oft he district that is distributed in local shops and online to market the event.



The run-up to the event had been very busy. The girls had painted posters, inflated balloons and diligently engaged in handicraft to produce decoration. They also had a look through their toys and books to decide what they were prepared to sell. I went through the boxes with clothes and shoes that didn’t fit anymore. We also received some items and books from the sangha to sell, so that were able to present a dazzling and colourful array of items in the bright sunlight.

As the sun was hot from early morning, we had to install umbrellas right away. Our first customers already complained that they could hardly stand the heat, and it got worse. Soon, we got buckets of cold water ready to get cool from the outside and had to rely on ice-cream to cool down from within.

The girls were adamant in their will to stay at their table where they were overseeing the sale of our home made lemon muffins, decorated with little sugar beads. Some of the muffins must have disappeared in their own stomachs when no-one was looking, but otherwise the muffins were the best selling items by far. We also packed muffins to take away for people who could resist eating them straight away.

By early afternoon, the heat was such that we had to go inside and rest. Customers must have been following the same impulse, as the stream of prospective buyers was melting away like ice in the sunshine.

At the end of the day, we counted the coins together and rewarded ourselves with mozzarella and tomatoes. Cool town, evening in the city... and one sunny step closer to establishing Drala Jong!



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.


Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Roaring Silence

Roaring Silence
Discovering the Mind of Dzogchen
By Ngakpa Chögyam (Ngak’chang Rinpoche) and Khandro Déchen

This is a guide for anyone wanting to deepen their meditation practice and a key text for Aro students. It discusses in depth the preparation practices for Dzogchen (which include shi-nè and lhatong meditation) and gives an introduction to Dzogchen itself.

"Chogyam and Dechen are western lineage holders in the Dzogchen tradition of the Aro-ter. Their book sets out this simple, yet difficult, theory/practice with uncommon clarity, from initial preparations on through to direct perception. Chogyam and Dechen write with sparkling intelligence. In many ways, then, this is the best single introduction to the Dzogchen path. Recommended to all with an interest in Buddhism or comparative soteriology." — Kidder Smith

For more information about Roaring Silence please see http://arobuddhism.org/books/wisdom-eccentrics.html and for other books, please see http://arobuddhism.org/community/aro-books.html



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Retreat Centre Appeal : A home for elderly practitioners

A home for elderly practitioners

Buddhist practitioners who evolve to the point where they become teachers, normally have care available until they pass away.

Other knowledgeable and experienced ordained practitioners however, never become full time teachers and therefore lack the care of personal students.

We therefore intend to provide a venue in which the elderly ordained could be available to others in exchange for accommodation in an environment conducive to practice.

Several senior practitioners in the Aro Tradition have already committed to moving to the area in which Drala Jong will be established, so that they can contribute their time, knowledge and energy to the development of the Centre.

When so many elderly people grow old and die in isolation – the need to reverse this trend by creating a vibrant Buddhist community in and around the Retreat Centre is paramount.



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Spectrum of Ecstasy

Spectrum of Ecstasy
The Five Wisdom Emotions According to Vajrayana Buddhism
By Ngakpa Chögyam (Ngak’chang Rinpoche) and Khandro Déchen

Spectrum of Ecstasy describes the Dzogchen view of emotions, emotional pain and pleasure – and the liberation of emotions. It is valuable reading for anyone interested in human psychology according to Dzogchen and a must-read for everybody seriously interested in the Aro gTér Lineage. The book is suited for experienced meditators as well as for beginners on the Buddhist path.

For more information about Spectrum of Ecstasy please see http://arobuddhism.org/books/spectrum-of-ecstasy.html and for other books, please see http://arobuddhism.org/community/aro-books.html
 


The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Retreat Centre Appeal : Why a retreat centre?

Why a Retreat Centre?

Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen, along with their teaching students, have offered public teachings and training on a wide range of subjects at many rented venues over the years. Now we are looking for a permanent home for our tradition, to make it more readily accessible to Buddhists and to those many non-Buddhists interested in elements of Buddhist practice, psychology, and philosophy.

This centre will bear the name ‘Drala Jong’ – ‘Sparkling Meadow of Primal Iridescence’ – and will become the primary teaching venue for our spiritual directors.

We have no grand aims for changing the world rapidly. Such proposals tend to be naïve. We aspire rather, to have an influence in terms of how we live, and how we make our tradition available.

Historically Sang-ngak-chö-dzong has rented venues, so access to qualified teachers and teachings is limited to short spaces of time – or else only indirectly through books and articles. There is no opportunity for people to simply call, or visit to ask questions. The vast array of Buddhist inspirational objects in the possession or care of our organisation cannot be on open display, due to their number, size, and the care required to preserve artefacts – some of which are a thousand years old. Since most hired venues are profit-making ventures, costs borne by event attendees are inflated and smaller specialised events not financial viable. A permanent home will open up many more possibilities for us to be of benefit to the interested public.



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Wearing the Body of Visions

Wearing the Body of Visions
By Ngakpa Chögyam (Ngak’chang Rinpoche)

Wearing the Body of Visions is a unique overview of Tantric Buddhism. Ngak’chang Rinpoche abandons the didactic expository style of most books on Tantra. Instead, he adopts language that is poetic, electric, evocative, experiential, unconstrained and unconventional. This is the style of Tantra itself: Rinpoche writes Tantra rather than writing about Tantra.

The title of the book refers to one of its main topics – a central practise of Tantra. ‘Wearing the body of visions’ is envisionment or self-arising, in which one experiences oneself as an enlightened being (yidam). This chapter of the book gives a better sense than anything else available in English of what it is like to practise envisionment. A related chapter discusses empowerment, a prerequisite for yidam practice.

For more information about Wearing the Body of Visions please see http://arobuddhism.org/books/wearing-the-body-of-visions.html and for other books, please see http://arobuddhism.org/community/aro-books.html
 


The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Retreat Centre Appeal : Introduction

Rôle Models

People endeavour to improve the world in different ways: through improvements in diet, physical and mental health, housing, and education. Our approach encourages joyful interpersonal relationships. Happy marital relationships ensure that children grow up in an atmosphere free of mutual psychological damage.

Although we are a Buddhist charity, our teachings are open to anyone. At heart, the logic of our tradition is simple: world peace begins in the family. If children have positive rôle models in terms of their parents’ relationship, they are more likely to grow up as kind balanced individuals. This provides a self-perpetuating positive influence upon the world.

Overview

We seek to raise £500,000 to establish a permanent centre in Britain – capable of hosting residential and non-residential events, to make available a rare strand of Buddhism pertinent to Western culture in the 21st century.

We are looking to receive donations or pledges for anything from £1, up to the full cost of the centre. Please read the articles on this blog and help us if you feel moved to do so. If you remain unmoved, then we hope you simply enjoy hearing about a rare and precious strand of Buddhism and of our efforts to make it available.



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Rays of the Sun

Illustrating reality: certainty, transcending causality, kindness, confidence
By Ngakpa Chögyam

In the early days of Vajrayana few Tibetan Lamas visited Britain, and eager students were often prepared to travel considerable distances to receive instruction. Yet some sought out a young Englishman recently returned from the Himalayas. Inspired by the magic and mystery of Tibet, they were keen to discover the lived meaning. Ngak’chang Rinpoche’s teachings were simple, direct, and experiential. The four evening talks contained here deal with the themes studied by everyone exploring Buddhism in depth: the four noble truths, eightfold path, causality, compassion and refuge.

 For more information about Rays of the Sun please see http://arobuddhism.org/books/rays-of-the-sun.html and for other books, please see http://arobuddhism.org/community/aro-books.html

All proceeds from the sale of this book go towards the Drala Jong appeal.
 


The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Retreat Centre Appeal

Sponsored by Sang-ngak-chö-dzong UK registered charity 1019886:

Supporting the preservation of non-monastic Buddhism

The Aro Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism wishes to establish a permanent centre in Britain to make this rare strand of Buddhism more accessible to people in the home country of our lineage holders Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen. We intend to raise £500,000 to establish a centre capable of hosting residential and non-residential events.

This will be the fulfilment of the vision of HH Düd’jom Rinpoche, the most remarkable Tibetan Lama of the 20th Century, who gave instruction for the establishment of our organisation in 1977.

For more information, including how to support this project, please see http://arobuddhism.org/drala-jong/drala-jong-appeal.html

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

E-mailing the Lamas from Afar

E-mailing the Lamas from Afar
Heart Advice from Two Buddhist Teachers to Their Students
By Ngakpa Chögyam and Khandro Déchen

This book carries into the 21st century the teachings of an ancient spiritual tradition, non-monastic Vajrayana Buddhism, the vehicle of transformation and of direct essential understanding of the nature of mind, within the activities and circumstances of ordinary human life.

For more information about E-mailing the Lamas from Afar please see http://arobuddhism.org/books/emailing-the-lamas-from-afar.html and for other books, please see http://arobuddhism.org/community/aro-books.html
 


The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Inspiration: Aro Lineage Sangha

Ngak’chang Rinpoche, Khandro Déchen, & ordained in 2000.
Robes are worn on formal occasions, as an inspiration for practice and a symbol of the vows ordained practitioners take.

The tradition is sometimes called the ‘white sangha’ after their white skirts as distinct from the red of monastics.




The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Form, emptiness, and non-duality

In sitting meditation, we experience emptiness directly as the simultaneous absence of thought and presence of awareness. We experience form as the thought and sensation which arise from the condition of non-thought. We experience non-duality as the nature of Mind in which thought and the absence of thought are no longer mutually exclusive – they have the same taste.

We may experiences flashes of emptiness and non-duality soon after we first learn to meditate. These flashes inspire us to deepen our practice. Significant periods of emptiness generally require a few years of regular practice.

In everyday life, it is possible to begin to observe form, emptiness, and non-duality – immediately. Form, emptiness, and non-duality are aspects of existence:
  •     Form is the quality of solidity, permanence, separateness, continuity, and definition.
  •     Emptiness is the quality of insubstantiality, impermanence, indistinctness, discontinuity, and ambiguity.
  •     Non-duality is the recognition that existence and experience are permeated by the qualities of form and emptiness. These qualities are in constant erratic flux. Our searches either for security (form) or excitement (emptiness) are based on attempts to control that flux.
To learn more, please read the full article on Form, Emptiness and Non-duality.



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Inspiration: Aro Lineage Lamas

Our Spiritual Directors Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen are married Buddhist teachers living in Wales.

They trained under some of the most highly respected Buddhist teachers of the 20th Century, including some of the senior most teachers of the oldest Tradition of Buddhism in Tibet – the Nyingma Tradition.



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Learn Buddhist meditation techniques

The Aro gTér Lineage free internet meditation course is a series of weekly emails that are sent to you automatically by this web site.

The course takes a practical, down-to-earth approach. The first week’s email provides all the instructions you need to get started.

In the following weeks, you will learn refinements in the technique and additional meditation exercises. The course also explains ways of dealing with any problems that may come up, shows how to apply the insights of meditation to the rest of life, and recommends other resources and further steps.

To learn more,please visit the Aro gTér Lineage Meditation site.


The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Senses and Sensibility

Some folk who hear about Drala Jong assume all the art that will be created and performed there will be from an unfamiliar cultural context - either obviously overtly Buddhist, or inspired by Asian and Oriental influences. This pre judgement leads to the conclusion that somehow Drala Jong won't be accessible to everyone, but just those who want to explore Buddhist practice.

In actuality, we're proud that in fact Drala Jong will be about exploring and expanding all the senses and sense fields, and engaging with art in every way it might manifest. Our intention is to make the centre relevant to anyone who enjoys art, craft, or the simple joy of living - whether inspired by East or West, whether modern, or traditional. An example of this is embracing classical forms of dance, in particular 18th century dance.

Taken from 'Pride and Prejudice'



Please see the Appeal page for more information about the project and how to help.



Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Aro gTér : An uncommon perspective

There are three distinct yet compatible approaches within Buddhism: self-liberation, transformation, and renunciation. The Aro gTér Lineage emphasises self-liberation and transformation, whereas it is more common to prioritise renunciation.

Buddhism—as it is most commonly taught—gives an understanding of enlightenment as attainable only for celibates who undertake a life of intensive training and years of solitary retreat. In contrast the Aro gTér Lineage portrays enlightenment as potentially available to everyone in every moment. Certain Buddhist trends describe involvement with the material world as unclean; seeing secular existence as dangerously delusional – provoking negative emotions such as lust, greed, and anger. The Aro gTér Lineage, and other parallel lineages, depict the material world as a wondrous garden of delights that we should enjoy with utter thoroughness. Many forms of Buddhism forbid, or advise against, drinking alcohol. The Aro gTér Lineage—representing the transformational approach—requires skilful imbibing of alcohol when the ‘feast of appreciation and generosity’ is celebrated.

Despite these apparent contradictions, views and practices of the Aro gTér Lineage derive from—and accord with—ancient Buddhist teachings. Contemporary as they may appear, they are not modern innovations. They do not compromise Asian traditions in favour of Western values – but are based on principles, long held by the adventurous independent minority within Buddhism.

An uncommon perspective



The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.