Sunday, 1 January 2012

Kathmandu

Several expeditions were planned for the pilgrims while we were in Kathmandu.  Two of these went forward—a visit to the nearby monasteries and a trip to Yang-le-shöd (Palping)—but the third—visiting Nagi Gompa—had to be cancelled.  We were sad not to be able to visit Nagi Gompa again, but at least we had had the opportunity to visit there on our first trip to Nepal.  In this post I am including pictures of Boudanath and meetings with Lamas.  I will create two separate posts for the visit to the monasteries and Yang-le-shöd.

The street from our guest house to the stupa.
Visiting Kathmandu is a pilgrimage for the Confederate Sanghas of Aro, but there are also opportunities to purchase things that are difficult to find at home.  We bought a gZi stone for our elder son who is an apprentice of Naljorpa Bar-ché,  We purchased cases for our rolmo and ting-shar and are delighted that they are of perfect in size.  ’ö-Dzin and I each bought new teng-gars (malas – prayer beads) and also a set for our younger son.  There are now a couple of good bookshops near the stupa and we found a few interesting books.  We had some robes and other clothing made for us by our favourite tailor.  Many sangha members were having robes made and it was a busy few weeks for Norzin Tailors.

An incense shop.
There were approximately 60 Aro sangha members on pilgrimage together when everyone assembled in the week our Lineage Lamas were present.  Various individuals stayed for extended periods before and/or after the Lineage Lamas’ visit.

Many gZis for sale in Lumbini mala shop.  These are not the highest quality but are stone rather than glass and very nicely marked.  We bought Daniel a 9-eyed stone very like the one in the bottom right corner of the picture.
Tenzin Dölma is looking after Norzin Tailoring for her sister Palmo while she is away.  Norzin is the name of Palmo’s daughter. Tenzin worked hard and was most efficient in getting everything ready on time.  The tiny shop is packed from top to bottom with garments.
I rather liked this hat but felt that although it would be fine to wear in Kathmandu I would never wear it at home.  Perhaps this will be the ‘wish I’d bought that’ from this trip.
There is a monastery right next to the guest house, and others all around.  It is splendid to go up onto the roof and look around at all the signs of Buddhist practice and hear Tibetan instruments and chanting.
One of our main practices while in Boudhanath is kora – circumambulation of the stupa practising mantra.  Here we were practising as a group.  Tibetans usually practise kora twice: early in the morning and at around 4 pm.
I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet Khandro Ten’dzin Drölkar – a great Lama and one of Ngak’chang Rinpoche’s first teachers.
We also had a lovely visit from Jomo Samphel Déchen – the sang-yum (spiritual wife) of the late Kyabjé Kunzang Dorje Rinpoche.  She spoke at length about her early life – but the translator spoke so quietly that none of us could hear him.  Fortunately it was recorded and I look forward to hearing that sometime.
This is the Lama of the monastery next door to the guest house.  His name is Sang-ngag Rinpoche.  He heard us singing seven line song (Dorje Tsig Dün) before meals at the guest house and invited us all to visit him and his wife, Lhamo Yangchen.  We all followed her round to the monastery and had a delightful time with them drinking tea and eating biscuits.  They had been reading Ngak’chang Rinpoche’s latest book, Wisdom Eccentrics*, and thoroughly enjoying it.  It was wonderful to make this friendly connection with these Nyingma practitioners.
A number of the restaurants near the stupa have photographs and drawings of Boudhanath in the past.  This is a picture from the 1970s when Boudhanath was a small village clustered around the stupa and surrounded by fields rather than being subsumed in the urban sprawl of Kathmandu.
Only one day during our 10 days in Kathmandu did the air clear sufficiently to catch a glimpse of the Himalayas.
* Wisdom Eccentrics by Ngakpa Chögyam is published by Aro books.

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