Showing posts from March, 2014

Ngakso Drupchen at Nagi Gompa

Nagi Gompa is a small nunnery situated above the Kathmandu valley in the Shivapuri National Park. It was home to one of the greatest meditation masters of recent times, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. He lived, practiced and taught in Nagi Gompa for more than 20 years. These days around 100 nuns live in Nagi Gompa, and about half of them stay in long-term retreat, dedicating their life solely to practice and deepening their meditation experience. Furthermore it is also home to the young reincarnation of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, who currently is deeply involved in his studies, education and training.
Every year Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, Chokling Rinpoche and Phakchok Rinopche travel to Nagi Gompa for the annual Ngakso Drupchen, two weeks before the Tibetan New Year (Losar). This year for the first time also the young incarnation of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche joined and participated in the drupchen fully.
The Tibetan term Drupchen is usually translated as “great or vast accomplishment”. A Drupchen is a form…

The Khenpo Classes

Among the philosophy classes at Rangjung Yeshe, I often like the Khenpo classes the most, and this year I have the opportunity to attend two of them. With these classes one gets to understand well the traditional perspective of the various topics of Buddhist philosophy, which can be not only very meaningful in themselves, but also necessary in order to really know what Buddhism is. There is no ‘a real Buddhism’ separate from its traditions, and whether ancient or not, other than knowing them, there is no study of Buddhism. Yet its topics are far from being easy, which combined with the structure of Sanskrit and Tibetan languages make the oral explanations from the Khenpos even more important, as they avoid both misunderstandings and non-understandings. 
One of the texts we are studying, the 'Gateway to Knowledge' from Mipham Rinpoche, is regarded as a foundational text, dealing with Abhidharma material. At first one may think the foundation should be easy, but despite Buddhist…

Modern Tibetan Music

In the field of Tibetan Buddhist studies many scholars focus almost exclusively on religion, ignoring aspects of culture beyond what directly bears relevance to the history and development of Buddhism. It is true that, if it were not for Buddhism, most of us would not be nearly as concerned about Tibetan issues. I can also see this partial attitude reflected in my own thinking at times and, considering the looming gap dividing western and Tibetan cultures, I would not be surprised if others can also relate to this. Some local customs often strike us as impractical, illogical, or mere superstition. Does tossing rice around and burning butter really please the three jewels? 

Conversely, other scholars are merely interested in the material culture of the Tibetan people. This is equally dissatisfying. Some peers, absorbed by everything Tibetan (merely by the fact of it being Tibetan), appear to be under the spell of western romanticism. 

Yet if we adopt these attitudes many rich and relevan…