Sunday, August 30, 2009

On August 25th, we were to go to Nyima Dzong, in Provence. That morning, however, Khenpo got a phone call and declared we would be returning to India. He had to go to Bhutan post haste. In the morning, Khenpo addressed the entire assembly of Rigpa students- some fifteen hundred people from around the world. We met with Sogyal Rinpoche again and he led us out of the temple. As we drove out of Lerab Ling, Rinpoche led his students, who had all gathered around the temple, in chanting the Verses of the Eight Auspicious Ones, it was very moving. We took the lightning-fast TVG train to Paris.
The next morning, Sogyal Rinpoche and Khen Rinpoche blessed the many images, statues and artifacts of the temple. Khenpo continued his teachings in the morning then concluded them in the afternoon session. I had some quality time with the lotsawas and other friends. Unlike Chanteloube, I had many opportunities to assist Khen Rinpoche as his translator and servant. I insisted that Lerab Ling’s own translator, G., translate Khenpo’s oral teachings as he is just so much more skilled than I am, but in daily life translations I was glad to have something to do. That evening, I nerd bonded with some of my new friends among the monastics.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Yesterday, we said our goodbyes at Chanteloube. Then we drove from Dordogne to Lerab Ling, which is near the Spanish border. Sogyal Rinpoche greeted Khen Rinpoche in front of the temple and then we all adjourned to the top floor of the temple to enjoy the traditional Tibetan food of welcome– sweet rice and tea. This morning we visited visited Khandros Tsering Chodron and Mayum. The Lotsawa House translators introduced the Rigpa Mandala. We met Rinpoche several times during the day. In the afternoon Khen Rinpoche began his teachings on Longchenpa’s Thirty Pieces of Advice from the Heart. This evening I chatted with the local monks and nuns.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Khen Rinpoche, Ani Jinpa, and Ani Yann

Yesterday I translated an empowerment for the first time! I translated the text in advance and read it off my computer during the ritual. I discovered if the lama speaks quickly I also speak quickly, I’ll need to work on that. It was a great experience and I’d love to do more of the same. In other news, I finally gave 30% of my root text memorization. I hope to give a bit more before we go back to India next week. It is hard and time is short. I am so behind in my studies it is ridiculous. France is great, but I study better in India.
I seem to have fallen off track with my daily updates. Comment more, it will help... In the last few days I have had wonderful talks with Tulku Pema Wangyal Rinpoche, as well as two of the Padmakara translators. I’ve gained great inspiration for my future and for my present practice. I feel like there are several avenues awaiting me once I graduate from shedra. At the same time, I feel like I have so much more to learn and practice! Rinpoche told us about Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche and Dudjom Rinpoche. How very precious to hear these stories while staying in a house where they lived and taught.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yesterday Khen Rinpoche completed this year’s installment of his on-going teachings on Yontan Dzod. If all goes as planned, he’ll return to complete the text next spring. Today he gave the reading transmission for Ngalso Korsum and Choying Dzod. I got to translate a little today, because Venerable Mattieu had to leave yesterday. It is a bit intimidating to translate in front of a room full of translators and three-year retreat graduates! I also visited the new offices of Padmakara Translations. I felt how normal people feel when they visit a movie set and meet their favorite movie stars. Sigh… Sometimes I feel like a child among grown-ups.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Les Esyees

It’s late at night at La Sonnerie. I can hear rave music playing somewhere… The last few days have been pretty much the same. Teachings in the morning. A nap. Then studying in the afternoons. Sometimes when I wake up from my siesta I can hear Khenpo teaching privately in the room next door. Sometimes he is even teaching in my dreams. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the mind and afflictive emotions. I’m certain the Dharma has the answers. I’ve studied them, I know them. But the practice doesn’t sit itself. The path doesn’t traverse itself. Time to sleep, but when will I wake up?

Friday, August 14, 2009


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Kangyur Rinpoche's stupa

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We saw some wonderful fireworks last night at Leon sur Verze. Today we continued on with the teachings. I can’t say I was a very good vessel for the teachings, having missed out on sleep last night, but I managed to stay awake. After a nap I started trying to study (I’m so behind!) but A. and D. came over. Nonetheless, I did manage to read for perhaps twenty minutes, then when I walked into the dining room (on my way to the kitchen for coffee), well hello there was Tulku Pema Wangyal Rinpoche. What ensued was a very nice afternoon with Rinpoche, Khenpo, and A. and D.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sunday, August 09, 2009

We finished this year's installment of Nagarjuna's Letter to a Friend. Perhaps it will be completed next year. I met a young French monk, Venerable A., he says he'd like to learn Tibetan and study in our shedra. I hope he can do so. Before I came to India I imagined I'd find many international students at Namdroling, but actually there are very few. I also had the pleasure of seeing my dear old friends A. and D., two of my fellow injees at Namdroling. I think we'll be spending a lot more time together in the days to come. Injee is the Tibetan word for white folk.

8 August 2009

Khenpo didn’t even have a bruise from the door incident, thank Buddha! Today was a busy day with two teachings. We had Yontan Dzod in the morning and then in the afternoon Khenpo resumed his ongoing teachings on Nagarjuna’s Letter to a Friend. Mattieu is translating into English for the morning and French for the afternoon, he really is tremendously skilled. I’m also enjoying spending time with Venerable S. a British monk. I’ve never met a Westerner who speaks such flawless fluent Tibetan! J.C. too is a veteran translator and is great fun to talk with.
In the evening I got to work on my memorization for shedra.

7 August 2009

I can already feel myself getting attached to life in France. In ways it is like being back in Canada- the luxuries of electricity day and night, hot showers, and high-speed internet. The food is rather better, though. I can feel myself getting healthier from all this wonderful organic vegetarian food. Our dharma friend J.C. is constantly brining us fruit, vegetables, bread, and amazing French cheese. Yeah, yeah I know… I’m an awful glutton and I’ll never leave samsara.
We had more teachings in the afternoon. Khenpo had a bit of a run-in with a glass door. He commented, “If I had horns, the glass would have broken.”

6 August 2009

I woke up at about 4 am (7:30 am India time). I did some practice and spent several hours studying for shedra. In the afternoon, Khenpo began his first teachings of this tour. For most of the last decade he has been gradually teaching Yontan Dzod to the translators and three year retreat graduates here at Chanteloube. We are very luckly to have the peerless Matthieu Ricard as our translator for these teachings. Although I am on this trip as a translator for Khenpo, I am still in training and my skills are poor. Dharma teachings don’t get more difficult to translate than what we are studying now.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

5 August 2009

We had a big breakfast and took a taxi to Station Austerlitz. The taxi driver was enthusiastic about Buddhism and even had a Dalai Lama book in his car. I finally got some coffee after a tough 24 hours surviving on tea. There was this weird painting – which appears (to me and Pema) to be a monk with his lower robe over his head, perhaps taking a nap. We took the train to Brieve where we were met by several members of the Padmakara translation group. We drove to La Sonnerie, a wonderful farm house near Chanteloube where many sublime beings have stayed and taught over the years.

4 August 2009

We flew on Air France to Paris. It took 8.5 hours and yes, flying with your lama and his attendant is more fun than flying alone. It was really frigid in the plane, Ani Pema actually caught a cold. We were met at the CDG airport by Ani Ngawang Chodron who took us to the Paris version of Shechen House- a very beautiful flat near L’arc de Triomphe. Later in the day we did some visa business and I caught glimpses of the Eiffle Tower and the Champs de Elysees. Back at the flat I helped Ani Ngawang with the cooking and learned some new vegetable chopping techniques.

3 August 2009

I spent a long day at Shechen house not doing much, trying to keep cool in boiling Delhi. The high point was greeting Rabjam Rinpoche who arrived at the house on his way to Taiwan. I started climbing the huge mountain of studying which I must summit in order to keep up with my class at the nunnery. I’m reading Khenpo Tsewang Sonam’s wonderful Abhisamayalankara commentary. The author is said by some to be one of the best students produced by our shedra at Namdroling. At the airport I had some nice chats with the check-in and immigration officials. We flew out of Delhi just after midnight.

Friday, August 07, 2009

2 August 2009

I took the bus out to the shiny new Bengaluru International Airport. I had been missing my coffee that morning, so I took advantage of both the Coffee Day and the Barista Coffee at the airport. I love coffee and I love that the Tibetan medicine I’ve been taking lets me drink more of it without ill effect. Earlier, my mother had advised me: “Try not to drink to much coffee or eat too many carbs.” Sorry Mom, I’m going to Europe. I was met at the Delhi airport by Ani Pema and two new Dharma friends. We spent the night at Shechen House where Khenpo was staying.

1 August 2009

I spent the morning thinking: I’m not supposed to be leaving shedra in the middle of the year and I’m not ready to translate, especially for Khenpo. The head disciplinarian Ani Y.W. gave me some encouragement, “By doing this you will be serving not only Khenpo, but our monastery and nunnery. You will be developing your own skills as well. We are all very happy you are going and will pray for you.” That did help me feel better. In the afternoon, I took the bus to Bangalore and stayed in a small hotel in Gandhinagar, near the bus station. I took some neat photos on the way.

A temple under construction.

This looks more like Canada than India.

My 'Semester Abroad'

I have decided to post 108 words about each day of my trip to France. Here's how it all started:

Two weeks ago, I went to translate for Khenchen Pema Sherab Rinpoche in Bangalore. His original translator had fallen ill. The next day I joked to the translator: "Don't worry if you are too sick to go to Europe, I'll go in your place and you can stay here and write my exams." Not catching the end bit of that sentence, he replied, "That's a good idea!" I spent the next two weeks getting ready. I got permission to miss classes but still be allowed to write our final exams. Due to visa issues we weren’t sure the trip would happen, but it came together in the end.