The Nepali Festival of Temal Jatra, and my five new projects.

Today was pandemonium at Boudhanath in Kathmandu. Thousands of people from all over Nepal came to pay their respects to the stupa. Countless prayer groups, butter lamps, family tents, hundreds of lamas, and thousands of beggars lined the stupa all around. Temal Jatra is one of the main festivals of the Tamang community here. Tamang is one of the most important ethnic groups in Nepal. Roughly 6% of Nepalis or 1.5 milion people are of Tamang origin. Ta means horse and Mang means rider or trader. So they were horse people. Tamangs have their own distinct branch of Buddhism, language,…

Continue reading

The Divine Madman of Bhutan, Drukpa Kunley

Who is Drukpa Kunley? It’s time for you to meet Drukpa Kunley, the Divine Madman, one of the most celebrated characters in Bhutan (1455–1529). He came from the Tibetan tradition of  “crazy wisdom”. This is a rare and legitimate Buddhist path which embraces actions that may seem bizarre or “crazy”, but are in fact part of the practitioner’s descipline toward his or her own liberation, as well as that of others. Drukpa Kunley was born into that noble clan of the Ralung Monastery in western Tibet. Believing that the strict conventions kept people away from learning the true teachings of…

Continue reading

What were Milarepa’s last words?

All is well in Kathmandu this week. I’m very busy working on my books, preparing five, yes 5, proposals for publishers. They should ALL be ready in a week or two, and I’m hoping to find a single publisher for all five. Stay tuned. Meanwhile I’m studying the great monastic traditions and teachers. Here’s an interesting article about the great and magical monk Milarepa. Hope you enjoy it! Milarepa is one of the most famous saints of Tibetan Buddhism. He lived from 1052-1135 CE, and was admired for his songs which are still popular in Tibet. He is generally considered…

Continue reading

I Visit the Oldest Hindu Temple, and Risk a Haircut

Pashupatinath Temple (Pronouced Pa-shu-pa-ti-NATH) is the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu. Although it is not known exactly when the temple was built, most say it dates back to 400 BCE. According to ancient Nepali texts Mahatmaya and Himvatkhanda, the deity here gained great fame here called Pashupati, the Lord of all Pashus. A richly ornamented pagoda houses the huge sacred linga or holy symbol of Lord Shiva. You’ll see a photo below, however non-Hindus are not allowed into the most sacred areas. If you speak to the ascetics that live around the temple, they’ll respond in very good English and…

Continue reading

Just Another Week in Kathmandu

Earthquake in Kathmandu. This morning I was meditating quietly in our 3rd floor apartment when the ground shuddered. Yep, sure enough, it was a 4.1 magnitude earthquake at 9 am. According to the National Seismological Centre, it was an aftershock of the big earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015. I did wonder what I would do, and what might become of our apartment building – briefly. Then it rained and the air cleared beautfully. All is well. Mahakala is a tantric Buddhist protective deity. His mask has five human skulls on the crown, a symbol of transmutation of the five…

Continue reading

Living in Kathmandu – Accepting the Moment

Sorry for being out of touch recently. I’m sinking into the Nepali culture inevitably. I thought I was going to live in Bhutan. But now by surprise I live in Kathmandu, because the Lama’s work is here. That’s OK. I can accept. There’s been a huge shift as I’m no longer a tourist, and I accept daily life of a Kathmandu resident. I just live with enjoyment and notice the hard work and kindness of others all around me. I watch tourists run from site to site, and I can’t be bothered. I follow the local pace. I go see…

Continue reading

The Buddha’s first discourse after his awakening

The first in a series on “What did the Buddha really say?”, this is said to be his first talk after attaining enlightenment called “Setting the Wheel of Dharma in Motion”, or the famous Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. With the power of his deep contemplation and very few words, he effectively set the “Wheel of the Doctrine” (and Destiny) in motion in such a way that it could never be turned back. There’s much complex writing on Buddhism throughout history, I’m looking for clarity by going back to study his direct teachings. A Dharma wheel represents the eight spokes, and eightfold path of the Buddha’s…

Continue reading

Gho and Kira, the National Dress of Bhutan

By Tshering Yangdon. Did you know the Bhutanese national dress was codified over 400 years ago? The code was set in the 17th century, during the reign of the famous Rinpoche and “Father of Bhutan”, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Yes, the Zhabdung’s far-sighted vision of maintaining the country’s unity and sovereignty led him to establish a national dress for Bhutan. Gho and Kira are the two very unique pieces of traditional dress. The Gho is for men and the Kira for women. Rinpoche Zhabdrung succeeded brilliantly in uniting the country under one rule, in the face of violent civil wars and internal…

Continue reading

We Visit the Buddha’s Birthplace in Lumbini, Nepal

We took a trip to Lumbini. It’s an eight-hour drive from Kathmandu. Yep, we left at 4am with the Lama, his daughter Baby, myself, and Lama’s trusted driver Manbadhur. I didn’t know what to expect. It was an amazingly beautiful and surprising trip. Yep, it was 8-hours to Lumbini and 8-hours back. Fortunately Manbadur’s car is comfortable, and he’s an excellent driver. The drive through the Nepal countryside was dusty and dirty. Finally we reached the gate to Lumbini, also dusty and dirty. But once we entered the arches into the site of the Buddha’s birthplace at Lumbini, it was…

Continue reading

What is the Government of Bhutan?

By Tshering Yangdon. The government of Bhutan is a democratic, constitutional monarchy with five branches of government, overseeing a population of approximately 800,000 people. The 2008 Constitution of Bhutan provides for five main branches of government: 1) Monarchy, 2) State Religion, 3) Judiciary, 4) Executive, and 5) Legislative branches. All the secular and religious branches of government are unified under the King. In this constitutional monarchy the King acts as a non-party political head of the government.  Bhutan’s fifth King, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, is the hereditary head of state. The King of Bhutan is called “Druk Gyalpo”, meaning “King of the Dragon Kingdom”. 1)…

Continue reading