In meditation, we come face to face with our deepest feelings and conflicts. We may discover aspects of ourselves from which at first we recoil: fear, anger, loss, and shame. However, with further practice we develop a new and relaxed tolerance for the entirety of ourselves and our situations. Habitual emotional patterns lose their grip. Accepting ourselves as we are produces clear self-understanding and appreciative empathy with others. We become transparent to ourselves. Motivation becomes simpler. A cheerful active compassion arises which does not need to be forced or fabricated.
At the outset of the project, the Drala Jong Blog published an article about His Holiness Dud'jom Rinpoche and his instructions to Ngak'chang Rinpoche.
"In 1977 His Holiness Dud'jom Rinpoche gave direction to Ngak'chang Chögyam Rinpoche that he must work to preserve the gendun karpo in the West. Prior to his passing in 1988, Dud'jom Rinpoche was the head of the Nyingma Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, and every Nyingma Lama of the mid-late 20th Century revered him as their teacher. He gave the name 'Sang-ngak-chö-dzong' ('secret fortress of mantra') as an inspiration for this accomplishment of his vision. The Drala Jong appeal is the next step in our commitment to Dud'jom Rinpoche to see the gendun karpo permanently established in the West."
The way out of the maze begins with non-conceptual experience – and that we can only find through meditation. In meditation we discover what we are like in the dynamic space which exists before thoughts and conceptual complexity arise. We learn to experience the impossible polarities we find there without the accustomed knee-jerk reactions. We realise that the forced choices with which we have been confronted were false: the reason we cannot adhere to either side of a polarisation is that our fundamental nature is undivided.
In 2011, the Drala Jong Blog published an interview, in three parts, with Ngak'chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen on the subject of Drala Jong.
We thought it would be useful to highlight these articles for new readers.
"[I]t doesn’t cost a lot to transform a place – such as painting a room the shrine room colours. It has always had a powerful effect to do this. From the very first time we created a shrine room in our home, every visitor has always been struck by it. Journalists are always stunned by the effect, and there have been articles about our shrine rooms in the British and Welsh press over the years. If you describe the colours we use it just sounds dreadful, but when people see it for the first time they say ‘You know this really works’."
"I suppose my ideal place would be something that would lend itself to our own work. It can’t afford to be too big for cost reasons, but it needs to be expandable. There was a farm near Llantrisant in South Wales that we used for a while. It had a whole space the owner didn’t use; the attic was the entire extent of the house and was suitable for a shrine room. It also had a lot of outhouses – one of these sprawling Welsh farms, that stretched all over the place. And somewhere with a bit of its own land which it would be possible to stretch using tents, and yurts. There were all sorts of wonderful semi-permanent structures at Pennant Valley where we used to hold the summer yogic encampment retreats. It needs to be a little bit elastic like that."
"On a residential retreat there are many different places to meet and chat with others. You can go for a walk – down a country road, or in the woods. At a non-residential city centre venue once you’re in the street – you’ve left the retreat. On a residential retreat people don’t leave or change environment – and in that way they get the most out of the experience of being there."
"From the perspective of Dharma—the liberated viewpoint—the benefit to having a centre is the ability to be able to concentrate efforts – to: house special lineal objects; create supports for Dharma and store them; preserve ancient artefacts; and, collect and index records of the teachings. A residential centre can be a vast repository. From the perspective of ‘samsara’ – if one wishes to ‘make the thing work’, people have to see it. In the common run of things—according to the dictates of society—people have to see what we’re doing as something serious. The press needs to be impressed if they are to write accounts of our work. People want to go to a place that looks as if it represents something cogent in the world. There are few who will go to a rented flat – to see a Lama, even a Tibetan Lama. From the perspective of Dzogchen it makes no difference – but Dzogchen is the goal, rather than the state of societal consciousness."
Buddhism is a path beyond implausible alternatives: self-righteous religion and self-indulgent consumerism; saccharine sentimentality and alienated depression; cautious respectability and pretentious rebellion. It is neither a simplistic compromise between extremes, nor a bland contract with mediocrity.
The Aro Buddhist tradition 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 and Head of the Nyingma Buddhist Tradition, who gave instruction for the establishment of our organisation in 1977.
Please see the Aro Encyclopaedia website for more information about the Appeal and the teachings of this tradition.
Samsara is a funfair where success rewards you with an inflatable hammer that you cannot use. Samsara is a funfair where any appearance of progress is swings and roundabouts back and forth and round and round. Samsara is play perceived as reality and taken seriously.
The children at the fair know that it’s a game and then go home for tea. Adults who take the game for real never get to go home. We stay on the roundabout because it feels like progress. We get sick from too many hot-dogs and too much candy-floss.
However when we’ve been round enough times we may start to get suspicious. The scenery isn’t really changing. We’ve been here before.
We watched the children playing on the ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ roundabout and going back and forth on the swing boats. They won balloons and teddy bears on the funfair games and then went home for tea.
Meditation is our way off the roundabout of Samsara. A way of seeing the funfair for what it is. Through the practice of silent sitting we become transparent to ourselves and no longer take the funfair rides for reality.
The Aro gTér Lineage offers the opportunity of practising silent sitting meditation via our centres, courses and local groups. We would also like to be able to offer opportunities for longer residential retreats which is why we began the Drala Jong appeal to create a centre.
Our target is £500,000 and this may seem like a great deal of money, but it mostly depends upon many small donations and fundraising events. Our day at the funfair raised £90 and we were happy for every pound or penny that brought us closer to bringing Drala Jong into being. Every little helps and any donation - however small - is welcome.
For more information about the project and how you could help, please see the Drala Jong Appeal page.
"I will be wheelchair walking 111 miles over the coming months. I will be
doing this by going out daily, weather and health permitting with my
wonderful assistants Maddie and Lottie. If you are down my way and fancy
joining me on any of my jaunts please do all company is gratefully
embraced!! By all means bring four legged companions with you and
anything else you fancy really. I aim to post daily with at least a
picture and an update on my mileages total." -- Sharon Kilty
We are delighted to announce that the total currently raised for Drala Jong has passed the £200,000 mark (when the US and British totals are both added together) - this means our beautiful five coloured phurba has now both the space and air elements completed - next step fire.