Nepal, May – June 2018, the conclusion of Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche’s one-year retreat
The morning that Rinpoche leaves his retreat, we are hundreds, of all countries, of all conditions, family, monks, students, friends, waiting for the return of Rinpoche. As he leaves his little “house or hermit’s cave,” in which he has just spent a year, to join us directly … it is impossible to express what we feel.
You have undoubtedly already had access to photos broadcast in real time from one to the other on so-called social networks. Thus, this blog will rather push the doors behind the scenes of the adventure, what we experienced as well as the commitment of all those who made this event a success, as we witnessed the heights of attainment of our teacher, a true master, as he welcomed all participants. Descending from the mountain early in the morning, Rinpoche first passes the long rows of Tibetans, Nepalese, students of all countries, then the monks, after which we all enter the temple. Rinpoche settles and then speaks to us in Tibetan, Nepali, followed by English. For those who are in the back part of the monastery, the echo effect produced by the sound system makes understanding rather difficult. It does not matter, his presence is immense and the communication is done by the heart. Moreover, among those who had arrived a few days before – while Rinpoche was still up there for his last days of retreat – some even thought they felt his compassion and his love caressing and blessing the whole Dallu Valley.
Mid-day, lunch break. Everyone is on the forecourt around round tables and chairs that also look festive. The youngest monks are of course associated with the event, they are at the buffet, and for some, it is obviously the first time they serve meals to guests. Their noses just reach the rim of the large pots, and so they have to lift their arms high to fill the plates, even rising on tiptoe. Regardless, they are visibly delighted. Smiling, and yet serious at the same time, they strive to do a good job. Jigme Rinpoche settles among us, at a table among the guests, as does Lhuntrul Rinpoche and the family too. The children are singing and laughing. We experience the excitement and atmosphere of the great moments of the RIPA lineage, but with something more added: Rinpoche is back.
Two days later, we start the Nyungné. This is the first time that monks, Tibetans, nuns and students are gathered in the temple for this practice of purification … Guided by Rinpoche, who makes more prostrations than us, these four days are impressive. Those who discover this practice for the first time are in shock, and even for those who have a little experience, we are too. Here, the Nyungné is more intense, more powerful, some even say wild. It is true that the energy of the valley of Dallu is particularly powerful, we are in the Ripa Monastery already well charged with practices and blessings since 2005, by the Ripa Masters as well as by the practices of the monks. But above all, Rinpoche’s presence after a year of retreat is manifestly felt, of course, for many. For two nights, he speaks about Nyungné, it is then at night that we return to our respective “guest-houses.” In the dark, our path is strewn with fireflies, small luminous reflections on the grass, a mirror of the stars of the milky way … Magic!
Slideshow 1 – Photo captions: Monks, Tibetans, Nepali, students attentive to the words of Rinpoche … Tsok distribution … Lunch in the open air … The forecourt of the monastery transformed into a huge friendly restaurant … Laughter and songs, a very beautiful atmosphere … Nyungné: prostrations, in the background the monks too … “Music” reinforces the effects of the practice … The huge statue of Chenrezig with a thousand arms supports us in our efforts.
Mero Gaon: the village is rebuilt
Recall this mountain-side village, that was destroyed in its entirety by the earthquake, and for which Rinpoche, so touched by the suffering and distress of the villagers, responded to their call for help. Two years later, the fifty-five houses – one per family – have been rebuilt, to earthquake-resistant standards, with the help of students from all over the world. All have electricity, with a central water point for each group of five houses. Previously, fetching water and bringing it back took a lot of time and effort. Now it is two steps away. Invited to the official inauguration of the village, those who participated in the reconstruction go to the side of the mountain. Reaching the village is already a small adventure in itself: the bus that leads us from the monastery must first descend to Kathmandu, cross the city, its traffic jams, its pollution, then attack the ascent of another mountain with improbable “roads.” Follo wing two hours traversing these roads is added nearly an hour of walking in the mountains with climbs, descents, a small pass at 2000 m, and an arrival at 1725 m, the altitude of the village. All under a blazing sun and a corresponding temperature. Along the way, Rinpoche is greeted by villagers with their kata, as well as school children, etc. We finally cross the small welcome arch specially erected for the occasion by the inhabitants of Mero Gaon. We visit the village, listen to speeches, and witness the unveiling of of the commemorative plaque … Rinpoche addresses the assembly, some other speeches follow … Or not … Because the villagers scheduled to speak obviously do not want to speak in the microphone. And again, the sound is capricious. Rinpoche’s words are punctuated by “glub-gzz-glub-glub.” Although we are more than 1700 m above sea level, his voice seems to come from an immersed submarine on the other side of the world. Finally, he gives up on the microphone.
A friendly meal has been prepared and is served by the villagers, while also giving each family a file that includes the plan of their house, along with a lock and its key. Each family ? No, every woman in every family, who are all well dressed for the occasion, and adorned with beautiful jewelery. Where are the men? We are obviously asking the question. Answer: here it is the women who “guide the boat,” the men follow. Indeed, they are all in festive dress and men, dressed as usual, observe, rather shy and a little behind. They are the ones who serve us the meals assisted by teenagers. The distribution of the files finished, Rinpoche calls a little boy. All shy, impressed, he approaches, and Rinpoche gives him a great soccer ball for all the kids. His face lights up and he walks away with the gift, all proud and happy. We take the road back, tired but happy.
Slideshow 2 – Photo captions: After the earthquake everything was ravaged, the villagers were sheltering under plastic and sheet metal … Rinpoche came to support them, the reconstruction of the houses was decided and everything is completed … The reception of Rinpoche on the path of Mero Gaon … The small welcome bow of bamboo and cloth welcomes us … The commemorative plaque … Distribution of meals … Rinpoche with some village women … Water flowing from a tap, fascinating! … The press and the Nepalese TV are present for a future documentary.
Lumbini: The Birthplace of Buddha
This is the last leg of our journey. Only 300 kilometres separate Lumbini from Kathmandu. Located in southern Nepal in the Terai plain near the Indian border, it takes more than ten hours by bus to reach it, compared to just half an hour by plane. The sacred area of Lumbini is one of the most important holy places of our great religions of the world. Recognized by UNESCO in 1997, it is said to be one of the most visited pilgrimage destinations on the planet. There is also the temple of Maya Devi – named after the mother of Buddha – also classified as an international heritage site by UNESCO. In the surrounding area, on a park of 23 hectares, numerous temples represent all the schools of Buddhism and many countries of the world. We visit that of Korea, China and many others, all beautiful. The French temple is under construction and as there are still plots of land, Rinpoche and RIPA Russia have decided to build a temple for Russia that is not yet represented. On the spot in the open air, Rinpoche presents us the ground, and this time, the sound system works perfectly thanks to a teenager who follows us everywhere, braced under the weight of the battery on one side and an imposing “loud- speaker” of the other. The general opinion is that Lumbini’s visit allows us to feel the sweetness, serenity and peace that emerge from the place.
In this trip, we are accompanied by about twenty children, already all “banged up” from the first years of their short life. They were rescued from their misfortune and brought together in a children’s home founded by Dorje Dolma, a Nepalese woman that has been supported for a long time by Namkha Rinpoche, Jigme Rinpoche, Lhuntrul Rinpoche and the family. Children spend the day with us and enjoy the hotel pool. They throw themselves into the water with pleasure, play, and practice swimming with us. Confident, visibly well in their skin, in the good company of Dolma, “their mother,” with whom they find attentiveness, listening and tenderness, they find the way to the joy of living. As a result, they come to us without any fear. Spontaneous, direct, open, they are funny, alive, visibly well put together and they help one another naturally (we will talk about this children’s home in more detail in a while). It is there, in Lumbini, that our adventure ends. Everyone is leaving soon for their continent and their country.
Slideshow 3 – Photo captions : In the departure lounge for the flight to Lumbini … We fly on Yeti Airlines. The logo, the imprint of its foot … Close to the place of birth of the Buddha, but well protected from the sun … Rinpoche with the monks who accompany him, then with the children … Opposite: the paparazzi of the Dharma! … After the storm, the paths turn into streams … Beautiful temples … Rinpoche in front of the plot of land for the future Russian temple … Everyone in the water in the pool … Before lunch.
A few photos pell-mell to flip through for a more extensive overview of our trip. Next time, come, these are irreplaceable moments with our irreplaceable teachers.
Slideshow 4 – Photo captions: Before the effort, some relaxation, a good football game gets us in shape … The players … The goalkeeper … The cloakroom … Preparations: installation of the big top … Some innovative ideas to clean a tiled floor … Interview of Doctor Milan for the next TV documentary … At the airport – “maximum height 2.18 m, pay attention to your head”? !
Slideshow 5 – Photo captions : On the way to the village the children are waiting for Rinpoche … Before listening to him while watching … Portraits of villagers … Taeo’s camera fascinates … One of the small monks of the monastery … Nepal, between tradition and modernity … The hostess of Yeti Airlines in Tibetan dress … Our young “soundman” of Lumbini … Rinpoche with two villagers.
End of the trip
Ultimate photo of our RIPA family at the Stupa for World Peace in Lumbini.
Next big meeting: the retreat of this summer 2018 in Switzerland with our three Teachers.