Monday, January 23, 2017

India Adventure III: Bodhicitta Retreat and Bir monasteries with new friends

I reached Dharamsala via overnight bus from Delhi on the morning of March 14, just in time for the start of Geshe Dorji Damdul's Special Study Retreat on The Four Seals, Bodhicitta & Wisdom of Emptiness at Tushita Meditation Centre.

Geshe Dorji Damdul: Thee Four Seals, Bodhicitta & Wisdom of Emptiness


Flyer hanging up at Tushita advertising the retreat.
I climbed the wooded path leading up the side of the mountain to Tushita Meditation Centre in time for the 1PM check in. I waited in line outside of the dining hall to check in, and turn in my electronics including camera.

This is the last photo I took before going into 12 day retreat:

Waiting in line to check in for the start of Geshe Dorji Damdul's retreat.
Tushita Meditation Centre (like the Root Institute in Bodhgaya where I had just come from), was established by Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Set in the Himalayan mountains of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh in north India, the scenery is very different from Bodhgaya.

McLeod Ganj, the town just below Tushita's campus is a small mountain town populated by Tibetan refugees, Indians - and foreigners who have made the town their home for the purpose of studying Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. I spend a lot of my time in India in this town, studying. It is a friendly, welcoming, relatively easy place to be.

Tushita, which means "pure land" of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, offers many residential and non-residential Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and meditation courses. Tushita is well known for their 10 day Introduction to Buddhism course, which draws students from around the world and across India. (I took the 10 day Introduction to Buddhism course at Tushita in 2014.)

The Tushita campus features many holy objects including stupas dedicated to great lamas who played a role in the founding of Tushita and the introduction of Buddhism to the west. The hollow stupas are completely filled with holy objects. It is good to circumambulate stupas, just as you would circumambulate  the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya.

Lama Thubten Yeshe's stupa. (He passed in 1984 in Los Angeles, CA.)
Geshe Rabten's stupa.
Plaque near Geshe Rabten's stupa.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche recently gifted a pair of snow lion statues that the Tushita staff later named Pema and Tashi to Tushita, to put on display outside of the main temple. You can watch a video in which he explains his gift here.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Tso Pema with the gifted snow lions Pema and Tashi, February 2016.
Photo by Losang Sherab.

Snow lion at Tushita.

Is that a smile? Snow lion at Tushita.
The interior of the main temple at Tushita, where many retreats are held is also gorgeous. Just as Venerable Lobsang Thaye recently added paintings of the auspicious signs, mandalas, and other sacred art to the main temple at the Root Institute, the Tushita staff recently finished extensive additions to their main temple in accordance with Lama Zopa Rinpoche's advice.

It was amazing to get to spend so much time sitting and studying, reflecting, and meditating inside of the temple during Geshe Dorji Damdul's 12 day retreat.

The large statue inside of the temple is not Buddha but Lama Tsongkhapa. Born in 1357 in north east Tibet, he was the founder of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism has four schools - Gelug, Nyingma, Kagyu, and Sakya. As I understand it, all four schools follow the same Buddha, but just present the steps to be taken on path to Enlightenment a little differently. Tushita (and the Root Institute) follow the Gelug school, but this does not mean it is the best - it is just the one I happen to study. That is why we have a central figure of Lama Tsongkhapa in the Tushita main temple.

Tushita temple interior.
Largest statue inside the Tushita temple - Lama Tsongkhapa.
 We also have these beautiful framed photos of our two founders, Lama Thubten Yeshe and his student Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

A stand up card like the one pictured in front was given to each student participating in the 12 day retreat by Geshe Dorji Damdul. We were meant to place the card on our personal altars, ideally beginning from the time of the retreat at Tushita and then later at home. The holy beings depicted on the card are (from left to right) Indian pandits Acharya Dharmakirti with an inset photo of Acharya Dignaga, Shakyamuni Buddha, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Thubten Yeshe's presence is felt inside of the Tushita temple.
Geshe Dorji Damdul has seemed to become more and more popular since he began regularly teaching at the FPMT centers in January 2015. This was my third time taking his Bodhicitta Retreat, and it was by far the most crowded Bodhicitta Retreat yet.

Geshe Dorji Damdul (front row, holding white papers) and students -
March 2016 Bodhicitta Retreat. Photo by Tushita.
Geshe Dorji Damdul was supported by Venerable Tenzin Drolma, an American nun and graduate of Maitripa College in Portland, Oregon USA. Geshe Dorji Damdul was unavoidably delayed in arriving at Tushita so we received our first two days of instruction from Venerable Tenzin Drolma. It was nice to get to know her; she is now a resident teacher at Tushita.Geshe Dorji Damdul arrived and gave us our first instructions on March 15.

Geshe Dorji Damdul teaching in the Tushita temple during the Bodhicitta Retreat.
Photo by Tushita.
Each night during the retreat Venerable Tenzin Drolma led interested students in the purifying practice of Vajrasattva, inside of the main temple. (This was a practice we also did almost nightly during the month long Kopan November Course in 2014, led there by Venerable Karin.) I attended the practice a few times during Geshe Dorji Damdul's retreat but spent most nights in the Tushita dining hall, participating in the optional Discussion Group open to all students in the retreat.

We also had Discussion Group each day, with the Discussion Group we were assigned to in the beginning of the retreat. I was asked to lead a Discussion Group. It was my first time and I was quite nervous about it. When in doubt I would just think of my Kopan November Course Discussion Group leader, Nita Jago, and try to do what Nita would have done if she had been in Geshe Dorji Damdul's retreat.

We had an amazing Discussion Group; our daily conversations and the friendships we developed were some of the highlights of my time in India in 2016. Our group was: Agata from Poland, Pam from Canada, Celine from France, Julia from Germany, Lavina from Mumbai/Bombay - India, Tenzin from Nepal, Christian from New York, Ravi from Kerala - India, Gelek from Dharamsala - India, Keiron from Australia, Frederic from Canada, and myself. Sadly since we were not allowed to have electronics during the retreat, I do not have a photo of our lovely group.

I stayed in one of the girls' dormitories at Tushita during the course. My daily karma yoga (volunteer) job was dish washing after lunch. I was also on a lovely dish washing team of five people, which included Celine and Julia from Discussion Group. Celine and I were also in the same girls' dormitory room. So I was fortunate to get to spend a lot of time with Celine and Julia each day.

During breaks between teaching sessions and meals, I would sit in my seat inside of the temple or outside in the sun and read teachings from Lama Thubten Yeshe, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I took photos of a particularly powerful teaching given by His Holiness.







One of the benefits of joining retreats in India is the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in study and reflection from amazing teachers.

I got to see a lot of Geshe Dorji Damdul, one of my most favorite teachers, during  the retreat. I was able to sit in the front row of the Tushita temple, just near the seat where Geshe Dorj Damdul taught from for many hours each day. He also permitted students to meet with him individually, so I was able to make an appointment and meet with him one morning. He took his appointments in his suite, which was inside of Lama Zopa Rinpoche's house on Tushita's campus. It was really special to get to see part of the house for the first time.

Some friends I had met in India over the years were also in Geshe Dorji  Damdul's retreat. I also got to make some new friends.

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo: Training the Mind in Seven Points

At the conclusion of the Geshe Dorji Damdul's retreat several of us left directly from Tushita for the Tibetan refugee settlement of Bir so that we could attend the end of a three day retreat taught by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo at Deer Park Institute.

I shared a taxi with Maya from Kashmir, Charlotte from Belgium, Heidi from Finland, Maria from Finland, and Rachel from the USA. We had a nice group heading off to Bir together on a new adventure.

Departing in a taxi from Tushita for Bir. We made use of the roof luggage rack.
I was introduced to Deer Park Institute (in Bir, India not to be confused with the Deer Park center in the USA which I have not been to but hear excellent things about) during my first trip to India in 2013 - 2014 by my friend, Dee. Since then I have made several trips to Bir to stay at and participate in courses offered at the retreat center founded by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. Deer Park Institute offers courses on Indian wisdom, including but not limited to Tibetan Buddhism.

Deer Park Institute main temple. Photo by Deer Park Institute.

Deer Park Institute main temple. Photo by Deer Park Institute.

Deer Park  Institute campus and mountains of Himachal Pradesh.
Photo by Deer Park Institute.
 After leaving Tushita in McLeod Ganj, the other women I shared a taxi with and I reached Bir later in the afternoon on March 25. We shared rooms at Surya Guest House, an Indian owned guest house on the main road.

Main road in Bir.

Main road in Bir.

Surya Guest House, where we stayed.

Main road in Bir.

Main road in Bir. Roadside eatery in the foreground.

Balcony off of the hotel room I shared with Charlotte.

View from the balcony.

Our room.
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo's three day retreat on Training the Mind in Seven Points was already underway; it had begun the previous day, March 24 while we were still in Geshe Dorji Damdul's retreat at Tushita. (That's the thing about India; there are spectacular teachers teaching all of the time, and you can't be everywhere at once.)

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo teaching at Deer Park Institute March 2016.
Photo by Deer Park Institute.
This was my third retreat with Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo at Deer Park. I am always so excited when I hear she is teaching. She is so clear, and her words are so easily understood by western women.

Born and raised in England, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo was the second woman in the history of Buddhism (2,500+ years) to take ordination as a Tibetan Buddhist nun. You can learn more about her and her story in her biography Cave in the Snow, which I highly recommend. You can also visit the nunnery she founded near Bir, Dongyu Gatsal Ling (DGL).

So the other women I was traveling with and I walked over to Deer Park Institute as soon as we had gotten settled in the hotel, and were able to attend the end of the second day of the retreat.

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo teaching at Deer Park Institute, March 2016.
Photo by Deer Park Institute.
The next morning, March 26 was the final session of the three day retreat. So we missed the majority of the retreat, but what I did get to hear was so helpful.

Students could submit questions for Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, written on scraps of notebook paper. Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo then silently read through the questions while seated in front of us, and chose some to answer.

One student confessed many years ago when her grandmother died, she had grasped at her grandmother and begged her not to go. The student was feeling a lot of pain over her past actions.

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo replied with so much compassion and direction, saying something like, "Oh, love ... your grandmother has long since gone." Don't punish yourself, but instead try to do better in the future.

She gave us the example of a couple who had lost their young son years ago in war. If I recall the story correctly, as a child, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo would go to their house and see their son's portrait and everything detailing how his parents were still clinging to him. She said in a ceremony they performed to communicate with their deceased son, their son had told them to let go. Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo told us it is harmful for the deceased if we continue to grasp at them ... then the deceased has a hard time moving on. So we have to do our best to let go.

We also got to watch several of the DGL nuns chant prayers using hand drums. It was beautiful.

DGL nuns chanting a prayer during Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo's teachings
at Deer Park Institute, March 2016. Photo by Deer Park Institute.
The other women I  was traveling with and I also somehow managed to be present for the group photo with Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo - a real treat to have our photos taken with her.

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo - March 2016 retreat at Deer Park Institute.
I am on the bottom left, in all black, next to Heidi wearing the bright orange skirt.
Photo by Deer Park Institute.
After the retreat, we decided to stay on in Bir for a few days to explore. Some of the women in our group had never visited the area before, and there was a lot to see ... more than I even realized. Huge thanks to my friend Maria, who played tour guide. Maria, from Finland has served as resident English language teacher at Deer Park Institute so knows the community.

Bir Monastery Tour

The first monastery we visited was new to me. It was less than a five minute walk from our hotel. The temple sitting in the center of the courtyard was smaller than some of the others I've visited, making the energy inside of it feel stronger.

First monastery - thangka hanging on wall inside temple.

First monastery - thangka hanging on wall inside temple.

First monastery - main temple. Rachel and Maria talking with one of the monks.

First monastery - main temple.

First monastery - main temple - main Buddha image.

First monastery - main temple - photo of His Holiness
the Sakya Trinzin prominently placed
on the throne at the head of the temple.
The temple featured a photo of His Holiness the Sakya Trizin, the head of the Sakya lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. I happened to get to offer him a khata (white silk scarf) on my first visit to India but had not seen him since. It was nice to enter the temple and see his photo.

First monastery - main temple.

Exiting the temple, looking out at the monastery's courtyard.

Our informal tour guide, standing in front of the temple
doors he had unlocked for us. One of my favorite photos from Bir.

First monastery - main temple.

First monastery - main temple.
Next, we walked up a side lane to visit a bright blue monastery but we didn't go in.

Second monastery - entrance from street.

Second monastery - entrance from street.

Second monastery, and the side street we walked up to reach it.
The third monastery we visited was just down the road from our hotel. I've walked by many times but never went inside of the gates. I was missing out on so much ...

Third monastery - temple ceiling.

Third monastery - main  Buddha image.

Third monastery - wall paintings.

Third monastery - wall paintings.

Third monastery - exit to temple.

Third monastery - ceiling painting.

Third monastery - view out of temple doors, view of courtyard.

Third monastery - wall paintings.

Third monastery - wall paintings.

Third monastery - wall paintings.

Third monastery - walking up the side aisle to the front of the temple.

Third monastery - wall paintings - near front of temple.

Third monastery - ceiling.

Third monastery - wall paintings.

Third monastery - ceiling.

Third monastery - main Buddha image.

Third monastery - wall paintings.

Third monastery - rows of Buddha statues at front of temple.

Third monastery - rows of Buddha statues at front of temple.

Third monastery - statue at front of temple.

Third monastery - central images.

Third monastery - butter sculpture.

Third monastery - throne at front of room honoring two beings
unknown to me.

Third monastery - wall paintings.

Third monastery - wall paintings.

Third monastery - wall paintings.

Third monastery - wall paintings and ceiling above central aisle, nearing Buddha  statue.

Third monastery - wall paintings and door.

Third monastery - exiting temple and entering courtyard of monastery.

Third monstery - main temple - photos above from the interior.

Third monastery - looking out at the street from the main gate.

Third monastery - our tour guide/my friend Maria, with some new friends from the monastery.

Third monastery - exiting the front courtyard to the street.

Third monastery - front courtyard.

Third monastery - front courtyard.

Third monastery - front courtyard.

Third monastery - the street just outside of the monastery.
That night we walked along the main road leading out of town, through the tea fields, and to the paragliding landing site. Bir is well known for its paragliding; most foreigners who visit Bir probably fall into one (or possibly both) of these categories: Buddhists and paragliders. The paragliding site is well visited by all because of its peacefulness and beauty.

Paragliders at the Bir landing site.

Bir landing site.

Our group walking along the Bir landing site.

Beautiful Bir sunset.

On the way to a rooftop cafe for vegetable chow mein dinner.

View from the rooftop restaurant of the road as it continues out of town.

Dinner: (left to right) Maya, Heidi, Maria, Charlotte, me, our friend Kiko from Tushita, Rachel.

View from the rooftop after sunset.

Eatery across the street from our hotel. I ate lunch there twice - delicious dal and rice.

The main road in Bir at night. View from our hotel balcony.
Chokyi Lodro College of Dialectics

The next morning, March 27 we continued with our exploration of the area monasteries. We piled into a taxi and took a short (maybe 15 minutes) ride to the neighboring villlage of Chauntra. We exited the taxi at the gates to Chokyi Lodro College of Dialectics (also known as Dzongsar Institute, and Dzongsar Shedra).

It  is a shedra (monastic college) that draws monks from 300+ monasteries representing the different schools of Tibetan Buddhism. One of my teachers, Lobsang Choegyal Rinpoche who received his geshe degree from the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in McLeod Ganj, completed part of his studies here at the Dzongsar Shedra.

We were met outside of the Dzongsar Shedra main temple by Maria's friend, Khenpo Ngawang Woser. (I had met him before; he helped out at the original Dzongsar Shedra campus, now Deer Park Institute, when I first visited Deer Park Institute in 2014.) Khenpo Ngawang Woser is a teacher at Dzongsar Shedra. After meeting us, he proceeded to very kindly gave us a long, thorough, and personalized tour of the temple. Wow, we were so lucky ...

First, we went upstairs to the second floor of the temple to see the Tara Room. The below group of photos were all taken inside of that small room, which was 100% covered in sacred art.

Dzongsar Shedra - -main temple painting.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.
Dzongsar Shedra - main temple wall paintings.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple wall paintings.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple wall paintings.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple wall paintings.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple wall paintings.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple wall paintings.

Dzongsar Shedra - Maria and Khenpo Ngawanng Woser.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple wall paintings.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple statue.
Dzongsar Shedra - main temple statues and stupa.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple wall paintings.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple statue.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple statue.
Dzongsar Shedra - main temple statue.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple statue - central Tara statue
in the Tara room.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.
We then left the Tara Room - I almost got left behind and locked inside of the room because I was so captivated by it, and was so busy taking photos. We then continued our tour of the second floor of the temple.

We were so fortunate to have Khenpo Ngawang Woser with us to explain the details. Born in Tibet, he has taught in Germany, and comfortably speaks English.

When the new Dzongsar Shedra campus was inaugurated in 2004 Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, whose Khyentse Foundation is involved with the shedra said his wish for the shedra is that it "produce foremost Buddhist scholars and teachers who will make a difference in the world." The shedra's curriculum includes languages, computers, and short course on world economy, western history, philosophy, and math. The shedra also offers management and leadership skills development classes.

This is on top of the traditional 13 year shedra monastic study program in which students concentrate on traditional Buddhist philosophy for the first seven years. Each year, the students study two major texts or commentaries, along with other subjects including logic, grammar, monastic discipline, and poetry.

Since 2012, monks in a particular program receive two hours of language class daily, as well as English movie nights. The goal is to produce teachers fluent in Tibetan, English, and Chinese. As Abbot Khenpo Jamyang Losel said, "As Buddhist teachers, we need to learn English to help the Dharma flourish in the world. If we can't speak the language of foreigners, we can't communicate the Dharma."

We walked down hallways that form a square courtyard around an opening that looks down to the temple on the ground floor below. Two to three sides of the outer edge of this courtyard are lined with classrooms.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple - hallway on the second floor, outside of the Tara room.

Dzongsar Shedra - painting hanging in a classroom.

Dzongsar Shedra - class in session.

Dzongsar Shedra - looking down to the temple below.

Dzongsar Shedra - looking down to the temple below.

Dzongsar Shedra - classroom. These seem to be used for language classes.
Walking down the hallways, looking into classrooms on the left.
 We then went back downstairs and entered the main temple on the ground floor.

Our view when we exited the stairwell, returning to the ground level.

Entrance to the main temple.

Entrance door leading into the temple.
Before entering into the temple we stopped outside of the entrance to learn about a mural painted on one of the walls. Khenpo Ngawang Woser spent a lot of time explaining the meaning of the painting. I had once learned that  if you know Buddhist philosophy then a painting is not just a painting, but a teaching. I think this would be an example. This painting has to do with the different realms of existence and different universes, if I remember correctly. It was a lot more on this subject than I had ever heard before.

Khenpo Ngawang Woser teaching us the meaning behind
the painting.

Studying the meaning of the painting.

Entrance to the stairwell leading to the second floor.
Not open to visitors. We were so lucky.

Entrance to the second floor.

View of the main entrance to Dzongsar Shedra from outside
of the temple.

The painting Khenpo Ngawang Woser had explained.

Main temple.
One of the most amazing parts of the tour was getting to hear stories from our tour guide, Khenpo Ngawang Woser. He told us with great affection about Khenpo Kunga Wangchuk who had passed away in 2008, as the senior most khenpo at Dzongsar Shedra..

Main temple. Khenpo Ngawang Woser in front of a painting
of Khenpo Kunga Wangchuk.
Born in 1921 in Tibet, Khenpo Kunga Wangchuck was a great scholar of the original Dzongsar Shedra in Tibet. He was later imprisoned by the Chinese for 23 years (1962 - 1980). After his release he received three letters from the young Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, inviting him to India to teach at his newly established shedra.

After a long seven month journey over the snow and ice covered mountains between Tibet and India, Khenpo Kunga Wangchuck finally reached Sikkim in northeast India at the age of 62. There in Sikkim he started Dzongsar Shedra in India, with Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche as one of his seven students.

He taught until age 73, moving from Sikkim to Bir, and then to Chauntra as Dzongsar Shedra evolved and grew in size and number of students.

Khenpo Ngawang Woser told us how even after that, Khenpo Kunga Wangchuck undertook the responsibility of designing the new temple and buildings for Dzongsar Shedra that can accommodate 1,000 monks, even though he had no architectural background. Overseeing and working with a team, he created what we now experience as Dzongsar Shedra in Chauntra.

There is a photo here of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Khenpo Kunga Wangchuk, and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche together at the opening of the Dzongsar Shedra in 2004.

After narrating this story to us, Khenpo Ngawang Woser and our small group walked in front of the main Buddha image at the front of the temple, crossing over to the opposite side of the large room..

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.
 On the opposite side of the temple, we passed through a side door and entered this small room.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.
 We then exited the small side room, and returned to the main room of the temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple. Stupa.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.
 We walked down the long side wall, towards the back wall of the temple, passing a series of large thankgas hanging on the wall over our heads.
Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Me, Maria, Khenpo Ngawang Woser, Heidi, Charlotte standing in front of the
temple entrance. Photo taken by Rachel, our friend who was also on our tour.

Looking out from the temple at Dzongsar Shedra.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - central courtyard, walking away from the main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - stupas.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple on the left, exit gate straight ahead leading
to Chauntra the village.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple.

Dzongsar Shedra entrance gate, coming in from the village.

Just outside of the gates - the Himalayan countryside.

Dzongsar Shedra - main temple in the distance.

Looking back towards the way we came. Another monastery (it was closed)
is in the distance on the right.
What an amazing visit to a really special place. A big thanks is owed to Khenpo Ngawang Woser and Maria for arranging for our visit and tour.

I then left Bir on Monday, March 28, 2016 with Charlotte, Maria, and Rachel, bound for McLeod Ganj. I went back to continue studying with Lobsang Choegyal Rinpoche, and to attend Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo's March 30-31, 2016 teachings at Tushita on Atisha's Root Verses on Training the Mind.

Thanks to Geshe Dorji Damdul and Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo for the teachings, adventures, and new friends.

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