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India Study Tour - April 2024

Gyuto Monastary

Five intrepid travellers from the Medicine Buddha Centre set out on this year’s study tour to Gyuto Monastery - the highlight of which was to be a 16 day intensive with His Eminence Professor Samdhong Rinpoche on the high Tantric Deity Guhyasamaja – the King of All Tantras.


This was exciting enough - the prospect of spending nearly a month in the Monastery is blissful – spending it in sacred dharma teachings with a Master of Rinpoche’s standing is extraordinary – and who knew what other miracles would occur.


Gyuto Monastery sits, resplendent, at the foot of the Western Himalayas – with the burgeoning city of Dharamshala in front of it and McleodGanj, the seat of His Holiness’s temple, behind.  It’s aspect is majestic. One can only imagine the beauty of the original in Tibet - but the beauty, strength, solidity and synergy with the landscape make Gyuto Monastery in India truly sublime.  One dreams of and longs for that view when you are away for too long.


Lama Tendar does everything to facilitate our positive experience and maximise our time, as he knows there is no better opportunity for dedicated practice and spiritual advancement   – creating opportunities for us to have private audiences with both his own teacher Gen Norsang and Rinpoche-la - as well as opportunities for us to create merit and make offerings to benefit our sangha and all sentient beings.

It is wonderful to see Lama-la with his family members and his Tibetan students who are so delighted to be with him.  And Lama expands and occurs as even more of a mountain, a rock – our own Mount Kailash – when he is there. He is an extraordinarily well respected and beloved member of his monastic community and we are so lucky to have him represent us and include us in this strong and enduring relationship with Gyuto.


Life at the Monastery is ordered and serene;  it is so much easier to chant and do your practice when you are surrounded by eager students and realised masters and in the most sacred of environments.  The temple is spectacular with its huge statues of the key tantric deities, mandalas, giant thangkas, an enormous Buddha - and the energy and vibration when 1000 monks and nuns are in there chanting is electric.  There are always young monks cleaning, trainee monks playing musical instruments, learning English in their classrooms, memorising their scrolls in the temple supervised by the older monks – lemon/ginger/honey tea at the Guesthouse café, doing the kora and finding beautiful plants on the way because you are so present and connected.

Ordination - Ani Drolma

A major highlight was the ordination of one of Lama’s long term students - Karilyn Fazio. 

She was ordained by Gen Norsang in a beautiful ceremony attended by our group, Lama’s students, Monk colleagues (such as Library Director Lobsang Lodup), family members (Jampa Youdon and baby Sikki, Geshe Dolker Palmo, Sinpo and her close friend and member of our sangha, Cheryl Ashley, who was in India for the occasion).

Karilyn's nun name is Ani-Drolma (magically the same as her Refuge name) and we are delighted to now have four nuns in our sangha! We look forward to you all meeting her in the coming months and sharing in her happiness and joy.


 Guhyasamaja Teachings

His Eminence Professor Samdhong Rinpoche is an internationally recognised Buddhist teacher, scholar and practitioner – he is a world-renowned expert on Krishanamurti and Mahatma Gandhi.

His Eminence was elected as the Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) of the Central Tibetan administration for two consecutive terms;  he has served as a Personal Envoy to, and is a close colleague and contemporary of HH the 14th Dalai Lama.


For Rinpoche to bring the teachings of Guhyasamaja to us, with the assistance of his esteemed English translator, Dawa Dhondup, was quite a journey starting with getting a number of Sanskrit and Tibetan scholars together in Varanassi back in the late 1900’s and combining the Vedic and Tibetan scripts together in both a literal and “sacred” translation.

The teachings of the Higher Tantra Deities were all but lost until His Holiness  focused on them and committed to preserving them.  He said “Guhyasamaja provides structure to the other Highest Yoga Tantras and, therefore, studying it is essential for it makes it easier to understand and practice other Tantras.” Tantra, however, is extremely profound and codified in a special terminology that takes a spiritual Master to decipher.  Without all our precious teachers and realised Masters – we would be lost. We are profoundly grateful for the blessing of being in attendance at such a meaningful event and for the lineage of Masters and their oral traditions that are able to interpret the tantra for us – when the student is ready, the teacher and teaching will appear.

 (Intro: Paths and Grounds of Guhyasamaja according to Nargajuna by Yangchen Gawai Lodoe)


A final highlight was the teachings with HH at the main temple on April 19 and 20, at the request of the Mongolian Buddhists.  So we were treated to the beautiful Mongolian costumes and culture as well as being quite close to His Holiness, so just basking in his presence, and very moved to be there.  Everyone chanted HH’s mantra before he arrived, and when he was leaving after a beautiful discourse on Bodhisatva which we all needed, the whole temple erupted in chanting and singing “Mig me tse wa…”  in praise of our Tenzin Gyatso.  It is very emotional and moving to see him and be in his energy – so beautiful. He is truly a Buddha!


So many special moments and celebrations.  There were tears when we left and we can’t wait to go back. We encourage all members of our sangha to consider making a pilgrimage with Lama-la and taking the opportunity for learning from such pure Masters, the originals from Tibet, while they are still incarnate. We hope we have brought some of the energy and essence of Gyuto back with us to share with you and hold firmly in our hearts till next time!


Much blessings and love to our “family” in India who we feel so connected to through the vehicle of our loving and wise teacher.  We would not be as advanced in our practice and skilful without your guidance.  We are deeply grateful for your support and honour your contribution to the happiness of all sentient beings.


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