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After several months break, I am resuming the Ladakh chronicles (from two years ago!) and now I intend to finish my description of that fantastic journey. In 2008, I was a part of a dynamic and profound group of practitioners who went on pilgrimage to Ladakh India. In this post, several pieces: the Lion Shrine – one of the oldest buildings in Ladakh (which is saying something), notes from taking refuge with Bakula Randrol Nyima Rinpoche and reflections on leaving Lama Yuru – which meant not doing a five day retreat.
On this last day at Lama Yuru Gompa, we visited the Senge Lhakhang, the Lion Shrine, which is the only building at Lama Yuru still standing from the original monastery that Rinchen Sangpo – the Great Translator – built in the 11th century. That means it is ~1000 years old. Woof! There were beautiful sculptures, pictures of the five Buddha families and their Buddhas, faded mandalas and off in another room, there was a Gonkhang, or Protector Shrine. These faces were not covered, so I was hoping taking pictures of them was okay. It is said that the artwork in this ancient shrine is similar to that from Alchi Gompa.
For some reason, I have the notes from taking refuge with Bakula Rangdrol Nyima Rinpoche here on this day, one or two days after actually doing the refuge ceremony with him. He mentioned several things for people who have taken refuge to keep in mind and practice: 1) do not worship lower spirits, 2) respect Dharma texts – do not step over them, do not put them on the floor, etc, 3) do not take Dharma advice from heretics (non-Sangha members), 4) make offerings to the Dharma wherever appropriate, and finally 5) take care of religious objects – anything from clothes to statues, images etc. These pieces of advice were in addition to taking at least one of the 5 pratimoksha vows – not to kill, not to steal, not to take intoxicants, to avoid sexual misconduct and to avoid false speech (I think that is the five).
I was considering doing a retreat at Lama Yuru – especially when Lama Jorphel (Drupon) showed us the room that Westerners use to do one, two and three month retreats. I would only have a few days after the majority of the group left however, so I opted out of doing a five day retreat. I was very anxious and worried about food and transportation. If I had felt more at ease, I probably would have stayed. As it was, I wanted to visit the Tibetan doctor one more time – the Amche, I wanted to practice my Tibetan with a new Tibetan family I had met and I wanted to rest and read and just do a little bit of practice. Oh – and I wanted to eat meat momos.