Friday, 6 October 2017

The last place on earth (part 2)

Day 6

Super sleepy this morning. Just merely chanted the mantra with not much visualization.

My palm has healed from the bee sting. No more itchiness, numbness and being swollen. Just a little pain. Thanks to the antihistamine pill from Chris.

A walk in the morning enjoying the coldness. Loved it. :)

Silence is golden. Again. My other fellow retreatants are really very well behaved. They do not talk, they do not give you eye contact, they just go about doing their own thing. I don't mind either. We have 4 sessions each day ; 5-7am, 9-11am, 3-5pm, 7-9pm. In between intervals 7-9am breakfast, 11-3pm lunch and rest, 5-7pm dinner.

If we cannot finish our mantra, some stayed back during the night or in between intervals to continue. One day, a friend could not finish so she stayed back skipping lunch. The rest of us who finished lunch, brought her some noodles and an apple. 

I really love the meals in Kopan. Let me spam you with some of the meals. I'm truly impressed. 

Lunch is usually more heavy with rice and many types of dishes to choose from. For dinner, it is lighter which can be something soupy, thukpa, thentuk, thick potato tofu broth, fried noodles or fried rice. There are all sorts of bread too; flat bread, the hum chin peng, mantou, chips etc.

After lunch and during the afternoon break, G and I stole a few minutes inside the main gompa which was out of retreat boundary. Bumped into one of the IC coming down from the office and hoped that she won't snitch on us. Haha. 

This evening after dinner, I went up Lama Lhundrup's room again. Stayed a long while to listen to the nuns conducting round the clock Vajrayogini puja. Elsewhere at the main gompa, the monks were conducting Yamantaka puja.

View from the rooftop of Lama Lhundrup's room. 

View from the other side of Lama Lhundrup's room, facing the retreat huts.

Paying respect to Lama  Lhundrup. One of the nuns Nangtong was there. She asked J and I if we wanted a drink. I wanted something cold and J wanted something hot. In the end Nangtong gave us boiled hot orange juice! Haha. 

Again I was free to view his relics. 

Super sleepy again during the last session. Just wanted to go back to my room, shower and sleep. 

Day 7

Today is the 49th day of Lama  Lhundrup's passing. Woke up by the sound of chanting by the monks in the nearby main gompa at 4.30am.

Today we were going to skip a session to attend Lama Lhundrup Puja in the late afternoon. So frantic counting and rushing of chanting mantras. 

It was a grand grand Heruka lama chopa puja for Lama Lhundrup. All 900 monks and nuns and visitors attended. Kunkhen offered mandala and offerings to all gurus and sangha. 

I teared when I offered khata and angpow to Lama Lhundrup throne. In death then I know he was supposed to be a close guru. How very sad to find out too late. I left 2 angpows on his throne, just like the dream I had a few months ago during his cremation. 

Kopan was so crowded today with many visitors. 

Kopan nuns were seated on the grass outside the gompa during lunch and dinner break while the monks ate inside the dining hall. 

Had a nice intimate sharing with someone.

Saw all the 3 little reincarnate lamas, Phuntsok, Kundol, Rinzin. Phuntsok Rinpoche was very shy and turned to face to the wall when devotees greeted him. But at least he turned around, tapped and blessed my head. 

Had a photo taken with Rinzin Rinpoche who was so smiley and friendly, very mature and wise for his age, probably 10 years old. I really like him, very good natured. In his past life he was the good friend of the Lawudo Lama, who was Lama Zopa Rinpoche's previous life. Cave friends, yogi friends.

Day 8

Continued with our retreat. I have grown to love this gompa. It's so full of blessed energy and cosy.

Did I mentioned we have been taking turns in groups for daily karma yoga? We took turns and each is us was put on roster to clean and mop the gompa as well as changing the water bowls and to put up new offerings each  day. We had to do it during our break time. Quite fun actually.

Today was my turn. Got up extra early  at 4am because needed to change water bowl offering. :O

Then after that was laying out the food offering. We brought boxes of snacks and chips and biscuits from Singapore. We also brought a big box of orchids too. We also needed to sweep and mop the gompa floor. Very busy!

At a corner of the gompa there was a small photo of LZR and Phuntsok Rinpoche which I offered my mala to. 

Day 9

Finally we have completed the retreat around lunch time! Khenrinpoche asked us to prepare for the fire puja in the late afternoon.

We were so relieved and happy and rejoicing at the same time. We took a group photo in the gompa and we each went up to offer khata to Khenrinpoche Geshe Chonyi and received blessings. 

Late afternoon we gathered outside the gompa for the fire puja

Khenrinpoche and 7 monks conducted the fire puja. I've attended fire puja many times but to experience it in chilly weather was the first. Sitting on the grass on the hill overlooking Kathmandu valley below it was so memorable. Rejoiceful mood! Super elated considering that a number of the retreatants had encountered some obstacles before or during this retreat. Some got sick /injured even before the trip and couldn't come. So I was truly happy everyone pulled through. 

Day 10

Super excited because we were finally getting out of Kopan monastery and going down the hill to Kathmandu valley! We were going to the Bodhanath Stupa today. 

Khenrinpoche treated us buffet lunch at the Hyatt Hotel. So luxurious after so many days in retreat. 

We finally reached Bodha Stupa.

We circumambulated the huge stupa, the biggest stupa in the world. We were  basically left to roam around the area, for shopping and to eat. 

My friends went missing and I was with J. We walked around the shops. I was busy snapping away. I love street photos. I fed the pigeons. I look at thangka paintings. I bought water bowls to bring home. I bought gifts and souvenirs for friends. 

J suddenly had a tummy ache and was frantically looking for a toilet but there was none nearby. Finally a Nepalese man asked us to go into an empty shop as there was a toilet there. J  rushed into the toilet which has no door. I waited inside the dusty shop which was dark and in a sad state. The man came in with a monk and sat down, seemed to be waiting for us. He closed the shop door too. I felt uncomfortable and shouted in Teochew to J if she was done with her business. We thanked the man and quickly left.

When we finally reached Kopan, J asked if I wanted to go to visit Phuntsok Rinpoche. Of cos I want! Together with JY we walked to Phuntsok Rinpoche house. 

There were so many photos of Rinpoche and his past life Geshe Lama Konchog. They were many relics of Geshe Lama Konchog too. I felt so blessed to be there to browse. We waited a while because Rinpoche was having his meal as he just came back from school. I was so excited. This was the second time I was seeing him, the first was when he came to Singapore at the age of 4-5. 

Phuntsok Rinpoche gave us blessings as I presented to him some sweets and offering. He was polite, with his elderly Amala and Anila his aunt looking after him. Wish I had brought him some Lego to play with. 

Kopan Nunnery offered us dinner. So we walked down the hill to the Nunnery. Took about 20 minutes. The evening was cold and I absolutely loved it.

There was a new gompa still under renovation. Khenrinpoche showed us the gompa, the ceiling had many mandalas of different deities already painted. Great energy! When many photos came out there were so many orbs. There were also new rooms which would be available soon for retreat. We also saw some nuns having debate at the courtyard. I was so happy to be there. 

Day 11

The last day of this trip and we drove all the way up Nagarjuna Hill. It was bumpy and at times the path was narrow as we meandered slowly up the hill.  It was said the hills were holy because many enlightened beings like Nagarjuna and masters meditated here in the caves eons ago. 

We finally reached after 2 hours drive. What a great view!

We had some prayers and meditated here for a while before our stomach were calling. Kopan Monastery had prepared a picnic for us, we brought food and had a thoroughly enjoyable lunch up on the mountains.  Also bonding time to get to know each other better, some of us were strangers for the past 10 days during the retreat because no talking. 

We shared some ideas for future retreats. So fun and heartwarming. 

There was a little house which had Guru Rinpoche statue inside. I was so happy i quickly offered khata and lights. I even offered my turquoise mala to Guru Rinpoche. Can you see it ? 

Another reason we were up Nagarjuna Hill was to hang prayer flags.  So colourful and delightful seeing the flags moving with the cool wind. 

Made offerings everywhere to the holy objects. There is always that something so appealing going on pilgrimages and retreats.  I returned home the next day, full of gratitude and bliss.

"One instant of total awareness is one instant of perfect freedom and enlightenment."
- The Wisdom Deity, Manjushri. 


This Nepal trip was years ago when I became a Tibetan Buddhist for only about 5-6 years at that time.  I had always prayed that I would be able to go on such a retreat from Day One.  The opportunity came after much hardship, difficulties and obstacles on my part, because it is not everyday that such an retreat is made available, and it is not everyday I could go to a place which I have always wanted to. They say, when the time is right, the teacher will appear.  I would like to add that, if the student is not ready, the teacher will never appear. We have to create the causes and conditions to continuously plant the karmic seed to meet the holy beings in our future lives. May I be wise and wiser like the wisdom deity, Manjushri.


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