Saturday, December 15, 2012

retreating from it all...

The Gorgeous M and I have retreated to South East Asia again for a while.
Sometimes it is just the right thing to do - make a break for it, and leave the over-familiar far behind. This time, we have rented a small place in Bangkok as a starting point. Soon, we hope to be somewhere by the sea. 
Having arrived not long ago, i had to hit the ground running as i was invited to guest-lecture in Chulalongkorn University on key aspects of The Heart Sutra. It was such an honour for me as the university is perhaps the most prestigious in Asia and those in attendance were mainly post-graduate students particularly keen on the topic. 
While speaking, i was mindful of many different contributing factors:
Of course the blessings and teachings of my masters Sogyal Rinpoche, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, and Thich Nhat Hanh are always with me, informing whatever i share in such a situation.
I was also very mindful of the place where the Buddha taught on this topic [and all the Prajnaparamita Sutras]. I have clear memories of being on pilgrimmage in Northern India at Rajgir [Vulture Peak Mountain] where the Buddha first offered these teachings.
Even just being in Chulalongkorn University brought back fond memories of the movie The King and I and Anna and the King. It was the king's son and heir, Chulalongkorn, who was so transformed by his European-style education that he was later inspired to found the famous university in Bangkok.

But now i look forward to resuming writing my novel London Calling: Jalu Rises in the West. I am enjoying the process so much as this is totally new territory for me - fiction, fun, my own fusion of thriller drama and dharma. As with previous writing projects, i continue to write with little regard for being published although i do always write with readers in mind. All that can come later.

...Finally, i would like to share with you a beautiful short film called Lazy Lama made by Niko von Glasow, another student of RTR. 

This mini-documentary not only introduces Ringu Tulku Rinpoche but focuses specifically on the Bodhicharya Retreat Centre in the Himalayan foothills of Sikkim.

It shows something of the retreat environment and the centre itself. But, above all, the film follows a small group of Western practitioners doing a traditional Tibetan Buddhist long-term retreat -  always awe-inspiring, often unthinkable at least for those of us still deeply rooted in Samsara ... their strict retreat lasted 3 Years, 3 Months and 3 Days.

Many of us were delighted to contribute to the building of the retreat centre, and in particular the incredible finishing touches such as the art work and the large bronze Buddha you see in the film.

It also just so happens that i was privileged to tag along with RTR and his brother Pema who built the centre one afternoon actually during the 3 Year retreat mentioned and have a rather unorthodox and tantalizing snoop around the building while the retreatants were in their rooms doing individual meditation practice... 

a very short montage of shakey-cam video snips i made that day can be found at

Then the retreatants suddenly began appearing for lunch break so i was whisked away in Pema's landrover back across the valley to Sikkim's tiny capital, the comparatively bustling metropol-ette of Gangtok.

Happy Days!

[... more on the current stay in Thailand as it unfolds]

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