Teaching English at Tsoknyi Gechak Ling

One of sangha members, Caroline Zealey, has been at Chobar since early July teaching the Shedra nuns English. Caroline seems to have settled in incredibly well and is offering classes of different levels to the nuns. She has kindly written the following update and sent some photos, several of which show the new Lhakhang (temple) at Chobar. We are delighted that Caroline is offering her time to teach the nuns and we offer many heartfelt thanks.

Some of you may remember Rinpoche putting out a call for a volunteer English teacher to work in the Shedra at Tsoknyi Gechak Ling. I put my name forward and was delighted when I learnt that I had been accepted. I arrived in Nepal three weeks ago and am beginning to feel quite settled into a very different kind of life.

Jason has asked me to write a little about my experience, and I thought I would begin by saying something about the prayers and practices I have taken part in since I arrived. Shortly after I reached Chobhar, I joined the nuns in the celebration of ‘World Incense offering day’ at the nearby beauty spot of Haatiban.  We set off early in the morning and climbed up into the forest where the nuns set up a shrine and began their practice. Throughout the day a fire was maintained, as a symbol of purification. The practice continued for several hours with interruptions for breakfast and cups of tea, and after the prayers were finished the nuns went up higher into the woods to hang prayer flags and scatter prayers. Then there was a picnic lunch and an afternoon playing games and just hanging out in the beautiful setting.

As well as special puja days, the shedra nuns routinely do practice three times a month: on Guru Rinpoche Day, Dakini Day, and on the last Friday of the Tibetan month when they do prayers for their sponsors. These prayers take place in the Gompa temples, and I joined them last weekend for two days of practice.

The Shedra nuns spend most of their days studying Tibetan texts, but they told me they love these days of practice, which are always performed with the intention of bringing happiness and enlightenment to all beings. It is a time when they all come together and they spoke movingly of the way the practice touches their hearts, makes them want to cry or brings them out in goose bumps. The beautiful chanting, the sound of the gyaling and dungchen, and the meaningful words of the prayers can be very powerful and brings a sense of peace and well-being.

Caroline Zealey