Lama Namgay has invited an 18-year-old student at Phajoding Monastery, Nima Yeaser, to start teaching the younger monks lama dancing. Nima recently joined the Phajoding family from Tashichho Dzong in Thimphu and is a master at the art of lama dancing. He has been a student of this form of dance since he was very young and has performed in numerous Tshechus (Buddhist festivals)… Phajoding is certainly very lucky to have him… what an amazing resource!
This form of dancing is no ordinary form of dancing but a form of spiritual practice performed in order to free all sentient beings from suffering. Each element of the dance from the specific movements to the costumes worn has a symbolic meaning and when combined with music they are said to have the power to liberate the mind of negative karma and remove the obstacles on the spiritual path of anyone who sees and hears them.
These sacred lama dances were first introduced by Guru Rinpoche (the Indian Saint Padmasambhava who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th Century) for the purpose of removing obstacles to the development of Buddhism. They were further developed by Pema Lingpa, the famous terton (discoverer of spiritual treasures) who is said to have dreamt of the particular movements and postures in these dances. These dances cover themes such as the preciousness of human life, universal peace, respect of nature and the interdependence of all beings and phenomena. It is said that the simple contemplation of these dances can provide spiritual liberation if the causes and conditions surrounding a person are favourable.
These dances are commonly performed at festivals known as Tshechus, which are held annually in various monasteries and Dzongs throughout the country. These Tshechus are religious events celebrated on the tenth day of the month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the birthday of Guru Rinpoche but will vary according to the location and temple.
Since these sacred dances are a form of spiritual practice, the monk’s main focus is on holding a pure motivation in order to liberate all sentient beings from suffering and is thus a powerful method of accumulating merit for the performer and viewer.
Here are some cute photos taken a few days ago by Lama Namgay of the little Phajoding monks learning the subtle movements.
Monk dancing is not easy
Kuzuzangpo la (hello) ! I am Chimi Dorji, Principal of Phajoding Monastery. This monastery is very sacred and holy monastery and also it has the biggest number of temples in one monastery in the whole Bhutan. It is also a famous meditation centre and the highest buddhist institute in Bhutan until 14 or 15 years ago. Since then, once other monasteries which is near the town got road access, then slowly these monasteries became developed and unfortunately this monastery started becoming dilapidated because there is no road access. I wanted to retire from Phajoding because of the bad living conditions, but Lopen Namgay requested me to live here saying “lets consolidate this holy monastery together” so I decided to live here.
To develop this monastery, we need help and for that Lopen Namgay has set up a web site with the help of Sasha from Australia whom became my good friend now. She is helping us all the time and putting her kind effort for our monastery and all the monks here. So I want to thank her so much and also I want to thank all the friends who joined in our web site specially who advised us and who gave donations. The American lady Lorraine came to Phajoding to see the conditions of this monastery even though it is difficult for her to climb up and she was so shocked and sad to see the condition here. I thank her very much also.
All the friends please keep in touch with us all the time through the facebook page and our website and twitter page and hopefully one day we can develop this monastery with many monks and nice living conditions with your help and hoping to see you at Phajoding monastery one day also.
The high lama of Phajoding (Yanglop) who has meditated here for past 20 years also wants to tell you thank you. He is now 86 years old and is famous in the whole of Bhutan not just because he was before one of the 5 high lamas in Bhutan but also because it is said that he has some special powers and does a particular meditation so he can quickly walk up to Phajoding in 1 hour when it takes a normal person 3 hours. Recently somebody wrote in the newspaper that he can go up to Phajoding like he is riding on air.
Here is a photo of me with the High Lama.
Tashi Delek, Chimi Dorji
Khenpo Chimi Dorji with the High Lama of Phajoding
The Thimphu Tshechu is currently being held in the grounds of the Tashichho Dzong – the main Monastery in the capital and seat of the Royal Government of Bhutan. The Tshechu (which literally means the 10th day of the month) is a Buddhist festival to honour Guru Rinpoche (the 2nd Buddha to the Bhutanese who was born on the 10th day of the fifth month) and who is credited with spreading Buddhism throughout Bhutan during the 8thcentury. These Tshechus, where the monks perform special religious dances, are deeply spiritual events where those in attendance are said to gain merit and receive purification from past defilements.
On a recent visit to Phajoding Monastery, a group of Taiwanese tourists who were attending the Thimphu Tshechu gave a generous offering to the Monastery. With this money, Khenpo Chimi Dorji and Lama Namgay decided to buy all the monks a fresh new scarf to wear to the Tshechu.
The monks receiving their fresh new scarves in readiness for the Thimphu Tshechu.
This is what Lama Namgay had to say:
“……….recently one group from taiwan came to phajoding and they gave some money for the monks. so we bought the scarf (which is called a reazen) and gave them each one yesterday before they went for tshechu. and also we gave them each some pocket money for tea. dear taiwanese friends, who came here, thank you so much for your donation and also for telling us that you will send some english books for the little monks. sorry I forgot to ask your names but I hope you will keep in touch with us.” best regard, namgay tenzin
On Lama Namgay’s instructions we have introduced more specific ways in which our supporters can help the cause. Under the “Support the monks” page (the parent page) we have added what are known as ‘child pages’ . So you can either click on the headings on the “Support the monks” page to get to the child pages or use the drop-down menu.
So if you feel inspired by what Lama Namgay and Khenpo Chimi Dorji are trying to achieve with this project could you please share the following link with as many people as you can:
P.S………. there have been some generous donations made recently. You know who you are and Lama Namgay will be personally thanking you for your much needed contributions very soon.
Lugging a big box of warm hats and gloves up the mountain may not seem like much fun, but seeing the faces of all the monks made the effort all the more worthwhile for Lama Namgay!
On a recent trip to Phajoding’s Post Box in Thimphu, Lama Namgay was presented with a large box from Australia sent by an anonymous donor and inside were 35 pairs of high quality gloves and hats.
At the monastery, the Principal (Khenpo Chimi Dorji) sat all the monks around the box for a grand opening…anticipation was high with much speculation as to what was inside the box………. chocolates? English books? socks? jumpers? were some of the ideas mooted. See below for photos of the exciting event. Don’t you love their smiles !
……….and a very BIG thank-you from all the monks at Phajoding Monastery to the generous donor. They are all set now for the onset of the colder weather. Recent reports are that the monsoon season is ending with the mornings and evenings becoming colder.
hello everyone. i am namgay tenzin, head teacher from phajoding monastery. i hope you like this website and thanks for reading. this is first time for me to write something i am sorry for that. here i am very busy with the little monks, teaching and looking after them all. i want to tell you all that we recently got many english books as donation from Jigme Namgyel lower secondary school in Thimphu which will help the little monks lot in their english lessons. i have put some photos for you to see them reading the books. they were very happy and excited with them. best regard. namgay tenzin.