Quite unexpectedly, I landed at Phajoding on the evening of the 28th Sep 2012.
When I landed on the doorstep of Phajoding Monastery, my knowledge of Buddhism, the monastery and a monk’s life was limited to…..
“Buddhism was about vegetarianism, no killing, meditation, believing that nothing is real and everything is a creation of our imagination”.
“A monastery is a place where the men go to escape from nagging women”.
“A monk’s life is about eating, praying and sleeping”.
After my 2 nights at Phajoding, I now understand that……
Buddhism – is a philosophy of life.
Phajoding monastery is a place where orphaned, disadvantaged and unwanted boys are cared for. In the West, such a place is called an orphanage. It is a place for them to live and to learn about Buddhist teachings. In Phajoding monastery, whilst most of their time is taken up with Buddhist studies they are also taught English and organic gardening. They also have a plan to extend the curriculum to include maths, environmental studies and teaching of practical skills such as carpentry and general building.
Monks are normally sent to the monastery though a few make the decision themselves to come voluntarily. It’s definitely not just about eating, praying and sleeping! It take 17 years of study to obtain a Master degree in Buddhist study.
We all believe that children need to be kept warm in the wintertime, have enough food to eat and a place where they can feel safe to live and to study. Phajoding provides this support on a very low budget from the government and the stress to make ends meet is on-going for Khenpo Chimi Dorji and Lama Namgay. They need our help to continue to do this and to care for more disadvantaged boys in the future. Education is the only way to get out of poverty, for those of us who have been through this path; we know it well.
The monks with their new coats……. just in time for winter!
I was so grateful that all my friends promptly rallied to support the needs of the Phajoding Project. The crew who contributed towards the purchase of the heaters and warm coats included friends from Denmark, Netherland, Finland, Bulgaria, Ireland, Brazil, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore. They have truly shown compassion without borders!
The 20 heaters which were carried up by the monks
The monks huddle around a heater to keep warm
Here is what they said:
“As a Catholic and a Christian, it is my duty to help anyone in need regardless of creed or color. Having said that, I and everyone else should all the more help the monks because they, with the little they have are helping all God’s living creatures through their teachings. The more monks the better the world will be because of their way of life. Simple arithmetics”.
– Julietta Nielsen, Denmark
“When Dom told me how Lama Namgay Tenzin expressed worry about how to pay for the winter coats, which he got for his young fellow monks, I was touched – almost to tears. This is such a simple need and most of us will take this simple remedy against cold for granted.
In this world, where greed, anger and fear are setting the agenda for many of our actions and desires, I almost despair. How can we ever hope to create a world where peaceful coexistence, without pain and suffering, become the way of live?
But when I learn about the monks from Phajoding Monastery, I know that there is still hope for us. Despite an unsure future, always lacking funds and all the basic amenities, which many of us take for granted to such as an extend that we regard them as indispensable necessities, these people insist on their simple lifestyle, focusing on inner values rather than volatile material wealth.
It takes such tremendous strength to live their lives of peaceful coexistence and compassion. Most of us can never hope to achieve this. Yet, my hope is that Namgay and his fellow monks will serve as a beacon of guidance and inspiration for the rest of us, regardless of our religion, race, nationality and political observance.
May we, through their actions, learn how to respect and care for our fellow beings. And experience the joy of giving – rather than taking”.
– Niels Olesen, Denmark
“Unconditional love is a gift everyone can afford to give and receive. We love to send endless comfort and joy to touch the world of Monks. And we wish that our love makes the world go round”.
– Couple from the Netherlands
“The contribution made is little as compared to the monks in Phajoding who have only basic things to survive and my admiration to volunteers who gives more than us”.
– Mary Yeong, Singapore
“A little love and concern shown, in whatever and whichever way, goes a long way in bringing a smile on the faces of the children”.
– Ms Tee and Mr Leong , Malaysia
“Those when a child have experienced the joy of receiving something, can truly understand the joy of being able to help those who really need.
Despite of my very small contribution, I am very glad to know that the children in Phajoding have received something to make their daily life a little bit easier.
I wish the best opportunities for them in the near future”.
– Carolina Farias Christensen, Brazil
“In thank for their kindness in reminding us………
The rundown buildings remind us how lucky we are to have a roof over our head, food within reach, clothes to keep warm – things that we take for granted.
The cheerful smiles remind us that happiness lies beyond material success – a thought that may take many of us years to realize, if ever.
Their unconditional giving reminds us that we are in far better position to give a helping hand to our fellow human being”.
– Vicky Poulsen, Hong Kong
“Having seen how much the spirit and culture of the place inspired my friend Dom, it was a pleasure to make a donation to the work at Phajoding.
All the more so as a relatively small donation, taken together with similar donations from others, can make a difference.
It is inspiring to support, in a small way, people who have very little material goods compared to what most people in Europe take for granted, but who nevertheless have what seems to be a very high motivation to make the best of what they do have”.
– Ed Garvey, Ireland
“With Best Regards”
– Marianna V Kaneva, Bulgaria
“Helping others in need makes your life more meaningful, and you can feel the happiness in your heart”.
– Yu Hui Wang, China
Thank you everyone for your kindness,