Monday, December 18, 2017

4th Winter Mindfulness Camp

''The mind is much more important than anything. Because, if you don’t control your mind, all the others no point of control. You are not your mind’s boss. Your mind is your boss.'' 
                                                                                                             Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche 
The Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative is organizing its Winter Mindfulness Camp at Chokyi Gyatso Institute (CGI), Dewathang from 6th - 13th January 2018. This mindfulness camp opportunity is created mainly for teachers, community leaders and genuinely interested individuals who can bring some impact in their community.
Interested educators and other individuals are requested to contact Mr. Tara Nidi Nepal at 77385197 or Ms. Karma Choki at 17983530 or Mr. Dawa at 17809331 or write to us at for more information. The registration for the camp will be done on first come, first served basis. Contact us before 25th of December, 2017 for confirmation. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Workshop participants with Khyentse Rinpoche 
In this technology era, teachers will require creative ways to ‘‘HOOK’’ the others. How can we do this? The film affords us a rich, audio-visual medium for transformation across cultures and times. Therefore, the creative film could be an effective teaching strategy.

Khyentse Rinpoche during the session 
To explore the power of film as a skillful means for connecting and teaching, I attended a 6-day workshop on an Introduction to Film at Sarnath International Nyingma Institute (SINI), in Varanasi. The workshop was facilitated by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and Tuning Fork Production to delve into rich and manifold possibilities of presenting teaching through films. It was co-hosted by Sarnath International Nyingma Institute and Deer Park Institute.   
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche said ‘‘the film is one of the best medium for communication’’ and Rinpoche encouraged all the participants to continue using the skills to make more films.

Find a link of a compilation video of photos taken by participants: 

Lopon Dechen of CGI (actor) and Ani Kinlay Dema (camera person)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Right Education and Right attitude - Advice from Khenchen Samdrup

The head principal, Khenchen Samdrup of Dzongsar Khyentse Chokyi Lodro Institute (DKCLI), Chauntra, Himachal Pradesh, in India visited Chokyi Gyatso Institute (CGI), Dewathang from October 24th – 28th, 2017 to observe and study the implementation of Lhomon Education (LME) - program content and approach - how classroom materials are designed, developed, and delivered.
We invited Khenchen to LME class and requested him to give advice for LME students and teachers about the importance of education. It was indeed insightful for teachers and students to listen to his precious advice. Following are excerpts from Khenchen’s talk.

Khenchen Samdrup and Khenchen Sonam Tashi 
You living in Bhutan are Mahayana and Vajrayana followers. In essence, it means that our concerns and deeds must be for the benefit of all sentient beings and their liberation ultimately. That is why we have the basic responsibility to help and benefit others. We should be able to help our small communities, the whole village, the entire nation, and the world at large. Even if we cannot help others, we should not harm at the least. Therefore, education has a very important role to inculcate the habit of helping and benefiting others.
Khenchen talking to students and teachers
For example, a bird has two wings, so that they can fly high. For us humans, one of two wings is an education, and the other one is a right attitude. Education by itself does not make a good person. We need the right attitude. The right attitude with the support of education enables us to help others. It is obvious that the high qualification alone of a person cannot benefit others without the foundation of right attitude.
There is a saying that, a stupid person can make a mistake of an inch, but an educated person can make a mistake of a meter. What it means is that an educated person with the wrong attitude can destroy the whole community and society, while a stupid person with the wrong attitude can destroy only a small family or a small community. Therefore, right education that fosters kindness, compassion, right intention, and the right attitude are necessary to be able to help and benefit others and self. 
Khenchen, LME teachers, and students 
Whether it be spiritual or secular education, the focus should be to make a person decent, good human being, so that, he or she not only help one-self but others in his or her immediate communities, the nation, and eventually the whole world. 
We have His Holiness Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, a great leader and a master, whose activities are for the benefit of all beings all over the world. We have to cherish his profound activities and follow his footsteps.

Lopon Tshering, translating Khenchen's talk t
Now, you are fortunate to study under LME that believes in educating a person to be good, decent human being. I advise you not to waste your time, energy, and this great opportunity. Take this opportunity seriously, so that you will accomplish the goodwill and wisdom which will benefit not only for yourself but the rest, whom you will have the influence on. And also that you will cherish about yourself when you grow old and not regret.  

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Why an elephant has breast, not an udder? --- A story from an elder

What a local elder has to say about the location of elephant's breast? Usually, many quadrupeds have their udders located in between their back limbs; however, this is not true to the elephant. The female elephant breast is located on its chest like we human. Here is a story retold by an elder man, meme Sherab, 80 from Bangtsho, Dewathang about the location of elephant's breast.
Once, there lived a hunter. Every day, he hunts and offers meat on his shrine in a bamboo container. One day as usual, when he returned back from the forest, he found his room well cleaned and arranged. He was astonished to see his room condition and wondered, who uninvited guest, could have visited him. Next day, as usual, he went off to hunt. Right after the sunset in the evening, when he returned home, it was another surprise. His mud stove was on fire with a crowd of dried firewood gathered through the stove mouth. He wondered again, who could have made a fire in his stove. On the third day, when he came back from the jungle, he found delicious meals cooked, ready for him to feed on. This time, he definitely suspected that there is somebody, doing all these works in his absence.
He had an idea! Next morning, he pretended to go off for a hunt but, he came back to watch what was going on in his house. As he watched from behind the bush, a beautiful woman emerged out of a bamboo offering container, which was kept on the shrine. She uncovered herself from a skin and immediately started to work in his kitchen. Without delay, the hunter ran as quickly as possible closer to skin shedded, he grabbed her skin and was about to burn it in the fire. The woman shouted, don’t burn it! Throw some part of it up in the ceiling, some of it down on the ground, and some under the house. The hunter followed her instruction. Instantly, the part of the skin on the ceiling turned into seeds, the part on the ground turned into kitchen utensils, and the part under the house turned into animals. After that, the hunter and the beautiful woman eventually got married and lived happily together for many years.
One day, the couple had quarrel out of some misunderstandings. The hunter scolded his wife. He said, ‘‘you are a woman, who is transformed out of animal flesh''. The statement deeply disappointed her. She felt so embarrassed and sad. She walked far-far away from their house and never returned home. The hunter worried as the wife did not return home. He came out looking for her in the forest. Far in the forest, he saw his wife’s cloth lying on the ground and herself transformed into an elephant. The hunter with deep regret returned home alone.

Meme Sherab said ‘‘this is why female elephants (cows) have their breasts on the chest like we humans do.’’

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The legendary Tshongpon Norbu Zangpo and his riding Rhino

Meme Sherab 84, a resident of Bangtsho, Dewathang, narrated the following story for LME students on his visit as a guest speaker to the class. Besides, he talked about barter system, which existed as a common practice of trading within a small village and across wider communities then. Moreover, he shared, that the trade was not only with the exchange of goods, but also services on day to day basis.

Once, the Rhinosaur was believed to be merchant Norbu Zangpo’s riding animal when he travelled for his business in India and Tibet through Bhutan.
One of the routes merchant Zangpo took was via Dewathang to Assam in India. Consequently, today a tall and big tree growing right at the beginning of Dewathang town is his legacy, believed to be from his walking stick and few meters away, is his cooking stove, the tri-stone in a circle.
Those days, all the merchants from Bhutan and Tibet, who took the route, circumambulate the tree and the stove as a sign of respect and devotion for merchant Zangpo. Even to these days, the residents of the town look after the area and offer incense often.
It was believed that one day, as the merchant travelled for his regular business, his riding animal fled away to Manas, the South Central foothills of Bhutan. So, the merchant Zangpo became very angry. Subsequently, it was believed, that he subdued the Rhino and prohibited its entrance to the South East of Bhutan. That is why today, we don’t see any Rhino in the south-east region of Bhutan.
Meme Sherab has asked us to closely study the skin pattern of Rhino. The saddle, which was used by Zangpo on Rhino then, can be seen these days on its skin pattern. It was believed, that the Rhino fled away with the saddle on its back.  

Friday, September 8, 2017

Japanese monks are usually good in paintings. They practiced painting not to become famous artists but to build focus and gain concentration skills.  They found drawing and painting to be one of the best medium to get to higher levels of concentration. These days, especially teachers try every means to gain student’s attention in the classrooms.  One way could be indulging students in art activities that will bring in educational and personal benefits in long run. 
So to bring art as an important aspect of LME curriculum Dr. Yang Gyeltshen, a lead teacher has recently visited Trashiyangtse Zorig Chosum Institute to interact with Zorig Instructors and collect relevant materials for the development of LME curriculum Unit on Art and Culture. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Forty-one monks of the Chokyi Gyatso Buddhist Institute in Dewathang, Samdrup Jongkhar, are taking part in organic gardening classes that aspire to teach sustainable nurturing of soil through practical activities.
The Organic Gardening class is part of Lhomon Education’s curriculum to provide opportunity to learn the basics of livelihood and give hands on experience.
Lhomon Education (LME) is a grassroots initiative to foster the development of innovative curricula designed specifically for Bhutanese students to integrate principles of Gross National Happiness effectively and practically.
Lhomon Society is helping teachers to create unique GNH-based curricula for use in a variety of educational environments.
Lhomon Education currently is a pilot program.
“Among many practical and concrete manifestations of GNH vision, the use of vegetable gardens is important to teach key dimensions of the science curriculum,” said Dawa, who is a resident teacher at the Buddhist Institute. “They learn about the elements necessary for healthy soil and ways of growing healthy food products without the use of chemical fertilizers.”
The Institute has created a garden to promote organic gardening and instill in the young minds the Bhutanese farming traditions, and its role, in the long run, to achieve food security and self-sufficiency in the country.

“The study guides the students toward a genuine and heartfelt stewardship of the earth and impart in them a deeper understanding of the interconnection and interdependence law of nature through practical means and not just through the books,” said Dawa. “Making their own composts using green and dry leaves, cow dung and urine functions as a means of teaching science, cultural history and literature, and other GNH principles and values which they’ll learn to uphold in the process.”
The students learn the basic aspects of organic gardening as part of their lessons, which is taught by a local farmer. The students engaged in the activity are encouraged to develop team work and cooperation rather than going for competition among their groups.
Dawa said that the students are their own architects in the garden, shaping their own beds, calculating, measuring, and designing them in whatever way they desire. He said the depth, width and the line that they keep track of while sowing seeds are an estimation and mathematical concept in itself.
“I prefer working in the garden as compared to sitting in the class than to just listening to the organic gardening from my teachers,” said 14-year-old monk Sonam Wangchuk. “I get to work with my friends as a team. Besides, I’ve learned to make compost and garbage enzyme. I also learned to do measurements for the compost shelter. I like practical gardening work.”
The smiles and satisfactions on the students’ face during the harvest period indicate their own appreciation of the hard work and hands on learning experience that is taking place.
Lhomon Education plans to encourage and educate the community and schools around to take up organic gardening by teaching them methods of composting and other related organic practices.

By Sonam Yangdon, a journalist; TheBhutanese