Back in India – May 2023

Back In India Dharamsala

And for another year

I am back in Dharamsala, India.

In the midst of chaos, in the land of paradoxes, this is the place where I have found peace of mind. Away from the pleasures and comforts of western life, this is where I have found endless nourishment for mind & heart.

In 2017

I resigned from my full-time job to embark on a journey to Nepal and India. After spending two months in Nepal, I first arrived in India in June that year. That was when I met my teacher, Ven. Lobsang Choegyal Rinpoche, and I joined his classes for the first time.  I had never studied Buddhism before and I found myself going to his classes twice a day, five days a week during my holidays. Classes with him seemed to be everything I was looking for. Not only in terms of the exceptional content of his teachings, but also Rinpoche’s loving and compassionate demeanor that radiates so much joy. Simply being in his presence is an extraordinary experience. 

Just before my departure, I mentioned to Rinpoche that I wanted to learn about the mind. He then told me that I was going to return to India to study with him for three years. I was puzzled. It had not crossed my mind that I would leave my life in Australia behind and stay in India for three years. Rinpoche was planning to offer a two-year study program to teach us the essence of the monastic curriculum, including Buddhist Psychology and Science of Mind. In the Tibetan tradition, monasteries are universities, where monastics study the scriptures for as long as seventeen to twenty years to complete a Geshe degree, which is likened to a PHD.  I was immediately drawn into it.

In February 2018

I made my way back to India, where I would spend the next few years of my life studying. Just like Rinpoche had said. However, plans were interrupted due to Covid. In March 2020, I arrived in India again to further continue our studies, but soon after my arrival, India faced three months of strict lockdown and eventually I returned to Australia on an evacuation flight in June 2020 indeterminately. We managed to continue classes online for the following two years, but this hiatus from India proved to be a very fruitful opportunity for me in terms of integrating our studies into my work as a Psychologist. 

In May 2022

As soon as Covid restrictions were lifted, and the Indian government announced the reinstatement of student visas, I finally returned to India for another chapter and stayed for six months until returning to Australia later that year.

Fast forward to May 2023

And I am back in India again. As we have been studying under Rinpoche’s guidance for many years, this time we are gathering here for a symbolic course graduation. Why symbolic? Because our group is not linked to any educational institution.  Our study group consists of a fully qualified teacher, a translator – who has been translating for 11 years completely on a pro-bono basis – and a bunch of westerns from all over the globe. Somehow, we have all have gathered to study in India. So, Rinpoche would like to offer us a certificate in recognition of the last few years of continuous studies.  

Likewise, it is a symbolic graduation because it is not the end. Although it is the end of a chapter, the journey continues. For me, it is the end of a chapter of living in India, as I have resumed my life in Australia. But I shall always return to India, life conditions permitting. Since my connection with my friends here and mainly my connection with Rinpoche and our Buddhist studies are a lifetime endeavour. However, I feel that the time has come for me to start sharing not only what I have learned but also share my personal experiences from the last few years studying with Rinpoche.

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