CORRECTED, May 11—We apologize for the errors that appeared in this blog as it was originally published on May 10.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche—who has been touring Mongolia this month, giving teachings, blessings, and initiations—visited Dolma Ling (Dulmaling) Nunnery in Ulaanbaatar on May 2.
The Dolma Ling existed long in the past, but was partially destroyed in the 1930s along with many other religious sites in Mongolia. Greater religious freedom in the 1990s led to initial steps to re-establish the site, and in 2001, the temple and grounds were offered to Lama Zopa Rinpoche. The nunnery’s original building, which is unique and beautiful, is still to be found at the site, and is awaiting restoration.
Rinpoche spent time talking with the Dolma Ling nuns about improvements needed at the nunnery, and discerning next steps for moving forward.
Dolma Ling is located on the same land as the Lamp of the Path soup kitchen. This much-needed social service project offers lunch to more than eighty homeless people a day in a small building.
“The soup kitchen is small but very inspiring! Particularly in the winter, it seems to be a lifesaver for the many homeless people in this area, which is quite a poor area and a long way from other services,” Ven. Holly Ansett reported. “The project grows its own vegetables during the short spring/summer growing season, which was very heartening for us to see.”
On May 3-4, Rinpoche and about twenty-five others, including several monks and the abbot from Idgaa Choizinling Monastery (ICM) in Ulaanbaatar drove for close to seven hours into the Gobi Desert (southeast towards China). Halfway there, Rinpoche and the group stopped for a picnic lunch; monks from ICM had come the day before to set up a beautiful ger (a Mongolian tent or yurt) for the group where they offered lunch. Although a sand storm made getting from the vehicles into the ger a bit tumultuous, once inside, everyone found it very cozy. The ger was set up in a place called Choyr. In the past, there was a monastery there with 1,500 monks, but this was destroyed in the 1930s. Not far away was a very blessed rock carving of Hayagriva Garuda Vajrapani. Thus Choyr is considered a holy place. The area was under the ocean millions of years ago, and the rocks there are unusual and known for containing fossils.
The next day the group visited Khamar Monastery, which is located in a desert—very stark and dry, with not a tree in sight. When Rinpoche arrived, the monks were doing Tara practice; they quickly offered Rinpoche a mandala offering. Rinpoche also met Danzan Ravjaa Rinpoche, who is the 9th incarnation of the Lama of the Gobi. Rinpoche also visited the small nunnery next door to the monastery.
Next Rinpoche went to Shambhala land—an area of stupas, temples, and other monuments reputed to be a gateway to the legendary Shambhala—to visit caves where past meditators stayed in retreat.
From there, Rinpoche and the group headed back to Ulaanbaatar. As they drove, they passed many herds of wild horses, goats, sheep, cows, and camels. Rinpoche stopped a number of times to bless the animals. He had a portable loudspeaker and, in the hope of leaving imprints, recited many prayers and mantras, such as the long and longest Chenrezig mantras, the Medicine Buddha mantra, the Maitreya Buddha mantra, the Namgyälma mantra, and lamrim prayers.
“Many times the animals actually listened, ears pricked. When we stopped to bless the wild mares, for example, they actually ran up to the side of the car where Rinpoche was reciting so they were close. It really seemed that they wanted to be able to hear his voice,” Ven. Holly said.
On the way back to Ulaanbaatar, the group stopped at the same ger as before for a late lunch, and the monks from ICM requested an oral transmission from Rinpoche. He gave a short teaching and oral transmission in the ger of the Four Mindfulnesses, a teaching by Manjushri to Lama Tsongkhapa. Rinpoche gave the teaching and transmission in Tibetan, and they were translated into Mongolian and English. The group left the ger as the sun was setting, and the whole sky turned red. “It was an incredible sight,” reported Ven. Holly, “The desert views were breathtaking!” The group arrived back at FPMT’s center in Ulaanbaatar at midnight.
On May 6, Rinpoche went to visit the FPMT center in Darkhan, in Northern Mongolia, the Golden Light Sutra Center (GLS), which is a four-hour drive north towards the border with Russia. On the way were beautiful mountain landscapes, though with hardly any trees. Again, the group saw many animals, including wild horses, sheep, goats, and cattle. Rinpoche stopped over and over to bless animals, and the drive took extra time due to this. The group was accompanied by the abbot of ICM as well as Geshe Thubten Zopa from Sera Je Monastery. Geshe-la is assisting the tantric college at Ganden Monastery in Ulaanbaatar, and also teaches at the FPMT center in Ulaanbaatar, Ganden Do Ngag Shedrup Ling. While in Darkhan, Rinpoche had a short meeting with the board of GLS center, a short TV interview, and enjoyed both lunch and dinner with the governor of Darkhan province, and with the city governor who is on the GLS board.
The next day Rinpoche visited Ganden Tara Monastery and gave oral transmissions of the Thirty-Five Buddhas and Seven Medicine Buddhas, and a prayer to spread the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa to the thirty or so monks. Rinpoche then gave a public talk to more than 300 people. In the talk, he gave advice on how to meditate on emptiness, including how to do one’s daily activities with the mind in emptiness and live one’s whole life doing all activities from this mind.
Watch Lama Zopa Rinpoche giving a teaching May 7 in Darkhan, Mongolia, on YouTube:
Leaving Darkhan, the group drove the four hours back to Ulaanbaatar, again stopping a number of times to bless the many animals along the road.
Rinpoche’s teachings before the Great Chenrezig Initiation at Idgaa Choizinling Monastery—organized by Ganden Do Ngag Shedrup Ling—will be streamed live on FPMT’s YouTube channel, on Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Facebook page, and on FPMT’s Facebook page.
The live-streamed teachings are scheduled for:
- May 10, 7 p.m. local time (GMT+8)
- May 11-12, 6 p.m. local time (GMT+8)
Watch here on FPMT’s YouTube channel:
PLEASE NOTE: Live webcasts of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teachings are now on YouTube. We will no longer be streaming Rinpoche’s teachings from Livestream.com. Please bookmark this YouTube link for live video of the teachings in Mongolia and Rinpoche’s other future live-streamed teachings:
Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), a Tibetan Buddhist organization dedicated to the transmission of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition and values worldwide through teaching, meditation, and community service.