This post by Ngakma Yeshé Zértsal is the first of a series called ‘visions of Drala Jong’, posts by the Brevet Lamas of the the Aro gTér Lineage, senior disciples of the Lineage Holders who are Brevet Lamas or teachers in training and who have on their own students.
As a practitioner of the Aro gTér for over twenty years and a Zen student before coming upon this luxurious path, I have had the opportunity to meet many great Lamas and Roshis and practice in places rife with the power of realization. It seems we as individuals and as a sangha pilgrimage to great places of practice—caves, shrines and stupas—for connection to our Buddhist heritage as well as for inspiration. Ancient artifacts, relics and artistic depictions of realization fill us with joyful tears as our awareness grows beyond our own thoughts and small wishes.
Whenever I have attended a retreat, heard a teaching or meditated in a place where practice has accumulated I am drawn into its expansive ethos much like being in the presence of Great Lamas like my own.
To me, this is bayul—Hidden Land—the kind we encounter near the stupa in Bodhanath, in Padmasambhava and Milarepa caves of realization and wherever sincere practice is manifest.
This is what I see Drala Jong becoming—a bayul. A place where the exquisitely direct and shimmering practices and teachings that comprise the Aro gTérma, and as lived and transmitted by Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen, will collect. A place where students will reside, practice, attend retreats and teachings and commence private retreats for varying periods of time. A place of practice established for new arrivals to enter and avail themselves of its bounty.
I have been a brevet lama or teacher-in-training for a short while and am grateful for the opportunity to share this lineage with others.
The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.
I was happy to receive the email post on the Drala Jong Appeal – The Art of Living, posted on Monday, 19 October, 2015. Within was the first “Visions for Drala Jong” posting in a series by Ngakma Yeshé Zértsal who lives in New Jersey. Ngakma Yeshé Zértsal suggests, as I understand, that Drala Jong could become a Bayul or Beyul, a Hidden Land. Such places already exist in the Himalayan regions of surrounding countries. What a beautiful vision. The very idea touches me deeply and I suggest that it is worth deep and serious consideration. Perhaps, here in the UK, we might not find a valley. Surely this will be fine. Regardless of the ensuing harm being done to our beautiful, living and loving planet, both the source and manifestation of beauty can be found in many, many places. I realise that some thinkers do not approve of the idea of a sacred place; a special place more sacred than others and propose that all is sacred or none is sacred. So be it. I find that some places almost stop my heart with the power of what I can only call beauty. Thus, I hold to my experience of “especially sacred” places. Drala Jong can and I hope will be such a place.
How? Well, for instance. I am an amateur musician and as would be expected, have some measure of talent and respect for beautiful music. A musical instrument or a vocal cord may be scratchy, worn, dented; even rusty. Yet in special hands or people, beautiful music can emerge. So is the beauty held within the object or within the person? The answer seems obvious to me. It takes a beautiful soul expression to produce beautiful music. Similarly, the common brick, mortar, pond, grove, flower garden, paddock, hill, vale etc., can become especially beautiful and especially sacred from the vision and loving power expressed by those who labour and concentrate the ever present, undiminished loving spirit of the Earth into their work and presence on the land. Thank you, Ngakma Yeshé Zértsal for sharing your vision of Drala Jong.
An Aro Friend
21 October, 2015
Thank you indeed for your thoughtful comments and wonderful responce to Ngakma Yeshé's post.