September 14, 2007

9/15/07 Lavaur France

Nalanda Monastery

Well, I've been here at Nalanda for ten weeks. Can you believe it? So, I guess I should be pretty familiar with the place and I decided I should finally take you on a tour.

Nalanda is an old estate called Rouzegas just outside of the small town of Lavaur. 'Rouzegas' is still part of the mailing address. No one seemed to know much of the history of the place, only that it had fallen on hard times when it was purchased for the monastery over 25 years ago.

The property is bordered on three sides by corn fields and by the River Argout. To get here, you follow a narrow country road that parallels the river to the entrance of Monasterio Nalanda.

This must be the place

The long driveway bordered by majestic trees

You will pass by the stupa

Like many other religions, holy objects help bring about a positive-imprint on the mind to a devotional person. A stupa symbolizes the 'enlightened' mind of the Buddha and the potential 'enlightenment' in everything living. Many people come to Nalanda only to cir-cumambulate the stupa, repeating mantras/prayers.

To me, it was important to take care of such an object for them. So, it has been one of my off-hours projects to work at the stupa. Besides trimming the trees and planting new flowers with Tess, almost every night I water the new green grass circling the stupa.

A lot of the layout of the monastery has been modified using the principles of Feng Shui. So, the entrance is in the back of the main building, facing the river. And there is a peaceful fountain near the picnic table just outside the door.


A few gather under the magnolia tree

The main foyer has display cases of all the various religious statues and tsa tsa's made in the workshops here at Nalanda. Besides these, there are books, small Buddha statues and incense available for donation.

Welcome to Nalanda

The ground floor has the administrative offices, dining room and kitchen, and the gompa. The second floor houses the library and several rooms for visiting teachers and guests like His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The top floor is were many of the monks live.

Dundrub and volunteer Micheal cooking lunch for everyone

Lunch is usually eaten in silence

The Dalai Lama has stayed in this room twice

The gompa is were prayers and teachings are held

Much of the use of the main building will change once the new gompa is completed. Besides the buildings, the property has extensive grounds. To help supplement the food budget, there is a large vegetable garden maintained by volunteers. And there are numerous smaller gardens for places of quite contemplation.

The vegetable garden

Huge wind chimes

Tsultrim sits overlooking the river

And the tour continues to the workshop...