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Dear Love Lawudo friends,

Greetings on the holy day of Lhabab Duchen! Please enjoy some of the latest news from the highest and most remote retreat centre in the FPMT.

Included in newsletter #5 :

With every good wish from the Love Lawudo team: Ven Katy, Ven Khadro, Ven Kunkhen, Alison, Capucine, Simone and Violette. An international group of volunteers established in 2017 to offer support to Lawudo Gompa.

News from Ven. Khadro, resident teacher

“Lawudo is such a conducive environment for opening the heart and for deep practice,” says resident teacher Ven Khadro, who has led three very special and quite different silent retreats there this year. The first retreat was in April, organised by Australian dharma student Nic Aunger, the second retreat in September was led in Spanish, and then in October Ven Khadro teamed up with yoga teacher Annie McGee, who led daily yoga sessions against the fabulous backdrop of the Nepal Himalayas. Participants travelled from all over the world to participate in the three retreats: from Australia, Canada, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Spain and the USA.

Next year Ven Khadro will be travelling to Spain and South America to lead more retreats there, before returning to Lawudo in September 2020 to run a 16 Guidelines course for a group of students from the University of Melbourne, Australia.

New retreat huts and other building work

Lots of maintenance and building work has been taking place at Lawudo over the last few months, including the construction of two new retreat huts in the local stone. There is a new storage room and new retaining walls, following on from the 2015 earthquake. In addition the prayer wheel and prayer wheel room have been painted and redecorated. “This is all due to an amazing and very hard-working group of local people” said Ven Khadro.


Two pilgrimage opportunities in 2020

Senior FPMT nuns and teachers Ven Robina Courtin and Ven Amy Miller are both leading pilgrimages to Lawudo next year. If you’d like a seven-minute taste of what a special experience this can be – or just to relive your own memories of Lawudo – we strongly recommend this beautiful video, created after the 2019 pilgrimage with Ven Robina.

Following her first and very successful group pilgrimage in 2018, Ven Amy will be leading a second pilgrimage to Lawudo from 10 – 28 May 2020. More information including a detailed itinerary and slideshow is available at www.amymiller.com.

Ven. Robina will lead her fourth 15-day Lawudo Trek from Kopan Monastery to Lawudo from 1 – 15 October 2020. One of the purposes of the trek is to raise money and awareness of this holy place, and for each person who joins the trek, US$500 will be donated to Lawudo. You can find out more, including reports on Ven Robina’s 2017 and 2018 treks, at www.lawudo-trek.org.

The Lawudo Chronicles

The aim of the Lawudo Chronicles is to gather together stories and images of Lawudo from past visitors, while we are still alive to share them. Thank you to everyone who has supported the project so far: please contact Simone Fry if you would like to contribute.

Winter Retreat

1984/85 - Michelle le Dimna

Rinpoche's Advice and the Hardships of Getting to Lawudo
After Lama passed away, I had the opportunity to have a long interview with Rinpoche. It was the first time I could really accept whatever he would tell me to do. First he sent me to Namo Buddha for a month’s retreat, then he told me to go for three months retreat at Lawudo. It's difficult nowadays to imagine a world without the internet and even without a phone. I had no idea what I would find there and I couldn’t tell anyone in Lawudo that I was coming. So while waiting in Kathmandu at the end of the monsoon, I prepared what I thought would be necessary for my survival: a stove and kerosene. I remember not knowing whether Ani Samten would be able to cook for me.

I took a bus from Kathmandu, but it didn’t get very far because a landslide had cut the road off, so I found myself at night in a shop, looking for a porter to help me to carry my load to Lawudo. A Nepali man said he would to do it. I noticed that he was wearing smart shoes, but he was the only choice I had. After one days’ walk, he asked me for his money and made his escape without any warning in the early morning. I then found a young guy in the village, with bare feet, wearing very light white clothing, who was quite poor but also quite strong. As the nights were getting cool, I started to lend him my shawl, but after a few days I noticed I had got a lot of body lice which were quite hard to get rid of! He would only eat potatoes as he wanted to save as much money as possible. As he was not a talkative or noisy one, it was really nice to walk with him, day after day. It took maybe 10 days in total to reach Namche. I felt very sorry not to be able to give him as much money as he deserved, but there were no banks there and I had to keep enough for the three months to come.


The Difficulties and the Joys of Being at Lawudo
I bought butter and tsampa at the Namche market – it would be my daily breakfast - but the butter was not clean and there was a lot of moisture in it. It certainly didn’t help my stomach problems and I had dysentery during my whole stay because of amoebas and other parasites. I met Ani Samten and the monk from Kopan who was helping her at that time at the market and we walked together to Lawudo. Ani Samten was about my age and I considered her as a sister. The relationship was easy and warm, we could communicate with our broken English.

With Amala, we only had a dozen of Tibetan words to communicate in: yapodu, yapomindu, tsutiche, mambo tsutiche and so on. Anyway she was continuously reciting loudly Om Mani Pedme Hum. The only conversations we had were concerning Rinpoche. Amala was always complaining because He was not coming to Lawudo anymore. She manifested as feeling kind of frustrated, almost abandoned, just a mother complaining about her son. She reminded me of my mother who had to bear not having news of her daughter for so long.

I had lunch with Amala and Ani Samten every day. I enjoyed eating potatoes every day very much. I love potatoes and am very used to them because I come from Bretagne. They were very tasty with erma (timut in Nepali), chili sauce and butter of course. The potatoes would be sliced and dried in the sun or else placed in a big hole in the ground so that they wouldn’t get frozen.

Every evening I went back to the kitchen for a short while just to enjoy a tea and sitting by the fireplace. At that time, Amala would be on her bed savouring her daily glass of chang - almost the only source of vitamins up there.

I was staying in a room just above the gompa and wearing my down jacket day and night. In December for sure, but maybe even before that, the water became frozen. The sun was hot during the day so I don’t think I suffered from the cold. At night, sometimes I would sit outside and look at the sky. At the beginning I was very surprised to see so many shooting stars. They were very close and once I could hear the sound of a meteorite falling down very nearby. I thought I would be able to find it the next day but it didn’t happen. It felt like magic, but actually it was simply because the meteorites were catching fire while entering into the atmosphere and the atmosphere is not far above at this altitude.

Ani Samten mentioned once to me that one night that she had to go out for a pee and she saw a yeti. I had the feeling that anything could happen there; it was definitely the case when I walked above Lawudo with a basket on my back picking up the dry shit for the kitchen. Or the time when I discovered, not far from Lawudo, the converted cave where the Charok Lama lived with his daughter, a beautiful young girl. It was just like a magical emanation.

At the end of my retreat I allowed myself to tour around a bit. I had the opportunity to have a meeting with Charok Lama, using my poor words of Hindi and Tibetan!!!! Another time, I went down to Thami, the village where Rinpoche was born, crossing the river Rinpoche always spoke about and remembering the story of his first meeting with Westerners, when he wanted to offer them potatoes and almost drowned in the river. I also participated in a few pujas at the nunnery down below, which was very powerful. I am full of memories!!!

Remembering Death
Throughout the 3 months, only once did a group of trekkers visit Lawudo. Other than that I saw no other Westerners. They were French, so we had a bit of a conversation. A week later, when Ani Samten came back from the market in Namche, she told me that one lady from this group had fallen down from the path and died. I was shocked. And it reminded me how strongly I felt the presence of death when I was preparing for my trip to Lawudo. Lama Lhundrup especially insisted very much that I should remember death at all times. He told me that Zina also went to the Himalayas for retreat but she died up there before finishing the retreat, so I had to be ready, he said something like that.

Dreaming of a Nice Hot Shower
When the first snowfall came I had to think of getting back down from the mountains. Ani Samten filled up my rucksack with crushed aromatic plants such as juniper, it came to 21 kilos. But when I started to make my way back, I had so much energy that I was running all the time. It didn’t take me long to get to Kathmandu, a week if I remember well. I was in such a dirty state that on my way I was dreaming more and more of a hot shower and when I arrived at my regular hotel, The Blue Star, I went straight to the shower. I put on the soap, but either the water was cold or there was no water! Strong expectations but big laughter, rather than big disappointment. When I was back in Kopan - where I performed the fire puja - Rinpoche invited me for a Sherpa meal one-to-one as he wanted to have fresh news of his family.
So that was my experience of doing retreat at Lawudo. Years later, when I read The Lawudo Lama I realised that I had no idea of the power of the place, it was incredible! So this is just my small story at my level. But I feel very grateful to have been given this opportunity and to have had this connection.
 

Please stay in touch

We hope that you have enjoyed receiving news of Lawudo. Here are some ways you can support our efforts :

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May Lawudo flourish and bring peace and happiness to the world.

With every good wish from the LoveLawudo team: Ven Katy, Ven Khadro, Ven Kunkhen, Alison, Capucine, Simone and Violette. An international group of volunteers established in 2017 to offer support to Lawudo Gompa.

Copyright © 2019 Lawudo Gompa & Retreat Center, All rights reserved.


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