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Jangchubsem Thought of Awakening

Jangchubsem (བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་) or Bodhicitta in Sanskrit is the thought of enlightenment or awakening. It is a desire to take all sentient beings, leaving no one behind, to the ultimate state of happiness, which is Buddhahood. Bodhicitta is considered as the essence of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Just as taking refuge is said …

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Zhanag Black Hat Dance

The Zhanag (ཞྭ་ནག་) or Black Hat dance is one of the most popular sacred cham dances without mask seen in Bhutan and other parts of the Buddhist Himalayas. Named after the black hats which the dancers wear, the dance has a deep spiritual significance and is performed as an act …

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Contemplating the Four Noble Truths

Lam, I’ll be travelling to Bodh Gaya and Sarnath in November, and I am interested to know more about the Buddha’s first teaching – the Four Noble Truths.  How should I contemplate them at the sacred sites?  Pilgrim, Thimphu Well, soon after the Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya he …

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Discipline – an antidote to sadness

I am a guy in my mid-twenties. I have a close family, and money is not a problem, but I feel depressed most of the time. I have tried to cheer myself up by going out with friends, but it doesn’t help. I don’t feel suicidal or anything, but just …

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Trhuebab

The Trhuebab (ཁྲུས་བབ་) festival is an important cultural event in Bhutan, observed mainly in the eastern districts. It literally means the descent (བབ་) of blessed water (ཁྲུས་) and refers to the blessing which falls on the waters on earth. The festival is neither a celebration of the rainy season nor …

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Tshechu – Planting the seeds of enlightenment

Lam, it will soon be the time of Thimphu Tshechu. I have been attending since I was a child, but I don’t think I really understand the meaning of the cham dances. Also, my mother insists that we can become enlightened merely by seeing the dances and the thongdrel. I …

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Kunzang Khorlo Graph

Kunzang Khorlo (ཀུན་བཟང་འཁོར་ལོ་), which literally means the Wheel of Complete Good, is a common poetic graph found on the walls of temple entrances in Bhutan and the Buddhist Himalayas. The graph contains poems which are composed by high lamas and can be read in different ways. The graph is created …

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Gawa – Appreciative Joy

Gawa (དགའ་བ་) or appreciative joy is the third of the four immeasurable thoughts, tshemed bzhi (ཚད་མེད་བཞི་). Although the term gawa or joy generally denotes the experience of happiness, in the context of the four immeasurable thoughts, it specifically refers to feeling of appreciation and joy for the happiness of others. …

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Children need parents, not dollars

I am a 30 year mother with two children (one 8 and one 6).  I don’t have any real problems at home, but I feel bored with daily chores and I am fed up with my office job, and so want to go overseas with my husband to study and …

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Prayer Rosary

Rosaries for prayers are a very common item of religious artefacts in Bhutan and Bhutanese people profusely use rosaries to say prayers and recite mantras. Known as chyem (ཕྱེངམ་) in Dzongkha and trhengwa (ཕྲེང་བ་), religious texts explain that the term originally refers to yearning in the mind. The rosary is …

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