The people who contact us for travel in Tibet are usually looking for an authentic and spiritual experience rather than a commercial tour. They want to visit sacred Buddhist sites and connect with Tibetan people. What many people don’t know is that a great way to have an authentic experience is to travel in the Eastern Tibetan regions of Kham and Amdo. In this post we introduce you to one of the great Tibetan monasteries and centers of Buddhist learning, Dzogchen Monastery (gompa) in Kham. For spiritual seekers, Dzogchen is perfect — remote enough to be off the beaten path, set in a stunning valley, with a deep Buddhist history, and alive with the practice and teaching of the “Great Perfection.”
To give you a taste, here is a photo gallery of images taken by YoWangdu’s Yolanda O’Bannon on an October 2015 trip. See Yolanda’s post on “the best day of the trip” here: Dzogchen: A Day in the Great Perfection. After the photo gallery, there’s a brief history of Dzogchen Monastery and two short videos. The first is of a group of local nomads in a prayer session on a cold evening and the second gives you a view of the inside of Dzogchen’s main assembly hall (dukhang).
Dzogchen Monastery: A Brief History
Dzogchen Monastery was founded in Tibet in the late 17th century, in the “hidden” Rudam Valley. Over time it developed into a great center of learning and one of the great monasteries in Tibet. It is one of the six great seats of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, and a spiritual home of the dzogchen – “Great Perfection” – tradition of teachings.
The monastery is distinguished in part by its history of meditation and retreat. Some of the very greatest Buddhist masters, including Patrul Rinpoche have meditated, taught and written great Buddhist texts in the hermitage caves above Dzogchen. Patrul Rinpoche wrote one of the classic Buddhist texts, the Words of My Perfect Teacher there.
The entire monastery was destroyed by the Chinese in 1959, and has been under major reconstruction since the 1980s, with a number of significant buildings restored, including the main assembly hall, the dukhang. Around 300 monks live and are being trained at Dzogchen Monastery now.
A newer retreat center and temple, Pema Tang, was built near the end of the Rudam valley. You can see this in the photo gallery at the post.
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Video: Nomads Praying at Dzogchen Monastery
Video: Main Assembly Hall at Dzogchen Monastery
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Khun Ray Dwyer says
Was drawn to your interesting site through an interest in the Khen A-Cho Rainbow Body experience and my interest in Tibetan Buddhism.
Accordingly, I was interested in the correct pronunciation of Om Mani Pad Me Hum. Thank you for your contributions.
I hope I will be fortunate enough to meet you in person at some future time.
Blessings of Chenrezig to you,
Wow, loved seeing those prayer-spinning old ladies grinning at the camera 🙂 Wonderful to know this culture still exists … and that one day I might visit myself. After unexpected disruption to travel plans for later this year, still remain hopeful for next year … Thoroughly enjoyed learning that this region is well worth visiting — and that the “Great Perfection” is still alive and being taught in Tibet, some of the most precious wisdom ever transmitted.
Thanks so much, Cathy, and best hopes that all is resolved and you are able to visit this beautiful and spiritually amazing place soon.