Day Six — Norbulingka, summer residence of the Dalai Lama, Part One

This morning, after prayers, I watched the nuns gather and say prayers together before singing the Tibetan National Anthem:

“Let the radiant light shine of Buddha’s wish-fulfilling gem teachings,
the treasure mine of all hopes for happiness and benefit
in both worldly life and liberation.
O Protectors who hold the jewel of the teachings and all beings,
nourishing them greatly,
may the sum of your virtuous deeds grow full.
Firmly enduring in a diamond-hard state, guard all directions with
Compassion and love.
Above our heads may divinely appointed rule abide
endowed with a hundred benefits and let the power increase
of four fold auspiciousness,
May a new golden age of happiness and bliss spread
throughout the three provinces of Tibet
and the glory expand of religious-secular rule.
By the spread of Buddha’s teachings in the ten directions,
may everyone throughout the world
enjoy the glories of happiness and peace.
In the battle against dark negative forces
may the auspicious sunshine of the teachings and beings of
Tibet and the brilliance of a myriad radiant prosperitys
be ever triumphant.”

After breakfast we had a little free time and then headed down to Norbulingka, the summer residence of the Dalai Lama. It is… beautiful. As well as being a monastery and HHDL’s residence (he visits a couple of times a year), it is also a cultural institute maintaining and preserving Tibetan culture and art.


Once we arrived we were met by someone who was to be our guide. He showed us the different areas of the institute–such as needle-working, wood painting, and thangka painting. Each discipline takes at least six years of training and the artists are extremely competent.

It was amazing to see the pure devotion and skill of these artisans. They were so focused and concentrated. Each detail is a miniature work of art, and especially with the thangkas, any mistake is tragedy. As I was taking a couple of pictures I joked to Adam that it would be unfortunate if my flash went off and ruined someones painting!

I was amazed by the precision and talent that the artists possessed. I have done some painting and drawing, but certainly nothing so beautiful. I certainly wouldn’t have the concentration or ability to spend months working on one thangka–of the Kalachakra or the Amitabha Buddha (hoddpagmed).

The grounds of Norbulingka were also very spectacular. Full of trees and prayer flags and hand-painted external woodwork, set against the amazing backdrop of the Himalayas. There is a feeling of peace so inherent within these places. It seems to seep out of the buildings and pool at our feet inviting us to pause and take a breath.