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Slow train coming

  The space is pervaded with green, with the chirping of birds and the sweet smell of pollen. We are in the countryside of Dordogne, and it would be difficult for anyone to find a more idyllic setting. In general, I try not to read the news, especially here, but whenever I do, that idyllic image is replaced by another one: the slow train, picking up speed downhill. The machine engineers are incompetent and instead of stopping it and repairing the faults with care, they keep on loading it with coal. Its lights are on in the darkness; they illuminate only the small patch in front, so the passengers could see the end, but only in a fashion.  Why are we in a such a hurry to destroy our civilisation? Do we have so much that we are bored with it? There was this boredom in the air before the epidemic in 2020. I had the feeling that people, especially the young ones, were waiting eagerly for something to happen. Anything. Just not that day after day boredom. They were trying to shake it off –

The latest adventure of Kunga Gyaltsen, our correspondent in Nangchen, Neten Gompa

I recently visited the remote monastery called Neten Gonpa, founded by the Great Tertön Chogyur Dechen Lingpa (Choling Rinpoche). Karma Thinley Rinpoche is related to the first Choling Rinpoche and his next two incarnations. Karma Thinley Rinpoche spent several years at Neten Gompa in his early years, studying at the Shedra there.

Crossing the highest pass, in low cloud
The roads can be a hazard for yaks who
become trapped by the crash barriers either side.

The monastery is situated on a high ledge overlooking the River Chichu, one of the biggest rivers in this region. The rivers here have sliced spectacular gorges through the high rocky mountains, and Neten Gompa is surrounded by dramatic cliffs as well as having the wide vista of the Chichu valley in front. The journey from Nangchen is about 100 kms, and nowadays takes only about 3 hours. The road used to be more dangerous, but is recently much improved. It winds over 3 high passes, the highest being 4,496 meters high! The road finally drops down through a long gorge before opening out into the Chichu valley.

Looking back from the monastery onto the road
 as it emerges from the gorge.

The monastery is very active with a Shedra and many monks, who spend time in retreat as well as performing the usual monastic cycle of prayers and rituals. It follows of course the ' Choling Tersar' cycle, based on the revealed treasure collections of the first Choling Rinpoche.

Not many of the original buildings remain. The Mahakala practice temple 'Gönkang' is still there, and Choling Rinpoche's famous palace called Sang Ngag Podrang stands in a state of severe disrepair.

Sang Ngag Podrang in dilapidated condition.
 This was the palace of Choling Rinpoche.

Many new and beautiful buildings have been recently added, including some impressive retreat houses from wood, which is a plentiful material in the area.

Panorama shot of the Chichu valley, taken from the monastery

We followed the kora path around the monastery, which takes in all the fantastic views of the surroundings. 

On the kora path around the monastery.'One kora is the same as one million Benza Guru mantras', is the local belief.

The main mountain range that dominates the whole area is called Yigyi Namkai Dzöd, it is a holy pilgrimage place due to the many caves and specific sites connected with Guru Rinpoche Padma Sambhava, and later with Choling Rinpoche, who rediscovered many of the 'terma' treasures that had been hidden there by Guru Rinpoche, to be revealed by his future incarnations at the appropriate time for the benefit of sentient beings.

Alongside the new bridge over the river are the remains of the old bridge still visible.
 It was built by Tangtong Gyalpo.


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