Sumur, Ladakh, J&K, India – Thiksey Rinpoche and Khelkhang Rinpoche with monks of Diskit Monastery, as well as local lay-people, gathered to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama off this morning. He was moving on to Samstanling Monastery in Sumur, visible from Diskit on the hillside above the Nubra River.
As the cars passed through villages after crossing the Shyok River, the road was bordered by dry-stone walls with piles of thorns on top to keep animals out of the fields. People gathered in their finery at the gates to their homes to welcome His Holiness as he passed, smiles on their faces and white scarves, flowers and incense in their folded hands. The well-wishers were mostly Buddhists, but here and there Muslim families also came out to greet His Holiness in the customary way. Before the road turned up towards the monastery above Sumur village, pupils of the Lamdon School in school uniform thronged the side of the road singing a song in praise of His Holiness.
His Holiness was welcomed at the door to his quarters in the monastery by the Abbot, Ganden Trisur, Rizong Rinpoche and Tsultim Nyima, reincarnation of the founder and owner of the monastery. Escorted to his sitting room, His Holiness paid tribute to the images of enlightened beings, gazed at the view across the valley from the window and sat down with Rizong Rinpoche, Thiksey Rinpoche and local dignitaries.
As tea and sweet rice were served, His Holiness told Rizong Rinpoche that occasional tiredness due simply to his age has lately inclined him to reduce his engagements. However, he had been determined to keep his promise to come here now, because Rinpoche, a former Ganden Throneholder, and someone from whom he has received profound teachings, had invited him.
Prompted by the prospect of the opening tomorrow of a Summer Debate Session here at Samstanling, His Holiness reminisced about the high quality of scholarship in Tibet when he was growing up. He recalled Ngodrup Tsognyi, the Mongolian who stimulated his interest in Madhyamaka studies, telling him that during the morning of his Geshe exams he felt he had lost his edge in the course of debate about the ‘Commentary on the Compendium of Valid Cognition’ with another famously sharp scholar, Sogpo Chödrak. He regained his confidence in the afternoon when it came to discussions of Madhyamaka and ultimately graduated as the top Lharampa Geshe.
His Holiness remarked that while he has heard there are good scholars in Kham and Amdo in Eastern Tibet, oppression has led to a general decline in Central Tibet. Nevertheless, pleased by what has been achieved in exile, where ritual monasteries, as well as nunneries, have instituted serious programs of study, he remains convinced that Tibetans will one day be reunited and able to restore or even surpass the level of scholarship they had before.
In visibly good spirits, His Holiness retired for the day.