Travelling Woes to Lumbini Bother French Buddhist

THT Online, January 16, 2009

Kathmandu, Nepal -- A Christian by birth Uose Riu did not know he would fall in love with Buddhism -- a religion he had very little idea about -- when he landed in France 30 years ago.

His brief interaction with a Buddhist master in Varjrayoguini Buddhist Centre in France inspired him to convert to the Buddhism. Ever since his conversion, Riu has been frequenting Nepal -- the birthplace of Lord Buddha -- on a yearly basis.

"As a Buddhist, Nepal, particularly Lumbini, is very special to me ," said Rinponche Lama Jamyang Tashi Dorje, who earned the title after thirty years of rigorous study of Buddhist philosophy in France and India.

As part of the Shakya tradition -- a sect in Buddhism -- rituals are performed in Lumbini starting December 22 to January 6 every year. A group of pilgrims from his monastery, Sakya Tashi Ling in Spain, visits the place for the rituals.

Travelling woes to and from Lumbini is something that bothers Rinponche Dorje. "Lumbini is such an important place that there should be good transportation and accommodation facilities," he said, adding, "The Government of Nepal as well as the Buddhists around the world need to pay attention to this," he said.

Recounting his early days of struggle in defending his newfound religion, Rinponche said, "Until the promulgation of the new constitution, Spain was not as liberal as Nepal."

But the scene has changed now. His family members have also converted to Buddhism and people from various walks of life visit his monastery -- set up in 1996 and located in the Natural Park of the Garrat in Barcelona -- to learn meditation and Buddhist philosophy, he boasts.

"One does not need to be a Buddhist to practise meditation," he added. "Both Buddhists and non-Buddhists in Spain visit the place for meditation and spiritual healing."

There are 60 groups each comprising 15 to 20 people, without obligation that the visitors be Buddhists.

Besides teaching meditation in Spain, he has also expanded his activities in Europe, USA, Peru, Bolivia, Australia and several Asian countries. The Spanish monk runs a children's home in Boudha.