Monastery a cultural oasis in Monroe County countryside
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — “Who knew this was out here?”
Often said in awe, it’s something Buddhist monk Jamyang Lama has heard countless times since the Gaden KhachoeShing Buddhist Monastery opened in 2014, and several more times during the annual Taste of Tibet open house Saturday afternoon.
The multimillion-dollar monastery rests on a sprawling wooded property on Dolan Road off Old Ind. 37, north of Bloomington. A gravel road, lined in part by colorful prayer flags and guarded by stone lions, guides you to the Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Inside the structure are meditation rooms, worship rooms, a kitchen and dining hall, and lodging for monks, four of whom currently live on site.
There’s also the temple, which features massive sculptures of Buddha, Mytria and Buddhist master Tsongkhapa, all of which were made by artists in Nepal and reassembled locally, Jamyang Lama said.
It can be a lot to take in, and Jamyang Lama and Suzy Fulkerson, the president of the monastery’s board, completely understand that. That’s why once a year they plan the Taste of Tibet event, as both a fundraiser and a relaxed afternoon for visitors to walk the grounds and receive tours.
“This event helps people who have been curious but don’t know when it’s OK to come,” Fulkerson said. “Plus, the food is absolutely delicious. So a lot of people come for the dinner.”
That dinner, prepared traditionally by the monks, included authentic Tibetan delicacies such as momos, pingsha, alu khatsa and Tibetan butter salt tea.
Jamyang Lama said the Bloomington community has been extremely welcoming to him and his fellow monks in the 20 years that they’ve been in Indiana. The group’s first monastery, the Dagom Gaden Tensung Ling monastery, is still active in Lower Cascades Park in Bloomington.
“Bloomington is a nice community that has always been welcoming to us,” Jamyang Lama said. “We have a great relationship with the people of this community. That’s why today is a good opportunity to share this beautiful temple.”
The monks regularly teach classes, he said, including an introductory course on Buddhism at 10 a.m. Sundays. There are also many special events, such as retreats, classes with visiting scholars and more cultural events.
Jamyang Lama said an upcoming Oct. 1 class on the basics of meditation would be a great opportunity for people to visit the monastery as well. All classes are free, although donations are accepted.
Fulkerson said she visits the monastery as much as she can, often walking the trails around the compound when the leaves begin to turn.
“It’s like a Disney movie out here. There’s wild deer and turkey, just wildlife all around,” she said, noting that hunting is banned on the 128-acre property. “In these troubled times, it’s a little oasis of positive energy. You can feel the shift when you drive up that gravel road.”
Source: The (Bloomington) Herald-Times, http://bit.ly/2hfR5N2
Information from: The Herald Times, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com