Tuesday, August 16, 2016
How a spiritual leader became a happy camper
After attending the Kalachakra teaching by the Dalai Lama in Ladakh, India two years ago I wrote somewhat cynically about the luxurious new Chamba Camp 'glamping' (glamour camping) site set up by the Tibetan Buddhist Thiksey Monastery. Last week the Dalai Lama delivered another teaching in Ladakh and while there he visited Chamba Camp Thiksey for a photo op - see above*. The website of the monastery endorsed tourist destination describes how guests relax in individually designed tents, with en-suite bathrooms, private decks, crisp linen, complete with the services of their very own butler. But this heavenly hedonism does not come cheap: three nights for two people in the cheapest 'tent suite' costs 175560 ruppees (£2034), or if you want the real deal three nights in a presidential tent suite - see photo below - will set you back 19751 rupees (£2289). To put this into perspective the average annual income in India is 242155 rupees (£2800).
The Dalai Lama has described himself as a simple monk. But a post last year highlighted the rock star ticket prices for his London teaching (£90.25 for the top ticket, £24.75 for the cheapest); while elsewhere it is reported that his private collection of fifteen Rolex watches is worth an estimated £12 million. His Holiness has done wonderful work for the Tibetan cause and is a worthy Nobel laureate, and for me Buddhism in its less flamboyant manifestations comes closer to the Truth than any of the other perennial traditions. But the teaching that speaks to me more and more comes from Jiddu Krishnamurti, who said: "Hinduism, Buddhism, or Christianity... are all organized beliefs with their propaganda, conversion, proselytism, compulsion, and so on. Is there any truth in organized religion? It may engulf, enmesh truth, but the organized religion itself is not true. Therefore, organized religion is false, it separates man from man".
Header photo comes from KelKhang Rinpoche's Facebook page. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.