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.


Pliable said...

On Facebook Diane Bennett O'Callaghan comments: 'MONEY. that craven stuff that makes or breaks our lives. And that isn't intrinsically worth anymore than a handful of tulip bulbs- (remember that craze?) I am surprised about the watches!...but you can't expect too much respect for the nasty little habits of samsara from those who have transcended it...they still have my respect'.

Pliable said...

Where the Hell...? has left this comment:

'Thank you for the post on Ladakh. I visited there in 1992 to climb Stok Kangri, and also the Ecology Centre. I was watching a video when Helena Norberg Hodge walked in - she was a celebrity back then.

Sad to see this glamping thing underneath the poor Thikse. seems they have ruined the amazing place I knew.'

WtH, we visited the Ecology Centre during our 2014 visit. Very interesting, but it was a bit run down and sad.