01 October 2014

Happy First Birthday Aro Ling Cardiff - an interview with Ngakma Nor'dzin

Ngakma Nor’dzin teaching amulet weaving.
Q:  In September 2013 you opened a Buddhist Centre—Aro Ling Cardiff— in Whitchurch Village. What inspired you to begin such a venture?

Ngakma Nor’dzin:  I was inspired by the success of a similar venture in Bristol.  The teachings of the Aro Tradition are so precious and relevant to our everyday lives that I wanted to make them available to the people of Cardiff as well.

Q:  What were your hopes for the Centre when you began looking for a place?

Ngakma Nor’dzin:  I wanted to offer a space for meditation that people would find welcoming and inspiring.  It also needed to be convenient for me and easy to access.

Q:  Why did you choose Whitchurch as the place for the new Centre?

Ngakma Nor’dzin:  I have lived in Whitchurch for nearly 30 years.  It is my home and an area of Cardiff that I love.  Whitchurch village is a pleasant place to be and has a good feeling of local community.  I felt the centre could become a real asset to the community and the village.

Q:  What have you had to change in your life to take on the running of a Centre?

Ngakma Nor’dzin:  I had to reduce other commitments so that I had more time available, and t​he main manifestation of this was with regard to our horses. We owned two horses at the time and they took up a lot of my time. We ga​ve our gelding to​ the place where they are liveried, and put our old mare on retirement livery. This meant that they could stay together and both be happy and cared for without needing​ my attention day by day.

Q:  What does the Centre offer to the people of Whitchurch and Cardiff?

Ngakma Nor’dzin:  The Centre offers teaching on Vajrayana Buddhism, Tibetan Yoga and Buddhist arts and crafts. We offer meditation instruction and group practice. There is also a small reference library. 

Q:  ​When are you open?

Ngakma Nor’dzin:  Something is available every day except Sunday and Monday. There is something available during every part of the day: morning, afternoon and evening at some point in the week. Our
schedule can be found at aro-ling.org/cardiff, and at meetup.com/arolingcardiff.

Q:  ​Do you offer courses?

Ngakma Nor’dzin:  ​Yes, and we hope to increase these as Aro Ling Cardiff moves into its second year. Our evening courses ​are usually on Thursday​ evenings for around five weeks, ​and​ explore particular Buddhist teachings in some depth.  We also run Saturday morning courses, including a regular introduction to meditation practice on the first Saturday of each month.​

Q:  What tradition of Buddhism does the Centre teach?

Ngakma Nor’dzin:  The Aro Tradition – which is a small branch of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Q:  In what way does this tradition differ from other Buddhist traditions?

Ngakma Nor’dzin:  It has an emphasis on Vajrayana practice, embracing ordinary life as the path of Liberation.  The ordained practitioners in the Aro Tradition are not monks or nuns b​ut​ tantrikas, yogis and yoginis, who live an ordinary non-celibate lifestyle whilst maintaining their commitment to practice and the Vajrayana vows.​ This tradition embraces romance, marriage and family life as a powerful means of gaining realisation.

Q:  Would you say that this approach is particularly suited to Western people?

Ngakma Nor’dzin:  Absolutely – that is why it is so valuable and so important that people learn about this style of practice.  The householder tradition was well-known in Tibet, but it is the monastic style of practice that has mostly been imported to the West. It is vital that something other than renunciation and a monastic style of practice is available to those who do not find this works for them but still feel an affinity to Buddhism.

Q:  How do you make the Centre and it’s activities known to the public?

Ngakma Nor’dzin:  We advertise as much as we can afford! Leaflets are delivered locally a couple of times a year and we advertise in The Local Advertiser.  I have a notice board at the end of the drive that advertises our activities.  We use Facebook, Twitter and Meetup and other social networking. ​We produce flyers and posters and simply try to let as many people know of our existence as possible.

Q:  Aro Ling Cardiff has been open for a year. Has the response to the Centre met with your expectations?

Ngakma Nor’dzin:  ​The response has been most encouraging.​ The first courses were better attended than I expected and this has evolved into a regular group for meditation on a Tuesday evening. The furtherance of awareness of Vajrayana Buddhism and the Householder Lineage is the primary purpose of the centre, and this is going well.

Q:  What are your plans for the future?

Ngakma Nor’dzin:  ​We are hoping to offer more courses as these have been popular, and we will continue with the Saturday opening. ​There will be Tibetan yoga sessions and opportunities for craft work. We are hoping to get a projector so that we can do visual presentations and show Buddhist films. We will continue to invite guest teachers​ from time to time and may have weekend teaching events and retreats as well.  ​I hope that we ​will​ be able to​ expand what we are able to offer and giving a more detailed view of the amazing scope of the Aro teachings and practice.

No comments:

Post a Comment