Thursday, 7 August 2014

Did you know there was this Tibetan Temple in Singapore?

Thekchen Choling

Well that was a pleasant surprise! After a delightful morning with friends at a local coffee shop, in the Jalan Besar area, we wandered about 200 metres up the road and found this Tibetan Buddhist temple, prayer flags flying and surrounding this building on the corner of Beatty lane and Tyrwhitt Road. OK the Singapore heat and humidity along with the chaotic busy road didn't exactly transport me to the peaceful, snow topped mountains of Tibet but it was still a delight to find and so close to home, who knew?

Thekchen Choling means "Great Mahayana Dharma Temple"  and is named after the 14th Dalai Lamas monastery in Dharamsala, India. This temple was founded in 2001 by Namdrol Rinpoche. He was born as Felix Lee a Singaporean Chinese who from the age of 7 studied to become a Buddhist monk. At the age of 15 he began to have vivid dreams telling him he should teach Buddhism. He travelled to Nepal looking for answers where he was greeted by "welcome we were expecting you!" During this time he learnt that the master in his dreams was the Tibetan Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche. After years of training he became a yogi, which is a lay Lama.

As mentioned he returned to Singapore and started the Thekchen Choling Buddhist Organisation and opened the temple in 2001 along with his disciples.

The Temple is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week and anyone is welcome (please remove shoes) Amongst teaching Buddhism in both Mandarin and English, they give food to the needy, donate to charities and give free TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine, including acupuncture - may take a look at this for my gammy knee!

As we arrived, a mixed group of expat and local women, we were enthusiastically welcomed by a member of the temple who was keen to explain all about what we could see and a brief summary regarding Buddhism. If only I had come prepared with my camera, not just iPhone (apologizes for qualities of the shots) and something to take notes with, I will really need to return to learn and re listen. The basic gist of what he was explaining was that it didn't matter who you were, where you were from and from what religion, everything came down to love - a wonderful sentiment and yet a simple one, although so you would think, but you only need to think of that one person who winds you up to realise its not simple at all. He explained that everything was bright and colourful to give thanks. Oh if only I could remember more that he said!

Of all the religions (and I'm not religious) I find Buddhism fascinating and am drawn towards it, but apart from the story of the first Buddha I tend to get to confused and lost somewhat. Having said that at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Chinatown the museum upstairs does an excellent job of explaining :)

The centre piece of this temple is the Shakyamuni Buddha 'Body of Bliss' believed to to have protected devotees from the SARS epidemic

1000 armed Tibetan Chenrezig the largest in Singapore at 2.3 metres and made from gilt gold and copper. It symbolizes Buddhas boundless compassion. 

Giant Mani Wheel. It stands 3 metres high and 1.38 in diameter. It contains cloths, gems and 218,844,788 printed mantras! Whoever turns this clockwise is thought to have recited all the mantras - phew :)

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