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Kagyu Samye Dzong London - A Spiritual Container

I moved to London in Spring 2022, and one of the first things I did when I got off the plane was to look up 'Buddhist Centres Near Me'. KSD London was just five minutes away.

I walked over on a beautiful, sunny March day and discovered the Tibetan Tearoom. On my first visit, I felt right at home. I had been living in a Buddhist monastery in Canada prior to this, and entering KSD London, I noticed the same artistic styles, similar conversations – and most profoundly – the same peaceful and simultaneously driven atmosphere. This felt like a place where people came to do serious spiritual work.

On the next visit to the monastery, a week later, I struck up a conversation with Lama Zangmo which sparked the idea of me living here. A few weeks later, I moved in. It is a spiritual container. A home for practice. A refuge. Being at the Centre helps align myself and my goals with dharma.

I walk around the world with so many goals and priorities that pull me in different directions. I spend a lot of time trying to satisfy all these goals, and in doing so make compromises. I notice these goals tend to operate in a hierarchy. When I put something like “work” as the highest goal, I end up suffering from burnout.

When Dharma takes the highest ‘goal’ it creates better balance. Instead of consuming other parts of my life, it allows them to find harmony. I feel the reason this happens is because dharma is not a ’goal’. It is not a fixed object or attachment. It is indescribable. Each time you point at it, the floor drops out and you realise the emptiness of the current form of your clinging. As the Dorje Change Tungma goes:

The essence of thought is taught to be the Dharmakaya, nothing whatsoever - yet it manifests as anything whatsoever, appearing in unhindered play to the true meditator.

What does it mean to me to put dharma first? One way is physical. Every morning I join the morning meditation. I sit from 8am to 8.30am. For a long time I did prostrations. Now, before I go to bed, I count mantras as part of my Ngondro practice (I also think about Charley Morley’s course on Lucid Dreaming which I attended recently). Throughout the week, I do longer sits and pujas. On weekends, I spend a few hours working in the Tibetan Tearoom.

The benefits of these practices spread far beyond the immediate time I put into them. Over the last year Dharma has become the organising structure of my life. Almost without my knowing, my spiritual and material lives have become integrated. I attribute this to living at Kagyu Samye Dzong London, to the community here, and to the direct guidance of Lama Zangmo.

Engagement with life in the Centre does not compete with my experience outside the monastery. It frames it. I am surrounded by wise beings here, who are driven to cultivate healthy states, and help others into these states as well. I am surrounded by a trusted tradition and lineage who points us to the ineffable mystery in the most compassionate way.

Kagyu Samye Dzong London is a spiritual container, and I’m so grateful to call it a home.


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