Some Bhutanese Students Attend Dharma Programme To Learn Various Buddhist Practices

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The teachings of the Buddha are sometimes referred to as the ‘Dharma’.

Prayer time at a monastery in Bhutan. (Source: Marketa kalvachova)

 

By Kelzang Wangchuk | Kuensel

More than 150 students from 11 schools in Samdrupjongkhar and Pemagatshel are currently attending a Dharma programme at the Dungsam Academy.

This free programme, organised by the Institute of Science of Mind in Thimphu, aims to engage students (classes VIII to XII) meaningfully by teaching them various Buddhist practices from 19 - 30 December.

What is Dharma?

The teachings of the Buddha are sometimes referred to as the ‘Dharma’. In Buddhism, it is said that by practising the ‘Dharma’, it will lead one on the path to enlightenment.

The Zhung dratshang (Central Monastic Body of Bhutan) is supporting the programme. Officials from various agencies have also given talks on specific topics and over 460 students have already attended the programme till date.

The activities conducted during the Dharma programme

The Institute of Science of Mind organises such camps twice a year. The first Dharma Camp was conducted in 2017.

 

All participants of the first batch of the Dharma programme received certificates from the Zhung Dratshang’s Laytshog Lopen, Sangay Dorji in June 2017.

Photo: Kuensel

 

Lopen Tenzin Wangchuk said that the programme first started with students from Thimphu (through the Zhung dratshang’s funding). They learnt various Buddhist practices like ‘cause and effect’ (Lay-Judrey), loyalty (Tha-damtsi) and cultures over a span of two weeks.

The day at the camp starts early at 6am. Students are given talks on Buddhism and taught various Buddhist practices such as meditation.

Regarding the purpose of conducting the Dharma programme, Tenzin Wangchuk said that the future of Bhutan depends on its youth and it lies in their thoughts to serve the people and nation in a better way.

“It’s important to give religious-related teachings and talks so that they can change their minds and thoughts.”

The camp is also aimed at keeping the students meaningfully engaged during the winter vacation. It is also hoped the camp would have positive impacts on the lives of the participants.

Benefits of the Dharma programme so far

According to Tenzin Wangchuk, many students promised to quit drinking alcohol and smoking after attending the programme.

 

Photo: Facebook/Institute of Science of Mind 

 

A student, Kinzang Choden from the Yelchen Central School in Pemagatshel said that she has learned a lot about history, religion and culture.

“Such programmes are not only important for students but it’s also equally important for parents and others,” she said.

Some participants felt that it would be better if the ministry and other concerned authorities could include some components of the programme into the mainstream curriculum in schools.

Tenzin Wangchuk also collects feedback from students at the end of the programme and gives out certificates of appreciation.

“We also keep in contact with their teachers and get feedback from those students who has attended the programme frequently.”

 

This article first appeared in kuensel  and has been edited for the Daily Bhutan.

 


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