The Tibetan Cultural Society of Vancouver Island held a retreat at Goldstream Provincial Park, taking in the natural beauty.
Five Lamas from Tibet and Bhutan shared their Trans-Himalayan Buddist teachings from their respective ancient lineages this past week. Three Lamas currently reside and teach in Victoria, one has a small centre in Courtenay and the fifth teaches in Vancouver. Throughout the week, the Lamas led meditation sessions and gave teachings focused on healing and happiness.
Roughly 30 people from across the Island, San Juan Island and Vancouver attended the retreat. Volunteers from the Tibetan Cultural Society provided the food and made all of the meals for participants.
This is the second time the non-profit has arranged an event of this size, the last time was in 2010 when the society raised money for the earthquake in Yushu, Tibet. Dwight Owens, secretary of the cultural society, said this year is about building ties and sharing ideas and developing camaraderie amongst the teachers on the Island. He said the Lamas mentioned it was rare for teachers with five different lineages to come together and learn from each other.
Lama Rabten, a Kagyu teacher from the Nalandabodhi centre in Vancouver, was at the first event in Duncan and was back for the second time.
He said he is grateful to the volunteers for organizing the event and bringing people and Tibetans together in the west. He said he hopes the society makes it an annual event.
“It’s really great, but lots of information,” he said. “But all the great, qualified teachers, I really see people getting lots of information worth so much of spiritual value.”
Lama Rabten talked about taking integration a step further, to combine east and west teachers and students.
He said he is impressed with the practice of people in the western culture, whereas in the east he said there’s more talk about it and less action. He credited the community values of the Canadian culture for good practice.
“Our Canadian culture is two things, one is working for the community, working as a volunteer, the other is being humble, polite, say ‘sorry, excuse me,’ those things I like the most,” he said.
But the retreat was also to share “the culture, food, song and dance [of Tibetans] and to try to preserve it,” Owens said.
Owens said there are less than 100 Tibetans on Vancouver Island so it’s difficult to preserve the Tibetan language because it’s not taught in school.
Following the four-day retreat, the society is hosting a camp out for younger Tibetans to learn more about their customs.
The camp takes place at Goldstream Provincial Park August 4 to 6.