I’m an Australian living in a Buddhist community on a relatively remote French plateau. When people discover this, they often ask: “Really? What time do you get up in the morning?” “What do you actually do?” “Are you a monk?” and “Are you all vegetarian?”. In reality, we are students from more than 20 different countries with diverse roles, routines, relationships, and diet. Here's a little snapshot of life in our spiritual community with a magnificent Tibetan Buddhist temple at its centre.
Lerab Ling was established in 1992 by Sogyal Rinpoche. We are a retreat centre as well as the base for ‘Rigpa International’ who deliver services such as the Rigpa study and practice programme and other support services to Rigpa centres and students around the world & online. It is also home to Sogyal Rinpoche's mother, Mayumla Tsering Wangmo, a great practitioner now in her 90’s.
Students from more than 20 countries live and practice in this Buddhist community which was formally recognised by the French government as a religious congregation in 2002. Not everyone who works at Lerab Ling is a Buddhist, and we welcome people from any background or faith to do personal retreats. However, many like myself participated in a three-year retreat from 2006 to 2009 and then chose to become part of the community of monastic and lay practitioners.
One of our primary purposes is to perform traditional group practices according to our Tibetan Buddhist lineage. The core daily group practices last around 4 hours which are held unfailingly every day of the year. The first practice usually starts at 7.30am and the final practice of the day concludes just after 7pm. Those who perform the practices are trained in chanting the liturgies, playing traditional musical instruments and performing the associated rituals.
Rigpa community members who live in the local area also welcome to join the daily practices. The purpose of the practice is to dispel suffering and benefit beings including fulfilling prayer requests that we receive online or in person from the public and the worldwide Rigpa community. Following the tradition reaching back to the times of the Buddha, the Lerab Ling practitioners, as well as the temple, are supported by donations for fulfilling these requests.
Most of us have other roles like welcoming visitors, maintaining the gardens and the large site, cleaning, laundry, translating, video editing, event planning & management, IT, guiding personal retreatants, cooking and so on.
Lerab Ling is set in a beautiful natural environment. We love to share it with anyone who would like to come either as a tourist for a few hours or a longer period as a personal or family retreat. We have a tradition of Open Days on the first weekend in May. Last year the Open Day attracted 7,000 visitors! Please come to visit us.