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The Importance of the ADC

By Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

Recently I was elected to be deputy chairperson of the 2nd ADC, so I would like to say a few words about this event, and why it is important in these times. The following is just my own opinion and may not reflect the views of the Rinpoches concerned.

Historically the Drukpa Lineage was originally established in Tibet and also in many of the Himalayan border regions such as Bhutan, Ladakh, Lahaul and Kinnaur. In the past, most monasteries had been guided by their own incarnate Lamas rather than a central body.

The Dharma faces the challenge of modernisation and a generation of young people brought up on cable TV and computer internet. In addition there is the constant incursion of influences from other religions. The simple unquestioning faith in the power of the Dharma and the omniscient Lamas is now a thing of distant memory.

All schools of Buddhism are therefore facing the same basic problems: how to continue to maintain their traditions and at the same time make their teachings relevant for modern times. Within the Palden Drukpa lineage these same questions exist. In addition, since this is a tradition of practitioners and yogins, it is a lineage that historically was pervaded by a spirit of independence and non-conformity. The Drukpa Lineage Lamas and monasteries have not been inclined to see themselves as part of an overriding organisation to which they must give loyalty.

This attitude is both a strength and a weakness. There is an air of freedom and self-determination pervading the lineage. But the weakness has been a lack of unanimity or sense of common aims. As a result the Drukpa Lineage - although so important historically and still so widespread - is hardly known outside of the Himalayan regions.

Therefore it seems to me that His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa has determined to foster a feeling of common identity and purpose among the various Drukpa Lamas under the premise that united we stand, divided we fall. In order to accomplish His vision the Annual Drukpa Council was convened to bring together the various Drukpa Lineage lamas and practitioners so that they can discuss their shared aims and experience a sense of team spirit. Many participants had not met before and others had not seen each other for a long time, yet there was a feeling of mutual recognition in our common challenges and aspirations. Whatever be our individual projects and problems, we all belong to the Dongyud Pelden Drukpa lineage.

These annual meetings can give an opportunity for personal projects to be shared and a common strategy reached. In addition it is the time for many lay followers of this tradition coming from the various Himalayan regions and from abroad to gather together and listen to Dharma teachings delivered by the many eminent Lamas of the lineage and thereby share together a sense of belonging to the same tradition regardless of our various backgrounds. This reinforces a sense of solidarity and I have great hopes that these annual meetings will achieve His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa's vision for the future unity of this glorious tradition.