|Ngakma Nor’dzin teaching amulet weaving.|
Ngakma Nor’dzin: I was inspired by the success of a similar venture in Bristol. The teachings of the Aro Tradition are so precious and relevant to our everyday lives that I wanted to make them available to the people of Cardiff as well.
Q: What were your hopes for the Centre when you began looking for a place?
Ngakma Nor’dzin: I wanted to offer a space for meditation that people would find welcoming and inspiring. It also needed to be convenient for me and easy to access.
Q: Why did you choose Whitchurch as the place for the new Centre?
Ngakma Nor’dzin: I have lived in Whitchurch for nearly 30 years. It is my home and an area of Cardiff that I love. Whitchurch village is a pleasant place to be and has a good feeling of local community. I felt the centre could become a real asset to the community and the village.
Q: What have you had to change in your life to take on the running of a Centre?
Ngakma Nor’dzin: I had to reduce other commitments so that I had more time available, and the main manifestation of this was with regard to our horses. We owned two horses at the time and they took up a lot of my time. We gave our gelding to the place where they are liveried, and put our old mare on retirement livery. This meant that they could stay together and both be happy and cared for without needing my attention day by day.
Q: What does the Centre offer to the people of Whitchurch and Cardiff?
Ngakma Nor’dzin: The Centre offers teaching on Vajrayana Buddhism, Tibetan Yoga and Buddhist arts and crafts. We offer meditation instruction and group practice. There is also a small reference library.
Q: When are you open?
Ngakma Nor’dzin: Something is available every day except Sunday and Monday. There is something available during every part of the day: morning, afternoon and evening at some point in the week. Our
schedule can be found at aro-ling.org/cardiff, and at meetup.com/arolingcardiff.
Q: Do you offer courses?
Ngakma Nor’dzin: Yes, and we hope to increase these as Aro Ling Cardiff moves into its second year. Our evening courses are usually on Thursday evenings for around five weeks, and explore particular Buddhist teachings in some depth. We also run Saturday morning courses, including a regular introduction to meditation practice on the first Saturday of each month.
Q: What tradition of Buddhism does the Centre teach?
Ngakma Nor’dzin: The Aro Tradition – which is a small branch of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism.
Q: In what way does this tradition differ from other Buddhist traditions?
Ngakma Nor’dzin: It has an emphasis on Vajrayana practice, embracing ordinary life as the path of Liberation. The ordained practitioners in the Aro Tradition are not monks or nuns but tantrikas, yogis and yoginis, who live an ordinary non-celibate lifestyle whilst maintaining their commitment to practice and the Vajrayana vows. This tradition embraces romance, marriage and family life as a powerful means of gaining realisation.
Q: Would you say that this approach is particularly suited to Western people?
Ngakma Nor’dzin: Absolutely – that is why it is so valuable and so important that people learn about this style of practice. The householder tradition was well-known in Tibet, but it is the monastic style of practice that has mostly been imported to the West. It is vital that something other than renunciation and a monastic style of practice is available to those who do not find this works for them but still feel an affinity to Buddhism.
Q: How do you make the Centre and it’s activities known to the public?
Ngakma Nor’dzin: We advertise as much as we can afford! Leaflets are delivered locally a couple of times a year and we advertise in The Local Advertiser. I have a notice board at the end of the drive that advertises our activities. We use Facebook, Twitter and Meetup and other social networking. We produce flyers and posters and simply try to let as many people know of our existence as possible.
Q: Aro Ling Cardiff has been open for a year. Has the response to the Centre met with your expectations?
Ngakma Nor’dzin: The response has been most encouraging. The first courses were better attended than I expected and this has evolved into a regular group for meditation on a Tuesday evening. The furtherance of awareness of Vajrayana Buddhism and the Householder Lineage is the primary purpose of the centre, and this is going well.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
Ngakma Nor’dzin: We are hoping to offer more courses as these have been popular, and we will continue with the Saturday opening. There will be Tibetan yoga sessions and opportunities for craft work. We are hoping to get a projector so that we can do visual presentations and show Buddhist films. We will continue to invite guest teachers from time to time and may have weekend teaching events and retreats as well. I hope that we will be able to expand what we are able to offer and giving a more detailed view of the amazing scope of the Aro teachings and practice.