Here is a poignant love poem about a Tibetan Drukpa Kagyud community living in the foothills of northern India. Produced and photographed by Barbara Green, narrated by Dechen Bartso, interspersed with singing by Thrinlay Chodon, and edited by Nathaniel Dorsky, this documentary transports us to Tashi Jong—“auspicious valley”—a self-sustaining community of 400 that fled the Kham region of Eastern Tibet in 1959.
The video shows how the spirit of this community’s religious faith permeates the activities of its everyday life. The simple and elegant narration depicts the daily rhythms of cooking, cleaning, teaching classes and performing various tasks in Tashi Jong’s monastery. We are introduced to a craft center where carpets are made and sold; to a children’s school in which subjects are taught in Tibetan, Hindi and English; and to a health clinic that dispenses both modern and traditional medicines. Tibetan herbal concoctions are prepared under the supervision of tokdens, highly accomplished yogis who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of physical and spiritual ailments.
Concluding segments of the video depict sacred dances that were transmitted, over three hundred years ago, in a vision of Padmasambhava received by the community’s spiritual leader, Khamtrul Rinpoche. Padmasambhava, the charismatic founder of Buddhism in Tibet, foretold that the performance of these dances would help sustain the dharma. The community has maintained the dances faithfully ever since. Depicting a dramatic triumph of wisdom over ignorance, the dances use slow gentle sounds and movements to help quiet the mind and deepen compassion, and fast forceful rhythms to mark the end of the ego’s grasping. The dances transform ordinary time and space into a sacred dimension, one that honors daily struggles for survival as expressions of compassion in action.
To watch this video is to be touched by the living spirit and devotion of this remarkable community.