Shenten Dargyé Ling Monastery, Blou

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As a part of a broad programme of support for the Bön tradition, Loel Guinness, founder of the Kalpa Group, purchased a former school, the Château de Modtais, at Blou in the Loire Valley and donated it for use as a retreat and conference centre for the Bön tradition.
Under the supervision of His Eminence Yongdzin Lopon Tenzin Namdak and Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung, the Château has been renovated and adapted by a group of Bönpo monks and local supporters.

Since its foundation, the monastery has become a focal point for Bonpo followers in Europe, offering each year several mediation retreats of varying duration as well as teaching and practice programs, and publishing compilations of religious teachings and hosting visiting scholars. A thriving religious centre, Shenten is also developing courses on the Tibetan language, traditional Tibetan medicine and thangka painting (traditional scroll painting) and initiating projects to transcribe teachings and translate Tibetan texts.

Additionally, the project supports:
The creation of a digital and book archive of teachings given by H.E. Yongdzin Rinpoche and other Bönpo masters
The compilation of a comprehensive library of Bönpo texts
The completion of the main assembly hall
The construction of a stupa

THE STATUS OF ‘CONGREGATION’ – RECOGNITION OF THE BÖN RELIGION IN FRANCE

The centre received further support in 2006 when, as a result of Kalpa’s actions, it was given ‘Congregation’ status by the French government. This recognised Bön as an authentic and independent religion, and will help facilitate the development of the Bön religion in both France and internationally.

Of this important decision, H.E. Yongdzin Rinpoche said:
“Receiving the status of congregation from the French Government is a very special opportunity for us. It means that Yungdrung Bön is now recognised as an authentic religion in Europe. This is a very critical time for us Bönpos and for Tibetan culture and religion in general, and so the establishment in Blou will be very significant for the future of our religion. At Blou, we will develop a hub that will be a vital presence in preserving our religion and culture. Not only will it be a centre of education, but Blou will also be a place where the practical aspects of our religion can flourish - medicine, art, language and so on - alongside religious activities.”

Tenpa Yungdrung, Abbot of Triten Norbutse Monastery in Kathmandu, commented:
“The recognition of Shenten Dargyé Ling as a Congregation in France is something very new in Bönpo history. We are very happy about it, for by granting us the status of Congregation, the French government has recognised that our tradition, Yungdrung Bön, is an authentic religion. This is a new chapter in our history as although Bön was the indigenous state religion of Tibet for many centuries in ancient times, it has since come under several waves of persecution due to political changes. We also welcome our new status as it will make it easier for us to carry out our religious activities for preserving the rich tapestry of our tradition, and for educating young monks and lay people to ensure Yungdrung Bön continues to benefit future generations.
We are looking forward to Shenten Dargyé Ling developing and flourishing as an important centre for Bön studies both in terms of spiritual practice and academic research. We have already moved a complete set of scriptures here, the Kangyur and Katen, and are continuing to gather other authentic Bön texts to enhance our archive. We consider this work to be of prime importance for the future of our tradition. This great achievement has largely been facilitated by Mr. Guinness’s generous support, and we are very grateful to him.”

Rinpoche added,
“Loel Guinness’s support has been a great help to us. He supports the preservation of our religion and culture in many ways and although we have long been hoping to establish a centre like Shenten Dargyé Ling, it was only thanks to his generous donation that this project was able to get off the ground.”

For more information about the Shenten Dargyé Ling centre, please write to:
Shenten Dargyé Ling
Château de la Modtais
49160 BLOU France
Or visit: www.shenten.org