The Bön Project

In conformity with its holistic approach to research, the Kalpa Group’s engagement with Bon has proceeded along a number of clearly-defined but intersecting lines. Each of the different project components is potentially a “stand-alone” area of research or other activity, but Kalpa’s philosophy is that a multidisciplinary perspective produces a whole that is more than the sum of its parts, and provides insights that would not be possible with a more conventional, monolineal approach. All the sub-projects were conceived, designed and executed in close cooperation with the communities they are intended to serve, and in consultation or actual collaboration with the most senior and highly-revered figures of the Bon religion itself.

Extension of the Chasey Kengtse Hostel

The ever increasing number of students necessiated the construction of a new hostel building. Currently, a new wing for bathrooms is under construction and the design of a third building on the drawing board.
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SOAS Conference

The work of the Kalpa Group in the preservation and development of the Bon religion were presented at a conference held at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies in September 2011.
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Shenten Dargyé Ling Monastery

The Kalpa Group’s purchase and gift of a large property in France’s Loire Valley gave the Bonpos the environment in which to establish their first permanent community in Europe. The subsequent recognition of the establishment as a Congregation compounded this security by recognising Bon as an official religion within Europe.
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Supporting Bön Communities

The Village of Lubrak in Nepal

Kalpa recognises that the Bon religion is not confined to the monastic cloister, but has a vital existence in the village communities of Tibet and the Himalayas. One of the Bon Project’s main centres of activity has been the village of Lubrak in Nepal’s Mustang District. Founded in the 12th century Lubrak is the earliest surviving Bonpo community in Nepal.
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The Restoration of Gongphu Gompa

At the heart of the Lubrak community is the ancient Gongphu Gompa (‘The Temple of the High Cave’). By the 1990s, the monastery had become increasingly dilapidated and following the collapse of the monastery’s roof, the impoverished villagers reached out for international assistance.
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The Chasey Kengtse School

The combination of the sacred and secular makes Lubrak the ideal location in which to develop a school that offers a good standard of modern education in an environment where children will not lose touch with their religious and cultural roots. The little school that began with a handful of children in three classes has now grown to over eighty children in eight grades, with a majority from neighbouring villages..
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Tum-mo – Body Heat

Bonpo esoteric traditions include the practice of psychically-generated body heat, known as tum-mo. Scientific and religious world views do not always coexist easily, but in conformity with Loel Guinness’ conviction that the two paradigms are not incompatible—a view shared by the spiritual leaders of the Bon tradition—a small group of monks, practitioners of tum-mo, worked with the Harvard-based Mind-Body Institute to explore the physiological transformations that take place during this yogic process.
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Films

While research by a number of pioneering scholars has led to a clearer understanding of the Bon religion, wider public knowledge is either nonexistent or subject to deeply-entrenched clichés and prejudices. In Search of Zhang zhung, a film that has been televised in numerous countries, was conceived with a view to presenting a more accurate view of Bonpos and their spiritual aspirations.
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Publications

The book Sacred Landscape and Pilgrimage in Tibet accompanies the film “In Search of Zhang Zhung”. It is built around the journey of the monk Geshe Gelek Jinpa, with additional chapters on Bön history and the status of the religion in the modern world.
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Research and Tibetan Studies

The Kalpa Group actively encourages general research activities related to Bon and Tibetan Studies. This has taken the form of support for Bonpo monks and young scholars to attend international conferences, backing for archaeological explorations on Zhang Zhung in Western Tibet, and numerous small grants to students to enable them to undertake or complete doctoral research.
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