Ven. Chodron greets Ven. Damcho’s mom as many, many friends turn out to welcome them at the Singapore airport. 

By Ven. Thubten Damcho

After a hiatus of close to three years, Ven. Chodron returned to Singapore for her first teaching tour since the beginning of the Covid pandemic. En route, she gave a talk at the American Evergreen Buddhist Association in Seattle on “Transforming Anxiety and Depression in a Rapidly Changing World,” giving much-needed practical instructions on how to work with worry, fear, anxiety, and depression. Watch the talk here.

Nun giving teachings at Pureland Marketing.

A full schedule of teachings

The Friends of Sravasti Abbey Singapore (FOSAS) have maintained close connections with the Abbey via Zoom throughout the pandemic. They organized events for this visit, and rejoiced in Ven. Chodron’s return to give a full schedule of teachings:

  • “The Four Close Placements of Mindfulness,” a weekend of talks at Amitabha Buddhist Centre on why and how the Buddha taught meditators to establish mindfulness on the body, feelings, mind, and phenomena. These are a helpful introduction to the topic for our Winter Retreat and the Retreat from Afar. Here’s the playlist.
  • “Searching for the Self,” two talks at Amitabha Buddhist Centre on chapter one of Volume 7 of The Library of Wisdom and Compassion, explaining why realizing emptiness is important and what it is. Watch the talks here.
  • “Practicing the Dharma in Difficult Times,” a talk at Buddhist Library in which Ven. Chodron unpacked the third point on “transforming adverse circumstances into the path to enlightenment” from “The Seven-Point Mind Training” by Geshe Chekawa. Listen to the talk here.
  • “Finding Your Purpose in Life” for Singapore Buddhist Mission Youth, where Ven. Chodron spoke about how to cultivate genuine self-confidence and took questions from the youths and hundreds of others watching on Zoom. Listen to the talk here
  • “In Praise of Great Compassion,” a book launch of Volume 5 of The Library of Wisdom and Compassion at Poh Ming Tse temple, which kindly sponsored 100 copies of the book for distribution to participants. Ven. Chodron spoke on the self-centered attitude and self-grasping ignorance that are our key obstacles to cultivating genuine compassion.
  • “Live Each Day with Loving-Kindness” at Buddhist Fellowship Singapore, where Ven. Chodron explained how to cultivate equanimity as the precursor for generating loving-kindness towards all being.
  • “Free Yourself from Attachment” at Pureland Marketing, a continuation of Ven. Chodron’s annual talks in Singapore on Shantideva’s Engaging in the Bodhisattva’s Deeds. After more than 15 years, Ven. Chodron is now teaching chapter 8 on meditation and how to overcome the obstacles to concentration such as attachment.
Nun giving teachings at Pureland Marketing.

More teachings

Amidst this very full teaching schedule, Ven. Chodron caught a cold but pushed through to speak on “Healing from the Heart” at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery. She shared inspiring stories of both perpetrators and victims of crimes healing through restorative justice and forgiveness. Watch it here.

At the end of the talk, the FOSAS made a moving aspiration to continue to support the Abbey and the establishment of the Dharma in the West, especially through the building of the Buddha Hall. Watch it here

Unfortunately, Ven. Chodron was unable to give the final talk at Vimalakirti Buddhist Centre in person as she had lost her voice. The center skillfully showed a video recording of Ven. Chodron’s 2018 talk on “Who is Amitabha?” and everyone present dedicated for her swift recovery.

In addition to giving public teachings, Ven. Chodron also gave a private talk on “Calming the Anxious Mind” at Pureland Marketing with Ven. Damcho offering Chinese translation.

On Lama Tsongkhapa Day, she gave a short talk before the Guru Puja at Amitabha Buddhist Centre, sharing from Thubten Jinpa’s biography on the life of Lama Tsongkhapa and his teachings on the “Three Principal Aspects of the Path.” Watch it here.

As always, she met with many old Dharma friends whom she has been connected with since 1987, including Alice Chua who worked with her to establish Amitabha Buddhist Centre in its early years.

Nun giving teachings at Pureland Marketing.

The journey continues

Ven. Damcho is accompanying Ven. Chodron as her assistant, and this year they are also supported by Donyo, an anagarika from Quebec, Canada. With a professional background in sound engineering, Donyo has been a great help with ensuring that Ven. Chodron’s voice sounds clear in different teaching venues, and recording the teachings for online publication and archival.

This being his first trip to Singapore, the FOSAS have enjoyed showing him around Buddhist temples and other landmarks. Read his reflections: In Singapore:Cake for Breakfast.

Following the completion of the first leg of their trip in Singapore, the Abbey team now heads to Bodh Gaya to attend His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings. Stay tuned for updates!