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Gyalwang Drukpa visits Vietnam, first in four years


New Delhi, Jan 27
Buddhist spiritual leader and active environmentalist -- the Gyalwang Drukpa -- has made his first visit outside of India after four years.

At an invitation, he has shortlisted Vietnam, his 15th visit, as a first country to visit, his office said on Friday.

In a message, the Gyalwang Drukpa wrote: "Yes, this is my first official trip out of the country after four years of retreat.

"I'm quite proud of myself to be able to come back to Vietnam as the first country to visit after four years of retreat! Invitations keep on coming from many places, but I've chosen Vietnam as a first country to visit.

"I guess it's due to our unconditional relationship. Thousands of people came into the airport last night (Thursday) and welcomed with love and affection, which made me very encouraged to live in this world and give support to them whenever they need, although I have declared myself a retired man since six years ago."

His Holiness, who heads the 17th century Hemis monastery in Leh, said: "There is a special feeling I've gotten from their gestures and their unconditional love and devotion. They devote themselves no matter if I'm there in front of them or not, and they will continuously be devoting themselves to supporting spirituality and practice completely, all the way through their difficult and pleasant times.

"As you all know, that this trip is the 15th visit, they have not declined in devotion or love at all. They were requesting 20 days of visit this time, but I have requested them to make it shorter to 13 days due to some of my personal matters back at home. They have shown emotional disappointment for doing so, especially devotees from Ho Chi Minh City and other cities in south Vietnam.

"I have promised them that I will come and pay a visit to the southern part of Vietnam soon, in the near future. As I said before, I consider myself a retired man, and I have my own choice of which country I will choose to go and which country I will choose not to go," said the maroon-robed monk who is now recognised as a prominent voice for modern issues facing the Himalayas.

"Yet, Karma is a very strong phenomena that we cannot have any definite control on. Wherever the Karmic wind blows, we all have to go to that direction! In a way, it is very unfortunate. In another way, it gives us lots of interesting expectations and expirations, and life becomes very interesting and exciting as well. I would, therefore, say, let's wait and see."

The Gyalwang Drukpa is the current spiritual head of the 1,000-year-old Drukpa Order based in the Himalayas.

He also founded the Druk Amitabha Mountain nunnery in Kathmandu, a unique instance of gender reversal: the nuns run the administration.