Geshe Loden, seen here conducting a ceremony at the Penticton Art Gallery in 2017, is returning to Penticton as a lama-in-residence. Steve Kidd/Western News

Penticton has a lama in residence

Tibetan Buddhist monk to teach in Penticton

A local group has succeeded in their quest to attract a Tibetan lama to reside in Penticton and teach, talk and share with the community.

Geshe Thupten Loden, who has visited Penticton with the Mystical Arts of Tibet tour out of the Drepung Loseling Monastery, is in Penticton on a six-month trial residency.

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Wendy Goudie and the team at Get Bent, with the help of Joy Tunold, have been working for the past year to locate a lama for a residency program.

Founding the Okanagan Dharma Centre was the first step.

“Currently the ODC is running programs in the (Get Bent) studio space, but I believe it will grow. We hope to have a retreat centre in the hills close to Penticton in the future. There is a strong community here,” said Goudie.

Geshe Loden, born in Ladakh, India, became a monk at Drepung Loseling monastery at the age of thirteen.

While in Tibetan University he was elected as the assistant secretary of student welfare committee. He was principal of the Drepung Loseling School for four years and a board member on the education and counselling committee of the Tibetan settlement. He obtained his Geshe degree in 2011, the equivalent of a PhD in Buddhist studies.

It was while serving as the spokesperson for the Mystical Arts of Tibet Tour, that his travels landed him in Canada for a little more than a week. The tour visited Penticton twice, in 2007 and again in 2017.

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“We talked a bit about a few of the monks possible coming back, but it was pretty vague,” said Goudie. She connected with many of the Drepung monks on Facebook. “Most of them just wanted to practice English, but I talked to as many as I could and tried to find someone that would come here. It was really hard, there’s so much to consider. Knowledge, English and being able to handle the culture shock.”

“Geshe Loden told me it would be hard to find the right person. He said it’s very hard. I kept sending him potential people I thought were great and he would say ‘No, he doesn’t know enough English,’ ‘No, he can’t teach beginners.’”

Geshe Loden decided he would come for a six-month trial to get things up and running and see if there is in fact, enough community to support.

“I think he just got tired of me pestering him and finally gave in,” Goudie said.

The mission of the Okanagan Dharma Centre is to provide a traditional spiritual teacher, based in Tibetan Buddhism, to the Penticton community.

“Learning how to meditate is so important for basic mental health and to a happy perspective. The perspective and meditation techniques taught in Tibetan Buddhism are very pragmatic and simple. It’s not intimidating and again, it’s accessible,” said Goudie. “It breaks into three parts, the science, the philosophy, and the religion. The science and philosophy can be applied to all belief systems.”

Geshe Loden, through the Okanagan Dharma Centre, offers a lecture and brief practice on Meditation Mondays at 7:30 p.m. A potluck lunch and Dharma teaching is held every Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Both sessions are held at Get Bent and by donation.

Memberships to the Okanagan Dharma Centre are $40 until end of Feb 2019.

Loden is available for public speaking, guest teaching, and meditation sessions, with a donation to the ODC. Call 250-462 -1025, email fun@getbentcentre.com or find the Okanagan Dharma Centre on Facebook.


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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