Lam Rim Buddist Centre

Our History

In October 1977 Ven Geshe Damcho Yonten was invited to give a week-end course in the Wye Valley, by the 31st December a group of 4 lay people who attended and helped with the course who lived locally expressed a strong determination to establish a Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Monmouthshire, South Wales as there was already Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Scotland and one in England. When searching for a Centre Ven Geshe Damcho-la was asked for instructions - he suggested we searched for a building, situated on a hill, set in its own grounds, not overlooked by anything

The Side of the HouseAfter 3 months searching we found it, and on the 31st July 1978 Ven Geshe Damcho-la, together with 2 nuns, Amila Palmo and Ani Tsultim and four laypeople. Michael, Margaret, Mike and Edita moved into Pentwyn Manor, having all sold their homes to purchase the property. Pentwyn Manor is a mock Tudor house, built in 1911,and set in 8.1/2 acres, and is situated on the top of a hill, not overlooked by anything in a small hamlet called Penrhos, 4 miles from Raglan.

Life at the Centre was not easy, there were very few text-books on Tibetan Buddhism translated into English, we were unfamiliar with chanting in Tibetan and did not know any of the tunes of the Pujas and prayers. Ven. Geshe Damcho-la gave weekly chanting practice in his room and also gave us Lam Rim teachings. There was so much new information to absorb together with learning to live with other and also running courses at week-ends. There has always been a great diversity of courses offered and many people were introduced to the Buddhist way of life by following a path of yoga, and tai chi. Ven Geshe Damcho-la has always been accessible to all who visit Lam Rim Buddhist Centre.

In 1983 Lam Rim Buddhist Centre became a registered charity and became the owner of Pentwyn Manor, having repaid the owners from the capital from courses and donations that had been accrued over the years.

Big developmental milestones have taken place both with the building, a new roof, developments to the single rooms of the Annex, and the development of The Coach House into 4 self-contain apartments for retreats and courses alongside with our own spiritual development. Many people have continued to support the Centre, through generous donations and attending courses of long standing with the result that Lam Rim Buddhist Centre has become the Spiritual Home to many people both here and abroad. Many lives have been touched by the words of wisdom that Ven Geshe Damcho-la has imparted during Question time whilst sitting around the fire in the lounge on a Saturday evening, whether it be a Buddhist, yoga, tai chi or shiatsu course, all people experience problems and many have found Geshe Damcho-la's approach very practical.

Prayer PathVen Geshe Damcho-la has always maintained that his preference is for a small Centre with group of sincere students who wish to try and put Buddha's teachings into practice.

Over the years Ven.Geshe Damcho-la's students have earned a reputation for being hard-working, sincere dharma practitioners. Geshe-Damcho-la once wrote" It is good for teachers to experience their students transforming Buddha's words into action - the only way to check out the teachings is by putting them into practice, that means action. So, it makes me happy to see friends taking up responsibilities for the establishment of firm foundation to help many beings. I can think of nothing better to do with this life that to dedicate it to help others to achieve peace and happiness,. Thank you all my friends".

On the 15th January 1988 Lam Rim Buddhist Centre charity finalised negotiations for the purchase of Pentwyn Manor. This was brought about by the monies from courses, retreats and donation, also gifts of £5,000, £7,000 and £27,709, together with two interest-free loans of £12,5000 each. As you can see the purchase of the property was brought about by the generosity and kindness of many people and we therefore have great cause to rejoice and dedicate the result of such effort.Geshe-la thanked everyone and said that the infinite merits created by helping to strengthen and make firm a dharma centre in order to benefit all beings for both this and future lifetimes are immeasurable especially in these difficult and troubled times.

In 1989 following the purchase of Pentwyn Manor, the scaffolding went up and a new roof descended on us. There were 22,000 tiles to be placed on the roof, so we asked for everyone who knew Lam Rim Buddhist Centre to buy some tiles at £1 per tile. with the help or a cartoon Mr Tile and a few ditties, we eventually made it.

During the 80's Ven Geshe Damcho-la would travel to Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea giving Teachings to groups of students on a weekly basis and in 1988 Lam Rim Bristol Buddhist Centre was established.

Two Buddhist practitioners who lived in South Africa and whose relatives came from Cardiff, came to see Geshe-la and requested him to please visit South Africa and give Teachings as there was a desperate need. Although it was a long journey to make Geshe-la was touched by the sincerity of their request, and in 1988 Ven Geshe Damcho-la accompanied by John Peacock(whose air-fare was raised by donations here) visited South Africa, giving Teachings and meditation courses. At the end of that visit a group of students requested Ven Geshe Damcho-la to become Spiritual Director of another new Lam Rim South Africa Buddhist Centre to be established in Johannesburg.

Flying FlagsWe also hoisted a 40ft Tibetan Prayer Flag to celebrate together with prayers flags carrying prayers on the wind for all beings in all directions. The Victory Banner, as it is called is to proclaim victory over negativity, the victory being the establishment of a sacred space, a spiritual space, in this Age of degeneration, so that travellers can see it from a long distance away, and recognise a place of sanctuary. We also established "Become a Friend of Lam Rim" at £10 per year, and established the LAM RIM MANDALA NEWSLETTER for linking together all those Friends from far and wide. For the 1st time in 10 years we found we had to request donations from students attending Teachings to offset our on-going costs for the maintenance and upkeep of the Centre, 1988 was a most amazing year especially as His Holiness the Dalai Lama came to London for his second UK visit to teach at Westminster Central Hall.

During a visit to Drepung Loseling Monastery in 1991 with Ven Geshe Damcho-la, 4 students who accompanied him decided to each sponsor a monk from Gya Khangtsen (Geshe-la's house) to provide them with the financial means to study instead of working in the fields, two of those young monks were Ven Lobsang Dhonden-la and Ven Lobsang Thinley-la - now Ven Geshe Lobsang Thinley-la who was the resident teacher at Lam Rim Bristol Buddhist Centre for many years. This sponsorship scheme has flourished and many monks in Gya Khangtsen today are financially supported during their Geshe studies by Lam Rim students. At the same time Ven Geshe Damcho-la and some students also donated monies to provide suitable accommodation for all the monks and Gya Khangtsen was transformed by the monks from a dark, damp black little building to more spacious dry accommodation suitable for the all monks, both young and old to live and study.

We were also invited to dinner by a young 13 year old monk, who in past life was Ven Geshe Damcho-la's teacher - Ven. Gyalrong Khentrul Rinpoche, he was a fascinating Young Rinpoche who spoke good English and had memorised all the world's airlines - we were so impressed we sent him a book about airlines when we returned to UK.

In 1993 His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited Cardiff and then very kindly came to Lam Rim Buddhist Centre on a private visit to bless our new shrine, which had been made by a cabinet maker from the next village, and decorated by an interior decorator from Ross-on-Wye. Ven Ngawang Wangchen-la from Jamyang Centre (previously at Finsbury Park) was also staying with us. Such a day full of blessings.

1995 was the year of statues,- we welcomed a 1 ton Shakyamuni Buddha statue carved in limestone by Jack Everett, commissioned by Tessa King as an appreciation to Geshe-la for the precious teachings he has given us over 17 years at Lam Rim. A large statue of Lama Tsong Khapa and two smaller statues of his two main disciples were donated by Geshe Damcho-la and David Johnson. The mantras and clothes for the statues were donated by the monks of Gya Khangtsen to express their gratitude to Geshe Damcho-la and Lam Rim students for all the help and on-going support we provide.

Tower of Coach HouseDuring 1996 we tackled the Coach-House and renovations took place to convert the stables to two self contained apartments, and redesigned the upstairs to two self-contained apartments. We also established the OM MANI PADME HUNG PATH around the 8.1/2 acres surrounding the Centre.

In 1999, we celebrated our 21st year with a Summer Celebration Party - our ornamental key is hanging on the wall in the Shrine Room. We sent offerings of over £1,000 to the monks at Drepung Loseling Monastery, South India. to chant pujas all day for the long life of Ven. Geshe Damcho-la as a token on our thanks and appreciation of his kindness and patience practice. We also introduced the invitation to establish the 84 Guardians of Lam Rim Buddhist Centre, each Guardian was requested to donate £10 per month to provide a financial cushion to soften our workload.

2004 was the start of the Building Project for a new Gya Khangtsen, the old house being used for the little monks. The new house also has its own Temple. £50,000 was raised for the buildings and was consecrated by Rizong Rinpoche, on Lama Tsong Khapa Day 2005, in his address he spoke to the monks about the history of Gya Khangtsen. Also Ven Geshe Damcho-la requested Rizong Rinpoche to become Patron of all the Lam Rim Centres,Rinpoche said he was very happy to accept. Denma Locho Rinpoche who also blessed Gya Khangtsen Temple the next day was also requested to become Patron of all Lam Rim Centres, and he too was so happy to accept.

On one occasion H.H. the Dalai Lama spoke about the interdependence between spiritual things and material wealth. Dharma centres and followers of a spiritual path need both. Dharma centres without financial help cannot survive within our world system, also our world system will not survive without spiritual energies generating positive thoughts and actions. So, you see both are dependent on each other. In these degenerate times - violence, abuse and killings, there is a special need to support spiritual things because that will lead to peacefulness and happiness. Thank you.