The ongoing dharma trogar (DT) programme at Ugyen Dorji monastery in Pasakha, Phuentsholing has proved beneficial to about 104 young students of Phuentsholing Thromde.

The programme by the Institute of Science of Mind (ISM) under the Zhung Dratshang involves lectures on Buddhist spiritual values and education on mind and meditation.

Students say it is a life-changing programme.

A 14-year-old student from Phuentsholing Higher Secondary School (PHSS), Pema Yangchen, said the programme changed her completely as a person.

“I was an angry and rude girl when I first came here,” she said. “I am not the same person anymore.”

Wearing the red robe,  Pema Yangchen closes her eyes as she listens to the teachings about the importance of being born as a human.

“This programme has made me calm and a better person,” she says. “The programme should be extended to one month next year.”

Although the programme is meant just for students in Phuentsholing, Jamyang Choden, 19, a Commerce student of Rinchen High Secondary School in Thimphu, applied for the programme.

“It is my second time attending the DT,” she says.

DT has changed her way of thinking how Buddhism works in the Bhutanese context, she says. “Most youth today believe that our Buddhist way and culture are just  about rituals, but it is not.”

Jamyang Choden explained that Buddhism has a lot more to do with the study of mind.

The programme is aimed at grooming youth so that they are able to contribute to the country’s development and sovereignty, says Lopon Tashi Tshering from ISM. “With rapid modernisation, there are chances we could lose our culture and traditions. We are sensitising the young minds through the spiritual way.”

Meditation sessions are conducted from morning until evening prayers.

Officials from various agencies come to speak on specific topics.

Cultural activities such as dance, tsangmo, debate, and games and sports are also organised.

Students live in the monastery hostel.

The programme will conclude today.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing