Buddhist Lama works to teach young people the value of spiritual life over a material one

Recommended by Alicia Purdy

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, June 8 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

Our take: Tibetan Buddhist monk Khenpo Tenzin Sangpo is worried about the shift he sees in young people who live in his small town of Kagbeni, which lies in the foothills of the Nepali Himalaya. Sangpo has noted the shift from a culture focused on spirituality to one of modernization, materialism and Western ideas. Hand-in-hand with the spiritual balance of the area is the cultural one, which Sangpo fears is slipping away. To address this, he opened the Kag Chode Thupten Samphel Ling Monastery to teach and therefore preserve the spiritual and cultural history of his land.

Khenpo Tenzin Sangpo is worried about the future of his community. He is the abbot of Kag Chode Thupten Samphel Ling Monastery, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the town of Kagbeni, which lies in the foothills of the Nepali Himalaya. There, in the protective folds of the Annapurna and Dauligiri ranges, he feels that the spiritual culture of his people is eroding.

Historically, Kagbeni was a mighty fortress town on the southern border of the region of Nepal called the Kingdom of Lo. The people of Lo -- the Loba -- are ethnically Tibetan and speak a dialect of Tibetan called Lowa. Their culture and identity is steeped in the practice of Tibetan Buddhism, and after the Chinese occupation of Tibet, the Loba community became one of the best surviving examples of traditional Tibetan culture left in the world. But all this is changing.

"The main threat that I find so far is lack of awareness and understanding among the local people about the rich value and benefit of their culture," Khenpo Tenzin Sangpo wrote in an e-mail. "And adoption of Western consumerist culture has also posed similar threats among the youths, making them more attentive and excited in obtaining a lifestyle with more, or only, material luxury."

Read more about this Buddhist monk's efforts on The Huffington Post.

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