Buddhist Boertjie opens temple in Pretoria

  • Pretoria News
  • 13 Apr 2015
  • JEAN VON WITT

buddhist boretjie buddhist temple pretoria south africa

TUCKED away in a Pretoria suburb is a new Place of Enlightenment where anyone interested in spiritual growth may go in their quest to find inner peace.

It was started by Duan Pienaar, aka Venerable Gyalten Nyima, the only known Afrikaner boerseun to have been ordained as a monk following the Gelugpa lineage (tradition) by the highly selective Tantric Buddhists in Balykuppe, a Tibetan settlement in the south of India.

I’m from Cape Town ( shoo wah, shoo wah) so I’m used to seeing men walking around in robes, sarongs, or some sort of eccentric dress.  But to be greeted outside a facebrick, suburban house in Pretoria by a grown man clad in a burgundy-andorange robe ensemble came as something of a surprise.

Maybe I’m being unfair about the sensibilties of people in the capital city. After all, more than 30 people attended a recent Dharma evening at Duan’s recently built temple in Waverley.

As a typical boerseun growing up in Riviera and attending the Ned Geref Kerk with his parents, the young Duan found himself gravitating more towards the charismatic Apostolic church.  “I suppose you can say I was a happy clappy,” he smiles, with his clear blue eyes twinkling with merriment in typical “Laughing Buddha” style.

After the obligatory two-year stint in the army, followed by a career in the retail industry, his search for enlightenment led him to begin studying theology through Unisa. By the age of 28, still looking for something beyond the traditional teachings of the church, he discovered the Buddhist community at the Bronkhorstspruit Temple. Watching the movie Kundun opened his mind, he says, to such an extent that he started going on spiritual retreats where he investigated the practice of meditation.

“In fact I stayed at the temple for a year at one stage, but I was not quite ready to become more than an aspirant monk – I still had a young man’s hormones!” he laughs.

Today, at the age of 48 and a fully ordained Tibetan Buddhist monk, he is happy to have taken the vows of celibacy and lives in harmony with his life partner, Sandra, his 76-year-old mother and 18-year-old daughter from a previous marriage in an extended household that includes a young boerboel puppy.

After first visiting India a couple of years ago, before the ordination ceremony at the Je Sera Monastery in India in December 2014, Duan said he knew his calling was to be a teacher and “go out in the world and make a difference”.

Duan also remembers having the gift of clairvoyance “since I was a child” and found the Tibetan branch of Buddhism to be the only spiritual path he has encountered to actively encourage clairvoyance.

The key to happiness, believes this Buddhist boertjie, lies in controlling our minds, not by simply striving to improve our external conditions.  “If our mind is not peaceful, we shall never be happy… so man has to find a spiritual outlook in life to really discover the true meaning of existence – and the courage to look within ourselves.”  Meditation is a method to control our minds, he explains, so that by controlling our minds – in particular our anger, attachment and self-grasping – our problems will disappear.

By pursuing the path to enlightenment, which is “omniscient wisdom free from all mistaken appearances”, we can strive to be fully awakened beings.  “All beings possess this potential to awake fully… just by looking within we can discover our true nature, which is Buddha nature.”

Following his dream to teach the practices of Dharma in Pretoria, he opened the Jang Chup Chopel Centre (Place of Enlightenment) on his premises in January.  The centre was named by his spiritual teacher and ordination master, Lama Choden Rinpoche.  There he teaches guided meditation, holds chanting sessions, and regularly invites the public to attend special events such as a clairvoyant evening.

On Saturday April 25 at 7pm, there will be a talk on Dharma and a clairvoyance evening at the centre.

For more information on upcoming classes, events, etc visit the Jang Chup Chopel Buddhist Centre facebook page or email: Karmagelek @gmail.com