Gyuto Monks of Tibet in Australia.

Yesterday, I shared my serendipitous encounter where I met a group of Gyuto Monks from Tibet at my local beach in sunny Australia, not far from Sydney.

Today, I wanted to share a few more photos and delve further into what the monks are about and why they’re in Australia.

monks on beach.JPG

Photo: Rowena Curtin

After all, if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably need to have the details pointed out to i.e these monks wear the the same robes as the esteemed Dalai Lama and “are masters of Tibetan Buddhist tantric ritual and their lives are dedicated to practicing tantric ideals. To be with them, to observe and be touched by their humanity, is to see kindness in action.”

That said, I have read and posted about The Pursuit of Happiness  by the Dalai Lama and Howard Carter in addition to yesterday’s post: Accidents, Blessings & Tibetan Monks at an Australian Beach.


Much of this is beyond my understanding and experience but I strive to place love, compassion and empathy at the centre of my life…values which are lived and breathed by the Holy men.

surfer zoom

At one with the wave. Photo Rowena Newton at Wamberal, NSW.

I don’t know if I’ve ever thought of surfing as a spiritual activity before but it has to be. Obviously, surfing is intimately connected with the ocean, the waves and nature and being close to the ocean always makes me feeling closer to God, feeling his wonder, majesty and spirit all around me. It blows me away. After all, God occupies our entire universe and isn’t shut inside a building.

In an interview with Australian Surf Champion Nick Carroll,  broadcaster Caroline Jones asked: “Is there something about the moment when you’re absolutely concentrated there on what’s happening, that is, a feeling that as well as being frightening, a moment of great peace, or joy or something very extraordinary?

He replied: “Yes, surely.If you want to put it into a religious framework, Eastern religions deal with moments like that better than what we consider are usual forms of religion because they do deal with cathartic moments. The Zen Buddhists deal with them very well. You get moments where your whole body, soul and mind are just concentrated on doing something in the surf. When it’s very big and you catch a wave and take off there’s usually, on a big wave in Hawaii, several seconds during that wave where you really throw yourself over the brink, you really have to forget about everything, totally, to make it. You have to forget about trying to do something, you have to just get up, trust your instinct and just fall into the wave. It’s during seconds like that that you seem to just  totally disappear, you as a being don’t exist at that moment. It’ hard to express, you throw yourself into the moment that you’re actually inside everything that’s happening, you’re inside the wave, you’re inside your surfboard and what it’s doing. You’re inside all the landscape around you and the ocean as it’s surging, you get totally inside the moment and it’s so intense that time disappears, everything disappears. You disappear, you’re not thinking of you Nick Carroll or whoever. It’s way beyond that.

If you’re going to make a very big wave you have to be totally unified with everything that’s happeneing. You have to know absolutely everything the board’s doing, what’s happening with the wave, where the water is on the wave, how fast the water’s moving up the face of the wave, what’s happening with the wind, where there might be a couple of people in the way, and I don’t think you can know about that if you choose to take the form of thinking that we do in our everyday lives, where I’m very aware of me, Nick Carroll. Your brain just can’t handle it, it has to throw stuff away to fit it all in. And so a lot of what it throws away is the useless stuff, the ego, the “I’m Nick Carroll, I’ve got fears, worries, doubts etc”___all very useless stuff. To take all that information in about what’s happening, to get right inside it, you have to ignore a lot and discard it.2.”

I experience this myself through my writing, photography and also through playing the violin. I know that sense of merging and oneness and it’s incredible.

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed riding the wave with the Tibetan Monks of Gyuta, even if it was only from the shore. Unfortunately, we left before they hit the waves…not in their robes but in the safety of board shorts and life vest.

To view TV coverage of the event and of the monks surfing:

Have you have any experiences with the Dalai Lama of the Tibetan Monks of Gyuta? I would love to hear your experiences and how you felt.

xx Rowena


Hopefully some of his calm brushed off on me.


  1. About the Gyuto Monks of Tibet in Australia

2. Caroline Jones, The Search for Meaning, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1989 p. 56.

16 thoughts on “Gyuto Monks of Tibet in Australia.

  1. TanGental

    I think you meeting monks on surfboards is peculiarly you, Ro. And glad you took something from it all, even if I can’t see it the same way. As when I bungee jumped I understand the single focus, the stripping away fripperies and being hyper aware, but I doubt my focus, or the focus of someone about to launch themselves onto a wave was any more intent than a mouse pursued by a cat: for me it’s not so much spiritual as about a hard wired survival instinct kicking in.

  2. New Journey

    What fun and how blessed you were to have them just appear on the beach at the same time as you and the kids….serendipity at work for sure….I have own and have read “The Art of Happiness”, A book that you can read over and over….I did have an encounter with monks back in California, I have a wonderful friend from Laos, most of her family only speaks Thai, shorten the story, her Aunts son was in the home on Hospice dying from cancer….well it was 1am, my friend calls and says she is at Lake Tahoe and unable to get back for 6 hours….could I go over to her aunts home and call hospice, (no one speaks English) they think the son has passed….so of course I go….she gives me the address…off I go, its dark, and cold…I am looking for the numbers of the house, well I see a pile of shoes outside the front door, they don’t wear shoes in there homes, so I know without looking at the number of the house I have arrived…I park, take a few deep breaths and head up the driveway….I knew this young man had been part of a bad gang so I wasn’t going in blind…..I find a really rough looking mad leaning against the garage, in any other circumstance I would of turned and ran at the site of him…I stopped and asked if this was the home of my friends Aunt and when he looked up into my eyes, his tears and sad eyes broke my heart and my fear left me at that time….I reached out and squeezed his arm and continued on…after leaving my shoes near by the pile so I would be able to find them on my way out, I knocked on the door….a small child answered the door with curious eyes…I mentioned my friends name and she let me in, led me to the aunt…..let me tell you I just left America soil and was pretty sure I was in Laos……mind you it was 2a by the time I arrived..the smell of incense was everywhere…the living room had a TV on low, however it was tsunami wrestling,, kids and people everywhere….as I entered the kitchen dining room area, it was like there was a stage and chairs lined up full of bodies and monks all looking ahead…I followed there eyes to a bed with a body laying on it in front of them….the Aunt motioned for me to follow her to the bed, I worked in the medical scene for years so to see a very sick or even dead person was nothing I hadn’t dealt with before….she motioned for me to check him, I could tell by looking he had passed over, but I felt for a pulse, and shook my head and motioned I would call the Hopsice nurse….however right behind me were monks praying sitting next to the gang members, so very rough looking men with noticeable guns strapped to there side…deep breaths came in handy at this point….they were all looking at me for the nod he was still alive….I was unable to give them what they so wished for….I called the nurse, sat quietly in the living room, closed my eyes and listened to my surrounding….monks chanting, men crying, children playing and laughing, and then the TV with tsunami wrestling on in the background….it took the nurse over an hour to arrive…but I exited as soon as they arrived…by then lots of the gang members were outside in groups…and there were a group on monks in there deep orange robes standing besides them….very surreal….deep breaths I headed to the car….I heard “wait a minute please” and I turned and a monk was approaching me….he took my hands bowed his head and said something I didn’t understand, I am assuming he was saying thank you in his own way…then the gang members came over and thanked me for coming….it was after 5a when I finally was able to start my car and pull away from the house….was it a dream or did it really happen…..hummmm this is the only time I have come in contact with monks, and gang members also….and what an experience…..something that happened over 15 years ago and I remember it as it was last night…sorry for the long post….but you did ask we share…LOL xxkat

  3. Rowena Post author

    Monika, I’m so pleased the photos brought you such joy. I filmed their meditation so I’ll have to see how it turned out and if it’s half decent, I’ll post it on the blog.
    Hope you have a great weekend! xx Ro

  4. Rowena Post author

    What an experience, Kat. You really took me back to the moment with you too and I was copying your tentative steps going in there. You were very brave and courageous!
    I always love a good story so your long comment is very much appreciated. You’re like a magician with so many interesting experiences up your sleeve. I love it!!
    Tomorrow, I will be meeting rock n roller Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel for a book signing at our local bookshop. His childhood growing up in Glasgow before they moved to Australia was just full of violence. So, it will be quite a counterpoint to meeting the monks! Hope you have a great weekend. The water is cold but definitely beach weather here! xx Ro

  5. Rowena Post author

    I’ve looking forward to it. There are people I’m sure who have thrown their underwear at him on stage, I’m sure and I’m only a mild fan but I’ll do my duty “for the blog”!! xx Ro

  6. Rowena Post author

    That could be true. I’m sure you won’t be surprised that I’ve never surfed at that level and at best, I’m managed a kneel…from starting position.
    I know from the surfers I’ve met over the years, they seem pretty chilled but that could be the same thing as someone who’s survived a few cloe encounters with death and now feels, they have nothing to lose.

  7. Rowena Post author

    You could just imagine my inner excitement at the beach. I couldn’t believe I actually had my camera, I was there, got awesome shots and experienced their meditation in person. Talk about getting my ducks all lined up. It doesn’t usually go so smoothly. Now, we’re waiting to meet rock musician Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel at our local bookshop. The queue was too long so we popped back home. His childhood reads like Angela’s Ashes. So, I’m looking at writing a piece for our local paper…War & Peace. Ha!

  8. Rowena Post author

    No, sorry to disappoint you. Don’t know what they are anymore! My son is wearing a motorbike T-shirt. He looks pretty cool. Stay tuned. We just drove by the queue and popped back home. About to head off again!

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