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Gentle Voice December 2016

Subject: Gentle Voice December 2016 From: Jamyang Buddhist Centre <admin@jamyang.co.uk> Date: 30/11/16 05:02 To: communications@jamyang.co.uk

December 2016 In This Issue

Editor's welcome

Friends Scheme Lama Zopa: Making your Holiday Meals Meaningful Christmas and New Year Closure Dates This Month at Jamyang Geshe Tashi's column The Director's Column Coming up at Jamyang Debate Intensive Spring MBSR Classes Advice from Lama Zopa Help with your New Year Resolutions Remembering Jo Cox An Interview with Robin Bath Art talk from the NYC Met Wellcome Trust Exhibition Film Screening: Choice Liberation Prison Project A Recommended Read The Third Pole, The Tibetan Plateau Leonard Cohen on the Tibetan Book of the Dead Poetry Corner Opportunities for Service around the FPMT About FPMT Your Thoughts for Gentle Voice

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Sunrise in Bushy Park London. Photo Max Ellis

Dear Friends, Welcome to our last edition of this year. We will not be issuing a Gentle Voice at the end of December, so we pack lots of articles into this edition. We would like to direct you to the memoirs of Robin Bath which include some wonderful photos taken in Tibet some thirty years ago. We also have a large set of recommendations for you of things to do, places to do and websites to visit over the holiday period. Geshe Tashi will be in India over the coming few weeks and we wish him a speedy recovery from the chest infection that has laid him low for the last few weeks. When I spoke to him earlier this week, he requested that I go and get myself a flu jab - a request that I pass on to all of you. There is also all the news about the programme in January and some previews of what is coming up later in the Spring term. If you are participating in one or even two Nyung Nay's here in December, or the Debate Intensive, then do enjoy your time.

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Quick Links Jamyang Website Current Programme Talking Buddhism The Foundation Study Course

Otherwise make the most of the holidays to meet with your friends and family and share in a loving embrace across the entire globe. Enjoy! John

The Lamrim Chenmo Study Course FPMT

Become a Friend of Jamyang Hi there, We hope that you will all enjoy the forthcoming festive season. It's so much fun to share in the spirit of generosity and love and goodwill - even if the comercialisation of Christmas is just too much to cope with. Please don't give up these positive qualities that lie somewhere in the depth of the Christmas extravaganza. Also please don't overdo it, it is far too easy to end up like an air guitar playing chameleon when you should be displaying the full splendour of your revolving eyes and penetrating intellect. Some people make use of the Christmas period to make a few charitable donations. That's a great way to tame the demon of avarice that roams the streets. If you are minded to be one of these people, then maybe you can consider Rango plays guitar Photo by Aditya Permana making a donation to Jamyang or, even better, joining the Friends Scheme and donating a regular amount. A regular donation is the best way to help keep Jamyang going. It's amazing how even modest contributions from a few hundred individuals can make all the difference. As well as the vast merit you will receive by helping to spread the Dharma there are also some more worldly perks on offer, a free Mandala magazine twice a year, discounts, etc. So if you can spare around ÂŁ15 a month to help us stay afloat we would be very appreciative. You can find all the information about the Friends Scheme and how to become a member by following this link. Jamyang Friends Scheme Alternatively you can make a one-off donation by following this link. Donate to Jamyang

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Many thanks! Return to Contents

Lama Zopa - Making Your Holiday Meals Meaningful This time of year means, for many, an increase in festive meals celebrated with friends and family. There are a variety of ways to enjoy your meal while still practicing virtue. FPMT Education Services makes available a collection of practices, Food Offering Practices, which includes an extensive food offering practice, general food offering prayers, and the yogas of eating food according to Theravada, Mahayana sutra, and Mahayana tantra. Also, in a letter to a student who wanted to know how to bless food sold through a family business, Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave this short practice: Regarding your question about blessing the food, you recite OM AH HUM and visualize all the buddhas and bodhisattvas blessing the food with the qualities of holy body, speech and mind. This absorbs into the food where the food is. It is all absorbed into the food. Then recite OM AH HUM. Visualize that then every grain and part of the food is a blue HUM and into that numberless buddhas' and bodhisattvas' holy body, speech and mind all absorb into that. Then do that quite a number of malas of the mantra (OM AH HUM); the more you do, the better. The HUMs become the grains or food particles. Then make a prayer to the merit field, Medicine Buddha, Tara and Chenrezig (but particularly Medicine Buddha) and pray that all the buddhas and bodhisattvas bless the food and that there never comes from it any side effects; it immediately purifies, the minute the food goes inside the mouth, it immediately purifies all the negative karmas collected from beginningless rebirths, not only that envy, but all diseases and spirit harms are purified. Also, pray that all realizations from guru devotion up to enlightenment are actualized, all the realizations are generated, especially bodhichitta, and it brings to all sentient beings perfect peace and happiness in this world. Then all the wishes of happiness and all successes-according to holy Dharma-are immediately received. All the wishes up to enlightenment are actualized. That is what you should pray. You and everyone can do that meditation. Medicine Buddha, Kachoe Dechen Ling, Aptos, California, US, July 2014. Photo by Chris Majors. Whatever your traditions this time of year, you can make each meal a meaningful offering for yourself and others. Enjoy! Return to Contents

Christmas and New Year Closure Dates

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Return to Contents

CLASSES AND EVENTS IN DECEMBER AND JANUARY AT JAMYANG Full information about these and all our events can be found here on the Jamyang Website CLASSES and RETREATS with GESHE TASHI

WEEK DAY EVENINGS AND AFTERNOONS

1st Steps in Buddhism Tuesdays from 31st January 7:30

Introduction to Meditation Mon 9 Jan, 7.30pm This acts as a taster session for the Mon evening meditation class. Open to all.

Buddha Nature. Wednesdays from 18th January to 21st February 7:30 Essence of Eloquence Weekend of 21st and 22nd January and 18th and 19th February

Buddhist Meditation: Wholesome Emotions with Gerry Cummins & friends Mon 16, 23, 30 Jan; 6, 13, 20 Feb; 6 - 27 Mar; 3, 10 Apr, 7.30pm

VISITING TEACHERS AND WEEKEND TEACHINGS Andy Weber: Art Workshop on the Medicine Buddha Mandala Art Lecture Friday 2nd December Art workshop 3, 4, 5th December Debate Intensive with Geshe Graham 10th - 13 December. Only for those already in a debate group.

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Beginners meditation 2nd February, 2nd March 7:30 JBC Student Seminars Tue 10 & Wed 11 Jan Roy Sutherwood: No thing, No place, Tsongkhapa on Emptiness Tue 17 & 24 Jan - Ilana & Jan:

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Death and Disintegration Double Nyung Nay with Steff Hill 16th to 21st December The Four Schools of Tenets with Mike Murray Fri 6 - Sun 8 Jan & Fri 3 - Sun 5 March, 10am - 5pm Tenets act as introduction to Indian Buddhist Thought. Can be taken as part of the Basic Programme. Ven Robina Courtin Get real! How to live a life true to ourselves Weekend 11 & 12 Feb, 10am-5pm Join Ven Robina for another clear & vivid presentation of how to grow spiritually and healthily.

Tue 21 & 28 Mar - Carolyn & Rosalyn: The Six Realms Tue 18 & 25 April - Rhona Sayer: Wisdom Gone Beyond Wed 19 & 26 April - Ros & Nat: Kickstarting your practice All classes 7.30- 9pm each evening

PRACTICE GROUPS

Silent Meditation Thursdays weekly 1st and 8th December and then from 12th January 6.15 - 7.15pm

Insight Meditation Practice Group 10 Dec, 7, 28 January and 4, 18 February, 11, 25 Mar; 1, 22 April

Lunchtime Meditation Thursdays weekly to 8th December and then from 12th January1.00 - 2.00pm

10.30- 12.30pm Open to all

Tara Puja Every Tuesday at 4:30pm until 6th December and then from the 10th January

Guhyasamaja Practice Group 7 January, 4 February, 4 March 2pm For initiates only Vajrayogini Practice Group 4 Dec, 22 Jan 6-10pm: special VY day Sun 26 Feb; 5 Mar; 3 Apr: 2-6pm Sun 19 Mar; 23 Apr: 10am-6pm For initiates only Kalachakra Practice Group Sat 28 Jan, 2-5pm 25 Feb & 18 Mar, 10am - 4pm For initiates only Four Sadhana Practice 14th January For initiates only

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Tue 7 & 14 Mar - Gerry & Radek: Karma Binding

Medicine Buddha Puja Every Tuesday at 6pm until 6th December and then from the 10th January Open Your Hearts Wednesdays Wed 18, 25 Jan; 1 - 22 Feb; 1, 15, 22, 29 Mar, 5.45 - 7.15pm Lama Choepa 9 December, 7 & 22 January, 6 & 21 February, 7 & 22 March, 6 & 21 April 6pm Lama Tsonkapa Day Lama Choepa 23 December 6pm

Sanghata Sutra Recitation Mon 27 Feb and Sun 12 Mar, 6 7pm Open to all

COMMUNITY

SPECIAL EVENTS

MBSR Spring Course 8 week courses, course dates: Thurs 19 Jan - 16 Mar, am & pm

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LOSAR & Lama Thubten Yeshe Memorial Puja Mon 27 Feb, 6 - 8pm Every year on the first day of the Tibetan New Year we recall the kindness of our founder, Lama Thubten Yeshe, in bringing dharma to the West. Open to all. Day of Miracles with Geshe Tashi Sun 12 March, 8am - 5pm Join Geshe Tashi & the Jamyang Community to celebrate the Day of Miracles. This is also an opportunity to take the 24-hour eight Mahayana precepts. Open to all.

Please book for all weekend classes or retreats other than practice groups on-line if you can. If you can't call the office on 02078208787 or email admin@jamyang.co.uk You can drop in to all evening classes unless we state otherwise Return to Contents

Sat 25 Feb, 10am - 4pm: Full practice day Sat 11 Mar, 10am - 1 Mindfulness half day practice

Lunchtime Meditation weekly Thursday 8th September to 8th December 1 - pm Chi Kung and Tai Chi Monday evenings taught by William Walker. Details on the website Satyananda Yoga Tuesday evenings taught by Judy Watchman. Details on the website Hridaya (Heart Centre) Yoga On Wednesday evenings from 7 8pm Details on the website Chair Yoga Taught by Cathy Brebion Tuesdays 10.30am - 11.30am Details on the website Kundalini Yoga Taught by Gui Rogel Thursdays from 6.30 - 8pm. Details on the website

Geshe Tashi's Column Hello, Firstly I would really like to apologise for cancelling classes these last two weeks and all the inconvenience that has caused to many people. I hope you will all forgive me. I am now beginning to get better. I am still coughing, but I am much better than I was. Many people sent me their good wishes and I would like to express my sincere thanks to all of you. I will soon be going to India and I hope that when I return in January we can then continue with the teaching programme. Every year I go to India to visit my father and the rest of my family and also my teachers. My father is now 81 years old and I have promised him that I will visit him once a year. While I am in India I will also be seeing my teacher and I will receive some more teachings from him. So I would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and New Year. Spend it well, enjoying the company of your friends 6 of 23

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and family. Return to Contents

Director's Column November and nearly the end of the year already! Our spring programme will soon be out. Geshe-la has unfortunately had to cancel his remaining teachings in November owing to a chest infection and so will not be teaching again this year. Best wishes for Geshe-la's speedy and full recovery. There was a Medicine Buddha puja yesterday and one today dedicated to Geshe-la's health. He will be travelling to India on Thursday and spending December and a part of January back in India visiting his teachers, his father and family. Much enjoyed our Community Day and many, many thanks to everyone who came and made such great contributions to the development of our plan for the next five years. We also announced our intention to begin a fundraising campaign in the New Year to raise up to ÂŁ50,000 to prevent what architects have described as perilous loss on the north and east walls of the building. We are replacing the boilers, looking to create a warmer, welcoming and open entrance to the reception area and improve and expand the toilet facilities. We have a longer term aspiration for a major development of the basement and north garden area but right now we need to get urgent work done to maintain the basic fabric of our building. We are sharing this with you now and asking you for your support, not just your financial support but your ideas and activities that could help us in this effort. There are two dates for your diaries to get things going on the fundraising front, Gill Manley and her Trio have very kindly offered to do a two set acoustic blues concert following a dinner here on Saturday, 18 February. They will help us with the promotion of the event and all of the proceeds will be going to Jamyang. We are also going to run a series of dinners and Buddhist film screenings as fundraising events for Jamyang in collaboration with Candlelight Cinema. The first of these will be showing "Pure Sound: The Gyuto Monks of Tibet". Will let you have a date for that as soon as we can - do join us for dinner and a chance to see this wonderful film narrated by Emmy Award winner Toni Collette, giving us a unique behind the scenes insight into the lives of the extraordinary Gyuto monks. Don't forget our pot luck dinner 15th of December, just before we close for the year and enter into the Nyung Nay retreats. Do save the date and bring something delightful to share with everyone. Pot luck dinners are great opportunity to bring, share and enjoy hospitality in a fun way with each other at this time of the year. Give a very warm welcome to Maria Teresa who has joined the residential volunteer team here. She has come from Calabria in Italy and has previously offered service to the FPMT at Instituto Lama Tsongkhapa in Pomaia, Tuscany. We wish Phoebe all the best as she leaves the Cafe to develop her career as a Yoga teacher. Many thanks indeed for all you did for us here Phoebe. Marcia and Osian are new and very welcome additions to the CafĂŠ team. We would still like some more help in the garden. If you have any time, labour and expertise to devote to the garden, your help would be much appreciated - contact me on director@jamyang.co.uk as soon as you can if you can offer any much needed help in the garden this month.

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Much looking forward to seeing many of you here as the year draws to a close and all the very best wishes for a most enjoyable mid-winter festive season and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year Best wishes Roy Return to Contents

Coming up at Jamyang

Coming Up Andy Weber: Buddhist Art Lecture - Healing Buddhas Friday 2 Dec 7.30 - 9pm. Andy has so much knowledge that these lectures are priceless - the information just overflows out of him. Do come along even if you are not doing the full art workshop. The art workshop itself is now pretty well fully booked. Two Nyung Nays with Steff Hill Starting the 16th December and finishing on the morning of the 22nd of December. The Nyung Nay residential fasting retreat is a very effective method for purifying the body, speech and mind. This is a demanding practice mentally and physically. Talk to us before you register if you have any physical or mental health issues. And, of course, you can, if you wish, do both or just one of the Nyung Nays. This is a residential retreat so booking is essential to reserve yourself a sleeping spot. Debate Intensive with Geshe Graham 10th to the 13th December 10am to 5pm. See the article below for details. Tenets with Mike Murray 7th and 8th January. Our very own wise owl, Mike Murray, holder of the SPC seat, whose depth of understanding is hard to fathom, will teach on the foundations of Indian Buddhist thought. This is a module of the Basic Programme but is open to all.

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Essence of Eloquence with Geshe Tashi 21st and 22nd of January. Geshe Tashi continues on his exposition of this seminal text from the founder of the Gelugpa school, Lama Tsong Kapa. Return to Contents

Debate Intensive Open to All!

Do you want to learn some Buddhist reasoning ? Some Buddhist debate ? Then this is your opportunity. Geshe Graham Woodhouse leads an annual four day debate intensive this December at Jamyang for his students. This year has very kindly offered to start teaching beginners again. If you are interested in traditional Tibetan Buddhist reasoning and debate and interested to learn some of the basic ideas in Buddhism then please consider coming along to this four day event. The workshop runs from the 10th to the 13th of December inclusive, from 10am to 5pm each day. It is open to beginners and you can just attend the weekend days to get a feel for what debate entails. Geshe Graham is currently the only person teaching traditional debate outside of a monastery to Europeans. He has a number of years experience teaching Buddhist reasoning to Europeans and working with the students in his two debate groups and so has a good understanding of where the sticking points come for beginners and how to get beyond them. Geshe Graham is a graduate from the Buddhist School of Dialectics in Dharamsala India and studied under the famous scholar Gen Lobsang Gyatso. He knows his texts, delights in his practice and clearly thoroughly enjoys being a fully ordained monk. He engages his students with warmth, wit and quiet dry humour. A very rare, almost unique opportunity to study reasoning with this stainless English Geshe

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from Sheffield. Return to Contents

Spring Mindfulness Based Stress Rduction Courses The Spring 8 week MBSR courses which run on Thursday morning and evenings will start on Thursday, 19th January with an introductory session. Do apply early as places go quickly, especially for the evening course. You can download an application form from:

www.londoncentreformindfulness.com 8 week courses, course dates: Thurs 19 Jan - 16 Mar, am & pm Sat 25 Feb, 10am - 4pm: Full practice day MBSR is an internationally recognised course that teaches a variety of mindfulness techniques that enable participants to gain a more realsitic view of the many stress and other factors that affect all our lives. Participants from all walks of life and ages have found the course very helpful.These courses are run by the London Centre for Mindfulness, part of the Courthouse Community Centre, Jamyang's community organisation. Return to Contents

Advice from Lama Zopa We link to advice offered by Lama Zopa..... Advice following the elections in the USA - also applies to the aftermath of Brexit. Just follow the link to the FPMT's website. http://fpmt.org/lama-zopa-rinpoche-news-and-advice /advice-from-lama-zopa-rinpoche/lamazopa-rinpoches-request-for-prayers-after-the-uselection/

Return to Contents

Help with New Year Resolutions and School Visits 10 of 23

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I don't know about you but I always hesitate before making new Year resolutions as I don't trust myself to keep them beyong the first few weeks of the year. Here is something that you could make a resolution to do that is both fun, enriching and would be very helpful to us at the Centre. It's to do with school visits. We get quite a few of these over the course of a year and we are entirely reliant on a small group of volunteers to show children around and to answer their querstions. So why not commit to helping out on the ocassional visit. Full training will be provided and there is the enticement of a free Jamyang lunch offered afterwards! If you are interested and have a few hours to spare, please e-mail: jane@jamyang.co.uk Return to Contents

Remembering Jo Cox

We would like to just take a moment to remember Jo Cox, a truly remarkable lady who was murdered during the toxic build up to the EU referendum. We as Buddhists spend a lot of time thinking about, talking about and sometimes practicing love and compassion. Jo seemed to embody all those qualities that we aspire to, and she put them to good use. What a tragic waste of potential her death has been. However we cannot add anything to the following words of her equally impressive husband issued through the Jo Cox Foundation.

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Dear friends, As you may have seen in the news, the trial finished earlier today and the defendant has been found guilty. Our priority now is to try and focus on Jo's amazing life and not the manner of her death. That's why I spoke in court today about who Jo was and what she meant to us - you can read the full statement here. And that's also why we are also asking people to watch and share a short film about Jo made by one of her closest friends. View the film here Please share it with your friends and family to remember Jo's life and work. As I said in court today, the killing of Jo was a political act. But in the history of such acts it was perhaps the most incompetent and self-defeating. An act driven by hatred which instead has created an outpouring of love. An act designed to drive communities apart which has instead pulled them together. An act designed to silence a voice which instead has allowed millions of others to hear it. In the weeks ahead I will be remembering Jo for her energy, passion and love. In the months and years ahead I look forward to working with you all to keep her ideas, values and passions alive. With thanks as ever for your love and support, Brendan Return to Contents

An Interview with Robin Bath The Tibet Foundation, that highly respected charitable trust, published an interview with Robin Bath in its last newsletter. It's a fascinating account of his many years associated with Tibet and with Jamyang. The Tibet Foundation has very kindly given us permission to reproduce the article here and I am sure you will all enjoy it. For more information about the Tibet Foundation and all the great work they do to preserve Tibetan culture visit www.tibetfoundation.org/ The article (lightly edited from the original) .... When I left Art College in 1967 where I'd studied Graphic Design, I travelled around Canada and the USA on a Leverhulme Scholarship and crossed to Mexico a place that had long featured in my imagination. On my return to England an unopened letter now almost a year old awaited, the reply to an intriguing job I'd applied for. Despite missing that interview, I made contact and found the documentary film maker still needed an assistant. I got the job, and amazingly it was to return to Mexico! Some splendid adventures took us around the country filming and my task was to help the director and do still photography. Just when we'd finished and were due to come home I had a chance meeting with the renowned graphic artist Lance Wyman who had recently done the stunning 1968 Mexico Olympic designs. He was now preparing to style the 1970 World Cup football games also assigned to Mexico, and said come and work for me. So I decided to stay on, did a bit of work for the World Cup and watched some of the games. I even cheeked my way in to meet the England squad and got a photo of their captain Bobby Moore sitting on a giant leather football seat that I had designed. After that I did a variety of graphic work and photography and ended up staying for almost five years.

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It was there that I sensed the need to find a spiritual path of some sort and tried a couple of things till eventually connecting with a small Zen Buddhist group that met on the hillside above Mexico City. Here was something that clicked although it was a bit austere for me...and I remember thinking, when the tea comes at the end of the session that'll be the best bit! When I decided to return to England it was with mixed feelings, and in my befuddlement I remember saying to someone, "I'm going back to find my guru!" Yet I had no idea what that meant...it really sounded like one of those New Age clichĂŠs. I took a while to readjust to being back in the UK, and to lift my spirits my cousin Geoff Pullen asked me to join him on a summer retreat in Cumbria. It was a surprise to find the venue was a Buddhist Centre where a Lam Rim was in progress before our course started. The first day I found myself attracted Robin Bath outside Jamyang to a puja that was in full flow, and sat amidst the chanting, cymbals and bells feeling somehow immediately comfortable with it all, so asked afterwards if I could attend the dharma introductions with a western monk. A Jungian psychologist led the course we were booked for, and typically I arrived late for the start of the first class and walked nervously in to the full room anxiously looking for somewhere to sit. On a sofa right at the front sat a beaming Tibetan in maroon robes who caught my eye, crooked his finger and said "Come and sit next to me." My attention wasn't really on the class, I just remember thinking I've found my guru! That Tibetan monk was the inspirational Lama Yeshe, and of course from then on I was completely captivated and went up the following summer to attend his teachings when he returned. A handful of the students present from London asked Lama if we could set up a London group, and along with his blessings he subsequently asked Geoff Jukes to be our Director and me to be one of the first three trustees. In November 1978 we had our inaugural meeting in St John's Wood where a kind lady let us use her painting studio for those first once weekly classes which were initially led by a sangha member coming down from Cumbria, and the occasional weekend retreat if we could invite a lama. In the early days we were incredibly lucky and some of the most remarkable teachers coming from the settlements in India to Europe would stop in London as well. That year was also my first visit to Asia for the month long Lam Rim course at Kopan Monastery in Nepal led by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Before coming home after this rigorous but rewarding experience I wanted to see the roots of Buddhism, and crossed to India to visit the atmospheric Maha Bodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya. By now the London group was becoming more established and we requested our own resident Geshe who was chosen specifically for us by Lama Yeshe. In the spring of 1981 we joyfully greeted Geshe Namgyal Wangchen as he arrived at Heathrow and as we had nowhere to put him up at first, it was a privilege for me to have him stay in my house. So it became my duty to drive him to the meetings, which were still in small residential places until our Director found a room for him in Swiss Cottage. Now with a resident teacher we were able to have a more robust programme, and Geshe Wangchen was wonderful, his

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English was good, he was patient and considerate to us westerners, and he had a splendid sense of humour. One of the attractions that drew me to Buddhism was realising that while imparting the teachings so sincerely, the Tibetan approach seemed always ready to include humour as well. My Dad was quite a comic so I'd always enjoyed levity. Encountering some other things that seemed pedantic and dry, it was a delight to find Buddhism so open and flexible. We began looking to purchase our own property and finally found a place in Finsbury Park in 1982 where Geshe Wangchen was able to live on site and give us more regular teachings. It was a small semi detached house with a compact garden but somehow we shoe-horned everyone in. Over the years the Centre hosted some amazing visiting lamas thanks to our first kind Geshe who sadly eventually returned to Drepung. All this has been the background for how I became so comfortable with following the Buddhist path. There's a step by step Kopan Monastery, photo Robin Bath approach to the topics that reveal logical and very practical applications for everyday life experiences, and what's more I have made some cherished long term friendships from the Buddhist community. A decade after my first introduction things were about to become even more amazing. Lama Yeshe has passed away but the sadness was offset when his reincarnation was recognised by His Holiness and a formal enthronement ceremony was scheduled for the small child. The author Vicki Mackenzie was offered an exclusive to document the story, and she suggested me to be the photographer for the event which took place in Tushita Retreat Centre in northern India. After the colourful and moving ceremony three of us decided that since we seemed now so close to Tibet we should take advantage of its borders becoming more accessible. A hair-raising bus journey to Kathmandhu, and a taxi ride over the Himalayan foothills and along a spectacular valley took us to the Freedom Bridge. Here landslides had devastated the hillside so we hired porters to help with the steep climb on foot up to Zhangmu, the guarded check point in to Tibet, and then hitched a bone shaking ride on an open back truck through the stark, pre-spring breathless landscape. Despite the utter sadness of seeing so much destruction throughout our journey, we were to have some unique experiences during our month there. It was as if the magical side of Tibet was still very much alive and revealing itself to us at times. We were unexpectedly allowed access to the sacred top of the Gyantse Kumbum

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Gyantse Kumbum, photo Robin Bath

by a sympathetic monk, and were bathed in the finest gentle rain. The Abbot of the Holy Jokang at the centre of Lhasa invited just the three of us to join him and the monks for a puja one evening within the heart of the temple. And once we found ourselves in the back of a small monastery where an enormous Buddha statue was being reinstated and were helped to climb the wobbly scaffolding to add our contributions in clay to the somewhat irregular head. What a joy it was to return a fortnight later to see the now stunning finished smiling face, which filled us with hope and admiration for the Tibetans will to restore their heritage. Our return to Nepal involved the treacherous climb down through the boulder-strewn landslips on the border once more before reaching the navigable road back to Kathmandhu. Here to my astonishment I found Lama Zopa Rinpoche preparing to go to Tibet on pilgrimage with a number of western monks, nuns and his lay students. My two companions were due back in England, but for me there was no urgency so I requested an audience with Rinpoche and said "Lama, would it be beneficial to go back to Tibet again?" To my delight he said yes, and within a week we were setting off in small numbers to avert suspicion that we were a large Buddhist group, with plans to reassemble in Lhasa. This time it was to be for two months - two whole months! On this second trip I tried to photograph the journey with Rinpoche as best I could while he guided us to many remarkable pilgrimage places. One of these was the village where Lama Yeshe had been born and where near by in a previous incarnation he had been the Abbess of a Nunnery. We also visited the three principal Monasteries around Lhasa, - Drepung, Sera and Ganden where we did a wonderful vertiginous kora above its almost completely ruined shell.

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The ruined Ganden Monastery_ photo Robin Bath

Then we went north east and took the world's highest railway to Xining where we paid homage with a puja in the temple at the place of birth of Lama Tsong Khapa. There was also to be another remarkable adventure for me associated with Lama Tsong Khapa from whom the Gelugpa lineage comes. Lama Zopa chose to spend a brief time away from the pilgrimage group to join a Tibetan gathering at Lhama La-tso, an oracle lake where visions and auspicious signs are said to arise from the waters. While he was away, Ros Williams, myself and five others ventured to go to the Olkha Valley, but our way was barred by a Chinese checkpoint. We were allowed to continue by leaving our passports as insurance, and waited by a dusty track hoping for a lift. Before too long an open truck stopped with an incontinent cow and some locals on the back, and we scrambled on board. During the journey the driver made a couple of detours where to our surprise the villagers came streaming out to welcome the truck with offerings for someone in the cab. It was only when we finally stopped before a beautiful, breathtaking panorama that a Tibetan monk emerged from the cab and was escorted to a carpeted picnic laid out beside a stream banked with wild flowers.

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Picnic in the Olkha Valley, photo Robin Bath

The seven of us were courteously included in the formal greetings, which turned out to be the rare visit of a Lama to the area since the cultural invasion. Rising above the rim of the valley was a glistening snow capped peak that Lama Tsong Khapa had said was like a conch shell, so chose this spot to do many practices in the tiny monastery that we could see on the hillside, and where the Lama from the truck was now taken on horseback with us following behind. We were unsure if indeed there would be any place for us to stay, but the ladies among us were given the cowshed...and we had the privilege of sleeping in the room where Tsong Khapa had done prostrations and where imprints of his feet, legends say, were those in a rock at our heads where we could lay down. No sooner had I put my bags down I felt drawn to immediately go outside where now to my astonishment a perfect rainbow arced implausibly over the gompa but in front of the looming mountainside barely yards away . Rushing back in to exclaim what I'd seen to the others and grabbing my camera I sped outside again confirming the spectacle...but the moment I raised the camera to my eye the rainbow disappeared! Inspired by the energy of this special place we decided to explore higher up, and by good

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fortune encountered a nomad who offered to be our guide with his pony to carry our packs. Leaving the valley we ascended to a plateau covered in a patchwork of tiny alpine like flowers including edelweiss, and trekked towards a cave that was said to be where Tsong Khapa had meditated on emptiness. Towards late afternoon we found the cave, its roof now partially collapsed, with a spring outside where it is said that if you are pure in heart you can hear the mantra of Manjushri as it bubbles up through the ground. I saved some of the precious water, which I have to this day in my fridge. Then we were guided urgently before darkness fell to a tiny refuge dedicated to Yamantaka which was just wide enough for the seven of us and the guide to sleep side by side. In the morning the guide asked if we could do a puja, and it was only then that he revealed that he had once been a monk and had been forced to disrobe after 1959. Retracing our steps we were somewhat shocked to see the vertiginous path we'd taken in the dusk previously, and trekked back to the plateau where the nomad had his tent and graciously offered to shelter us for the night with his family. We left the following morning to leave behind that unspoiled landscape and descend to the valley floor, and trudge for twelve hours to the checkpoint to retrieve our passports. One surprise was to find Mike Murray and Mike Gilmore were in Lhasa at the same time too, both of them having some amazing adventures. We shared a hike one day setting off beyond Sera Monastery and heading towards the mountain behind where we climbed to a small retreat hut set against the rock face and Pabonka's cave where a trickle of clear water said to be blessed by Vajra Yogini collected in a pool..I've got some of that in my fridge too! Lama Zopa and the pilgrimage people left to return to Nepal and on a whim I stayed on a little longer. On my second day there a lone nun who I had never met came to see me, though there must have been a connection through Rinpoche. I have no recollection of how we communicated but it transpired that she wished me to join her and two other older nuns and three young novices to climb back to their ruined former nunnery on the mountainside fringing Lhasa. We set off with the younger nuns burdened by large loads on their backs, and clambered up through landslips to the imposing site of the fallen building with a magnificent prospect of Lhasa below. The novices set about digging and found the source of the natural spring that had apparently provided water before the destruction, and after a short while a cry of delight went up when some of the water started flowing again, which seemed to auger promise. They indicated for me to sit with them on a grassy knoll, and those bulky loads turned out to be kindling to brew butter tea and all sorts of food to share before they said some prayers, gazed fondly once more at their old nunnery and we left to climb back down. It was a wonderful and very charged experience and I felt honoured to have been in their company, but I was left with the aching feeling that I had been there to help in some way that I could not fathom. Thoughts of fund raising to rebuild seemed beyond my capabilities, and it was only later when I got home and Riga from the Tibet Foundation said she'd like to do something for Tibetan women that I was at least able to share this story with a slide show in London. I have always been a firm supporter of nuns within the Buddhist tradition and to acknowledge the phenomenal amount of wisdom coming from the female side. Fortunately for us in 1994 Geshe Tashi Tsering was sent as our new resident teacher and immediately took our hearts with his warm and easy personality, with his accomplished teaching skills and timely ability to steer us through our next stage. A search for somewhere more spacious led to finding an abandoned Court House in Kennington, that came up for auction in 1995, which despite dilapidation looked ideal. After some nervous

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bidding a little over our intended limit we somehow secured it, and months of restoration with Geshe Tashi wading in as well ensued. A place that was once sinister has been transformed in to an oasis of peace with a cobbled courtyard and award winning garden and cafĂŠ. The courtroom is now a lovely gompa with a huge golden Buddha where the judge once sat, and where in 1999 His Holiness the Dalai Lama graced us with a visit and blessed our Jamyang Buddhist Centre. Because I was one of those early trustees I now find myself the longest serving regular member of Jamyang Buddhist Centre in London, and that community and its satellite groups feel like family. Geshe Tashi has taught and cared for us for over twenty-two years, and has steered us to provide the kind of place of peace and contemplation in the city that was the vision of Lama Yeshe. It was also an aim to be of service to the wider community, and I've been part of schemes to support carers and offer them respite days, with classes called Dying Well to share end of life issues, and also lead Jamyang walks which I've done for thirty years. Those Jamyang walks perhaps kept me fit enough at seventy to return to Tibet for the third time in 2014 after a gap of 27 years. The changes in that time brought me to extremes of emotions. Floods of tears on seeing the dramatic changes the Sino-urbanisation has wreaked on Lhasa, the despoilment of that picture perfect valley below my revered Olkha gompa, the commercial exploitation for tourism of some of the monasteries, and the restrictions the Tibetans are now subjected to. But some of the changes were for the good. The amount of restoration wherever we went was a tribute to the devout indigenous population, Ganden is now almost fully rebuilt, and infrastructure and produce have improved. Best of all is to see the Tibetans still in large numbers circumambulating with their prayer wheels round the Barkhor and the Potala and making kora around all their precious places...and yes, you can still feel the magic and profound spiritual power there if you open your heart. More than enough reason for me to want to return again next year to try to visit western Tibet and sacred Mount Kailash. My wandering days it seems are yet to end! Return to Contents

A talk from the Met NYC on Gandhara art and trade The next few entries are a few things we have come across that might interest you. These are all things you can do to while away the time until Jamyang classes restart. "Gandhara: Buddhism and Trade" with Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator, Department of Asian Art. Travel to the lush valleys where the Himalayas meet the foothills of Hindu Kush in this series of lectures examining a vibrant and truly cross-cultural body of Buddhist sculpture. The "Gandhara: Buddhism and Trade Series," organized by Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator, Department of Asian Art, examines imagery drew on forms and ideas moving, with trade, along the Silk Road linking the Mediterranean, India, Central Asia, and China. Just follow this link https://www.facebook.com/metmuseum/videos/10154163465887635/ Return to Contents

An exhibition at the Wellcome Trust - Bedlam, the asylum and beyond

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Bedlam, the asylum and beyond Follow the rise and fall of the mental asylum and explore how it has shaped the complex landscape of mental health today. Reimagine the institution, informed by the experiences of the patients, doctors, artists and reformers who inhabited the asylum or created alternatives to it. More information is available here https://wellcomecollection.org/bedlam Return to Contents

One-off screening of a documentary film called Choice A one-off screening of a documentary film called Choice. It looks at a variety of people who are using meditation to transform their lives and flourish despite difficulties. The premise is that to live harmoniously together there is a need for a shift of consciousness and it looks at people who are doing this. The film explores the belief that peace is possible, all that is required is for each of us to move towards it and this film explores the many ways people in different situations are doing this through meditation. At a time that feels so unsettling it's so good to be reminded that this is what humans are capable of and that we can find peace in our lives even when faced with hardship and struggle. Trailer: http://www.choicethefilm.com/es/trailer/ To reserve your tickets, please visit the my Demand Film Event Page here: https://tickets.demand.film/ event/1290 Date: Wednesday December 14th Time: 6.30pm Location: Odeon Covent Garden Return to Contents

Liberation Prison Project Learn about the Liberation Prison Project The Liberation Prison Project offers spiritual advice and teachings, as well as books and materials, to people in prison interested in exploring, studying and practicing Buddhism. Learn all about them here, and maybe make a donation to their work http://www.liberationprisonproject.org/ You can also contact us if you wish to help, the UK branch of the LPP is run by one of our respected senior students. Return to Contents

Recommended Read: the biography of Choegyal Nyima Lhundrup Kashopa Read this new book just released It is with great pleasure to inform you of an extraordinary new release in our publishing house: the biography of Choegyal Nyima Lhundrup Kashopa, written by his son Jamyang Choegyal Kasho: IN THE SERVICE OF THE 13TH AND 14TH DALAI LAMAS, Choegyal Nyima Lhundrup Kashopa available here https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps& field-keywords=IN+THE+SERVICE+OF+THE+13TH+AND+14TH+DALAI+LAMAS Return to Contents

The Third Pole, The Tibetan Plateau

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When we think of the world's polar regions, only two usually spring to mind - the North and South. However, there is a region to the south of China and the north of India that is known as the "Third Pole". That's because it is the third largest area of frozen water on the planet. Although much smaller than its north and south counterparts, it is still enormous, covering 100,000 square kilometres with some 46,000 glaciers. Learn more about the environmental threat to the Tibetan plateau from climate change by following this link World Economic Forum

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Photo_ Robin Bath

In Memory of Leonard Cohen This month we are also mourning the death of Leonard Cohen. May his journey through the bardo be painless, swift and productive. may he be reborn where he can inspire a vast oceon of people to be kind, loving and compassionate, just as he did in this life. You may not know that he narrated a film about the Tibetan Book of the Dead which you can view here www.faena.com/aleph/articles/leonard-cohen-narrates-the-history-of-the-tibetan-book-ofthe-dead/ If you are not familiar with the music of Leonard Cohen listen to this track. In My Secret Life Great video and what an iconic voice! If you liked that track, then this is the very different voice of the early Leonard Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye

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Poetry Corner Happy New Year To You Happy New Year to you! May every great new day Bring you sweet surprises-A happiness buffet. Happy New Year to you, And when the new year's done, May the next year be even better, Full of pleasure, joy and fun. By Joanna Fuchs Ed. Well, we can always hope! Return to Contents

Opportunities Around the FPMT There are work and volunteer opportunities in many of the FPMT Centres around the world. You can find details of these on the FPMT website. There are volunteer opportunities in Canada, Spain, France, India, Australia, New Zealand............................ And especially here at Jamyang, London! Return to Contents

FPMT

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Jamyang is affiliated with FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition) and is one of more than 150 centers and projects worldwide. FPMT is based on the Gelugpa tradition of Lama Tsongkhapa of Tibet as taught by our founder, Lama Thubten Yeshe and spiritual director, Lama Zopa Rinpoche. If you would like to receive FPMT's monthly newsletters please subscribe here.

Your Thoughts What do you want to see in Gentle Voice? We would love to hear your ideas and comments about Gentle Voice, please contact John at: admin@jamyang.co.uk

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