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Dalai Lama honored by the US


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G o b e y o n d w ord s

Steps on the Path to Enlightenment A Commentary on the Lamrim Chenmo, Vol. 3: The Way of the Bodhisattva GESHE LHUNDUB SOPA WITH BETH NEWMAN 416 pages | ISBN-13 9780861714827 | $29.95

Given his vast knowledge and his experience in both the Tibetan and Western contexts, GESHE SOPA is the ideal commentator on this topic for the modern student.

Geshe Lhundub Sopa’s Steps on the Path to Enlightenment is a landmark commentary on what is perhaps the most elaborate and elegant Tibetan presentation of the Buddhist path, Tsongkhapa’s monumental Lamrim Chenmo. In this third volume of five, readers are acquainted with the bodhisattva’s path and the altruistic desire to make service to others the driving force of spiritual development. It begins with an explanation of what distinguishes the Mahayana practitioner from other Buddhists. The nature of bodhichitta is described in depth, and Geshe Sopa then provides a detailed, contemporary commentary on the two methods to develop this attitude: the “sevenfold cause-and-effect author of Awakening the Buddha Within personal instructions” based on the teachings of Atisha and the later Kadampa lineage, and the ALSO AVAILABLE “training to exchange self and other” based on Shantideva’s Vol. 1: The Foundational Practices Engaging in the Bodhisattva’s Deeds. While bodhichitta’s GESHE LHUNDUB SOPA significance in Mahayana Buddhism is universally known, FOREWORD BY HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA 608 pages | cloth | ISBN 0861713036 | $29.95 this attitude alone is not sufficient in the quest for complete Vol. 2: Karma enlightenment. A practitioner must devote oneself to the GESHE LHUNDUB SOPA WITH DAVID PATT performance of actions motivated by bodhichitta, called the 556 pages | ISBN 0861714814 | $29.95 bodhisattva perfections.

“Geshe Sopa is one of the great living lamas we have today.” —LAMA SURYA DAS,


2 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

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Nightly Wisdom Buddhist Inspirations for Sleeping, Dreaming, and Waking Up EDITED BY JOSH BARTOK ‡ COMPILED BY GUSTAVO SZPILMAN CUTZ SSh,6%1h

Nightly Wisdom mines a rich vein of Buddhist teachings on such topics as lucid dreaming, Tibetan “dream yoga�—the art of extending meditation into the boundless world of dreams—and relaxing into restful sleep. Featuring poetry and prose from Lama Yeshe, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the Dalai Lama, Padmasambhava, Geshe Sopa, and many more.

Women Practicing Buddhism American Experiences EDITED BY PETER N. GREGORY AND SUSANNE MROZIK SSh,6%1h

Meet a diverse sampling of notable Buddhist women—from those who are crucial to the community’s organizational fabric to others who infuse their art and activism with the Dharma. Contributors include: bell hooks, Meredith Monk, American-born Tibetan Buddhist nun Karma Lekshe Tsomo, former Tricycle editor Helen Tworkov, Jane Hirshfield, and many more.

NOW AVAILABLE: our new catalog featuring new and classic Wisdom titles from Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Lama Yeshe, John Makransky, the Dalai Lama, and many others. To receive a copy, just visit us online today and sign up for our mailing list.


December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 3

contents 6 FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK 10 MAHAYANA EXPLAINED: The Great Vehicle By His Holiness the Dalai Lama THE MIND 14 Lojong: Mind Training, the Tibetan Tradition of Mental and Emotional Cultivation. Part 1 By Geshe Thupten Jinpa 18 Meanings and Meditation By Ven. Tenzin Chonyi (Dr Diana Taylor) 22 TEACHING: Getting Depressed by Emptiness By Lama Zopa Rinpoche

A PERSONAL STORY 27 Strangers on a Train By Ven. Yeshi Dorjee 28 A Letter to Someone As Yet Unmet By Janine Nieper


30 INTERVIEW: Disappointment and Delight: The Eight Worldly Concerns Bikshuni Thubten Chodron talks to Sara Blumenthal 34 A VAJRA BROTHER: Emergency Buddhism By Dr. Brett Sutton 46

38 PERSPECTIVE: Living Life Beyond Work: Spirituality and the ‘New Adult’ By William Roiter 42 OPINION: The Human Mind in an Age of Decay By Donovan Roebert SANGHA 46 Recognizing and Supporting the Sangha Community Introducing Ven. Losang Monlam 48 Tibetan Monastic Robes By Geshe Lhundrup Sopa COVER STORY 50 Dalai Lama Receives Highest Honor from the US By Betty Rogers. Photos by Don Farber GOMPAS 52 Glorious Building Challenges By Drolkar McCallum 54 A Vision of Lawudo for the 21st Century By Frank Brock GENEROSITY 56 Making Friends with Money By Tony Steel 58 Our Relationship to Resources & Generosity Advice By Lama Zopa Rinpoche



59 Thank You and Rejoice By Lama Zopa Rinpoche 62 PRESERVING TIBETAN: More about Suffixes By Lama David Curtis 64 BEGINNINGS: Sojourn in Spain By Adele Hulse 68 LETTER FROM BODHGAYA: Nurturing Baby Bodhisattvas to Stop the Rot By Ven. Kabir Saxena 69 NEWS 73 OBITUARIES 76 MEDIA 79 RESOURCE DIRECTORY DECEMBER 07/JANUARY 07 ISSUE 36 MANDALA (ISSN1075413) is published bi-monthly by FPMT Inc, 1632 SE 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97214-4702, USA. Printed by Journal Graphics, Portland, Oregon, USA. $US19.95/ AUD39/UK£17 per year. Orders outside USA and Canada $US30; includes international airmail. Periodicals postage paid at Portland OR and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Mandala, 1632 SE 11th Ave, Portland OR 97214-4702 COVER: His Holiness the Dalai Lama outside the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, DC, after he received the Congressional Gold Medal and met the President of the United States in October 2007. Photo by Don Farber Story page 50. December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 5

PHOTO: Don Farber

24 ON FAITH: Each Faith Enhances the Other By Jan Willis


Never Give Up This is what the Dalai Lama says: “Never give up. No matter what is going on, never give up. Develop the heart. Be compassionate. Work for peace in your heart and in the world …” These words have appeared everywhere, quoted again and again in a litany of inspiration. Then, one fine day in October 2007, with the eyes of the world on him, the President of the United States of America shook His Holiness’ hand and gave him the highest civilian award – the Congressional Medal – for using human compassion, courage and conviction as his tools in carving a path for peace. [See page 50.] All around the world there was jubilation. Well, almost all around the world. In Lhasa, Tibet, Drepung Monastery was sealed off and surrounded by armed troops after police stopped an attempt by monks to peacefully celebrate this honor to the Dalai Lama.

“Never give up,” he would say to those monks – and he would say it to the monks in Burma where scenes of mass demonstrations and riot police horrified the world and where Aung San Suu Kyi hasn’t given up either. It’s Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s never-give-up attitude that sustains the fortunate ones that he allocates projects to – tasks that might make even Milarepa go weak at the knees. He’s training us for a spiritual Olympics, whether he is simply encouraging the nuns at the July 2007 Buddhist Women’s Conference, setting glorious building challenges like the magnificent Maitreya statue – (or more modest edifices [page 52]), or calling the FPMT Board to action over his Vast Vision (more about that in the next issue). Enlightenment is the goal. Never give up will get us there. Yours in the Dharma Nancy E Patton

MANDALA: A TIBETAN BUDDHIST JOURNAL Editor Nancy Patton Associate Editor Sara Blumenthal Art director Cowgirls Design Subscriptions Sandra Peterson Advertising Sandra Peterson USA & Canada Subscription $US19.95 Send credit card details or check in US currency payable to: Mandala 1632 SE 11th Ave., Portland, OR 97214-4702 Tel: 1 503 808 1588 Fax: 1 503 808 1589 Toll free USA only 1 866 808 3302 UK Subscription £17 Please make cheques out to FPMT Inc in English pounds, not Euros. Address correspondence to: Mandala Magazine c/- The Old Courthouse 43 Renfrew Road London SE11 4NA UK

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Australia Subscription $AUD39 Please make cheques out to FPMT Inc – Mandala A/c in Australian dollars. Address correspondence to: Mandala Magazine PO Box 2178, Mornington, Vic 3931Australia Rest of world Subscription $US30 Published by the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT Inc), a non-profit religious organization based on the Buddhist tradition of Lama Tsongkhapa as taught by our founder Lama Thubten Yeshe and spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche. FPMT is devoted to the transmission of the Mahayana values worldwide through teaching, meditation, and community service. FPMT Board of Directors Spiritual Director: Lama Zopa Rinpoche Board members: Khenrinpoche Geshe Lundrup Ven. Roger Kunsang Ven. Pemba Sherpa Karuna Cayton Massimo Corona Ian Green Andrew Haynes Peter Kedge Tim McNeill Tara Melwani Hong Boon Sim Paula de Wijs-Koolkin



our last issue, scholar John Powers explained the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism: Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug. Mandala continues its exploration of Buddhist history, terminology, and development with a look at the meaning of the term “Mahayana” and one of its greatest literary expressions: the Heart Sutra. As newcomers frequently ask us the significance of our organization’s name – the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition – who better to explain “Mahayana” than His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from his book Essence of the Heart Sutra: Dalai Lama’s Heart of Wisdom Teachings.

The Great Vehicle The Mahayana School By His Holiness the Dalai Lama In order to fully understand the Heart Sutra, we must understand its place within the entire canon of Buddhist literature. The Heart Sutra is part of the Perfection of Wisdom literature, which is composed of distinctly Mahayana (“Great Vehicle”) texts. These Mahayana texts form the core of the “second turning of the wheel of Dharma.” The Mahayana teachings are rooted in the sermons that the Buddha taught primarily at Vulture Peak. Whereas the teachings of the first turning emphasize suffering and its cessation, the teachings of the second turning emphasize emptiness. In the Mahayana school there are also teachings that come from the “third turning of the wheel of Dharma.” Within these, we can speak of two categories of scriptures: those scriptures that present an interpretive reading of the Perfection of Wisdom sutras, and those that present the theory of buddha nature (the Sanskrit word for this nature is tathagatagarbha). Because the Perfection of Wisdom literature 10 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

emphasizes emptiness, the interpretative readings of them in the third turning were taught primarily for the benefit of spiritual practitioners who, although inclined toward the Mahayana path, are not yet ready to properly make use of Buddha’s teachings on the emptiness of inherent existence. If such trainees were to embrace the apparent literal meaning of the Perfection of Wisdom sutras before seeing into the Buddha’s true meaning, they would be in danger of falling into the extreme of nihilism. It is important to know that the Buddha’s teachings are most certainly not nihilistic as that term is understood by philosophers, nor does the Buddha’s teaching on the emptiness of inherent existence entail mere nonexistence. One way of avoiding the extreme of nihilism is by contextualizing emptiness in terms of specific phenomena. For instance, in the Sutra Unraveling the Thought of the Buddha (Samdhinirmochana Sutra), the Buddha offers a way of understanding the Perfection of Wisdom sutras by contextualizing the notion of “identitylessness.”

Nagarjuna and the Great Vehicle Although the Tibetan tradition attributes the origin of the Mahayana teachings to the Buddha himself, scholars from other sects have historically expressed doubts on this matter, and some contemporary scholars do so as well. It seems that

Nagarjuna (c. 150 - 250 CE) was an Indian philosopher, the founder of the Madhyamaka (Middle Way) school of Mahayana Buddhism, and arguably the most influential Buddhist thinker after Gautama Buddha himself. even before the time of Nagarjuna (a great Buddhist teacher in India who lived around the second century C.E.) there were contrasting opinions about this. Consequently, we find in Nagarjuna’s writings, such as the Precious Garland (Ratnavali), an entire section in which Nagarjuna attempts to prove the authenticity of the Mahayana sutras. We also find such arguments in Maitreya’s Ornament of Mahayana Sutras (Mahayana Sutralamkara), in Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Bodhicharyavatara), and in Bhavaviveka’s Essence of the Middle Way (Madhyamakahridaya). For our purposes, let’s examine the core of Nagarjuna’s argument: If the path taught in the first turning of the wheel – the thirty-seven aspects of the path to enlightenment – were the only path to enlightenment taught by the Buddha, then there would be no substantial difference between the spiritual process leading to the full enlightenment of a buddha and that leading to the individual liberation attained by an arhat. Another way of saying this would be that an individual who attained nirvana (the elimination of one’s own suffering) would be identical in understanding and abilities to one who attained the complete enlightenment of a buddha. If it is the case that these two states are identical, then the only substantial difference between them would be the time it

Painting by Robert Beer from his book Buddhist Masters of Enchantment: The Lives and Legends of the Mahasiddhas.

takes to attain them: In order to attain buddhahood one must accumulate merit for three innumerable eons, whereas the individual liberation of an arhat can be attained far more quickly. Nagarjuna argues, however, that such a position (that the states are identical but for the time involved) is untenable. Nagarjuna points out that one of the metaphysical ideas current in the earlier Buddhist traditions is that at the time of the Buddha’s final nirvana, which is known as “nirvana without residue” – conventionally, the point of death – the continuum of the being comes to an end. If this were the case, he argues, then the period of time during which Buddha Shakyamuni was able to work for the welfare of other sentient December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 11


beings following his full awakening, which was his primary reason for accumulating merit and wisdom over three innumerable eons, was extraordinarily short. The Buddha left his royal life at the age of twenty-nine, attained full enlightenment at the age of thirty-six, and passed away at the age of eighty or eighty-one. This would imply that the Buddha was able to work for the benefit of other sentient beings for only a few decades. For Nagarjuna, this huge disparity between the duration of the Buddha’s training and the duration of his activity after enlightenment does not make sense. He further argues that there is no basis for positing that the continuum of an individual’s mind would come to an end upon the attainment of final nirvana, because there is nothing that can bring about the total cessation of the continuum of consciousness. He asserts that if there is a sufficient antidote

There is a process of reflection in the Sakya teachings of the Path and Fruition (Lamdré) that is helpful in determining the validity of teachings. This tradition speaks of four valid sources of knowledge: the valid scriptures of the Buddha, the valid commentaries, the valid teacher, and one’s own valid experience. In terms of the historical evolution of these four factors, one can say that the valid scriptures, those taught by the Buddha, came into being first. Based upon the reading and interpretation of these scriptures, many valid commentaries and treatises evolved, explaining the most profound meaning of the Buddha’s teachings. Nagarjuna’s work is an example of this. Then, based upon the study and practice of these valid commentaries, certain practitioners may have mastered or actualized the themes presented in the scriptures and their commentaries, and thereby become valid teachers. Finally, on the basis of the teachings given

One could say that the Mahayana scriptures elaborate on themes presented and first developed in the earlier teachings of the Buddha, giving deeper and more detailed explanations of the ideas presented there. to any given phenomenon or event, then that antidote can be said to cause the complete cessation of the functioning of that phenomenon or event. (For example, a sufficient antidote of a bodily poison would cause the complete cessation of the functioning of that poison.) However, insofar as continuum of consciousness itself is concerned, no event or an agent can bring about its total destruction. Nagarjuna argues that the innate mind and the defilements or afflictions that obscure its inherent clarity are two separate things. Mental pollutants – defilements and afflictions – can be eliminated by practicing the powerful antidotes of the Buddha’s teachings. However, the continuum of the mind itself remains endless. Nagarjuna claims that not only are the teachings found in the Sanskrit Mahayana tradition more profound than the teachings of the Pali tradition, but also that they do not contradict the Pali teachings. In a sense, one could say that the Mahayana scriptures elaborate on themes presented and first developed in the earlier teachings of the Buddha, giving deeper and more detailed explanations of the ideas presented there. In this manner, Nagarjuna argues the authenticity of the Mahayana teachings. 12 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

by such teachers, valid experience or realization grows in the hearts of practitioners. However, one becomes able to personally verify the validity of these four sources in a different order than that in which the sources historically evolved: in order to develop deep conviction in the validity of the Buddha’s teachings, one first needs a degree of experience of them. Thus one’s own valid experience becomes the first factor. When we speak of valid experience, there can be ordinary valid experiences and special ones. Although we may not possess extraordinary kinds of spiritual experiences at present, we can all attain ordinary types of spiritual experience. For example, when we reflect deeply upon the teachings on compassion, we can feel some impact in our minds and in our hearts – we feel aroused and experience a deep sense of unbearableness. Similarly, when we reflect on the teachings on emptiness and no-self, it may bring about a deeper impact within us. These are spiritual experiences. Once one has such spiritual experiences, even at an ordinary level, one has a taste of what it feels like to truly have these realizations. Based on that little experience, one can

This process of beginning with our own experience and using it to verify the teachings and the teachers is quite important; one could say, in fact, that this is the only way open to us. more meaningfully be convinced of the validity of the great spiritual realizations that are talked about in the sutras, in the commentaries, and in the biographies of the masters. This process of beginning with our own experience and using it to verify the teachings and the teachers is quite important; one could say, in fact, that this is the only way open to us. In Fundamentals of the Middle Way, Nagarjuna pays homage to the Buddha as a valid teacher who taught the ultimate nature of reality, who embodies the principle of great compassion, and who, acting exclusively through the power of his compassion for all sentient beings, has revealed the path that will lead to the overcoming of all erroneous views. Reflecting deeply upon our own experience, we will become able to validate what Nagarjuna says for ourselves and make our own determination of the authenticity of the Mahayana teachings.

Origins of the Great Vehicle After the Buddha’s death, his teachings were compiled by some of his principal disciples. This compilation actually happened at three different points in time. It is certain that the Mahayana scriptures were not part of the three compilations that today constitute what is known as the Pali canon. Furthermore, when we examine the Mahayana scriptures themselves, we find statements that seem problematic in various ways. For example, the Perfection of Wisdom sutras state that they were taught by the Buddha at Vulture Peak in Rajagriha to a vast congregation of disciples. However, if you have visited the site in present-day Rajgir, it is obvious that it is impossible for more than a few people to fit onto the summit. So, we have to understand the truth of these accounts at a different level, a level beyond the ordinary one confined by conventional notions of space and time. Nagarjuna and Asanga (another great Indian teacher, who lived in the fourth century C.E.) played a critical role in the compilation of the Mahayana scriptures. They are identified as its principal custodians and interpreters. However, there is

a gap of at least four hundred years between the death of the Buddha and the birth of Nagarjuna, and perhaps as many as nine hundred years’ difference between the Buddha’s death and the birth of Asanga. We might therefore ask what it is that ensures that the Mahayana scriptures were indeed continually transmitted from the time of the Buddha to the times of Nagarjuna and Asanga. In the Mahayana scriptures, that link is the bodhisattvas, such as Maitreya and Manjushri. It is said that, in the case of Nagarjuna, it is the bodhisattva Manjushri who transmits the lineage. Bhavaviveka explicitly states in his text The Blaze of Reasoning (Tarkajvala) that the great bodhisattvas compiled the Mahayana scriptures. These accounts create a rather complex picture. How are we to understand these statements about the origins of the Mahayana scriptures in relation to conventional notions of time? We can probably say that the Mahayana scriptures were not taught by the historical Buddha to the general public in any conventional sense. Furthermore, it may be the case that Mahayana scriptures, such as the Perfection of Wisdom sutras, were taught to a group of a few individuals whom the Buddha regarded as most suited to receive those teachings. This accords with the Buddhist assertion that a buddha transmits teachings in ways tailored to the diverse aptitudes and diverse physiological and psychological states of practitioners. Thus, in this context, the teachings may have been transmitted on a plane that transcends conventional understandings of time and space. In this way, we may understand the origin of Mahayana texts, and the origin of the Heart Sutra. y Reproduced with permission from Essence of the Heart Sutra: Dalai Lama’s Heart of Wisdom Teachings. Essence of the Heart Sutra is a sterling resource for studying and understanding the Heart Sutra. It comprises the Dalai Lama’s famous Heart of Wisdom teachings of 2001, including an overview of Buddhism, background material, as well as commentary on the text. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Author; Geshe Thupten Jinpa, Editor. Published by Wisdom Publications, December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 13


Lo-jong Mind training, the Tibetan tradition of mental and emotional cultivation: Part I cholar and chief translator for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Geshe Thupten


Jinpa, discusses the Tibetan tradition of mind training (lo-jong), which forms the basis of his important book Mind Training: The Great Collection.

The book is, in fact, a translation of an anthology of Tibetan Buddhist texts called lojong, or mind training, which is at the heart of mental and emotional training practices, common to all the schools of Tibetan Buddhism. But first, let me give a little background in the wider context of Buddhism. Nowadays terms like yoga, zen, and meditation are a part of the English language but, at least on the popular level, almost every individual seems to have a different take on what the word “meditation” means. For many, meditation seems to be understood as a form of relaxation. This is not how it is understood in the traditional Buddhist context. Those who come from outside and encounter Buddhism for the first time will notice that some form of training of the mind, some form of spiritual exercise, is at its heart. Buddha summed up the essence of his teaching when he said, “Avoid all forms of destructive actions, engage in actions which are positive and beneficial, and tame your mind, and this, in essence, is my way.” In other words, training, disciplining, and calming the mind is seen as the heart of the Buddhist path or Buddhist practice. And so, right from the beginning, there is a sense that Buddhist teaching, or Buddhist religion or faith, is not really a form of worship – faith in some kind of transcendental being as the foundation – but rather, the journey of the individual. The metaphor that is used is “the path” – a journey from one state of ignorance, from an unenlightened, undisciplined state of mind, to a disciplined, calm, compassionate, and more enlightened state of mind. 14 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

In a sense, what Buddhists are supposed to be doing is trying to understand what constitutes the content of the enlightenment experience that the Buddha went through, and how we can replicate that experience. What are the mechanics, what are the processes that will lead us to basically follow in the footsteps of the Buddha – literally. When the Buddha came out of the enlightenment experience, and began to teach and share his experience with others – he called it “the way,” Dharma – the metaphor that he used was that of a therapeutic model, and the formula he presented is known as the Four Noble Truths: the truth of suffering, the truth of its origin, the truth of the possibility of its cessation, and the truth of a path that will lead to it.

The connection between us and the world Buddha explicitly used the medical therapeutic model, and the whole path is really seen as a medicine that will cure the ailments. Now, when we speak about suffering in the Buddhist context, we are not talking about ordinary, evident, physical suffering alone. We are talking primarily at the level of psychological, spiritual suffering, and one of the key insights of the Buddha was to really appreciate, at a very fundamental level, an intimate connection between the way we see the world, the way we see ourselves, our own identity, and the way we experience emotions and how we relate to the world. Increasingly this is a connection that is being discovered in modern Western psychology. People are already beginning to understand the mechanics of this, but Buddha was probably one of the very earliest teachers who saw this connection, and December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 14

for him freedom from suffering was not really a function of prayer, not a function of simply quieting the mind; it is a function of really understanding how our mind works. It’s a function of reprogramming, reorienting how we see ourselves and the world around us at a very deep level. In the traditional Buddhist language, this teaching is presented as the teaching on no-self: anatman. And the key idea here is that many of our problems, particularly the psychological and emotional ones, are rooted in an ingrained belief in some kind of absolute, enduring core to ourselves that we call “me” or “I.” Once you have some kind of deep grasping at the “real me,” the “true me,” then, from that basis, your perspective on the world and others will really be from that self-centered perspective, that there is, deep inside you, a core that is the “true me.” The way in which the Buddha understood this, is that this kind of clinging leads to a very reactive form of relating to events. Because you have this strong grasping at a “true me” inside of you, you will react to whatever is seen as threatening or challenging in a negative manner, and you will see whatever seems to promote this sense of a true me as an object of attachment.

Mind like a monkey One of the wonderful images that we find in the early Buddhist texts is this: Imagine a monkey that is on the other side of a metal fence from you. You offer something to the monkey – an apple or a banana, for instance – and the monkey reaches through the fence to hold it. When the monkey pulls back, it gets stuck because the hand is no longer free. The monkey keeps trying, frantically, to pull its hand back through while holding onto the fruit, It is screaming, beginning to get frightened, and it is so obvious that the solution to the monkey’s problem lies simply in letting go. If the monkey just lets go of the banana, the monkey will be free. That is one of the wonderful images that is presented in the texts. So much of our problem really comes from this kind of strong grasping at our core being. In Buddhism there is not only an emphasis on the diagnosis, on understanding the mechanics of suffering, but also on understanding how we can get out of this situation. That’s why meditation and practice are such important parts of the Buddhist tradition. December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 15


The three trainings When the Buddha was asked, “How can we put this knowledge into a practical application? How can we go about correcting this, how can we go about gaining this freedom you speak of?” the formula that was presented is traditionally referred to as “the three trainings.” The first stage is the training in morality, the second stage is training in meditation, and the third stage is training in wisdom. The idea behind this is fairly simple. Since much of the problem is rooted in a dysfunctional way of being in, seeing, and experiencing the world, the way to counteract this is, at the initial stage, to be able to reduce the gross levels of manifestations of our destructive states of mind and unethical actions that are harmful to others and destructive to ourselves – actions that are characterized as immoral in the Buddhist context. So you can see that, in Buddhism, the whole notion of morality is quite different. It is not based upon some kind of belief in divine laws that dictate what is right and what is wrong. It is really understood in terms of our suffering: what is destructive, what is harmful to self and others, what is immoral or unethical. The first level of spiritual practice is to tackle gross levels of manifestations of our destructive states of the mind. These manifestations could be verbal: for example, using harsh words to others, or being insulting and so on; or it could be a physical action, and the gravest act is killing, because you have basically cut short another sentient being’s life. So, again, the gravity of an unethical action is judged by its gravity in terms of harmfulness to the other. Once you have laid the foundation of this strong ethical life, then on that basis you start tackling the root of the problem, which are the negative mental and emotional states. And in order to do that, you need a stable mind. This is where meditation comes in, because our ordinary, undisciplined state of mind is always restless, and those who have had some experience of meditating will personally know what I am talking about. For, when you sit down and close your eyes and try to quieten your mind, that’s when you begin to realize – and some writers refer to it as the monkey mind – that basically the mind is always chasing after something. The mind is so restless. In the Tibetan tradition, most monks have a daily set of practices which would involve chanting and reading texts, and in a sense, when you do that, that’s also the most relaxing part 16 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

of your day. There’s a joke that there was a Tibetan lama who forgot an important chore and he told his attendant this and said, “Anyway, let me sit down with my practice and I’ll remember it!” So the point is that the undisciplined, untrained state of mind is really restless; we have no sense of control over where it will go. First we need to cultivate a degree of stability. This is where meditation comes in. In all forms of Buddhist meditation practices, you begin with breathing, or some form of technique that stills the mind. Sometimes, in the popular press, meditation is described as emptying the mind. I remember once seeing a cartoon where there was a young boy sitting down, and his friend walks past and asks, “Hey, what are you doing?” “I’m meditating,” the boy replies. The friend asks further, “Well, what does that do?” “Well, it empties your mind,” responds the boy. To this the friend retorts, “But I thought yours was quite empty to begin with!”

Buddhist meditation is not about emptying your mind. It’s about being calm and still. Buddhist meditation is not about emptying your mind. It’s about being calm and still. Think of a jar of water which is muddy. You stir it up and leave it there, and if you keep stirring you’ll never see the clarity of the water, because the water is always mixed with the dirt. If you leave the water to rest for a few minutes, the dust settles down, and the clarity comes up, and that is the metaphor, the image of the “stilling the mind” meditation. All forms of Buddhist meditation practices would begin with some form of stilling the mind, and the most popular is breathing meditation. You simply take a deep breath and start counting the breath, both the exhalation and inhalation as one round, and you do it slightly more exaggeratedly than you would normally breathe. Since breathing is a very natural process, it’s somehow much easier to bring your attention to it. This is one of the most effective practices, and it is said to be most effective for those whose minds are particularly restless, and which, I suppose, quite accurately describes the modern person’s mind. People talk about multi-tasking as if

“[Breathing meditation] is said to be most effective for those whose minds are particularly restless, and quite accurately describes the modern person’s mind. People talk about multitasking as if it’s a good thing, but multi-tasking can also lead to a lack of focus. So in the traditional texts, breath-awareness meditation of stilling the mind is recommended for people who are prone to much restlessness of mind.” it’s a good thing, but multi-tasking can also lead to a lack of focus. Therefore, in the traditional texts, breathing or breathawareness meditation of stilling the mind is recommended for people who are prone to much restlessness of mind. Other forms of techniques that are used are a mantra or a sound, like OM, to try to calm your mind. That’s a traditional Indian approach. Or, in the Tibetan context, we will use a form of prayer of taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, which has the immediate effect of bringing your mind to a more spiritual, devotional state.

The idea is to really still the mind, calm the mind to a more restful, stable state. Once you have reached that degree of stability, then you go on to the training in wisdom. And that is a much more active set of practices. What you will be trying to do is to radically re-orient the way in which you see yourself. y This teaching is taken from a talk given by Geshe Thupten Jinpa to an audience of mainly Vietnamese Buddhists in Phoenix, Arizona in 2007. In our next issue, he describes how lo-jong can radically re-orientate our personality, attitudes, and thoughts so that we can shift from our habitual self-centeredness to other-centeredness.



ompiled in the fifteenth century, Mind Training: The Great Collection is the earliest anthology of a special genre of Tibetan literature known as “mind training,” or lo-jong in Tibetan. The principal focus of these texts is the systematic cultivation of such altruistic thoughts and Geshe Thupten Jinpa emotions as compassion, love, forbearance, and perseverance. The mind-training teachings are highly revered by the Tibetan people for their pragmatism and down-to-earth advice on coping with the various challenges and hardships that

unavoidably characterize everyday human existence. The volume contains forty-four individual texts, including the most important works of the mind training cycle, such as Serlingpa’s well-known Leveling Out All Preconceptions, Atisha’s Bodhisattva’s Jewel Garland, Langri Thangpa’s Eight Verses on Training the Mind, and Chekawa’s Seven-Point Mind Training, together with the earliest commentaries on these seminal texts. An accurate and lyrical translation of these texts, many of which are in metered verse, marks an important contribution to the world’s literary heritage, enriching its spiritual resources. The book is part of the Library of Tibetan Classics series published by Wisdom Publications

December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 17


Meanings and Meditation “If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly, and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom, then obviously it’s worthwhile.” –Lama Zopa Rinpoche By Tenzin Chonyi (Dr. Diana Taylor) As an FPMT teacher, nun, and psychologist, I have often had people say to me, “Why bother with Western psychology when everything is there in Buddhism?” This is a valid question, since Buddhism contains the complete path. It is not that Buddhism is lacking, but that it helps to reframe it in a way that is useful to Western culture. I also have a deep respect for the Christian mystical tradition. The results of mystical contemplation lead to those spiritual realizations such as love, compassion, and wisdom, so it is obviously worthwhile. Yet Christians’ descriptions of their spiritual path are very different from the descriptions of the stages of meditation within our own Buddhist lineage. So I asked myself why the two paths are described so differently. If Lama Yeshe is right, then the stages we go through as our meditative concentrations increase are the same, whether we are Buddhist or Christian or agnostic. What I found was that the Christian mystic is not concerned with stages of concentration so much as the meaning of the experiences arising within, and after, meditative concentration, contemplation, and prayer. The mystic is concerned with what Eugene Gendlin (1978) called the “felt-meaning” of the experience: the love, the joy, the ecstasy, the feeling of Jesus being a close friend, the bliss of union with the Divine mind. Felt-meaning is a word which brings together the deep connection between our feelings about an event and the meaning we put onto that event. It explains why a cheap plastic bangle, or a battered toy, may have a lot of significance for 18 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

one person, but mean nothing to the rest of us. So while the meditative states may be independent of one’s religious tradition, the felt-meaning of these states can be very different. In Buddhism we refer to the union of bliss and emptiness so that the felt-meaning of our meditative contemplation is very different to the personalized meaning of the Christian contemplative. We could say that the lam-rim is our method for developing a wiser felt-meaning to our experiences. If I am angry, what is the meaning I have given to that anger? That it is the fault of another person, or an opportunity to practice patience, or to understand emptiness? Felt-meaning arises from our attachments and aversions and ignorance. If I am grasping at getting a new car, then I will impose a felt-meaning on the experience of getting the car (How fantastic! It’s perfect! All mine!), or not getting that car (How can I manage without a new car? This car’s a dump, unreliable. What will people think about me driving around in this rust-bucket?). When we practice transforming problems, then the meaning of ‘problem’ becomes quite different. Our emotions when we experience the problem also become transformed. The felt-meaning has changed. If we practice meditative concentration, then what is the felt-meaning that arises? If I am using meditation to run away from my problems, then the felt-meaning might be: “At last I am in a space where I do not have to worry about my problems; this feels good; I want this feeling to last forever.” If meditation means that I can be better than someone else,

then the felt-meaning will depend on whether we think that meditation is good or bad. If it is good, the felt-meaning is: “Ah, I’ve got it right. I feel good about myself. I’m better than those other meditators around me. They’re losers” … and lots of puffed up pride. If the meditation is not good, then the felt-meaning will be: “I’m no good. I’m hopeless. I can’t do it.” If we meditate so that we can realize the teachings of the lam-rim, then we can use the felt-meaning of our meditation to understand more about ourselves. If I am meditating on emptiness and I freak out, what is the felt-meaning? I remember walking along the beach one grey and misty day where I could see neither the horizon nor the sand dunes. I was walking on wet sand, which also reflected grey, and doing the visualizations on the dissolution at death. I didn’t get far. My mind passed from the mirage-like stage to the smoke-like stage and I got no further. I suddenly felt as if I was really in that smoke-like stage. I remember reassuring myself that my feet were touching the wet sand. The felt-meaning of that experience arose from my contemplation at that time. It was scary. I’m not usually scared by walking along the beach enclosed by mist. Rob Preece in his book, The Wisdom of Imperfection (2006, p.242), talks about one of his own experiences in meditation: “During the retreat … I suffered a terrifying sense that I was gradually being torn apart and dismembered … I would lie down ... and cry for help only to find that as I did so, I would burst open and let go. It was as though something in me knew I had to die … When [Gen Jhampa Wangdu, who had lived most of his life as a hermit in retreat] saw me in my forlorn state, he just laughed and said, “You are so fortunate. Tibetans pray for this kind of experience; get back up the mountain and get on with it.”

When we look at the texts on meditation, though, they rarely include these felt meanings. For example, Lamrimpa (1992, p.134) describes mental and physical pliancy in this way: Generally speaking, mental pliancy arises first and is followed by physical pliancy. The first sign of mental pliancy is spontaneous mental joy. It arises, it increases, and indicates the arising of physical pliancy. One of the first signs of physical pliancy is sensation comparable to slight pressure you would feel if someone were to place a warm hand on your freshly shaved head. This subtle energy is unprecedented. As it courses through the body, it creates a sense of fullness throughout the body. As the initial joy of physical pliancy increases, it activates a new level of mental bliss. The mental bliss compounds the physical, they influence each other with increasing intensity. As you can see, this is getting rather potent. The pliancy is very dynamic, and gets stronger and stronger building towards a peak. Eventually this dynamic pliancy tapers off, and one attains a subtle pliancy that is called ‘special pliancy.’ At what moment is samatha actually attained? It is attained after the mounting pliancy has settled. First it swells increasingly as it moves about. Then there is a small amount of tapering off, and when that occurs, samatha has been attained. This description could fit as comfortably in a medical text as in a book on mysticism and suggests that this highly refined mental concentration has more to do with subtle physical and mental processes than any magical, emotional, mystical, or numinous state. This is why Buddhist meditation has been accused of being nothing more than a profound cataleptic state (Griffiths, 1986, p.11). Such criticisms do not acknowledge

Felt-meaning is a word which brings together the deep connection between our feelings about an event and the meaning we put onto that event. What was the meaning behind these intense feelings that Preece describes? It would be related to an incomplete understanding of the two truths: conventional truth and ultimate truth. Our bodies do not disintegrate with the realization of emptiness. Our mind does not suddenly evaporate, but as we meditate on these things our incomplete understanding arises in the form of these fearful felt-meanings. Gen Jhampa Wangdu knew this. He sent Preece back for more meditation.

this role of felt-meaning. In the case of the Buddhist meditator, felt-meaning is related to our Buddhist grounding in ethics, compassion, and wisdom. As Wallace (1998) points out, Buddhist mysticism is anything but catalepsy. Why, argues Wallace, would a Buddhist practitioner spend so much time developing these states? A blow on the head would be much easier. Buddhist yogis are well aware of the psychological ramifications of different states of mental concentration. December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 19


Since these mental concentrations can be achieved by anyone independently of any religious leanings, then they are simply that: mental states. What makes them a religious practice is the purpose to which these mental powers are applied. The concentrations and absorptions can be achieved by Buddhists and non-Buddhists. In other words, one does not have to be on a spiritual path to attain these refined qualities of mind. For this reason, Lati Rinbochey (1983, p.115) warns of the limitations of the four absorptions, however subtle they may be: “If they are not used [for developing on the spiritual path], the practitioner achieves only the causes for resultant rebirths in these levels. It is like having a handful of dollars; we could either use the money or not use it. We could buy a house or an airplane, or anything we wanted, but if we do not use the money, it would only be paper.” For a Buddhist yogi, the reason for attaining the meditative concentrations of the desire, form, and formless realms is to apply the resultant powers to more and more subtle understanding of the four Noble Truths. The Buddhist yogi continues to meditate on suffering and its causes and how those causes can be eliminated by the Buddhist spiritual path. Since these meditations provide skilful means to help others remove suffering and attain happiness, in this sense, Buddhism is a depth psychology based on a clearly articulated philosophy about the meaning of life, including the importance of altruism and a deep heart-connectedness with all living creatures without exception. While the description of the path to liberation does not involve any emotional content or felt-meaning, the dramatic change of perception which accompanies liberation is well known, even though it cannot be easily described. In any case, there is still more work for the Buddhist yogi. Further, these subtle afflictions are gradually eliminated as the yogi proceeds through the meditative concentrations of the form and formless realms. These realms may still, when entered by a non-Buddhist, be constrained by desire, albeit in much subtler forms than those of the ordinary person. Thus, although heart connectedness to either other sentient beings or devotion to the fully-realized Buddha mind is not directly addressed in the training manuals for deep levels of mental concentration, such connectedness is necessarily part of the Buddhist yogi’s training. It is this emphasis on renunciation and generating bodhichitta which distinguishes the Buddhist meditative path from the path of another yogi whose motivation is simply a desire for worldly peace. When the Christian mystic meditates, the emphasis is 20 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

on forgiveness and a deep personal relationship with Christ and the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Through their emphasis, they also develop wisdom and compassion. There is no value in these mystical states, argues the Buddhist, unless it is informed by wisdom and compassion. That is why the Buddhist yogi uses the post-meditation state to develop compassion and wisdom. In the end, spirituality is a practical journey toward inner integrity and an unclouded understanding of reality. His Holiness the Dalai Lama (2005, p.220) says, “ … spirituality is a human journey into our internal resources, with the aim of understanding who we are in the deepest sense ... and of discovering how to live according to the highest possible ideal. This too is the union of wisdom and compassion.” One of the recognized outcomes of the spiritual path is a return from the deep inner awareness to a wise and courageous return to the external world, to other people and their suffering. Wisdom and compassion are common to both Christianity and to Tibetan Buddhism, and indeed to all valid spiritual paths. Tibetan Buddhism and Christian mysticism provide contrasting paths for attaining these spiritual ideals. By examining their similarities and contrasts we can perhaps more clearly identify those factors which are important in this central task of humanity. References: The Dalai Lama, His Holiness (2005). The Universe in a Single Atom. London: Little, Brown. Gendlin, E.T. (1978). Focusing Oriented Psychotherapy: A New Kind of Orientation. New York: Everest House. Griffiths, Paul J. (1986). On Being Mindless: Buddhist Meditation and the Mind-Body Problem. La Salle, Ill: Open Court. Lamrimpa, Gen (1992). Calming the Mind (tr B Alan Wallace) Ithaca, NY, Snow Lion Lati, Rinbochey and Denmo Locho, Rinbochey (1983). Meditative States in Tibetan Buddhism. (Trans. L. Zahler & J. Hopkins.) Boston: Wisdom Publications. Preece, Rob (2006). The Wisdom of Imperfection. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion. Wallace, B. Alan (1998). The Bridge of Quiescence: Experiencing Tibetan Buddhist Meditation. Chicago: Open Court Press. y Ven. Tenzin Chönyi (Dr. Diana Taylor) is currently an FPMT touring teacher, and an honorary lecturer in the Medical Faculty (Department of Psychological Medicine) at Sydney University, Australia. Her book, Enough! Breaking the Addiction Trap, will be published in 2008 by Wisdom Publications.


December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 21


Getting depressed by



student doing shiné (calmabiding) retreat asked Lama

Zopa Rinpoche why he sometimes

Rinpoche: If the way of meditating is correct, the effect should be to feel more free. It should be like that, not feeling more upset. The other way is not free. If you see something beautiful and the grasping mind arises, this is not free. This is a prison. If the way of meditating is correct, the effect is to feel more free.

felt depressed after meditating on

Student: But even the feeling of being free is labeled.

emptiness. Here follows their

Rinpoche: Yes, labeled, but there is the base. You are not just labeling; there is a base. There is a feeling, and you label that feeling “free.”

thought-provoking dialogue … Student: Sometimes in retreat, when I really meditate that everything is appearance, an illusion, and empty, it feels like my mind can become very depressed. Rinpoche: Depressed? Student: Yes, very cold … Rinpoche: It should be the other way around. Do you feel depressed because you are unable to stay with your meditation in daily life? Student: No, the mind feels numb, unfeeling. Because everything is a label, then it feels like anything that happens is not really there. Rinpoche: In what context? I don’t think it’s a problem. Student: For example, if I go outside and see something beautiful, then I think, “It’s just a label, it’s not beautiful,” so I feel like I can’t enjoy it. Or if I feel happy, I realize the happiness is just a label, so I don’t feel anything anymore, I go back into nothingness. The same when I feel sad. I say, “That’s just a label,” so I don’t feel sad anymore. So, the result of doing that meditation over and over is that I end up feeling nothing. It feels very bleak and my mind gets a little strange. 22 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

Student: But when that feeling of being free comes, my mind immediately says, “Even that is a label,” and I can’t become attached to that feeling of being free. I would be meditating on the emptiness of that feeling, so I wouldn’t allow myself to feel it because that is also a label. Rinpoche: Yes, a label, everything is merely imputed. That is why it is important first to meditate on karma, the suffering of samsara, and the shortcomings of delusions. Then, when this realization, discovery, and renunciation are very strong, then you meditate on emptiness. Then, the method to use, like an atomic bomb, is emptiness – to destroy delusions and be free from samsara, to destroy samsara. But you need to meditate on karma, the shortcomings of delusions, how the delusions cheat us and cause the extensive sufferings of samsara, the shortcomings of samsara, which are the shortcomings of delusions, delusions as the enemy, how these objects are the nature of suffering, especially how samsaric pleasures are all in the nature of suffering. The problem is you haven’t meditated enough on renunciation, how samsara is in the nature of suffering, how samsaric pleasure is in the nature of suffering. Seeing how everything is the fault of delusions and seeing delusion as the enemy – when you have that and you know emptiness is like an atomic

“Please meditate more on karma, on how samsaric pleasure is suffering, on the

PHOTO by Ven. Roger Kunsang

delusions as the enemy, especially ignorance, then there will only be great joy in meditating on emptiness.” – Lama Zopa Rinpoche

bomb that destroys the delusions, then you are only happy. However much one is able to meditate on emptiness is only happiness. It’s a jewel, it’s incredible. Without that you can’t be liberated forever from the hell realms, hungry ghost realm, animal realm, sura realm, asura realm, and human realm – you can’t be liberated from those sufferings forever. Every single problem human beings have is due to the shortcomings of delusions, the shortcomings of the root of these delusions: ignorance. Whatever the delusion – attachment, anger – it goes back to the shortcoming of ignorance, the root of samsara. Everything comes from that. All the other delusions that make life so difficult for oneself and others come from the root, ignorance. The shortcomings of ignorance, holding the “I” as truly existent, are the root of samsara. You haven’t meditated enough on looking at how samsara is suffering, on the nature of samsaric pleasure, on renunciation; because of that, you don’t see samsaric pleasures as suffering and then there is clinging to samsaric pleasures. Because of that, when you meditate on emptiness, it becomes depressing, like a problem. So, please meditate more on karma, on how samsaric pleasure is suffering, on the delusions as the enemy, especially ignorance, then there will only be great joy in meditating on emptiness. From the website of the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 23


Each Faith Enhances the Other - Professor Jan Willis, one of the earliest American scholar-practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism, was recruited by the Washington Post and Newsweek for a blog entitled On Faith – []. Other panelists include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elaine Pagels, Elie Wiesel – and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Here is Professor Willis’ expanded response to the question,

“Can a Christian, Muslim, or Jew embrace Eastern spiritual practices – yoga or Buddhist meditation, for example – and remain true to the laws of the God of Abraham?” The question strikes me as being, at its conclusion, overly heavy-handed – “true to the laws of the God of Abraham”! If the question were simply worded – “Can a Christian, Muslim, or Jew embrace Eastern spiritual practices ... and remain true to their respective religious traditions?”– I could answer simply, “Why, yes, certainly!” Plenty of Christians and Jews have embraced or, at least, employed Eastern spiritual practices, and these latter practices have enhanced the experience of their own personal faith traditions, not upset, or debased, or distorted them. The overall health benefits of yoga are well known. Buddhist meditative exercises, I believe, can help one to better experience and put into practice certain principles and virtues whether they be Christian, Muslim, or Jewish. The contemplative and activist, Thomas Merton, knew this, and it is confirmed in his Asian Journals. Sylvia Boorstein, whose book That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Buddhist: On Being a Faithful Jew and a Passionate Buddhist, traces her spiritual journey from Judaism to Buddhism and back again to a stronger Judaism, knows it. And the Dalai Lama often advises that people of all faiths should feel free to use Buddhist meditative techniques without leaving their own traditions. In other words, Buddhist meditation has the potential to enhance one’s spiritual practice whatever that central practice is. There is a fairly long-standing Christian-Buddhist dialogue. One of its representatives, Reuben Habito, author of Living Zen, Loving God, has been called “an authentic practitioner of both Christianity and Zen.” Born in the Philippines, Habito studied as a Jesuit priest in Japan and then trained under a renowned Zen master. His book, while aimed at Christians, discusses the many commonalities he sees between the two religions, and suggests that his Zen practice helped him to expand his experience of Christ. Vietnamese Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, has counseled that we “ought not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. All systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth.” 24 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

And, again, the current Dalai Lama has said in Many Ways to Nirvana: Reflections and Advice on Right Living, that “a sense of caring, commitment, discipline, oneness with humanity – these are very relevant in today’s world.” Jan Willis I call this secular ethics, and this is the first level to counter negative emotions. The second level in this connection is taught by all major religious traditions, whether Christian or Muslim or Jewish or Hindu. They all carry the message of love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment, and discipline. Rather than use this On Faith forum about religious dialogue as fuel for political arguments or conflicts, wouldn’t it be better to use it to discuss our common spiritual ground? It seems to me that we have come full circle. We began this blogging project wanting to instigate and encourage dialogue among different voices and faith communities. Many of the commentators on those blogs have been angry ones, unwilling actually to engage in dialogue and seemingly unable to hear another side/view. Were all parties listeners as well as negative debaters and cynics (though there were a number of hopeful and helpful responses to be sure) we might have accomplished so much more. If none of what I have said above moves you, we might consider this: a young African American woman once told me that she thought of Christian prayer as “asking something of/from God” while she could see that Buddhist meditation offered “the means to hear His answer.” Makes good sense to me. Janice Willis is Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University. She has published numerous essays and articles on Buddhist meditation, hagiography, women and Buddhism, and Buddhism and race. She is the author of Dreaming Me: An African American Woman’s Spiritual Journey (2001). Willis is also the author of Enlightened Beings: Life Stories from the Ganden Oral Tradition (1995). She has taught courses in Buddhism for thirty-two years. In its May 2007 issue, Ebony Magazine named Jan Willis one of its “Power 150,” that is, one of America’s “most influential African Americans.” The magazine cited Willis for her work in Buddhist Studies.

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‘Deepen your relationships’, my Zen teacher said yet our practice takes place largely in silence. This ‘insoluble riddle’ of a contemplative inner life in contrast to turning outwards to interact and engage with other people, is where we join Sara as she begins her journey in Hello at Last . ISBN 978 1 899579 79 2 $14.95 US / $18.00 CAN PB 182 pp to order Amazon and fine bookshops Retailers contact: Consortium Distribution 800 283 3572

26 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008


Strangers on a train This true story was experienced and written down by Gyume monk and thangka painter, Ven. Yeshi Dorjee. It was edited by Julia Hengst. Recently, I took the Metrolink train from Los Angeles’ Union Station to West Covina. The trip takes forty minutes. Because it was rush hour, the train was packed and there were only two seats left. Fortunately, I got one of them; I sat in the aisle and the window seat next to me was empty. A few seconds later, a big man boarded and scanned the train looking for a seat. He saw the free window seat next to me and, saying “Excuse me,” moved past me and sat down. He held a small, brown paper bag in his hand with the label “Sandwich” written on it. After he sat down, he turned toward me and looked at me from head to toe. “Where are you from?” he asked. “I am Tibetan,” I said. “Is this normal Tibetan dress?” “No, this is my uniform,” I answered. “Are you a religious person?” he asked. “I don’t know exactly what you mean by religious, so I can’t say whether I am or not, but I am a monk,” I said. “How about you?” He opened the small paper package and took out a bottle of alcohol that was half empty. “This is my religion,” he said. I felt uncomfortable, but I took a minute to go inside and remember who I am in this moment, where I am, and what is the best way to act. He took a drink and closed his eyes for a few seconds. He looked at my face again and again, and his eyes seemed to indicate that he was worried about something. “Are you a married man?” he asked. “No,” I said. “Have you ever had a wife?” he asked. “Never,” I replied. “Do you have a girlfriend?” “No,” I said. “How old are you?” he said “I am 45.” He stared at my face and fidgeted. He moved his bottle of alcohol from right hand to left hand to right hand, back and forth, showing me he was uncomfortable with this idea. I knew that I had made us both uncomfortable with the answers I just gave him, so I tried to relax and feel that this man is my best friend. “I’m just kidding, I have a very beautiful wife,” I said. “See! I knew you were kidding!” he said. “Tell me about your wife.”

“Her name is Vinaya Vow,” I said. “When did you get married?” he asked. “When I was nine years old,” I said. He practically yelled, “I asked when you got married!” “Yes, I married when I was nine years old.” “You’re kidding. Tell me the truth,” he said. “I’m telling you the truth. There are a lot of things that happen in my country that you might not believe. For instance, some men had nine wives, other men had five wives,” I told him. His face became visibly brighter and it seemed like my words were a perfect match for his interests. “How many wives do you have?” he asked. “I have just three wives,” I said. “Cool, man. I have two wives – not as many as you, but I am lucky because there is no chance they will ever meet each other.” “Where do they live?” I asked. “One lives in Korea Town and another is in Azusa City,” he said. I told him, “I’m very lucky because my three wives are friendly with each other – they can’t live without each other.” “Wow! Tell me how they live together peacefully!” he said. “My oldest wife, named Vinaya Vow, is very peaceful and never makes trouble; she wouldn’t hurt a fly. She is generally quiet and calm; she likes to help the others and never hurts them. The other two respect her like she’s their older sister. The middle wife is called Bodhisattva Vow. She’s very busy and takes care of our whole family as well as our neighbors. She does a lot of volunteer work. “The youngest wife is Tantric Vow. She is very beautiful and sexy, but also a little crazy. Bodhisattva Vow takes care of her like she’s her child. If I didn’t have Bodhisattva Vow as my wife I would have divorced Tantric Vow many years ago. I can’t take care of her, and my oldest wife also can’t take care of her. Only Bodhisattva Vow can handle her. I’m proud of my family,” I said. “How about if I introduce my two wives to all of you?” he asked. “I don’t think so,” I said. Then we heard an announcement saying we had reached the West Covina train station. “See you later, friend,” I said. “Have a nice day, my friend,” he replied. y December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 27


A letter to someone as yet unmet


eeling tired and suffering from a cold, Janine Nieper was lying in bed reading the August/September issue of Mandala. As she turned the pages, she was enjoying reading about how to integrate Ngondro into our daily meditation. Then, after reading Heather Kennedy’s “A Journalist Undone,” in which the author relates her experience seeing His Holiness, Janine became very excited, as she was to go to Lisbon that Sunday to attend a public talk by the Dalai Lama. It was to be the first time she would see him.

Then something extraordinary happened … I noticed [in Mandala] the photograph of a group of people in the Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom’s Knowledge Base steering group. I wondered if Ven. Constance Miller was among them. Yes, there was her name. I had finally found her! When I was eighteen, I had sent a letter to FPMT asking for materials to help the dying as my partner’s mother was passing. Ven. Constance Miller replied and sent me the materials from Lama Zopa Rinpoche. I kept her letter. Seven years later, I wrote to her explaining my situation and how I was very confused after ending my long-term relationship with my partner. The letter was returned as undeliverable (the address had changed). That very evening I was attacked outside my home by a man with a balaclava and a knife. I really defended myself, and after a struggle and being stabbed several times I was left to die, alone. I remember that when the man said to me he was going to kill me I looked him in the eyes and said, “No, you are a nice person; you are not going to kill me.” Where did that come from? I was very lucky to have my mobile phone with me, and I called a friend who called an ambulance. When it arrived I was curled up and couldn’t move; I had lost a lot of blood, but I had survived. I spent a week in the hospital with a collapsed lung. I was very fortunate. Now, just by seeing Ven. Connie Miller’s name in Mandala, my mind went back to that situation. I turned to the Obituaries and I started to cry a little. These stories always move me, and after reading Lyndall Rowan’s story I really started to cry. Although I had never met her, she had such an 28 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

amazing personality. To die so suddenly is always a shock. Then I asked myself if reading about Lyndall was the reason for this outburst and I knew it wasn’t. For a long time I have been close to tears in seconds and I decided to meditate on it to find the real cause. I let the tears pour out and I found it. Here is the conversation I had with myself: “Why am I always on the verge of tears? What is it? What is wrong? What is making me want to cry? Am I unhappy? Have I done something wrong?” “Is it because somebody tried to kill me?” Yes, that’s it. That pain fills my heart. I tasted the darkness and I survived. The pain inside this human heart was holding onto the bad will of another. What satisfaction could that act have given? No self pity, just a huge internal wound, not always apparent but always present. Finally, now aware, we can begin to care for this unseen injury. I could feel the pain, and knew that I needed to deal with it in some way, so I just sat and watched my mind give me suggestions. “You need to love the wound, feel the love of all the buddhas around the wound.” I told myself to see the buddhas – all of them – in front of me, and there it was, the refuge merit field picture in the magazine. But what I was seeing was not the small picture: It was huge! I imagined them all directing beams of love to me, I felt lifted and like I had moved. I don’t meditate very often, so I couldn’t focus for more than a few minutes, but for a moment I felt that I was in the merit field and the color was so brilliant. They were there with me that night; that is how I survived, and they are still with me now.

I got out of bed and made ten prostrations (nowhere near the 100,000 but my ten were completely heartfelt) in front of my Medicine Buddha statue, imagining he was representing all of the buddhas. I gave my thanks and asked that all the other people in the world who had this pain would also feel this love. Still not feeling so well, I got back into bed to be in the space that had just opened and to go on feeling the comfort that I had just found. I know I don’t practice as much as I should, yet when I do it is very satisfying. Ven. Constance Miller, I have never met you, but isn’t it amazing the positive effect we have on someone we don’t even know who exists in a different country? y Janine Nieper is a twenty-six-year-old Australian who has lived in Lagos, Portugal for the last three years. She did travel to Lisbon to hear the Dalai Lama. “It was a great adventure,” she said. “I spent the morning on the bus, from 8:30 A.M. until 1:00 P.M., then navigated the Lisbon metro and made it to the Pavilão Atlantico one hour early, yet people were already entering. It was such a good feeling to be in a room of thousands of other people who completely respect and value this very special person. “At the beginning, he wanted to make sure that everybody had realistic expectations of what to expect from his speech, saying that he doesn’t have healing or magic powers – simply a human being speaking to other humans; very humble, wise, pure, and humorous. His laugh is really contagious – just what I needed! He even went thirty minutes over time answering questions. It would have been amazing to have been able to meet him, and I’m sure the other thousands of people had the same idea …” Depiction of a refuge merit field.

December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 29


Disappointment and Delight The eight worldly concerns Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron, Abbess of Sravasti Abbey in Washington State, USA talks to Associate Editor Sara Blumenthal about the eight worldly concerns. Thubten Chodron: Back in the 1970s, Lama Zopa Rinpoche compassionately taught us again and again the evils of the eight worldly concerns. Here’s what they are, listed in four pairs with each revolving around a certain kind of object. The first is taking delight in having money and material possessions, and the other one in the pair is being disappointed, upset, angry when we lose them or don’t get them. The second pair is feeling delighted when people praise us and approve of us and tell us how wonderful we are, and the converse is feeling very upset and dejected when they criticize us and disapprove of us – even if they are telling us the truth! The third pair is feeling delighted when we have a good reputation and a good image, and the converse is being dejected and upset when we have a bad reputation. And the fourth pair is feeling delighted when we experience sense pleasure – fantastic sights, sounds, odors, tastes and tactile sensations – and feeling dejected and upset when we have unpleasant sensations. These eight worldly concerns keep us pretty busy in our life. Most of our life is spent trying to obtain four of them and trying to avoid the other four.

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Lama Yeshe used to talk about how we have a yo-yo mind. Oh, I get a present! Feel good! Then I lose it. Feel bad. Somebody says “You’re wonderful,” and you feel up; then somebody says, “You made a mistake,” then you’re down. This constant yo-yo mind is dependent on external objects and people and leaves us oblivious to how our mind is the actual source of our happiness and misery. We have bought into the appearance of this life, thinking that money and material things, praise and approval, a good reputation and marvelous sense experiences are the epitome of happiness. In our confusion, we think these things will bring us lasting and perfect happiness. This is what our consumer culture tells us and we unthinkingly believe it. Then, at least in wealthy countries, we wind up disappointed and frustrated because we think all of this will bring us genuine happiness and it doesn’t. It brings its own set of problems.

Sara Blumenthal: How can we distinguish a destructive worldly concern from something that seems almost benign, as in “This pleases my senses,” and “I’m delighted in that” and we think we’ll feel fine and won’t be disappointed if it’s taken away – where is that line crossed that we should be careful of? TC: We have an extraordinary ability to justify, rationalize, deny and fool ourselves. We think, “I’m not attached. This is not disturbing my mind.” Yet the moment it is taken away from us, we freak out. That’s when we know that we have crossed the line. What is tricky is that the feeling that accompanies attachment is happiness. We ordinary beings don’t want to give up happiness, so we don’t see that by clinging and grasping at it, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment when it goes away. If it’s a small attachment, then it’s a small disappointment. But when it’s a big attachment, December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 31


we are devastated when it is gone. We have so much grief around that. For example, we see something we like – a cool car, some sports equipment, or whatever – and we buy it because we anticipate sense pleasure from it. In addition, it’ll serve to create a certain image of ourselves so that others will think we’re successful and will approve of us. Does having the car fill that inner feeling of emptiness inside of us? In addition, since we’ve invested a lot in that car, when the neighbor accidentally dents it, we’re furious. It’s so sad: here we are with a precious human life and the possibility to generate love and compassion for all sentient beings and to realize the nature of reality and we spend it creating a lot of negative karma to procure and protect external things and people that we think will make us everlastingly happy.

When my mind doesn’t want to separate from someone or something, there’s usually attachment there.

SB: How can we check up that the feeling of happiness is not one that has a lot of attachment? TC: You mean before it crashes? You look at your mind. When we meditate we become aware of the “tone” or “texture” of our mind. I know when I get this kind of zing or a giddy feeling, then, definitely, it’s attachment. That’s one way to tell. When my mind says, “That’s super, how about a little bit more?” there’s attachment there, too. For example, if someone praises me, I want more. I never get to the point where I say, “That’s enough.” When my mind doesn’t want to separate from someone or something, there’s usually attachment there. Another signal is when I become more selfabsorbed, relishing my own delight and forgetting about the fact that I and other sentient beings are drowning in samsara, then I know I’ve gone down the wrong path, the path of attachment. SB: Is there a relationship between “all-pervasive suffering” and this cycle of having some worldly concern that we hang onto and experiencing disappointment? TC: All-pervasive suffering is having a body and mind under the influence of ignorance, afflictions, and karma. As beings in the desire realm, we are glued to sense objects. So once we take those aggregates, we are sitting in the middle of 32 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

it – unless we practice the Dharma and make our mind strong and clear. For somebody at my level, the eight worldly concerns are the chief obstacles to practicing the Dharma. I’m nowhere near realizing the emptiness of inherent existence or eradicating the afflictions from their root. I can barely concentrate more than a few moments when I meditate. My mind is immersed in the “mantra,” “I want, I need, give me this, I can’t stand that!” The expression “struggling for happiness” perfectly expresses what the eight worldly concerns are about: We struggle for happiness, constantly trying to rearrange our world to get wealth, praise and approval, good reputation, and sense pleasure, and to avoid lack, blame, bad reputation, and unpleasant sensations. Life becomes a battle with the environment and the people in it, as we try to be around everything we like and be far away from or destroy anything we dislike. This brings us so much grief and suffering because our mind is so reactive. We also create a lot of negative karma which brings future misery, and we’re too busy to practice the path that makes our lives meaningful and leads to genuine peace and joy. SB: How about those things we gather around us, telling ourselves this is what we will use to help other beings? TC: (laughs) I can’t tell you the number of people who have said to me, “I’m going to make a lot of money and use it all for Dharma purposes.” Once in a while they send a $10 donation. I joke a lot about the eight worldly concerns because we have to laugh at how we fool ourselves. One of Lama Yeshe’s skills was that he made us laugh at ourselves while showing us how stuck and small-minded we could be. Sometimes we Westerners misunderstand the teachings, thinking, “Without the eight worldly concerns there is no way for me to be happy, so Buddhism says it’s bad to be happy. Buddha thinks we’re virtuous only if we’re miserable.” Or we think, “I’m bad because I am attached.” We judge ourselves when there is attachment in our mind. “Can’t I just enjoy this cheesecake? Buddhism is so strict and unreasonable!” Actually Buddha wants us to be happy and is showing us the way to peace. We have to spend time reflecting on our life experiences, figuring out what happiness is and what causes it. When we figure out that the eight worldly concerns are terrorists posing as sweethearts, we will let go of many misconceptions and won’t have to battle with attachment so

much, because there will be wisdom that says, “This is nice and I can enjoy it, but I don’t need it.” When we have that attitude there is so much space in the mind because then whatever we have, whoever we’re with, we are happy. SB: I’m thinking of people in situations of poverty who search for worldly things. Wouldn’t it be hard to find the mental spaciousness to go beyond that? TC: On the one hand, it’s true that when we are in dire poverty, it is difficult to find the space to reflect on the workings of our mind. On the other hand, I have seen people who have so little who are incredibly generous. In many impoverished places, people recognize, “We all have so little. We’re all in it together so we’ll share what we have.” Whereas in cultures where resources are plentiful, many people lack this space because they are so attached to things, so fearful of losing them. Their ego identity is totally wrapped up in the eight worldly concerns. For example, in Dharamsala, many years ago, an old nun with hardly any teeth invited me back to her home where she lived with her sister. It was a mud brick shack with a corrugated tin roof and dirt floor. They offered me tea and kapse [Tibetan sweet fried dough] and were so warm and generous. Another time I was teaching in Ukraine and stopped in Kiev for the day to see a friend of the man who was translating for me. The food she offered us was several varieties of potatoes. That’s all she had. But we were her guests so she pulled out some chocolate she had been saving and shared it with us. Although she had little money, when we got to the train station she got some baked goods for us to have on the train. I had a maroon cashmere sweater which I loved – talk about the eight worldly concerns! On the way to the train station the thought came into my mind to give Sasha my sweater. And instantly another thought said, “No! Get that idea out of your mind, it’s unreasonable and stupid!” There I was, someone from a wealthy country, I was only going to be there another couple of weeks, it was springtime, I didn’t really need the sweater, and I could get another sweater (perhaps not a beautiful cashmere one) back in the States. But I was so attached to that sweater. My mind was so painful and an internal civil war waged the whole ride to the station, “Give her the sweater! No, you need it. Give it to her. No, she won’t like it,” on and on. Just before the train left the station, I gave her the sweater, and I’ll never forget the look of joy on her face. And to think my attachment and miserliness almost sabotaged that!

SB: We sometimes hear about the Peace Corps volunteer who comes back home and says, “This South American community where I worked has no money but they are so happy, so much happier than us.” We receive it with a lot of cynicism, thinking they must be fantasizing their experience. Or we’ll say, “If I didn’t have such a hectic life, I could be that way too.” Why is it that in our society we don’t trust that we can be happy with less? TC: Our attachment blinds us. Not only do we have innate attachment, but also there is so much hype in Western society about the joys of consumerism, and that generates more attachment. We are terrified of questioning the hype, so we discount somebody else’s experience. Or we think, “That’s okay for Actually Buddha them, but I couldn’t live like that.”

wants us to be happy and is showing us the way to peace.

SB: What other tools can people use when they explore whether something is good for them? Or seems benign? When they don’t know how to analyze whether it is proper to move forward? For example, “Should I stay in my relationship or should I ordain?” “Should I take that job?” “Should I listen to this praise as it might be really instructive, or might it be indulging in ego?” TC: The criteria I use for making big decisions in my life are: • In which of these situations can I best keep ethical discipline? • Which situation would be most supportive for me developing bodhichitta? • In which situation could I be of greatest benefit to others? I don’t use the criteria, “Does it make me feel good?” That one doesn’t work! When I first started teaching, people would come up and say, “That was a really good Dharma talk,” and I never knew what to say. So I asked [Buddhist teacher] Alex Berzin and he said, “Say ‘Thank you.’” I found that it works. When I say thank you, they feel satisfied. In my mind, I know that anything people praise me for is actually due to my teachers who taught me with great kindness. If somebody got some benefit from what I said, that’s good – but the praise actually goes to my teachers. y December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 33


Emergency Buddhism Emergency departments in hospitals are synonymous with hectic, frenetic activity. Hospitals themselves are paragons of rational, scientific tradition. Buddhism is an ideology famed for its gentle, tranquil philosophy and serene practices. So wherein the connection? Dr. Brett Sutton explains. I don’t purport to be a great practitioner of Buddhism, although my interest goes back some twenty years, deepened by visits to India, Nepal, and Tibet. I am happy to call myself Buddhist, which is not to say that there aren’t philosophical issues within Buddhism with which I struggle. Nor am I an expert on emergency departments, although I have worked for more than ten years in their unique environments, including time in Afghanistan. It is just a slow realization in my own mind that there exist parallels between these two very different worlds. What I have discovered is that the 2,500 year old philosophy of Buddhism is very relevant to the modern practitioner of emergency medicine, regardless of one’s faith, or whether one is an agnostic, atheist, humanist, or is otherwise non-religious. (I offer little, however, to the nihilist or the fundamentalist.) I have also discovered that there is much in an emergency practitioner’s work which can assist in the aims of Buddhists – the cultivation of compassion and wisdom; the ability to remain mindful in the face of chaos, and the relief of suffering. The writings which follow will hopefully bring some clarity to the way in which I see these worlds, both precious to me.

The great dramas of life I was attending a teaching by Geshe Doga, resident teacher at Tara Institute in Melbourne, Australia, at which he was teaching us the antidotes to poor motivation in our practice of Buddhism. He asked us to reflect on the many fortunate circumstances which had led us to the position of being students and practitioners of Buddhism. First, according to Buddhist philosophy, we might have been born as something other than human beings, but indeed we were all evidently humans sitting together that night. We all had the 34 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

intelligence to contemplate life, its vagaries, joys, and agonies, and the causes which give rise to such conditions. We had also been born in countries that enjoyed sufficient affluence so that we did not have to spend our days working tirelessly, simply to survive, like so many in the world. Nor had we been born into conditions of such enormous wealth that we had led lives consumed by materialist concerns. Finally, we had been born into families and societies that allowed us to practice Buddhism and did not restrict our enquiry into the world and its mysteries. So we reflected on the indeed very fortunate circumstances in which we found ourselves. In light of that, I contemplated the nature of my work in emergency medicine, and of the enormous privileges associated with it. On so many occasions, I had been allowed an insight into a patient’s life, and intimate aspects of it, whilst still essentially a stranger to them. Their anxieties and fears, secret wishes and hopes, all revealed to me simply by virtue of my profession. This is the privilege of emergency work, my daily work – the great dramas of life unfold in all their enormous variety, every single day. Even on my busiest, most stressful days I know that I can come home and say, “Well, it wasn’t boring.” Certainly there is anxiety and suffering to be found; yet also joy, relief, letting go, and witnessing warmth of spirit and the love of a patient’s family and friends. In the challenge for us to respond to suffering and angst lies the worth of this work; it asks us to become, perhaps, more than we have been before. It asks us to sit with our discomfort – for that is real – and grow in our hearts the seed of compassion. We may be sitting with the dying; we may be dealing with the pain of illness, the anxiety of a new diagnosis, a poor prognosis. Yet in all of these circumstances, the opportunity is there for us to transform ourselves in the face of the suffering we see in others.

Antidotes to cynicism and desensitization The cynicism in emergency departments and in their staff is legendary. It was made famous in the book The House of God 1 and many of the descriptions remain true today. In my work I still hear of the ‘O sign’ (with mouth agape) in the dead and the ‘Q sign’ (with tongue extended) in the dying. There is a difficult truth in the cynical jokes that we make of others’ suffering and dying. It is that we are uncomfortable with it. It is too close to us. Spike Milligan’s famous epitaph, “I told you I was sick,” holds an uneasy truth in its comic straightforwardness. We see the potential for the same suffering in ourselves, or our loved ones, and we distance ourselves from it. Perhaps we feel that we do not yet have the capacity to be compassionate, that we are still holding too much anger, or anxiety, prejudice or pride. Perhaps we feel that we lack sufficient wisdom. Yet Buddhism tells us that these need not be obstacles to practicing compassion. Indeed, compassion is the means to overcome them! All of us experience these emotions. All of us can feel constrained by our own frailties and fears. If we wait to be free of imperfections in order to act, then we will do nothing of worth. And sometimes the challenges for medical practitioners are enormous, and success can be rare, or non-existent. I’ve heard that when the Dalai Lama was asked about helping those whose personalities have been deeply scarred, and what might be done for them, for some, he said, he had no solution, no ideas. Once I saw a woman who was in her sixties, a chronic alcoholic who recurrently self-harmed. When I saw her, she had cut her right leg deeply with a kitchen knife, from her calf to her hip. She needed seventy-five sutures, so I sat with her, stitching for an hour and a half. It was an opportunity to talk in some depth about her life circumstances, her traumas and her 1

The House of God by Samuel Shem, Dell paperback 1980.

Dr. Brett Sutton with a TB patient in Afghanistan

In the challenge for us to respond to suffering and angst lies the worth of this work; it asks us to become, perhaps, more than we have been before. It asks us to sit with our discomfort – for that is real – and grow in our hearts the seed of compassion. motivations for self-harm. Yet when I left her I knew that such an essentially brief encounter could not substantially impact a fifty-year history of self-abuse, no matter my intent. The reality is that creating distance from our patients is not a true means to escape our own emotional responses. In engaging fully in the moments of a patient’s pain, we can change both their experience and our own. Yet there is another challenge here of which Buddhism speaks. It is, quite simply, to remain equanimous. December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 35


Somali children in a refugee camp in Kenya

I still remember the words of the Buddhist master, the Venerable S.N. Goenka, on a ten-day silent retreat in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia. It was a retreat in the tradition of Vipassana in which we went through rounds of meditation, observing mindfully the sensations in our body (usually pain!). Goenka’s gentle, quiet voice repeated time and again, “Remain equanimous, remain equanimous.” What it means, we were told, is to simply rest with the actuality of things, without clinging and without aversion. For it is in the clinging and aversion that suffering arises.

The Four Noble Truths The foundations of Buddhism begin with what is called the First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma, wherein the historical Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths. These are: The Existence of suffering, the Origins of suffering, the Cessation of suffering and the Path to the Cessation of suffering. What emergency work brings into sharp focus is the existence of suffering, especially in illness. The teachings of Buddhism emphasize the universality of the experience of suffering, and emergency work certainly gives strength to such teachings. But the teachings also offer a means of exploring that suffering and seeking a means of liberation from it. The path to liberation could be summed up with two words: wisdom and compassion. In wisdom we are seeking to understand the true nature of reality, and in compassion we are seeking liberation from suffering for all sentient beings. It is in this service that our personal transformation takes place. Bearing witness to suffering need not bring us to despair and cynicism. It is in seeing the experience of suffering in others that we have the opportunity to reflect upon the suffering in 36 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

our own lives and to connect to those around us more meaningfully and deeply. When I had been back from Afghanistan for a week or so, I saw an elderly man in the emergency department of a hospital in Tasmania. He was complaining of a sudden abdominal pain: “As if something popped inside me,” he said. After taking a history and doing an examination I became concerned that he might indeed have “popped” something. I thought he might have a perforated bowel. I sent him to undergo a special kind of X-ray, looking for that very thing. The X-ray came back perfectly normal, however, and with his pain settling I sent him home. Arriving at work the next day, I was told that he returned after I had gone home, with worsening pain and in a critically unwell state. He had, in fact, perforated his bowel and because of another medical condition was too unwell for surgery. I was told he was in intensive care, comatose, and was almost certainly going to die. Hearing the news, I felt devastated. I immediately thought about what I had missed, and whether I had done the right medical tests. I reviewed the X-ray report, and indeed it was normal. I thought about the fact that he wasn’t completely pain-free when I sent him home. I wondered about blood tests. I wondered if six hours delay in diagnosis had made surgery impossible. Mostly I wondered if I could (or should) see his family and what I might say. I felt desperately anxious about the thought of talking to his family but knew that it was the right thing to do. I walked into intensive care and saw his daughter, who had been with him the day before when I saw them. She was surprised to see me and asked why I had come. I told her how terrible I felt that I had sent him home when he was actually unwell. We talked about the tests that were normal and the reasons for my decision. She spoke very kindly to me and told me that it wasn’t my fault, and that it was so good of me to visit them in the intensive care unit. She told me that her father had been offered surgery but had actually refused. He had been unwell with a kind of cancer for years and – even though he was told he would die – decided that it was his time. He asked only to be made comfortable. I don’t know what his daughter really thought about the medical treatment I had provided but I think she could see my genuine concern for her father, my absolute intent to be

thorough and professional in treating him, and my profound concern that he had suffered an adverse outcome. This is an important lesson for the emergency practitioner, because adverse outcomes will always occur, even with the most appropriate, highest treatment standards. So in such settings it is important for patients and families to see that we care, that we can empathize with their suffering, and that we feel genuine sorrow for that suffering.

The universality of experience

There is a saying that death and taxes are the only certainty. It could be said also of suffering, an experience that we all share. It can thus be a powerful understanding to realize that we all seek happiness and freedom from suffering.

There is a saying that death and taxes are the only certainty. It could be said also of suffering, an experience that we all share. It can thus be a powerful understanding to realize that we all seek happiness and freedom from suffering. In realizing our shared humanity, we can reach out to strangers with feeling and with greater closeness. We tend to separate those we know into three categories: people we love, people to whom we feel indifferent, and people we dislike or overly hate. It is easy to find loving intent for those we love. When it comes to strangers, indifference is often our response, or we may be embarrassed or anxious in expressing loving concern. As for those we dislike, we may even have ambiguous feelings of satisfaction at their pain, or a sense of them deserving it. Yet what makes strangers intrinsically different from those we love? There is no fundamental difference, and the difference we experience is by virtue only of our personal histories. Even for those we dislike, there is no reason to believe they are intrinsically different from ourselves. They too are seeking freedom from suffering. They may annoy the hell out of us at times, yet so too may our families; so too may we annoy others. We tend to forgive the behavior of those we love by explaining it as adverse circumstance, but then explain the poor behavior of others by regarding it as a personality defect. I remember seeing a young man in a Melbourne emergency department in 1996. He was probably my age or a bit younger, intelligent, and well-spoken. In other circumstances I might have passed him on the street without a glance. Today, however, he was agitated, writhing in pain and alternating between entreating me for help and shouting at me. He was withdrawing from heroin and was in a great deal of pain.

It was extremely challenging to deal with him because, ultimately, there was only so much I could do. I gave him simple painkillers, drugs for nausea, bowel spasm, and anxiety, but he needed to be in a detox center and I couldn’t find a bed for him anywhere in Melbourne. He was not easy for me to like, especially as I stood in the midst of a torrent of abuse. Internally I thought, “Well, typical drug addict, abusive, demanding, manipulative.” In fact, he was desperate for relief from his pain but he had made the brave decision to give it up, and now I could do nothing for him. It was in seeing his father that the reality of the situation came to me graphically. Here was a decent man who clearly loved his son, begging me to find a place for him to detoxify, and then berating me for failing to do so, as any devoted father would. He finally told me that he would have to go out on the streets himself and buy heroin for his son because he couldn’t tolerate seeing him in such distress. In that moment I saw that my patient could easily have been me, or my brother, or a cousin. Buddhism challenges us to see ourselves in others all the time and not simply when a chord of similarity is struck within us. The truth is that no matter who we are, as sentient beings we are all seeking freedom from suffering, we are seeking a path to happiness. A realization of this simple fact can help unite us as human beings. y Brett Sutton is an Australian doctor who is the Regional Disease Surveillance Coordinator for the International Rescue Committee, Kenya and Ethiopia. The story of his experiences as an emergency room doctor, and the lessons he has learned, will continue in the next issue. December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 37


Living Life Beyond Work Spirituality and the ‘New Adult’


ost-work life according to Roiter has four domains: the Financial, the Physical, the Social, and the Personal. If we manage each as well as we can, being grateful for what we have rather than being unhappy about what we want and don’t have, then these can be the golden years. Maybe there are fewer opportunities than when we were forty or fifty, but there are also many opportunities for what Roiter calls “New Adults” that we could not have imagined, nor taken advantage of, when we were younger. “It is in the nature of our generation to create new ideas and opportunities as we continue to grow. Look and you will see, learn and you will live,” he says. “I became particularly interested in the spiritual perspective of aging. Here is a good definition of spiritual identity:

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Getting older? If you think that aging is all inevitable decline, then that is what it will probably be, says William Roiter, author of a new book on making the most of our post-work years, Beyond Work: How Accomplished People Retire (Wiley, March 2008 release date). Far better to become a ‘well-aged’ person. You are the keeper of your perceptions of your world, and the author, who says he is well-aged but not ‘retired,’ has some cogent observations on what makes for a fulfilling life after the last pay check.

“‘A persistent sense of self that addresses ultimate questions about the nature, purpose, and meaning of life, resulting in behaviors that are consonant with the individual’s core values.’1 “Knowing your spiritual identity can help you to answer the often difficult question, ‘Who am I?’ As you move Beyond Work, your world changes in many ways but your spiritual identity provides you with the continuity to know who you are, even in unfamiliar and strange circumstances.” Beyond Work: How Accomplished People Retire by William Roiter will be published by Wiley in March 2008. An excerpt follows, next page... 1 “Identity and Spirituality: A Psychosocial Exploration of the Sense of Spiritual Self.” Kiesling, Chris; Sorell, Gwendolyn T.; Montgomery, Marilyn J.; Colwell, Ronald K. Developmental Psychology. 2006 Nov, Vol 42(6) 1269-1277.

Excerpts from: Beyond Work: How Accomplished People Retire By William Roiter In 1942, Viktor Frankl was a 37-year-old Austrian psychiatrist when he and his family, and many others, were rounded up and shipped off to concentration camps. Remarkably, he had a life-changing career in the camps caring for and treating the understandable psychiatric conditions of many of the prisoners. He found many suffering from “lifeexhaustion” while many found “life-courage”. Why would some exhausted prisoners give up while others found courage? “If a prisoner felt that he could no longer endure the realities of camp life, he found a way out in his mental life – an invaluable opportunity to dwell in the spiritual domain, the one that the SS were unable to destroy. Spiritual life strengthened the prisoner, helped him adapt, and thereby improved his chances of survival.”2 Frankl was the sole survivor of his imprisoned family. He was liberated by American troops on April 27, 1945 after three years of imprisonment. He went on to have a remarkable career where he shared his reflected learning that even the most degrading, dehumanizing and violent experiences can produce meaning if the person will search for it. Hence, the title of his still published book, Man’s Search for Meaning (first published in 1946). He lived to the age of 92 and died in 1997. Studies have shown that “religious commitment is positively associated with greater overall well-being and quality of life. This was determined by measuring life satisfaction, positive affect, hope and optimism” . This study also found that those with a religious commitment had less suicide and alcohol and drug abuse. Importantly, the authors reported that “spiritual well-being was negatively correlated with end of life despair”. In other words, spiritual

well-being improved people’s understanding of their own mortality. This is also true for people with an existential spiritual view, a non-religious but life-confirming understanding of life.

Conversation with a Buddhist

Buddhism is making inroads into the United States and Canada. It is estimated that there are now more than 1.5 million practicing Buddhists in the United States alone.4 I spoke with Jeffrey Hopkins, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. He taught Buddhism in his Department and has authored more than thirty books and translations from the Tibetan Buddhist works. He also served for ten years as the interpreter for the Dalai Lama. In 2003, he translated into English the Dalai Lama’s book Mind of Clear Light: Advice on Living Well and Dying Consciously.5 I asked for his Buddhist thoughts on mortality. Dr. Hopkins answered by referring me to the Dalai Lama’s words: “The topic of the awareness of death is organized around three roots, nine reasons and three decisions (I will offer the three roots): “First root: Contemplation that death is definite. “Second root: Contemplation that the time of death is indefinite. “Third root: Contemplation that at the time of death nothing helps except practice (contemplation).” As you can see, contemplation, or meditation, is a central aspect of Buddhist tradition. Here contemplation is focused on the inevitability of death, the time of death, and that at the time of death nothing matters but your practice. I would read 2 Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl, Beacon Press, Boston, 2006, “practice” in a broader sense than following rules or contemp. 123 3

“Psychology, spirituality, and end-of-life care: An ethical integration?“ Moss, Erin L.; Dobson, Keith S., Canadian Psychology Psychologie Canadienne. 2006 Nov, Vol 47(4) 284-299.




Atria Books, New York, 2003. December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 39


plation. In discussions with my son, “I was not afraid of dying because creates problems – they could reflect Tenzin Gache, who is a Buddhist on whether that volatility in the past monk studying at Sera Je Monastery has made them happier or not. It helps I felt satisfied with what I had in India, I came to see it as an underto think about examples from their life. done with my life. I had a sense They are in a restaurant and the food’s standing of how you have lived your life and what you have added to the brought out cold. Did it help to explode that I had not wasted it, that I had at the waiter? Did the explosion heat world as you lived it. Dr. Hopkins and I began by up the food? No. lived with integrity, had done my talking about the Buddhist view that “But, as importantly, it also made every life has an endpoint and that best, and had an impact on people the whole evening more miserable, by accepting that and then also mediwhereas if you thought that this sort of tating (focused and peaceful thought) thing happens and took it with a smile, which would outlast me …” on it, you improve both your comfort that smile will probably help yourself a and understanding of your end. This lot more, and if you do say something in turn prepares you for that point in time when you die and, to the waiter, the waiter will be more apt to do something nice in Buddhist tradition, can be born again. for you, like bring you a new plate of hot food. But even if the Most importantly, from my perspective, is that the waiter doesn’t, you at least won’t have made yourself more awareness of your mortality heightens your experience of the miserable. present. Understanding each day that time is ultimately “Buddhism promotes realism, sometimes stark realism. limited makes it more valuable, and wasting time becomes It may be counterintuitive to look at how bad something uncomfortable. This then acts as a motivation to use time could be or is likely to be, so that you can appreciate how well. The awareness of death builds awareness generally so good it is. For me the core of Buddhism, which to some that you become more aware of your living, whether it’s how people appears to be horribly negative, is that by looking the you spend your money, how you spend your time, or what negative in the face you’re seeing what positive you can do in you do that you consider meaningful. the midst of all of that. And it’s really heartwarming and What if you realize that you have wasted a great deal of encouraging, it develops courage. time throughout life? How would a Buddhist improve using “Courage is actually looking at your fears and once that understanding? Dr. Hopkins: you have faced them you can begin to reflect on what “Intentionally focus on what you have done and positively can be done. What an opportunity you have contemplate what actually does bring happiness. And that because your worst no longer frightens you. You know happiness, generally speaking, has something to do with you’re alive, and what a nice situation you’re in. I think relationships with other people, and what we’re seeking, as the that this can be very helpful for someone whose life Dalai Lama often says, which sounds horribly simple minded, appears to be falling apart. Extreme realism can be very is ‘we want smiles from other people’. And if we want smiles helpful, but if it appears to be making one just depressed, from other people, the best way to get them is to be nice to then you’ve missed the point. It is not to be overwhelmed them. And that calls for a change of attitude in all situations, by negatives but rather to see what are the things you can not just ones that seem as if they could be favorable in the do now. future, but even ones that are unfavorable now. Instead of “What might have created despair can now create hope, exploding and getting angry at either minor or major events, optimism, the sense that I’m still able to do something think about whether such explosions are going to be helpful valuable. And that valuable thing may be just to bring a smile at all, and probably with thought you will decide that those to somebody else’s face. But when you think about it, that’s explosions are not going to be helpful. If something has al- pretty much what we’ve been looking for all along.” ready happened that’s really unfavorable, that’s really bad, it’s How to understand being mortal? The consistent not going to help in the least to explode and get angry. message is live your life today with joy, love your people, focus “Take someone who tends to be volatile, and finds that it on what you want to accomplish, and do what you can to 40 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

stay healthy. When your time comes you will feel completeness and love. Rabbi Harold Kushner is well known to many people because of his book When Bad Things Happen to Good People 6. In his 1986 book When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough 7 he has a chapter called “Why I am Not Afraid to Die”: “I was not afraid of dying because I felt satisfied with what I had done with my life. I had a sense that I had not wasted it, that I had lived with integrity, had done my best, and had an impact on people which would outlast me … “Virtually the only people I have known who were afraid of dying were people who thought that they had wasted their lives. They would pray that if God would only give them another few years, they would use them more wisely than they had used all the years up until then.” 6 When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Harold S. Kushner, Macmillan 1981

When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough, Harold S. Kushner, Fireside, New York, 1986, 2002


Continue on, if you are living an accomplished life today. Begin today, if you do not feel that you have accomplished what you want in life. While you live you have time to create accomplishment. Live life today as if you know that you will die and your time is valuable. Do not become the dying person praying for more time so that they can use it more wisely. It is much better to use your time wisely today. y William Roiter, Ed.D., is the founder of the MVP Research Group, a consulting firm which specializes in helping organizations identify, manage, and retain their “Most Valuable People.” He is author of Corporate MVPs (Wiley, 2004). He has now turned his focus to how people transition from their working lives to their lives Beyond Work. He has a doctorate in Psychology from Boston University and post-doctoral training and teaching at Harvard University.

High in the snowcapped Solu Khumbu mountains of Nepal is the meditation cave of the previous incarnation of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the Lawudo Lama, a famous Yogi who lived and meditated there for many years. Next to the cave stands the Lawudo Gompa (temple) which houses many old, very blessed statues and Dharma texts. Today the Gompa’s foundations, support pillars and walls are so old that the building is close to falling down. Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who is the spiritual director of the FPMT has expressed the wish that a new Gompa be built, with modern facilities for retreat. Like its location the cost of building this new Gompa is high and there is a need of serious financial assistance to make it happen. To contribute to the building of the new Lawudo Gompa Please go to www. For more information on how to help or enquiries about this project please write to Lawudo Retreat Center is affiliated with the FPMT.

December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 41


The Human Mind in an Age of Decay By Donovan Roebert

I recently gave a simple talk on Buddhism to a largely up conveniences, which over-exploited resources have put non-Buddhist audience. During the Q and A session some- at our disposal, even if those resources are at the point of body asked, “Is the enlightenment you speak of actually achievable, or is it only the Buddhist ideal?” I answered that I believed it to be achievable, but admitted that it is not always fully visible in the lives of Buddhist practitioners. Later, pondering over the question, it occurred to me how deeply people have come to accept compromise as an inescapable way of life. The modern mind is conditioned to view compromise as an opportunity for progress. In compromise there is room to maneuver, to adapt, and then to move ahead. That something essentially true must get lost in the process is seldom considered. So every “forward” movement involves the abandonment of something precious. I think that the collective karmic consequences of this modern perspective are dire and plain for all to see. The multitude of small abandonments has led us to the point where very little of our thinking and our endeavors is consistent. It is as though, in agreement with existentialist ethics, we believe that even the good we do must have a bad result somewhere along the line. If we benefit one person, another will be sure to pay a price in some form of suffering. In order to feed ten people, five must go hungry. And we just accept this view. Largely derived from the political and social influence of the powerful and the greedy (always overwhelmingly biased by financial considerations), the compromise-view has become the workable norm. The poor should be made wealthier, but not at the expense of the wealthy. In fact, the most important principle here is that the wealthy should not be made poorer or the powerful weaker. This is the mindset which seems to run through much of the governance of our world today. And it has crept in everywhere, so that nowadays I believe that there exists the absurd idea that the welfare of the planet should be kept subordinate to these principles. If saving the planet from destruction implies that the wealthy and powerful should sacrifice vast amounts of wealth and power, then saving the planet is simply not a viable plan. For the ordinary person it means that saving the planet takes second place to keeping the wheels of consumerism turning. Or, put another way, it means the refusal to give 42 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

being used up. It is as if our minds have been conditioned to expect only to live the good life. The rest is up to science and technology to solve – and that means more than proposals that we should be abandoning the good life in order to pay attention to the fact of a coming cataclysm. The vast majority of people in our world are already experiencing the human-made cataclysmic results of global consumerism, including the consumerist philosophy of stimulating international conflict and war for the benefit of the military-industrialist complex. A few million lives here or there, whether people are dying of starvation or in the course of a “legitimate” war, is a necessary compromise in a world where the wheels of production must go on turning. This monstrous philosophy cannot have arisen in a world in which people were still in control of the economic and political systems they have created. It is clear that these systems, kept in place through habit, are in control of people. And where systems control the minds of people, madness is sure to erupt. It is no longer appropriate to lay the blame on individual politicians, industrialists, scientists and others who appear to be driving our world system. They are as controlled by the system as anyone else, because the system has become a thing unto itself. This means that the greater part of our collective human mindset is system-driven. The collective system is no longer in our hands, but in our heads and hearts. Therefore it can permeate every aspect of our endeavor, including our spirituality, and its keynote is compromise. The watering-down of religion is a common complaint which speaks to the way in which religion is bent out of shape to accommodate the modern lifestyle and the modern mindset. Such compromise was not tolerated by the great Buddhist teachers when the Mahayana arose two thousand years ago; why should it be now? Today the bodhisattva ideal is being abandoned, however subtly, in favor of the outward display of Mahayanist and Tantric practice, full of colorful ritual and endless debate, but

seldom present as the powerful, authoritative, wise and compassionate activity of the bodhisattva. Down here in Africa, there is hardly any Dharma at all. There seems to be no great Compassionate Being present in the squalor and death of the entire continent north of South Africa. How is this to be explained when there is a worldwide sangha of something like 380 million people? It can only be explained in terms of the systemized mindset which is conditioned not to see what it does not want to see. In medieval Christianity, the orthodox Christian system ruled over the minds of Christian individuals, and the result was the madness of inquisitions, burnings at the stake, and so forth. These plainly un-Christian acts could only be justified by citing the system that was in control of the minds of those who perpetrated and accepted them. And that system had arisen from a fundamentally invalid view, which was that the Kingdom of God must be established on earth by the agency of the church, and that anyone who threatened that goal was to be dealt with summarily. Today, there is an invalid view behind the system which controls our minds. Fundamentally, it is a view which holds that some people have the right to exploit the world, within the context of what is available to satisfy their greed and to maintain their positions of power. And, in this view, as in all views where the system which accomplishes the view becomes a prevailing mindset, the end always justifies the means. Where the end justifies the means, no further justification is needed. Virtue and compassion are made into articles of spin to satisfy the world’s relativized moral qualms, and hope and fear are used to manipulate the doubtful. We have a long history of mindsets dominated by systems based on invalid views. These have been responsible for vast reaches of unnecessary suffering. But today something new has entered into the equation of delusion: Today delusion is in a very real position to exterminate all sentient beings on earth. Tweaking the knobs within the system will not achieve anything resembling the kind of shift that is necessary. A radical change is the only valid change under these new circumstances. And this means radical change from within, a radical transformation of the modern mindset. In my dialogues with Tibetan Prime Minister Kalon Tripa, the Ven. Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, I asked him for

his views on this crucial modern problem. With typical frankness proceeding from an uncompromising mindset, he replied that he did not see much hope of achieving

There seems to be no great Compassionate Being present in the squalor and death of the entire continent north of South Africa.

... squalor and death on an entire continent...

the kind of deep change that is required to prevent cataclysm. The delusion is so powerful and reaches so deeply into all our choices that we will probably not find the wisdom, compassion, and determination to put things right. Which leaves me with these unanswered questions: How far are we Buddhists prepared to go in showing the way forward? And to what extent is this now our foremost priority? We know that, of all possible births in samsara, human birth is the most precious and the most difficult to obtain. December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 43


But a significant percentage of the world’s population is suffering in such degraded circumstances that they might have a difficult time agreeing with this. For them, human life is nearly devoid of promise. They are at the mercy of a systemdriven mindset with which they can hardly identify, and whose financial promises they are not likely to attain. For most, even the consolations of the Dharma are remote. How does the Buddhist practitioner come to terms with such circumstances? Generally, we take convenient refuge in the idea that the suffering are victims of their own collective and individual karma, though this is certainly the case. But it is also the case that we should be aspiring to bodhisattvahood, and that

Donovan Roebert is the founder and coordinator of the South African Friends of Tibet. Born in East London, South Africa, he is a painter whose works are sold internationally. A practitioner of Mahayana Buddhism for over a decade, he has also written several religious and philosophical articles on reconciling new physics and the neurosciences with the subjective human religious experience. He lives in Hermanus, the Whale Capital of South Africa. He is the interlocutor and editor of Samdhong Rinpoche’s Uncompromising Truth for a Compromised World, published by World Wisdom 2006. This first-ever series of in-depth dialogues with Samdhong Rinpoche, the current Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, presents his views on a wide range of topics including the problems of the present political world order, the philosophy of “non-violence” (Ahimsa) and “truth-insistence” (Satyagraha), and the plight of Tibet in the face of the communist Chinese invasion. Informed throughout by his deep belief in the principles of Tibetan Buddhism, Samdhong Rinpoche holds to an uncompromising vision of the truth – the way the world could be if it renounced its destructive path of unprincipled pragmatism and worldly compromise. 44 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

If human birth is indeed great and precious aspiration the most precious, cannot allow us to stop short at then it is up to the justifying human misery in bodhisattva to work hard terms of karma. for the preservation of What we should be asking the Earth, the human’s is, “Where are the bodhihomestead in samsara. sattvas? Are they all still too busy in the aspirational stage to get out there and bring the balm of Dharma to the needy, the deluded, and the desperate?” My own view here is simple: The best preparation for bodhisattvahood is to do the work of a bodhisattva, before it is too late. Who needs the bodhisattva who arrives when the catastrophe has already happened? The same holds true for this age of decay in which humanity really is faced with obliteration. If human birth is indeed the most precious, then it is up to the bodhisattva to work hard for the preservation of the Earth, the human’s homestead in samsara. Or else human birth, at least for this iteration of the world, will become obsolete. And my message to all who take refuge in the Three Jewels, and who love and sincerely practice the Buddhadharma, is this: You are the bodhisattva. I do not say this to detract from the way of the bodhisattva, or to imply that bodhisattvahood can be fully attained before completion of the path of the bhumis. But, just as the bodhisattva is one who willingly delays entrance into the supreme enlightenment in order to be of service to sentient beings, so the bodhichitta-mindset should surely be willing to shoulder the responsibilities of the bodhisattva before the attainment of bodhisattvahood. The time spent in isolation practicing to achieve the ten perfections, including the perfection of skilful means, may turn out to be time that would have been better spent being out there as an example, even an imperfect example, of the mindset that is needed in the world right now. After all, that might be exactly the sort of skilful means that is needed today. y REFERENCES Martin, James (2006). The Meaning of the 21st Century. London: Transworld Publishers (Random House). Rees, Martin (Lord Rees) (2003). Our Final Century. London: Heinemann, London. Lovelock, James (2006). The Revenge of Gaia. London: Penguin. Suzuki, David (1999). The Sacred Balance. London: Bantam Books. Vallance, Elizabeth (Ed.) (1975). The State, Society and Self-Destruction. London: Allen & Unwin.

Chasing Buddha Pilgrimage Annual Chasing Buddha Pilgrimages Ven. Robina Courtin and Liberation Prison Project are delighted to offer two pilgrimages

Third ANNUAL Pilgrimage to TIBET and NEPAL 2008: Friday May 9 to Monday June 2 from Kathmandu

Venerable Robina Courtin

• •

Visit the holy places of TIBET: including Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyantse, Samye and Lama Thubten Yeshe’s birthplace. AND NEPAL: Boudhanath, Swayambunath and Parping. Daily practices and teachings. Begin with a four-day retreat at Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu. Land cost from US$4000 plus air to Kathmandu and Lhasa.

Ven. Tsenla, a Tibetan nun based in the West with family in both Lhasa and Kathmandu. A student of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s, she established the Kopan nunnery and is an accomplished translator for many lamas. “Ven. Tsenla was fantastic during our first Tibet pilgrimage, and I’m delighted she is leading next year’s,” says Ven. Robina.

Eighth ANNUAL Pilgrimage to INDIA and NEPAL 2008: Wednesday October 22 to Friday November 14 from Kathmandu


Visit the holy places of Lord Buddha in INDIA: Sravasti, Kushinagar, Nalanda, Vulture Peak, Bodhgaya and Sarnath. AND NEPAL: Boudhanath, Swayambunath, Parping and Lumbini Daily practices and teachings Begin with a four-day retreat at Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu Land cost from US$3300 plus air to Kathmandu.

I had a wonderful time and would do it again! —JENNY WHISSON,

Buderim, Australia

Both guides went above and beyond in their efforts and did so with great smiles.

What an excellent pilgrimage! It was everything I had hoped it would be.



California, U.S.A.

Florida, U.S.A

Himalayan High Treks CST 2085690-40

241 Dolores Street San Francisco, CA 94103, USA Phone (in US): 800 455 8735 (1) (415) 551 1005 Fax: (1) (415) 861 2391

— Check out our website for full itinerary and pictures — December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 45


Recognizing and Supporting the Sangha Community


early three-hundred monks and nuns, representing twenty-nine countries, belong to an organization established by Lama Thubten Yeshe in 1973. Lama’s vision was of a Sangha community that encouraged and supported those who were inspired to dedicate their lives and practice the Buddhist path through ordination. And thus the International Mahayana Institute (IMI) was born.

“The strength of the Sangha community is that it ensures that everybody has a chance to take teachings and retreat; it makes sure that everybody is okay, and minimizes the external conditions that cause one to lose mental discipline. I think this is really worthwhile. It helps a lot. There’s a Sangha vibration, you see; when you look at each other, there’s a vibration that automatically helps you control your energy. You should check this for yourselves.” Lama Yeshe from Advice for Monks and Nuns, LYWA. Ven. Losang Monlam, recently appointed as IMI director, explains: “The monastic community is the Sangha jewel. It is said that without the Sangha, the teachings of the Buddha will not survive; that wherever there is a community of five or more ordained, there one will find the Buddha.” For more than thirty years, monks and nuns of the International Mahayana Institute have served in FPMT centers worldwide. Today the community has a growing number of elders with many years of experience of living within the vows. Some monks and nuns are experienced, qualified teachers; others are pursuing their studies in various curricula in Buddhist philosophy. Some members of the Sangha are meditators in retreat. Others serve Buddhist practitioners as retreat leaders, center directors, spiritual program coordinators, developers of educational curricula, editors, and counselors. Many monks and nuns benefit the world-at-large by engaging in social service projects. They tirelessly help bring the benefit of Buddhist teachings to all of us. 46 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

Ven. Losang Monlam, director of the International Mahayana Institute

“We have turned away from our materialistic culture to pursue a simpler, sustainable lifestyle,” said Ven. Losang Monlam. “We work tirelessly to serve and inspire others to develop their own inner qualities of love and compassion. When practicing well, we bring a sense of peace and joy to others. And as one non-Buddhist recently remarked, ‘Monks and nuns are good for the planet!’” US-born Ven. Losang Monlam took his getsul vows from Ven. Choden Rinpoche at Vajrapani Institute in 2000, and was ordained as a gelong by His Holiness Dalai Lama in February, 2007. He took over as IMI director from Ven. Tony Beaumont in 2007. Sangha members say that he is cleverly

... probably my greatest challenge [as director] is in understanding where we need to go as a community, not only to survive but also to serve as an inspiration (refuge) for the world community, how to actually get there – and be patient in the process. using cyberspace to connect them with newsletters and the like. “He communicates with us regularly, and is organizing a Sangha meeting at Land of Medicine Buddha in February 2008,” said Ven. Tenzin Chonyi. “Yes, we need to look at the goals and priorities of the IMI monastic community and develop strategies and objectives for moving forward, on both a short-term and long-term basis,” Ven. Losang Monlam confirmed. “I think probably my greatest challenge [as director] is in understanding where we need to go as a community, not only to survive but also to serve as an inspiration (refuge) for the world community, how to actually get there – and be patient in the process. “IMI also has to establish visibility and credibility among the FPMT family. Our Sangha have served, and continue to serve, the Dharma centers and projects in so many ways, leaving little time to establish itself as a community as in many other monastic traditions. We have to remind ourselves of Lama Yeshe’s vision, and take responsibility for our community. IMI as an organization has to reach out to embrace and support its monastic community, and seek the support of the lay community in undertaking this responsibility. “Another challenge is to develop dialogue and understanding among the different views regarding ordination, and how to sustain ourselves while living within the vows. There is one view that living with the vows, even for five minutes, is extremely beneficial. This is balanced with another view that, without proper support for the monastic trying to keep the vows, the future of monasticism is endangered, and so too is the continuation of the Buddhist teachings. “The code of behavior for the monks and nuns is called the Vinaya. Our role is to study and put into practice the Vinaya. Many of the rules of conduct relate to subduing our minds, but many were also established to protect the minds of the lay community, who rely on the monastic community as a source of refuge. So in one view, if we do not carefully consider how to support those taking ordination, there is not

much benefit in holding the vows since we endanger the faith of the lay community in the teachings of the Buddha. It is a difficult subject with many cultural aspects. It is critical to keep the discussion open, with a willingness to find solutions that will benefit not only the monastic community but also the larger lay community. “Of course there is also the aspect of the relationship between the lay community and the monastic community. Understanding and appreciation of the challenges faced by each other in our practice is extremely important. Creating awareness among the lay community of some of the day-today aspects of living within the vows is needed, as well as an appreciation of the challenges faced in the decision to take on the life of a monastic. As monks and nuns we must continually remember our example, putting into practice our vows through our actions of body, speech, and mind. Our individual behavior reflects on the larger monastic community and should inspire the lay community who look up to us.” To find out more about the IMI community go to

The mix of nationalities represented by IMI members: American 57 Argentinian 1 Australian 64 Austrian 1 Brazilian 1 British 16 Canadian 6 Columbian 1 Danish 1 Dutch 11

French 21 German 8 Indian 2 Irish 2 Israeli 3 Italian 27 Malaysian 4 Mexican 2 New Zealander 4 Norwegian 1

Polish 1 Russian 4 Scottish 1 Singaporean 6 Spanish 22 Swedish 1 Swiss 7 Taiwanese 15 Venezuelan 1

December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 47


Tibetan Monastic Robes Have you ever wondered …? What is it about the robes of monastics? Why do monastics wear what they wear? Geshe Lhundrup Sopa illuminates this practical question … The dhonka has much historical significance. It was created in the time of Je Tsongkhapa, in the fourteenth century; before then, monks dressed in the Indian Hinayana style, with nothing much on the upper part of the body. Tibet is very cold, though, so they created this upper garment. It is made of maroon and yellow cloth, sometimes all maroon. The two shoulders represent the lion’s mane. The lion is the king of beasts who has no fear of other beings, remaining relaxed and peaceful. The same with anyone following the Vinaya: they do not need to fear being born in suffering rebirths; they are on the path of emancipation. The blue piping around the sleeve is also historically important. In the ninth century, King Langdarma assassinated his younger brother [Ralpachen], who was king before him and who helped to develop Buddhism. Langdarma ruled for many years and tried to wipe out Buddhism. It was the worst situation in Tibet until the Chinese came in 1959. The Buddha’s rules of discipline, the Vinaya, were almost wiped out. Three monks escaped to Amdo, near the Chinese border, and they wanted to revive the Vinaya rule by giving ordination to someone. There has to be five fully ordained monks, however, so they invited two Chinese monks to join them. At the time, Chinese monks always wore some blue garments, so the blue string is a reminder of them. Under the arms, in the back, the cut of the cloth looks like two elephant tusks. This represents the lord of death, so we are always reminded of the impermanence of life. We are sitting in the jaws of death. The shemdap is made of patches and is maroon. Originally, you would cut up the cloth into different pieces and then sew it together; now we simply sew it so it looks patched. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama said once, “It’s not of good quality, and it’s patched. If it was of good material and in one piece, you could sell it and gain something. This way you can’t. This 48 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

reinforces our philosophy of becoming detached from worldly goods.” The folds in the robes (at least in the Gelug lineage) have particular significance. The folds on the right side turn toward the back, which symbolizes that the monk or nun has left behind worldly concerns and activities, as well as following negative actions. The folds on the left turn toward the front, symbolic of following the Buddhist path and virtuous activities – the purpose is to go toward that. Monastics should always remember this when they put on their robes. I’m not sure how it is in other traditions; sometimes they have the folds all toward the back. These folds are specific to the Tibetans, as the Indian robes use less cloth, so technically these folds aren’t part of the Vinaya system. Also, the three folds in front sometimes symbolize different sayings, like Refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and the three Principles of the Path, but overall these three folds make it easier to sit down. The chögu is yellow and is usually worn during confession ceremony and teachings. It is similar to the Hinayana robe. It is also made of many pieces. For day-to-day life, monks and nuns don’t wear the chögu; they wear the zen, which is maroon, the same as the shemdap. The namjar is also yellow and is bigger than the chögu. It is for special occasions, such as ordinations. His Holiness sometimes wears the namjar for initiations and certain ceremonies. It has more patches than the chögu, and sometimes, in Tibet, it was made of silk. The dingwa is made of wool and is put on top of your cushion. Monks and nuns are supposed to always take it with them. Nowadays it’s not used much, only for teachings and ceremonies. If you visit someone, you would sit on it so that it protects the person’s seat from damage: If you

Geshe Lhundrup Sopa wearing the yellow hat.

spill something, for example, it’s your own cloth that gets damaged. The hat is worn during special ceremonies. The bottom part is yellow and has the handle in the back with two handles. Inside is white, symbolic of Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion; the handle inside is blue, symbolic of Vajrapani, the Buddha of Power; and the handle outside is reddish orange and symbolizes Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom. The many threads standing upright represent the thousand Buddhas of this age on top of your head. The yellow represents the purity of the teachings, similar to how gold is considered pure and free of stains.

This article is reprinted from the Special Edition of Mandala produced in celebration of the Monlam Chenmo Great Prayer Festival in Washington, DC, July 2, 2000. Geshe Lhundrup Sopa is holder of the Lharampa (with highest honors) Geshe degree from Sera Monastery. In 1962, he came to the United States and was invited to teach at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1967. A full professor in the South Asian Studies Department until his recent retirement, Geshe-la founded Evam Buddhist Monastery and Deer Park Buddhist Center and is one of the foremost scholars and masters of Tibetan Buddhism living in the world today Ven. Gyalten Sangmo (left) and Ven. Lhundrup Chodron (center and right).





December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 49


Dalai Lama receives highest honor from the US

From left: His Holiness the Dalai Lama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, and President George Bush.

Story by Betty Rogers. Photo by Don Farber.


n the early 1940s, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt gave a very young Dalai Lama a gold watch that marked the phases of the moon and the days of the week. Over sixty years later, President George Bush gave the Dalai Lama a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the U.S. Congress. His Holiness laughingly held out his wrist to Bush, tapping on the admired watch carried into exile. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Congressional colleagues publicly urged China to invite the Dalai Lama to Beijing for substantive discussions, and told the Dalai Lama “You bring a challenge to the conscience of the world and today you bring peace to the capitol of the United States.” In a very rare public unity, both the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate and House voiced public support for His Holiness and strongly criticized China’s actions in the ceremony that marked the first time a U.S. president appeared publicly with the Dalai Lama (all previous meetings with U.S. presidents were held privately behind closed doors). Top leaders emphasized the Dalai Lama’s humble beginnings, humanitarian achievements and long American support. 50 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

The Dalai Lama, chuckling as he stumbled over his remarks in English, said the award will bring “tremendous joy and encouragement to the Tibetan people,” and he thanked Bush for his “firm stand on religious freedom and democracy”. His Holiness gently urged China to embrace “transparency, the rule of law and freedom of information”. Lama Zopa Rinpoche attended the ceremony as a special guest of the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), and then escorted His Holiness and Speaker Pelosi down the long marble steps of the west lawn of the Capitol to the public event stage for a public talk broadcast on large monitors. The program was transmitted live into Tibet. The procession began with piercing cries, drums, dancers and horns, as the Dalai Lama emerged through the doorway with Speaker Pelosi at the top of the capitol plaza. Lama Zopa waited for His Holiness at the top of the left steps, and then walked before him, along with Sogyal Rinpoche, carrying the traditional bundle of burning incense. The scale of the plaza and steps is enormous: As we emerged from the rotunda onto the steps, the view was amazing: you can see all the way down the mall to the Potomac River beyond into Virginia – a huge vista.

His Holiness’ procession included a mixture of Tibetans, monks, politicians and secret security agents. Tibetans in elaborate traditional clothing lined the steps, and His Holiness greeted each personally as he descended. The entourage made its way to a platform stage with the looming dome of the U.S. Capitol as its backdrop. This warm sunny October day was one of great rejoicing, and a lawn was filled with well wishers. Any event staged on the west lawn, the site of the U.S. Presidential inauguration ceremonies, requires a full Congressional vote for its use, a sign of support for the Dalai Lama. On the eve of the award, Tuesday Oct. 16, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche led a chanting choir of more than 30 monks that opened the Pray for Peace concert with a sold-out audience of almost 3,000 at the Washington National Cathedral. Images and articles on the monk choir were published in the Washington Post, broadcast on PBS television, and disseminated by news services worldwide into Europe and even in Kuwait. The benefit raised money for ICT and the Cathedral’s peace programs. On the back of the concert tee-shirts Lama Zopa and Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche were listed among the world spiritual leaders participating. Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche joined the Namgyal monks to consecrate and dissolve the sand mandala built in the nave of the cathedral from Tuesday until Thursday. On the previous day, FPMT’s Guhyasamaja Center hosted the kick-off event for a week-long America Celebrates the Dalai Lama – a performance with Tenzin Choegyal, Krishna Das and Sharon Salzberg. More than 600 people attended where Khensur Rinpoche spoke on the message of the Dalai Lama, and Krishna Das and Tenzin Choegyal offered a duet of Om Mani Padme Hum. On the Thursday, Lama Zopa and Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Jampa, Guhyasamaja Center’s resident teacher, attended the ICT gala, where filmmaker Martin Scorsese introduced the Dalai Lama’s talk with a clip from his acclaimed film Kundun. On the weekend of October 20 and 21 Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave teachings and an empowerment on the Twenty-one Aspects of Tara at Georgetown University, next door to the very porch where, in 1779, President George Washington visited the college not long after he became the first Gold Medal recipient. The Dalai Lama has said that if he could meet one past president, it would be George Washington. And so, on October 17, 2007, the current U.S. President George Bush made history when he presented the Congressional Gold Medal to a smiling Dalai Lama – who used his speech to state categorically that he was not advocating that Tibet return to being a separate state, only that it should be an autonomous region under China’s rule.

Here is part of His Holiness’ speech … “It is a great honor for me to receive the Congressional Gold Medal. This recognition will bring tremendous joy and encouragement to the Tibetan people, for whom I have a special responsibility. Their welfare is my constant motivation and I always consider myself as their free spokesperson. I believe that this award also sends a powerful message to those many individuals who are dedicated to promoting peace, understanding and harmony. “The consistency of American support for Tibet has not gone unnoticed in China. Where this has caused some tension in the US-China relations, I feel a sense of regret. Today, I wish to share with you all my sincere hope that the future of Tibet and China will move beyond mistrust to a relationship based on mutual respect, trust and recognition of common interests. “Today we watch China as it rapidly moves forward. Economic liberalization has led to wealth, modernization and great power. I believe that today’s economic success of both India and China, the two most populated nations with a long history of rich culture, is most deserving. With their new-found status, both of these two countries are poised to play an important leading role on the world stage. In order to fulfill this role, I believe it is vital for China to have transparency, rule of law and freedom of information. Much of the world is waiting to see how China’s concepts of “harmonious society” and “peaceful rise” would unfold. For, today’s China, being a state of many nationalities, a key factor here would be how it ensures the harmony and unity of its various peoples. For this, the equality and the rights of these nationalities to maintain their distinct identities are crucial. “With respect to my own homeland Tibet, today many people, both from inside and outside, feel deeply concerned about the consequences of the rapid changes taking place. Every year, the Chinese population inside Tibet is increasing at an alarming rate. And, if we are to judge by the example of the population of Lhasa, there is a real danger that the Tibetans will be reduced to an insignificant minority in their own homeland. This rapid increase in population is also posing serious threat to Tibet’s fragile environment. Being the source of many of Asia’s great rivers, any substantial disturbance in Tibet’s ecology will impact the lives of hundreds of millions. Furthermore, being situated between India and China, the peaceful resolution of the Tibet problem also has important implications for lasting peace and friendly relation between these two great neighbors…” y For the full speech with photos go to http://www.savetibet. org/news/ Betty Rogers was Director of FPMT’s Guhyasamaja Center at the time of writing. Lorne Ladner took over as Director on November 1. December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 51


Glorious building challenges

Left: A touching comment from Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Right: Drolkar McCallum in front of the still-under-construction new gompa.

The serenely beautiful places of contemplation and worship known as gompas or meditation halls are an integral part of the Buddhist tradition. That they continue to exist is due in no small part to the teams of people who care for them and – when Lama Zopa Rinpoche requests it – take on the herculean task of rebuilding some of them. The reconstruction of one in Rinpoche’s own homeland – Lawudo – is planned (see story page 54). But first, Drolkar McCallum tells the story how she and her team have managed to get a new gompa at FPMT’s Tushita Meditation Centre to, well, not quite completion stage … ushita Meditation Centre is located in the forested hills of Northern India – the seat-in-exile of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. For many, it’s the place where they met the Dharma for the first time. It was the former residence of Trijang Rinpoche, the junior tutor of the Dalai Lama and a teacher of Lama Thubten Yeshe, who founded Tushita as a retreat center in 1972. It now mainly offers introductory courses to Tibetan Buddhism and meditation. Fifteen years ago Lama Zopa Rinpoche requested that the Tushita meditation hall be rebuilt. The old colonial building was constructed more than eighty monsoons ago; its mud, straw and stone walls were crumbling and the ceiling was letting in rain, stones and the occasional monkey. The hall needed to be enlarged and the ceiling raised: the twelve-foot high Lama Tsongkhapa statue needed to have a throne built under it.


52 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

After years of stop-start, the massive job of rebuilding began in March of this year. The building was first torn apart carefully around Lama Yeshe’s room as we had originally wanted to preserve it. But as the walls became visible we could see clearly that it was not possible. Perhaps in a Western country there might have been a way to preserve it but not here in the Himalayan foothills where women, instead of bulldozers, carry away the dirt – on their heads; where cows sleep in the street and where the local bank has only just discovered the internet. When we first discussed the possibility of preserving the room, the Indian engineer and the Tibetan contractor said that it would be no problem! In retrospect, I think they had no idea what on earth I was talking about, or they were not taking this strange foreigner seriously. This was the first of a long series of misunderstandings. Sadly we had to tear the

30 years of stuff has to be moved.

room down, but the new room will be occupying the same space and that, Rinpoche said, is what is most important. At first I wanted to try and re-create the exact place where Trijang Rinpoche did his seven-year retreat in Lama Yeshe’s room. This would include putting back the original bay window that surrounded his seat. The contractor hated the idea, and complained to our construction site supervisor, Fred from Holland. He couldn’t understand why I wanted to stick back an ugly old window and ruin his beautiful new room! Anyway, I scrapped the idea later, for other reasons. We needed to begin excavating the foundation before the three-month monsoon began, or the holes would be flooded and all work would have to stop. We still didn’t have permission to begin. How long it would take to receive this permission was never quite clear. One day I was told that it would take only three months, the next day, six. It seemed

that the people who gave permission only met once every few months, and the exact time of the meeting, like almost everything else, seemed to be some abstract entity that evolved minute by minute. The engineer would say one thing, and then if asked the exact same question five minutes later would give a different answer without even being aware of it. Same with the contractor. Whenever I got them together and called them on the answers I had been given, they would both deny it furiously! Sometimes the contractor would stick huge wads of tobacco in his mouth just before I’d come up to talk to him, possibly so I wouldn’t understand a word. So between this and the lack of English, communication is always a chore. During my two-year-long adventure to find a decent architect, I designed and re-designed it at least thirty times. I finally found a wonderful architect in Malaysia, a kind and dedicated student of Rinpoche’s, who had already done December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 53


several FPMT projects. After working feverishly with him for more than a week, I went to Singapore to see a friend who had worked previously on the design with me. I pulled out the designs in a fit of excitement because, after two long years, it was finally done! But my friend wanted the plans reworked! I tried to explain that, no, I’m terribly sorry, these were the final plans and could not under any circumstances be changed – then spent the next three hours re-designing yet again. But hear this: the final, final version is great, and woe betide anyone who tried to give me any more advice on the structure when I returned home to Tushita! We began construction before actually receiving the permission needed to build. The Indian engineer was saying, “Don’t worry, it’s as good as got!” Well, this worried me a great deal. He says that he “knows someone,” which translates to: if I give him enough money or in one case, a bottle of whiskey and a live chicken, he will be my friend and give me what I want. “Baksheesh” is commonly used to grease the wheels of bureaucracy. They say that it speeds things along, but I really think that it’s actually the only way that anything gets done at all. Sometimes you even get a receipt! So, just to be sure, I had him sign a paper saying that he would take full responsibility if anything went wrong. Thank goodness we never had to test this theory. Excavation of the foundation began quickly. We beat the monsoon, and the gompa has been shooting up rapidly ever since. But apparently this is the contractor’s biggest job of his career so far, and thus he made a huge miscalculation about how long it would take to build the new hall. Originally he said it would take two years. Suddenly and miraculously it has been cut down to only one year. This, too, makes me very nervous. When I enquired about the reasons for this, the answers were varied and interesting. The one I like best is that “the workers so happy then so much quick doing!” Hmm. The contractor couldn’t understand why I was not as delighted as he was, especially when he starting asking for more than double the monthly installments he and I had worked out originally. Having more than a year to come up with the rest of the money is quite different from having to pay the whole thing off by next Spring. Stressful? Yes, slightly – anyone know any eccentric millionaires? One thing that took some getting used to is the fact that toddlers accompany their parents to the working site. Some of the kids, barely able to walk, are following their mothers around the site, past deep ditches and through piles of wood with rusty nails. It’s hard to watch, but it seems to be a completely acceptable situation in Indian society, so I quickly gave up my initial protests. The new gompa will be two stories high. The first floor will contain the reception area, computer office, a public restroom, Lama Yeshe’s room and a meditation hall that will seat about 200 people. The second floor will have four teachers’ rooms with bathroom, the library and reading room, director’s office, staff room and the Tara room (an extra multi-purpose space for teachings, meetings or yoga). A 15-room accommodation block is also planned. When the new gompa is completed, Lama Zopa Rinpoche has offered to lead a one-month Hayagriva Retreat, tentatively scheduled for March 2009. Mark your calendars now! Check our progress at y 54 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

A vision of Lawudo for the 21st Century

The Lawudo gompa is in a state of imminent collapse.

In July 2007 Lama Zopa Rinpoche asked Frank Brock to take over from Ven. Tsen-la as the Director of Lawudo Retreat Center, perched in the Everest range of Nepal. Here Frank describes some of Lawudo’s remarkable history, as well as plans to replace the crumbling gompa built by Lama Zopa Rinpoche himself many years ago. or disciples of Lama Zopa Rinpoche there are few places on this earth that hold as much significance and meaning as Lawudo. Situated high in the Himalayan mountains in the area known as Solu Khumbu, the Sherpa region of eastern Nepal, Lawudo nestles against the side of the mountain like a beacon for all who seek an authentic, blessed, and naturally mystical place. This beautiful and fascinating region of Nepal is considered to be a “hidden valley” or beyal, a special country blessed by Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava). Just above Lawudo is a


large cliff known as the Dragkarma, or White Cliff, which, it is said, is the actual entrance to one of the secret valleys of Khumbu. It was to this place that Lama Kunzang Yeshe (18651946), later to be known as the Lawudo Lama, came to meditate at the age of fifty-one. He was a married lama, a Nyingma yogi, and until his death he remained at the Lawudo cave meditating day and night without the need for sleep. This great holy lama, who always appeared as an extremely humble, simple Dharma practitioner, was widely respected and revered and had many disciples among the Sherpa people of that area. At the age of eighty-one, the Lawudo Lama Kunzang Yeshe passed away. A few years later, in a small village called Thangme, just below the Lawudo cave, a four-year old boy, who had continually tried to climb the path to Lawudo and insisted he was the Lawudo Lama, was officially recognized as the reincarnation of Lama Kunzang Yeshe. Today, he is known as Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, a great Dharma teacher and guide to thousands of disciples world-wide and whose whole life is devoted to serving the Dharma and living beings. In April 1969, when he was 24, Lama Zopa Rinpoche returned to Lawudo. It was the first time he had been back to Lawudo since he had left as a monk at the age of six to study in the monasteries of Tibet. It was at this time that, in Rinpoche’s words:

“The villagers who had young sons and had been disciples or benefactors of the previous Lawudo Lama requested me to build a small gompa at Lawudo where eight or ten boys could receive a good education. I accepted their request …”

Lama Zopa’s own adventure In the spring of 1970, Lama Zopa was set to return to Lawudo, carrying a gift of 10,000 rupees in a money belt which he had tied around his chest, pretending it was something he wore for his health. “When we landed at the tiny airfield surrounded by very high cliffs, I was a little scared because I was carrying a large amount of money with me and the people of that area are quite rough. The weather was extremely hot and I started to sweat, and soon the green dye from the money purse spread all over my body and clothes. It was heavy, too, so after a

while I took it out and carried it in my hand. Later I put it on the porter’s load. “While I was walking alone on the road, I kept on checking my motivation and praying that every single atom of the stones used to build the Lawudo Gompa would benefit sentient beings. “The first night we slept in the house of an old woman, and during the night people kept coming in to drink chang. I was afraid that someone would steal the money, so I put the purse inside a nice box made of banana leaves that Max had given me, and used it for pillow. Then I tied a thread to the box and wrapped it around my finger. I also kept a flashlight nearby, but nothing untoward happened…” So began the task of building Lawudo Gompa. In those days, as it is today, the cost of building materials in this area was very high. Most of the materials cost three times what they did in Kathmandu due to them having to be transported long distances over very difficult terrain, mostly on the backs of porters. The gompa was completed toward the end of 1972, and by that time a growing community of young monks was studying there. However, as Rinpoche explained: “In October 1974 the monks returned to Kopan and never went back to the mountains. The conditions at Lawudo had always been difficult for the young monks … besides, the number of monks had increased and so from 1974 onward Lawudo returned to what it had been in previous times: a hermitage.” Today, thirty-five years later, Lawudo Gompa is in such poor structural condition that it could collapse at any time, therefore Lama Zopa Rinpoche has said that he would be very happy if it could be rebuilt. The design of the new gompa will be very similar to that of the Kopan Monastery gompa, only smaller. The main statue inside will be a twenty-two-foot-high Padmasambhava statue, and Rinpoche has instructed that the gompa should be big enough to seat 150 people and with rooms for eight sangha. There will also be rooms built around the gompa terraced into the side of the mountain for individual retreats – not to mention a helipad for those who would prefer to avoid the two-to-three day walk from Lukla, and would rather fly in from Kathmandu. It is our hope that we may soon be able to offer Rinpoche a new gompa at Lawudo exactly as he wishes. For more information about this project, contact y Information and quotes in this article were taken from the excellent book, The Lawudo Lama: Stories of Reincarnation from the Mount Everest Region by Jamyang Wangmo, foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Published by Wisdom Publications and reprinted with permission. December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 55


Making Friends with Money By Tony Steel


have been resisting writing this article for some time. The editor’s brief was fiendishly problematic – “Just write about how Dharma centers can earn extra income and become financially viable.” “Couldn’t I write about some obscure aspect of Madhyamaka philosophy instead?” I ask. At least with that topic there are books that I could refer to, and people I could ask. I have been Director of a Dharma center for over three years and a Dharma student for nearly fifteen years. I know lots of other Directors, and have visited many other Dharma centers. I am having trouble recalling even one center, including my own, that does not have major issues around financial viability. Just over a year ago, Vajrayana Institute’s new premises celebrated its opening day in the inner Sydney suburb of Ashfield. I rose to give the opening speech before the visiting dignitaries, including Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and twohundred members and guests. I recounted how difficult it had been to raise the money for the new center and that we had encountered numerous obstacles in finding the property, overcoming local opposition to us moving into the neighborhood, and big cost overruns on renovation of the building. It had indeed been a struggle. While the acquisition cost of the property was covered by the proceeds from the sale of our previous premises, a bequest from a deceased estate and a bank mortgage, most of the renovation costs were unbudgeted and unfunded. The initial estimate of $AUD500,000 was a tough number for us to finance, but possible. However, when renovation costs escalated to over $1.2 million, we had a big problem in the form of a debt totaling over $2 million. At the conclusion of the opening ceremony, Lama Zopa took me aside. He said that I shouldn’t always talk about the difficulties of running a Dharma center. By focusing on the obstacles and hardships, the job of the Director can become a great burden, and the students can become disheartened. That piece of advice is a nice place for us all to start in the search for a more secure financial future. Consider the benefits of what we do, focus on opportunities, and energize your center to move forward and grow. Dharma centers perform a wonderful service, and because suffering is so pervasive there will always be a demand for what we offer. Most centers are actually very rich 56 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

– maybe not financially, but in terms of the wealth of knowledge that they contain. Where else in our society can you find the learning to liberate yourself and others from birth, aging, sickness, and death? This information can’t properly be monetized by charging those wanting access to our knowledge. This is to be provided free or, at most, for a charge that only covers our costs. The key is to find ethically acceptable ways to take advantage of the assets and strengths of the organization and generate recurring income. A good place to draw inspiration for how this is done is to consider the work of Professor Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology and author of Learned Optimism. Seligman talks of finding success and enjoyment by concentrating on one’s signature strengths. These are skills, assets, or interests that you already have. By focusing on what you are good at and enjoy, you are much more likely to find that success that you are seeking. If one applies this advice, then the key to developing the financial resources of your organization lies in unearthing the signature strengths of the center and its members. What is it about your center that is valuable or unique? Is it the physical location or premises; the mix of talents amongst your students, faculty, staff, or management; or maybe there is some activity that is already bringing in income that can be built upon? As an example of the latter, it is much easier for a center, which is already earning a small but steady income from catering at an annual festival, to put energy into building this as a business than to start some entirely new and speculative activity. My own experience in seeking a way out of the mountain of debt that threatened to engulf our center was to use a signature strength of my own. I am a professional conference organizer, so it seemed obvious to me that my experience in organizing conferences was something that could be used to financially benefit the center and to provide a platform for extending what we do to a broader audience. Vajrayana Institute now runs two annual conferences, Mind & Its Potential and Happiness & Its Causes. We have been fortunate in that they have both been very successful events. Our first conference attracted 500 delegates, which we were thrilled with, and our most recent conference

attracted 3,400 delegates, which we were blown away by! The events are now being launched overseas with local partners. We have had to re-invest a good portion of the income generated by these events to build and maintain a conference team within the staff of the center. Nevertheless, there has been enough left over to halve the center’s debts over the last year. Organizing conferences has been a solution that has worked for our center. It is not necessarily a solution for others. You need to find your organization’s signature strengths and build around those. Having said that, the activity of running ‘events’ is an area that is rich in income potential, demands skills and assets that match those existing within many Dharma centers, and does not require significant up-front capital investment. An excellent example is the extraordinarily successful Vesak festival organized annually by Singapore’s Amitabha Buddhist Center. It is not uncommon to see religious and non-profit organizations as organizers of a wide range of events such as film festivals, craft markets, food fairs, book fairs, fetes, seminars, training courses, conferences, exhibitions, and so forth. Others have found success in events that are much closer to the core purpose of their center. This may be the development and long term success of a flagship teaching event, such as the annual month-long Kopan meditation course, or an annual retreat. What is the secret to financial success for a Dharma center? The answer is that there isn’t one. The causes and conditions for success are many and varied. But to start, look within at what you already have and, as Lama Zopa advised, approach the task of spreading the Dharma with a spirit of enthusiasm and optimism. y

Clockwise from Top: Happiness & Its Causes Conference run by Vajrayana Institute. Tony Steel building on a signature strength. Conferences are now attracting thousands of people.

December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 57


Our Relationship to Resources Tony Steel’s provocative article suggests that we build on our own strengths to help create the causes and conditions to have a financially healthy center. Here are some more thought-starters for our consideration: • Ask ourselves: Where do our resources come from? • Ask ourselves: How do we create the causes for wealth? • Make offerings to powerful objects (e.g., extensive offering

practice as outlined by Lama Zopa Rinpoche; Merit Box practice; offerings to teachers, other centers, monasteries, and Sangha) • Appreciate our benefactors (give thanks) • Manage resources (e.g., meticulous record-keeping, preserving teachings) • Examine the feng shui of our premises If you or your center is challenged, suffering from a lack of resources, or could benefit from more resources, consider increasing your practice of generosity. y

Generosity advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche Be careful, watch your behavior with other people, and be kind. Offering food to students at the center is a way of collecting a lot of merit because students are like the pores of the guru. Disciples of the same guru collect more merit from offering food to fellow disciples than from offering to the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, numberless statues, and stupas. Anything you offer with this recognition – chocolate, water, or money – is an incredible way to collect merit. This is the easiest way to collect vast amounts of merit through offering. By offering even just one candy, flower, or grain of rice to a statue of Buddha or a visualized Buddha you collect vast amounts of merit, but offering to Sanghas who have the same guru is much more powerful than offering to the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha), as well as all the statues, stupas, and scriptures existing in all directions. It doesn’t have to be only Sangha; the students can also be lay people. These benefits should be understood so that when you make offerings to the guru’s pores, you think correctly. This is the best way. Sometimes centers don’t have much money, but if the director knows Dharma, he or she can very skillfully create merit without needing much money. Developing the center doesn’t only depend on the teacher, but on

58 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

how you look after people. People can be made to feel welcome so they are attracted to come to the center or not. We must pay attention to this. The essential thing is to make people happy, to serve them well. This helps to build up the center, to get material support very easily without pushing. The purpose, of course, is to have more facilities, because then the center has more ability to spread the Dharma and more comfort, so more people can enjoy and receive the Dharma, you can benefit them more, liberate them from oceans of samsaric suffering, and bring them to enlightenment. You need to be aware of so many things. However, the key thing is to know how to take care of people. You must cherish every person who comes to the center, feel they are so precious, take care of them. Respect naturally comes from that, then caring, and the person is so happy. There are so many opportunities to collect merit for the center if you know the Dharma. Even just offering a bowl of water or cup of tea to a person, who is a student or disciple of the same guru as you, collects so much merit. This is one way to build up the center. Think big. This is a bodhisattva’s skillful means to benefit sentient beings. y From Practical Guide for Skillful Means, an FPMT manual.

Thank You and Rejoice! A message from Lama Zopa Rinpoche … All my dear brothers and sisters,


just want to explain simply how meaningful it is that we have Dharma centers, so that we can help so many sentient beings while they have this most precious human body by awakening them to the unmistaken causes of happiness and suffering through explaining the Buddha’s teachings on karma, which is our experience, not merely belief. By offering this education we open their lives to all happiness – not just that of this life, but that of future lives and the ultimate happiness of liberation from samsara and the peerless happiness of full enlightenment. How fortunate and happy I am! How fortunate and happy we are! We awaken sentient beings by explaining what compassion is, the need for compassion and how to develop it. This causes them to achieve the peerless happiness of full enlightenment and enlighten numberless other sentient beings by ceasing all their defilements and completing all qualities. How fortunate and happy I am! How fortunate and happy we are! We awaken sentient beings by teaching them the basis of Buddhism – the two truths, conventional and ultimate – and educating them as to the very nature of the I, aggregates, and all other phenomena, which are empty. By understanding emptiness, sentient beings can understand the conventional truth of how things exist, not according to the hallucinating mind but according to wisdom, which accords with reality. This offers sentient beings liberation and gives them the confidence that they can definitely achieve ultimate freedom through studying the teachings and meditating on them, thus developing and actualizing the wisdom that directly ceases all gross and subtle defilements. Developing the ultimate wisdom realizing emptiness – the only wisdom that directly separates gross and subtle defilements from the mental continuum – gives sentient beings the inconceivable freedom of achieving full enlightenment and cessation from all suffering. How fortunate and happy I am! How fortunate and happy we are! In this way we open sentient beings’ ultimate wisdom eye by awakening them to how samsara and its pleasures are only in the nature of suffering. We inspire them to free

themselves from the oceans of sufferings of the hell, hungry ghost, animal, human, sura and asura realms, and achieve the ultimate, everlasting happiness of total liberation. Thus we liberate them from the prison of samsara; we release them from samsara’s cage, bound by delusion and karma from time without beginning. We also liberate them from the pleasures of samsara by awakening them to how these pleasures are only in the nature of suffering; how samsara – the desire, form, and formless realm aggregates – is only in the nature of suffering, being caused by karma and delusion, the impure mind, and contaminated by the seed of disturbing thoughts. All realms of samsara are in the nature of pervasive compounded suffering. We awaken sentient beings by giving them the opportunity to listen to the teachings of the Omniscient One, our kind, compassionate Guru Shakyamuni Buddha; to reflect and meditate on the teachings they have heard and actualize the path. Giving them the opportunity to listen to and reflect and meditate on the teachings on the four noble truths gives them a clear understanding of what liberation really is, and shows them the path to achieve it. We educate them to avoid the December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 59


experience of not just the suffering of pain and the suffering of change (samsaric pleasure), but also to free themselves forever from the fundamental suffering, the basis of the other two, pervasive compounding suffering, thus giving them a complete definition of liberation and how to actualize it. How fortunate and happy I am! How fortunate and happy we are! We educate the most kind, precious sentient beings in the tantric path – secret mantra; Vajrayana – liberating them from all suffering and its causes and bringing them to full enlightenment not only quickly, but in the very quickest way. How fortunate and happy I am! How fortunate and happy we are! We cause sentient beings to meet a spiritual guide – a qualified guru who shows them the whole path, lives in the practice of the higher training of morality, elucidates the complete path to enlightenment without mistake, and guides them to liberation and full enlightenment. How fortunate and happy I am! How fortunate and happy we are! We not only give sentient beings an extensive, clear understanding of sutra and tantra, but also educate them in

60 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

the lam-rim – the arrangement and gradual practice for one person to achieve enlightenment that integrates the entire 84,000 teachings of the Buddha and makes it very easy for sentient beings to go about gaining enlightenment without any confusion. How fortunate and happy I am! How fortunate and happy we are! Thus the Dharma center plays a most important role by taking responsibility for the peace and happiness of all sentient beings, particularly those in this world. How fortunate and happy I am! How fortunate and happy we are! Thank you very much to the director, teachers, all precious members and organizers, all pure students, daily meditation practitioners, those who serve with great devotion the teachings of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and all sentient beings. y With much love and prayers, Lama Zopa Rinpoche Colophon: Dictated to Ven. Holly Ansett at Maitreya Institute, The Netherlands, on August 30, 2004 as the foreword for the magazine celebrating the new building for Amitabha Buddhist Center, Singapore. Edited by Nick Ribush and lightly by Claire Isitt.

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December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 61


More about Suffixes By Lama David Curtis Learning the Tibetan language is, except for meditation, perhaps the most meaningful and useful endeavor a student of Tibetan Buddhism can undertake. Over the centuries this language was crafted by the great realized masters of Tibet to be the vehicle for bringing the teachings to Tibet, and eventually, as Guru Rinpoche predicted, to the world. The power, beauty, and sublimity of Tibetan are a constant inspiration to the student from the very beginning of inquiry into the language. Inspiration grows during the course of exploration of Tibetan because one discovers that there is essentially no separation between the teachings of the Dharma and the vehicle which is this beautiful language. Evidence for this can be seen in the etymology of Tibetan Buddhist vocabulary. It is for this reason that I have included the etymology of an important Dharma word in each of the articles of this series. But let us now return to the task at hand, namely the completion of the presentation of how to read the Tibetan script. Suffixes NA, LA, DA, and SA In the last article we discussed six of the ten suffixes and mentioned that the remaining four cause special changes to the pronunciation of syllables. Let us turn to those four special suffixes: NA, LA, DA, and SA. When they occur as suffixes of syllables, they cause changes to the vowel sounds. In general, they cause the vowels to be pronounced in a narrower manner, and they are made further back in the mouth than they would

Figure 1 62 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

be otherwise.The five vowels in Tibetan are the inherent ah, gigu, shabkyoo, drengbu and naro. When the vowel signs occur followed by one of these four suffixes, new vowel sounds can occur. NA and LA cause similar kinds of changes to the vowels, so we discuss them together. NA and LA are pronounced as suffixes – in fact, they are pronounced just like a final n and l are in English words. In addition, they cause the following changes to the pronunciation of vowels that precede them: 1. When NA or LA occurs after the inherent vowel ah, the vowel is pronounced “ay.” 2. When NA or LA is found after the gigu (usually pronounced “ee”), the gigu becomes “ı˘.” 3. When occurring after the shabkyoo (usually pronounced “oo”), pronunciation changes to “ü.” 4. When occurring after drengbu (usually pronounced “ay”), it changes to “e˘.” 5. When NA or LA come after naro (which is pronounced “oh”), it changes to “ö.” Figure 1 presents ten example words showing these changes to the five vowel sounds when followed by NA and LA. DA and SA cause changes to some of the vowels sounds as well. But unlike NA and LA, DA and SA are themselves silent as suffixes. For this reason we treat them separately. 1. The inherent ah before a DA or SA is pronounced like the “ay.“ 2. The gigu before them stays “ee.” 3. The shabkyoo changes to “ü.”

Figure 2

4. The drengbu stays “ay.” 5. The naro changes to “ö.” Figure 2 presents ten example words with the DA and SA suffixes. Repeatedly spelling out the example words is excellent practice, leading to mastery of what initially is one of the less transparent parts of learning to read the Tibetan script. These suffixes are also listed as Chart I and Chart II on page 12 of Introduction to Tibetan Level I. This completes discussion of the ten suffixes. Second Suffixes The last of the seven elements is the Second Suffixes. They are quite straightforward in comparison with the last four suffixes just looked at. There are two Second Suffixes that Tibetans call yahng juke, which could be translated as “[those which] also enter.” These can occur only after certain suffixes, hence their name. The Second Suffixes are DA and SA (which we just saw were also two of the ten suffixes). As Second Suffixes, they are silent and do not affect the pronunciation of a syllable in any way. It is important to note that DA is no longer written in texts but is nevertheless significant because it is regarded as implicitly present and as such can affect the grammar of a phrase or sentence. We will see more about this in a subsequent article. For now, it is important to know that DA can only occur after first suffix NA, RA, or LA. The other Second Suffix, SA, can only occur after first suffixes GA, NGA, BA, or MA and is frequently seen. If SA is the last letter of a three- or four-letter syllable, and the SA is preceded by a suffix GA, NGA, BA, or MA, then that SA is a Second Suffix. It will not affect the pronunciation but can affect the meaning. For instance, placing a Second Suffix SA on some verbs can change their tense from present to past.

CALM ABIDING Zhee Nay or Shinay Literally “calm abiding,” the Tibetan translation of the Sanskrit word shamatha. One of the two principal types of meditation in Buddhism. The first syllable, zhee, means “peace,” and the second, nay, means “to rest, to remain, to abide.” It is the meditative practice of resting the mind in quiescence, calm, or tranquility. We have now reached a meaningful juncture in our study of Tibetan: we have been introduced to all the seven elements that can form a syllable. Once we have mastered these seven elements, we are able to read and spell all the bona fide words in Tibetan. For instance, we can read and pronounce all the main entry words in the Tibetan-English dictionary. Perhaps love of learning is an aspect of our Buddha Nature. For many of us, there are few greater joys than learning more about the Dharma. If we know the basics of reading Tibetan, we are equipped with a powerful tool for the greater exploration of the Dharma. For as Geshe Thrangu Rinpoche has said, In general, even knowing a little Tibetan is beneficial in deepening an understanding of the Dharma. For those who know no Tibetan, there is an inherent limit placed on what can be learned about the Dharma. For those who learn Tibetan, there is no limit to their studies or to what they can learn. y For more information about learning Tibetan go to December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 63


Sojourn in Spain Lama Yeshe’s Spanish driver will ultimately play an important role in the continuity of this most special of lamas. But for now Adele Hulse continues the life and times of Lama Thubten Yeshe as he encounters life in Ibiza.


n October 6, 1977 the Lamas arrived in Ibiza, in the Balearic Islands, to teach a ten-day course. Jampa Chokyi, Lama’s first Spanish nun, had spent the past two months there helping Philippe and Francois Camus to prepare a gompa. She also gave simple introductory teachings in Spanish to the one-hundred and fifty people who enrolled. Assisting her was another Spanish nun, Angeles de la Torres, and Kopan residents, Antonio Pascual and Jasmin Ubinas. Francois Camus and his wife had a health food shop on Ibiza, and Philippe and his wife, Linda, ran a local restaurant. In the mid-1970s, Ibiza was the hottest place in Europe for alternative types and through those two businesses the two couples got to know many among the cosmopolitan crowd. Naturally, they told them of the forthcoming course. Francois’ family was in the wine trade, and had used a geodesic dome for a recent exhibition. With money received as a wedding present, he arranged to have a similar one built and delivered to Ibiza just two days before the course began. The white plastic-covered dome was set up in the field of a Payesan house called Can Tirurit, a kind of alternative and altruistic community center twenty kilometers out of town. The organizers insisted the Lamas needed a decent place of their own to stay in, but the alternative types argued that, if they were so unattached, it hardly mattered. Arguments quickly became heated, but Jampa Chokyi had a Spanish temperament to match anybody’s and soon sorted things out. Philippe and Linda Camus gave up their best rooms, though Lama Yeshe said “some little corner” would do. Their house was still rather primitive, with no bathroom or running water. A hole in the ground was dug for a toilet with cane fencing erected in a spiral around it. Jampa Chokyi noticed that one of the people living at Can Tirurit, Paco Hita, was always very polite and accommodating. He got the job of chauffeur. Francois Camus waited at his house while Paco collected the Lamas from the airport. “The moment 64 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

they arrived, the person who had been the most difficult came to me in tears saying, ‘Now I understand.’ He hadn’t even spoken to them, but he was totally changed,” said Francois. Paco became the person who spent the most time with Lama Yeshe in Ibiza. “I had worked from the age of eight until I was twenty-five, when a great restlessness arose in me,” said Paco. “Although I had very little education and only the few skills employment had given me, I was determined to search for something to give meaning to my life. In Ibiza I began to live again, free of prejudices and material possessions. “I imagined the Lamas as barefoot, begging for food and wearing very little clothing. The first sign of action was when they sent us this hurricane, this demanding little Spanish nun. She quickly got a group together to sew a large thangka of Guru Shakyamuni and make a canopy and cloths for the altar. She taught us all how to sit, visualize, and meditate and gave courses on how to draw Buddhist images,” said Paco. “My job was to drive the Lamas to and from the course grounds, fetch the food supplies, and have the car always available for them. Rinpoche taught in the mornings and Lama in the afternoons. During the fourteen days they were on the island I did not leave their side except to retire at night. I did not understand or speak English, so I was not able to talk with them at all. With Lama Zopa that was no problem because he never spoke – except once when I was driving rather fast because we were late. That time he turned and said something. Later I asked someone to translate it; what he had said was, ‘Are you in a hurry to attain enlightenment?’ “Words were not necessary with Lama Yeshe and we developed our own communication. Occasionally, when he came out from a lecture, he put his arm over my shoulders and said, ‘Good?’ and I answered, ‘Very good!’ Then I would put my right arm around his waist and feel how he was transmitting energy that filled my whole being with joy. I sat in the front row for his talks so I could get him whatever he needed. I hardly understood what he was talking about, even though it was

translated into Spanish. The concepts were light years away from my mind. But now and then Lama pointed to me, and told the others that if they had questions they should ask me because I understood. I felt nothing could be further from the truth but what I did understand was the respectful, kindly, and affectionate way he treated people. “One afternoon, when I was driving him home, he let me know he wanted a driving lesson. So I stopped and invited him to sit behind the wheel. The car was a Citroen belonging to a Saudi girl, Zia Al Bassam. She came down from Pomaia and had an aunt who lived on the island. After confirming he understood how it worked, we set off. Lama tore up the dirt road with violent jerks, raising clouds of dust, because he was holding the clutch halfway down and stepping on the accelerator. I made him stop and scolded him firmly. ‘Sorry, sorry, sorry!’ he said. He went a little better then. But when he came to a hill the car stalled, and when Lama stepped on the clutch thinking it was the brake we rolled down into a dirt mound next to the gutter. With more instruction he drove all the way home. The next day he wanted to do it again, but on the first turn after leaving the course grounds he crashed into a stone wall and the car was crumpled,” said Paco. Lama and Paco returned to the house, laughing their heads off. “Oh Zia car! Zia car! We broke the car! Ha, ha, ha!” When Zia came to see Lama he confessed to the accident and offered to pay, but she said no. Out of the blue, Mummy Max’s ex-husband Marty Widener suddenly turned up. He was staying on the nearby island of Formentera and saw a poster advertising the course. “I came bursting into their room, telling Yeshe how happy I was to see him while he kept bumping foreheads with me. They invited me to lunch the next day and the three of us just sat around and yacked and laughed and cackled. It was wonderful,” said Marty. One day Lama suggested a picnic at a little cove by the sea near Philippe’s house. “We brought bread and many ingredients, spread a cloth, and Lama began to construct these high sandwich towers, offering them to us one by one,” said Paco. “We were about to start eating when Lama pointed to a spot in the distance where we could see the outline of a person sitting on the rocks contemplating the sea. Lama made it clear he wanted me to invite him to eat, too, so I walked over and gave him Lama’s message and he shared the food with us. We all talked enthusiastically and laughter rebounded off the rocks.

Lama Yeshe shares the picnic food – and changes a stranger’s life.

When we left, the stranger thanked us, and said those moments had actually been life-changing for him. “Another day we visited a country store selling everything from rope sandals to codfish,” Paco continued. “The owner was a perpetually bad-tempered woman, who mistrusted everyone. I had never seen her smile. Lama wanted to buy presents there so we went inside and he began sniffing around the open shelves. When the woman came out from an inner room, he transformed himself completely, bent double, face to the floor and hands joined at his forehead to greet her. He was so humble that she, too, was transformed. Her hard little eyes warmed, her mouth formed a surprisingly sweet smile, and by gestures Lama asked if he could look around. She indicated he could look wherever he liked, even behind the counter. Lama ended up buying nothing, but the woman looked as if she had made the best deal of her life, and from that day on she never ceased to ask me about the little man in red.” December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 65


An end-of-course party was to be held in Philippe’s restaurant, and late that night Lama Yeshe decided he wanted to attend it. Naturally, Paco was there to drive him. “He even tried to get Lama Zopa to come, but he resisted. Rinpoche spent all his free time in his room emitting little sounds that seemed like profound laments to me. His replies to Lama were always in this timid whisper that seemed to come from the depths of the earth. As I watched the two together, Lama was like a sun and Rinpoche a candle softening in its heat and bending irresistibly towards him,” said Paco. “The course had been a terrific success and I knew very well what these parties were like. There would be lots of drinking, dancing, and the taking of anything that can make you fly. Lama had worked intensely over the last few days. He was having breathing difficulties and should have been exhausted, but he was unstoppable. When we reached the place, the doors were shut for this private party, so I called out and someone opened up. Immediately the music stopped, the lights came on, and windows magically opened to let in some air. Lama came in to the middle of the room and asked that the music continue. Then he raised one leg, balanced on the other, twisted his body forward and joined his hands in

prayer. He held that position for some seconds, and I noticed how his smooth skin gleamed majestically. He adopted one more pose, then relaxed and invited everyone to continue dancing. We brought him to a comfortable seat on one of the balconies with magnificent views over the port. There he sat contemplating the scene while running his mala through his fingers. People came to greet him and that night Philippe offered funds for Kopan. “On the last day of the course Lama gave initiations and Refuge which I took, but without understanding it too well,” Paco continued. “I decided the happiness I had discovered on Ibiza was good, but the happiness Lama Yeshe offered was much better. He gave me a Refuge name, Thubten Kunsang, but from the outset he called me nothing but Pagoda. “On his last night in Ibiza, Lama had dinner with the organizers in an atmosphere of great cheer and harmony. As everyone was making their goodbyes, Lama turned to me and said something which Philippe translated. It was, ‘And you, do you want anything?’ I immediately replied, ‘No, do you want anything?’ which caused Lama to laugh so hard he fell back in the chair and kicked his legs in the air.” y

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Nurturing baby bodhisattvas to stop the rot By Ven. Kabir Saxena

“In short, the impact which India made on me, against of the high teacher-novice monk ratio – along with more my strong resistance, was to make me lose confidence Buddhist training. Nowadays, however, wearing Buddhist robes doesn’t translate into wanting a Buddhist education! in what we call progress in the West.” These words were written in 1977 by John Seymour, one of the most intelligent and practical spokesmen of the alternative movement in Great Britain against unthinking gigantism and unbridled consumerism. He was a self-sufficiency guru, who said he came to the above-quoted conclusion after having seen many people at first hand in the India of the late sixties and early seventies, people who would be considered poor in the West, yet whose level of contentment and happiness exceeded that of his middle-class neighbors back home. Seymour was also struck by the abiding resonance of Gandhian ideals, including the idea that what you do and the material objects you use in your life should be part of an over-arching process of getting closer to God or, in his words, nearer to a genuine fulfillment. I think Seymour would be very sad to see the India of today, where the ancient wisdom culture barely survives, where a sort of aberrant and loud, aggressive religiosity often holds sway. The country that’s proud on the one hand to advertise the image of Gandhi at his spinning wheel, is yet very happy to be a member of the nuclear club and regularly inflicts murderous violence on those who resist unjust land appropriation for mammoth industrial projects. This is, of course, the confused way of the world in general, and I have no ready-made solution to offer except to say that a few symptoms that manifest continuously in the course of my daily work in Bodhgaya do suggest some possible avenues of approach to the pervasive malaise. For example, I’m seeing on a daily basis in our Maitreya Project School the fear and insecurity of the mindset that thinks only of passing exams so that a job may be easier to come by and, in the process, stifling a lot of the enjoyment and creativity in education that a different way of seeing could bring. I see a Buddhist monk, barely fourteen-years-old, who is resistant to studying in our nascent Buddhist school because he thinks he’ll get some kind of exam under his belt quicker in our larger established school. This, despite the fact that he needs a lot of remedial tuition, which he will get in the small school because 68 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

The erosion of traditional Indian values is reflected in the environmental microcosm of this holy place where the land mafia inflicts violence on farmers who resist attempts to grab their land, concrete eats up the once green and pleasant fields, large Airtel phone company hoardings mar the roadsides and, very important, where the levels of trust and integrity have gone down. What to do? Sitting at sojong, the monks’ fortnightly confession ceremony, certain phrases ring so fresh and true. There is one in particular that I love, from the Pratimoksha Sutra, although what it urges is as yet supremely difficult for me to accomplish:

“Happy is the situation of the resolute, who tame their senses and, learned, grow old in peaceful wilderness, letting their youthfulness pass by in forests.” Before we dismiss this as so much retrogressive romanticism, let me remind the reader that this is just what our kind founder Lord Buddha did. It’s what many have done since then and, one hopes, will continue to do. This is why the kind Guru has been on my case for so many years with gentle demands for a Buddhist School and Monastery where a powerful environment, both inner and outer, with which to counter the prevailing toxicity can be more easily nurtured. Already I can see the rise in self-confidence and ease in one little local novice who has been at the Maitreya Project site less than a fortnight. The vision is to have hundreds of students and monks at our Buddhist school and monastery. They can be the vanguard of a gentle revolution, which is what the Mahayana is – an opening to all others as though gifting oneself to them. With sensitive planning we could hope to soon have at Maitreya Project a viable sylvan crucible in order to produce the baby warrior-bodhisattvas who are so sorely needed in this troubled land, so that the teachings, the sole medicine for suffering and origin of every joy, abide for a very long time. Without such islands of sanity the future looks bleak indeed. Ven. Kabir Saxena (Losang Tenpa) works for the Maitreya Project School in Bodhgaya, India.


Australian monk wins an award


en. Alex Bruce (Losang Tenpa), senior lecturer-in-law at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, Australia, has been awarded the 2007 ANU Vice Chancellor’s Award for Service to the Community – namely, his work with Liberation Prison Project Australia (LPPA) and various interfaith events in Canberra, Australia. He was nominated by a colleague, Dr. Tom Faunce, who had been a Hindu Sannyasin before qualifying as both a lawyer and doctor. Now teaching at the ANU, Dr. Faunce and Ven. Alex meet regularly to chat about how they can bring spiritual values into their teaching, and to share stories of the spiritual path. Dr. Faunce nominated Ven. Alex for: • His work as a lawyer for LPPA; and for teaching at Junee Correctional Facility. “I am so grateful for Alex’s hard work in getting the prison project incorporated in Australia and, especially, for spearheading the efforts to get the Tax Office to see the truth and give us Public Benevolent Institution status,” Ven. Robina Courtin, LPP Director, said later. • Interreligious Dialogue initiatives: speaking at formal meetings, guest lecturer at other universities, and academic work in researching, writing and speaking about the similarities between Buddhist and Christian spiritual traditions. He created and moderated the successful 2007 “One World – Many Paths to Peace” Interreligious Symposium with His Holiness the Dalai Lama (pictured). • Work with local schools where Ven. Alex discusses the importance of Buddhism and interreligious tolerance with all levels of school children, from primary to senior students. Ven. Alex juggles these activities with his teaching profession, coordinating the FPMT Chengawa Study Group, and doing his own research, writing and study. His activities were considered by the Awards Committee to be “an example of the way in which a contemplative monastic can engage with society in a way that prophetically demonstrates the meaningfulness of spiritual values over and against a society increasingly characterized by violence, selfishness, shallowness and materialism.” Ven. Alex is using the small grant that accompanies the Award to establish a Center for Law, Religion and Society at the ANU. The aim of interdisciplinary scholarship from the Center will be to promote a more enlightened and compassionate society by bringing the philosophical wisdom of the world’s religious traditions into greater conversation with law, public policy and social sciences. “It all sounds very complicated,” Alex said, “but it keeps coming back to real sentient beings; people and their needs.

One of my most meaningful experiences in undertaking the above work had nothing to do with scholarship or politics, etc. It involved answering a question from a Year 7 student at a local Catholic Marist Brothers College. “This young boy had become depressed and frightened by the amount of war, violence, apathy, selfishness and disasters he had seen nightly on the news. At the end of one of my talks, he asked me in a trembling voice: “With all the disasters and murders and violence, do you think the world will come to an end?” He genuinely believed that the world was about to implode in an orgy of self-destruction. “You could hear a pin drop in the room which was crowded with students from several grades and their teachers. “I thought a moment and then replied along the following lines: ‘Somewhere in the world, at every hour of every day and night, there are people from all the world’s spiritual traditions praying and meditating in order to increase peace and kindness in the world, to seek forgiveness for the stupidity and cruelty of humans and to pray for a kinder and more enlightened future. When the last spiritual practitioner in the whole world of the last tradition in the whole world stops praying and meditating, that’s when the world ends. But at least while you, your teachers, parents, friends and others are here, that will never happen.’ “He left the room with a smile.”

Ven. Robina on screen Australia’s national public broadcaster, the ABC, presented Ven. Robina Courtin and her prison work on a popular Sunday night program, Compass, in September. Cameras followed her around as she visited inmates at Long Bay and Junee prisons in NSW, tracing her story and examining her philosophy along the way. The 30-minute documentary, Key to Freedom, showed the work of Liberation Prison Project in Australia, which was December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 69


established in 2001 and now has a staff of four in the Blue Mountains and thirty volunteers in five states, who support the Buddhist practice of hundreds of prisoners. LPPA is just one of several branches of Liberation Prison Project, with others in the USA, Spain, Mexico and Mongolia.

Vinaya teachings in Italy By Getsul Kevin Middleton

Reciting the Sutra of Golden Light for Peace At Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s request, key information about the exalted Sutra of Golden Light is now available online. This gives us all the opportunity to not only download the Sutra, but to report our recitations, and share our experiences. Rinpoche has specifically asked us all to read and recite this sublime Sutra for world peace. He reminds us that this is one of the most effective things we can do to bring peace. “This is something that everyone can do, no matter how busy you are, even if you can only read one page or a few lines each day and, in this way, continually read the Sutra of Golden Light, which is the king of the sutras,” he said. “For anyone who desires peace for themselves and for others this is the Dharma way to bring peace that doesn’t require you to harm others, doesn’t require you to criticize others or even to demonstrate against others, yet can accomplish peace. Anyone can read this text, Buddhists and even non-Buddhists who desire world peace. “Reciting this Sutra directs one’s life towards enlightenment. There is so much merit created by reciting this Sutra, everything is taken care of, one’s life becomes so easy, whatever one wishes for one receives.” Go now to:

Folk music festival Chris Leslie, of the band Fairport Convention, wore Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s mani hat at the Fairport Cropredy Festival, held each August at Croperty in Oxfordshire, England. This, the fortieth annual event, attracted 25,000 peaceful people who love folk music. Chris wore the mani hat for four hours during the Convention’s headlining set at the finale of the famous threeday music gathering. All 25,000 people received the blessings of seeing Rinpoche’s name and the mantras that Rinpoche wrote, which bless anyone who sees them. Chris had visited Land of Medicine Buddha in May 2007and serendipitously met Rinpoche at the end of the walk around the Eight Verses for Training the Mind pilgrimage. 70 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

Buddhist Sangha with some Catholic nuns are from left, standing: Vens. Thubten Drolkar, Tenzin Rigchog and Sonam Tendar. Seated: Vens. Rita Riniker and Jampa Sonam.

In August 2007 Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa in Pomaia, Italy, hosted part one of the Vinaya teachings on the vows of fully ordained monks, taught by Geshe Tenzin Tenphel. After the Dalai Lama’s visit to Hamburg, sangha from France, Denmark, Germany, India, America, Switzerland and other countries were able to attend the three weeks of teachings. Geshe Tenphel opened up the commentary to novice monks and nuns as well as lay people considering ordination, explaining that such vows should be taken very seriously, and to be able to make the decision to take them for life, one should know what the vows entail in advance. As gelongs (ordained monks) have 253 vows, only a portion of these were able to be covered in the available time. Lively question and answer periods followed each session. Echoing His Holiness’ recent commentary, Geshe Tenphel emphasized the need for respect, and cultivating a good mind that was honest, loving and kind. The explanation of the Vinaya helped underline the importance and practicality of ethics and morality, and how vows are so supportive and protective. The new sangha group gelled quickly and, adjusting to the heat of the Tuscan summer on a rare teaching-free day, took the opportunity to explore the historic delights of nearby Pisa and Lucca, meeting some of the local sangha while at the famous leaning tower. Sangha were also able to take part in two restoration and purification rituals, or sojongs, during their stay, which were especially precious to those not able to live in communities large enough to sustain this practice. The evenings included talks led by Ven. Rita describing ordination, its importance and significance, and Ven. Birgit with an update on the progress made at the Bhikshuni Conference in

Hamburg. Ven. Damcho told wonderful stories from the Vinaya and about the Sanghata Sutra, inspiring many to stay on into the late evening to recite the latter, as well as the Sutra of Golden Light. The success of the course was greatly helped by free accommodation offered by the Institute, with the International Mahayana Institute (IMI) also providing generous sponsorship for members. As not all the vows were covered, Geshe Tenzin Tenphel looked forward to seeing everyone again, with the teachings hopefully scheduled to continue around the same time next year.

If You Had Only One Hour, What Would You Ask?

Flying the Flags By Michael Mordis Members of FPMT’s Tubten Kunga Buddhist Center for Wisdom Culture in Florida recently enjoyed a three-week trip to India with their resident geshe, Geshe Konchog Kyab. Pictured (overleaf ) is the Center’s then-spiritual program coordinator, Ven. Thubten Tsering (Mark Olshansky). He was risking life and limb, along with some

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local children, to hang prayers flags across one of the mountain roads in Sikim. It was cold, and the kids, with Ven. Tsering’s help, worked for almost two hours to hang the prayer flags. It was windy and the slope of the mountain on the opposing side was probably 80 degrees, so it was not an easy task, but Ven. Tsering and the group persevered, and the day was an auspicious one to do this, so the goal was finally achieved. Ven. Tsering was a great teacher for Tubten Kunga for more than seven years, and has now gone to Italy to study for a further seven years with the FPMT Master’s Program to become an even greater Buddhist Teacher of the Mahayana Tradition. He will be missed.

Peace and solidarity On the day that the Dalai Lama received the US Congressional Medal in Washington DC (October 17, 2007), 15 monks from Nalanda Monastery, together with 15 friends, held a Peace Meditation near a bandstand named Les Trois Graces (The Three Graces) in the town center in Lavaur, France. “We kept silence for a few minutes; then we read some of the Golden Light Sutra,” Ralph Doe said. The banner also represents the monks’ solidarity with the monks under threat from the militia in Burma.

Canadian kids’ generosity Preparing for departure for the month-long Kopan course is always filled with last minute details. Gendun Drubpa members Linda Jonke and Colleen O’Neill contacted Kopan Monastery to see if there was anything they could bring with them from Canada. With a week to go before they left, the wish list arrived from Geshe Sherab. Two elementary schools stepped up to the plate. One, a small community school in the rural 72 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

setting of Tatla Lake, took this a step further. Chilcotin Road Elementary School’s Leadership Group students (pictured below) decided they would not only use some of their resources to buy items on the list, they became excited about the possibility of partnering with Nepalese students on an ongoing basis. They received a quick geography lesson about Nepal and looked at photos of a previous visit. There was a sense of developing a personal connection between the two groups. A meeting is planned upon arrival in Nepal to see how this relationship can benefit both partners. A call went out to Gendun Drubpa members and friends, collecting over $500 to send with the items. Gendun Drubpa is also involved with the proposed 2008 North American teaching tour by Geshe Sherab. May the merit created by the generosity and kindness of all those involved ripen with the successful visit to Western Canada by Geshe Sherab next year. y

Obituaries Lama Zopa Rinpoche requests that “students who read Mandala pray that the students whose obituaries follow find a perfect human body, meet a Mahayana guru and become enlightened quickly, or be born in a pure land where the teachings exist and they can become enlightened.” Reading these obituaries also helps us reflect upon our own death and rebirth – and so use our lives in the most meaningful way. Advice and Practices for Death and Dying is available from the Foundation Store Lim Chwee Hong, 76, died August 25, 2007 in Singapore, from cancer. By Janet Lim My father had two operations for colorectal cancer since 2001. He had been through chemotherapy and radiation and everything was under control. He was still very outgoing and happy, with concern for family and friends. He would go to the temple almost every morning. But at the beginning of 2007, he contracted influenza. By mid-March he was admitted to hospital where his regular doctor was shocked to see him in such a weak and sick state, requiring serious treatment. He became very depressed, as he was always a strong and independent man and very concerned for the family. Before his sickness, he did the Medicine Buddha practice daily. In July I made him a Life Member at Amitabha Buddhist Centre and took home a Seven Medicine Buddha poster so he could feel that Buddha was around him. I noticed that he would prostrate to Medicine Buddha whenever I passed by his rooms. When I came across Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s website, I wrote to Rinpoche and received advice from Ven. Holly Ansett that we should continue to do Medicine Buddha practice. My dad was quite stable and for two or three days before his death, he just slept without any pain or suffering, except when the nurses had to change him. I kept chanting prayers and mantras to

him. He had five fits on 25 August 2007 but at the moment he passed away, his face was very calm, peaceful and smiling so that even the doctor did not realize it until my uncle said there was no pulse. I quickly chanted the whole Prayers for the Dead in a special room arranged by the doctor and did not touch him for four hours. During his funeral, there was much rain, and many Mahayana monks and nuns came to pay their respects and chant. Even on his cremation day – the collecting of ashes, placing in the urn, and the chanting – it continued to rain and stopped when the process was finished. I am still chanting the Prayer for the Dead for my dad as advised by Rinpoche. I was very touched to receive emails from Rinpoche, giving me all these advices, even though I haven’t yet had the opportunity to meet him. I strongly believe that my dad had a good perfect rebirth because of his good deeds, and with Rinpoche’s blessings. Judith Munk, 85, died August 27, 2007 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from cancer. By Marly Ferreira “There’s no problem!” These magic words were used so frequently by Judith Munk that we referred to them as “Judith’s mantra”. Born in Hungary in 1922, one could carelessly say that her life was full of problems. She was raised in a middle-class family, and from the age of five was an excellent ice skater, participating in several tournaments, until she was banned from a competition in 1939 because she was Jewish. As a Jewish girl in World War II, life

was not easy, but she bravely faced all difficulties with a tremendous determination to survive. All Jews were forced to wear the yellow Star of David, and were not allowed to purchase adequate food. But Judith used her initiative: She would raise the money, simply take off the star, and go buy food for her family, knowing that, if she got caught, it meant immediate death. On three different occasions, she avoided being sent to a concentration camp, either by running away under gun fire or hiding herself in a box or closet for several days. After working for some years for the Hungarian resistance, saving many lives by forging documents and passports for Jews to escape, she fled with her family to Brazil. During her first two years in Brazil, she ate mostly bananas, which were the cheapest food available, and slowly she rebuilt her life. After her husband died in an airplane crash, she took care of her son and worked very hard, always keeping a totally ethical mind. At all times she continued helping people – one of her greatest joys in life. Judith was the kind of person who, upon meeting someone in need, would do whatever possible to help. With a warm smile on her face, she would welcome them into her life and become a personal friend. Judith helped many people find jobs, homes, proper medical treatments, and by supporting them in any type of difficulty. As she said, “We can December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 73


many times help with a smile coming from the heart, or a friendly hug that can generate strength, self-esteem, and confidence.” She met Lama Zopa Rinpoche in the late 1980s. When Judith’s granddaughter was born, both mother and child were at risk of death and Rinpoche saved both their lives. Judith became very close to Rinpoche. The throne Rinpoche used in his last visit to Brazil was personally made by Judith alone. He also gave her many things and once Judith asked him, “Rinpoche, I’m Jewish and I will die Jewish. Why do you give me so many things?” Rinpoche replied, “You continue as you are. I know why I do it.” After being diagnosed with cancer, and after much insistence from all her friends, Judith wrote a book about her life, which she called “There is No Problem.” In it, she dedicated a full chapter to Rinpoche and the impact their encounters had in her life. As she said, “This book is the summary of a long life, full of adventures, and shows the path I trailed in search of balancing body, mind, and spirit, and which resulted in complete peace and happiness.” In the last chapter of her book, she writes, “When being challenged, one should face it with courage, solve it and grow with it, and should not become desperate, accusing everything and everyone, trying to find the solution outside… One has to have the strength to look inside and find inside oneself the cause and the solution, and in this way not allowing that the greatest possibilities of growth simply pass by.” Judith died peacefully at sunrise on August 27. She left a son, two grandchildren, two “adopted” adultchildren, and a multitude of friends and admirers. 74 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

Maureen Ann Rodriguez, 55, died September 26, 2007 in Soquel, California, from cancer. By Jon Landaw Although her death was a sad loss for those left behind, Maureen’s passing proved to be a source of joy for those who knew how she hoped to leave this life. More than anything, she prayed that she would be cared for by her guru, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who had promised that he would guide her through this allimportant time of transition. In addition, ever since Tara Home – a residential home for the dying – had been established at the FPMT Center, Land of Medicine Buddha (LMB), she hoped she would be able to pass away there, surrounded by its familylike staff of volunteer caregivers, many of whom she knew well. As it turned out, both of these heartfelt wishes were granted. Once she was settled in Tara Home, she requested the nuns attending her to recite the “King of Prayers.” This and the mantra of the Medicine Buddha – Maureen’s main practice – were recited continuously at her bedside over the next days, and on Tuesday evening Segyu Rinpoche, who had first introduced Maureen to Buddhism and in whom she had great faith, came to sit with her. At about midnight, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who had flown in from New York just a couple of hours earlier, arrived at Tara Home. He stayed with her for nearly three hours, not only doing various practices, such as those connected with the eight Medicine Buddhas, but giving her personal instruction as well. Time and again he would interrupt his recitation, lean over to be close to her ear, and say in a loud, clear voice, “Maureen, Maureen, you don’t have to worry about a thing. All you have to do is visualize Amitabha Buddha on the crown of your head and think about going to his Pure Land.” And he would stroke her face lovingly as he continued to reassure her.

As friends and family took their turns to sit with her and the Tara Home caretakers reported for their scheduled shifts. Everyone remarked how beautiful and radiant Maureen looked. And shortly after five o’clock on Wednesday afternoon, her breathing ceased. A friend of hers was with her at the time, reading the “King of Prayers,” and when she reached the verses describing Amitabha’s Joyous Pure Land she paused and said, “Maureen, this really sounds so beautiful. I know you’ll be safe there … and you can go there now if you want.” Shortly afterward the friend looked up from her reading and saw that Maureen had stopped breathing. Lama Zopa Rinpoche was informed and he immediately entered into meditation, while a senior nun in attendance began carrying out the various instructions she had been given for this critical time, such as placing a text called, “Liberation by Touching” at Maureen’s crown, and putting sand from the Kalachakra mandala there. Finally, late Thursday afternoon, Segyu Rinpoche, who had spent the day, in his words, “filling her body with mantras the way one fills a stupa,” came and performed the final po-wa, or transference of consciousness, ritual. Soon afterward the radiance that had been evident during the previous days faded away and it became clear that Maureen’s consciousness had finally departed her body. Maureen was well-loved not only by her large extended family, but by the many friends she made throughout the course of her life. At the memorial service held at LMB shortly after her passing, nearly one hundred of these family members and friends gathered together, relating their memories of someone they remembered as being invariably kind and generous, who had shared her warm laugh and bright smile with all those around her. y


Media BOOKS Awakening through Love: Unveiling Your Deepest Goodness By John Makransky Thirty years of Buddhist practice, a busy family life, and a prestigious teaching career as a Professor of Buddhism and Comparative Theology at Boston College more than qualifies John Makransky to write about how to cultivate our capacities for compassion, peace, and love. Makransky bases his book on the belief that our essential being is pure and perfect by nature and he helps us to become conscious of our own capacity for love, letting go of our unreal, ego-centered images. There are some wonderful anecdotes and some very practical meditations at the end of each chapter. Makransky’s first encounter with Tibetan Buddhism is described in an interview with Susan Chaityn Lebovits in The Boston Globe (September 30, 2007). In the 1970s he had arrived in Nepal after a two-year stint with the Peace Corps. Three days before he was scheduled to depart, he ran into a co-worker from the Peace Corps in the streets of Kathmandu. Through her, he heard about a Buddhist course being given (in English) by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa. He frantically packed his things and ran into the streets to find the town the woman had described. “As I trekked through the various villages I was bitten by a stray dog, climbed up one mountain in the wrong direction, and became caught in a number of brambles,” he said. Scratched and weary, he arrived in Kopan to find that the month-long 76 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

course had begun that day, a mere ten minutes before he arrived. He had found what he had been searching for. And when the month came to an end, he was invited to study in north India, where the Dalai Lama lived. He spent the next year traveling between north India and the monastery in Nepal. After three years abroad, Makransky moved back to the United States to study with Geshe Lhundup Sopa, who was on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin, and Makransky entered the doctorate program. Lebovits, impressed by his calmness, asked him if he ever experienced, say, “road rage.” He answered, “Of course!” The point of meditation, he said, is not to be instantly transformed into a saint who will never experience anger, but to have a spiritual place to return to – what you really mean to be as a person. “You have to feel what humans are going through in order to have some compassion,” explained Makransky. “It’s not by avoiding or suppressing feelings of rage, anxiety, fear, worry, or nightmares; it’s by experiencing them that we can feel compassion for others who are, or who have also shared these feelings.” Makransky is an inspired writer. This book is highly recommended. Published by Wisdom Publications Paperback $US16.95 Six-Session Guru Yoga With commentary from Lama Zopa Rinpoche Within the Gelug tradition, the SixSession Guru Yoga is a daily commitment for anyone who has received a highest yoga tantra empowerment. This booklet

provides texts of the full Six-Session Guru Yoga, the abbreviated version, and commentary from Lama Zopa Rinpoche on the benefits of the practice and the samayas of the five buddha families, as well as rich, detailed instructions on how to meditate on each verse of the sadhana. This book may only be purchased by those who have received a highest yoga tantra empowerment. “Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo said that the Six-Session Guru Yoga is more precious than three galaxies filled with gold. It is much more precious and extremely difficult to find. Why? Because the practice of Six-Session Guru Yoga has unbelievable benefits; it gives incredible protection. Doing this practice eliminates so much heavy negative karma and purifies all ten nonvirtuous actions, broken pratimoksha vows, bodhisattva vows, and tantric vows. It also allows us to practice the general tantric vows, the samayas of the five buddha families, and the tantric root vows. Without practicing these vows, there is no basis for tantric realization and no way to achieve enlightenment. This practice creates the cause for a perfect human rebirth and to meet the teachings. Six-Session Guru Yoga creates the cause for one to quickly achieve enlightenment.” – Lama Zopa Rinpoche Published by FPMT Paperback $US18 Women Practicing Buddhism Edited by Peter N. Gregory and Susanne Mrozik The Buddhist women’s movement can claim some three-hundred million women worldwide. Among them are

scholars, activists, teachers, artists, writers – and these are the voices that were heard at a richly-representative conference called “Women Practicing Buddhism: American Experiences” at Smith College in Massachusetts in 2005. This book, which came out of that conference, is a mosaic portrait of how the feminine perspective is changing Buddhism in the West, with contributors like bell hooks, Karma Lekshe Tsomo, Helen Tworkov, Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg, Thubten Chodron and many more. A lively, riveting, ground-breaking read. Published by Wisdom Publications Paperback $US16.95 The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness By Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn We intellectually know that simply paying attention to what our minds are making of life’s difficult emotions and life experiences can help to break the cycle of chronic unhappiness once and for all. Easier said than done, sometimes. How do we actually gain emotional balance and reclaim our lives? For decades, antidepressant medications were universally prescribed as The Cure –

until doctors realized that depression, once treated, often returns. The authors, four exemplary scientists and clinicians, have drawn from both Eastern meditative traditions and cognitive therapy to come up with truly effective methods that work far better than trying to think our way out of a bad mood, or trying to follow that well-meaning advice to “snap out of it.” And as a bonus the book comes with a wonderful 77-minute guided meditation on CD. Published by The Guildford Press, New York Paperback $US19.95/$AUD34.95 Available in Australia through Footprint Books Take Me to the Truth: Undoing the Ego By Nouk Sanchez and Tomas Vieira While books about the “law of attraction” are enjoying some popularity, it’s refreshing to come across one that reminds us that clinging to our mistaken identity to get what we want continues to enslave us. Australian-born Nouk Sanchez and her Portuguese co-author were once husband and wife – and their own personal journey is one of awakening that has resulted in “a stronger

unconditional love we couldn’t imagine when we were married.” This is a very useful, friendly book that talks about love and relationships in a most practical, life-enhancing way. Published by O Books Paperback $US 19.95/£UK19.95 Guided Meditations on the Stages of the Path By Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron Listen and learn as the lighthearted, happy, kind voice of Bikshuni Thubten Chodron guides us along the gradual path to enlightenment. Yes, this wonderful 224-page book is accompanied by a fourteen-hour MP3 CD with no less than forty-six meditations! How often have we heard a teacher describe the teachings of the lam-rim and gone away wondering how to put them into practice – and here is a way to actually experience them. No more excuses: Soon the rhythm of meditating becomes as habitual and essential as the morning cuppa. Are you working with distractions? Dealing with mental afflictions? Distinctly possible under this gentle, kindly guidance. Published by Snow Lion Hardcover plus CD $29.95

December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 77

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A Listing Of Worldwide Centers, Study Groups and Projects which are under the spiritual direction of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and the Foundation For The Preservation Of The Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) (Changes since last issue are in italic) Entries changed between Mandala’s publication dates are updated on the FPMT website:

Please contact with any updates to your listing. Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche c/o FPMT International Office 1632 SE 11th Avenue Portland, OR 97214-4702 USA Tel: (1) (503) 808 1588 Fax: (1) (503) 808 1589 FPMT OFFICES American Regional Office PO Box 5531 Round Rock, TX 78683-5531 USA Tel: (1) (512) 280 8687 Coordinator Bonnie Baptist Asia Pacific Regional Office #16-05, Mirage Tower 80 Kim Seng Rd Singapore 239 426 Tel: (65) 6235 0647 Coordinator Doris Low Australian National Office PO Box 514 Lidcombe NSW 1825, Australia Tel: (61) (2) 9749 4507 Coordinator Helen Patrin Brazilian National Office Rua Pedro Daniel, 50 Apt 504 29055-500 Vitoria, ES, Brazil Tel: (55) (27) 3315-8765 Coordinator Marly Ferreira European Regional Office Lou Bosc Levat 81500 Massac Seran, France Tel: (33) (5) 63 58 66 31 Coordinator Martin Fishter International Mahayana Institute 399 Webster Street San Francisco, CA 94117, USA Director Ven. Losang Monlam FPMT International Office 1632 SE 11th Avenue Portland OR 97214-4702 USA Tel: (1) (503) 808 1588 Fax: (1) (503) 808 1589 CEO Ven. Roger Kunsang Italian National Office Via Zugno, 11 Padova 35100, Italy Coordinator Filippo Scianna New Zealand National Office 4 Lewis Street, Blockhouse Bay, Auckland 1007 New Zealand Tel: (64) (9) 627 8625 Coordinator Murray Wright

South Asian Regional Office c/o Tushita Meditation Centre McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala Kangra District, HP176 219 India Tel: (91) (1892) 221 866 Fax: (91) (1892) 221 246 Coordinator Drolkar McCallum Spanish National Office C/ Santa Engracia, 70, 3º Dcha 28010 Madrid, Spain Tel/Fax: (34) (91) 445 6514 Coordinator Ven. Fabio Poza Taiwan National Office 7F, No. 258, Sec. 3, Nanjing East Road, Taipei 105, Taiwan Tel: (886) (2) 2731 3000 Fax: (886) (2) 2778 9111 Coordinator Shen, Mei-Chen Foundation for Developing Wisdom and Compassion (formerly UCWP Essential Education) 43 Renfrew Road, London SE11 4NA United Kingdom Tel: (44) (7866) 54-1954 Director Alison Murdoch A project of the above: LKPY: Loving Kindness Peaceful Youth PO Box 551, Unley SA 5061 Australia Tel: (61) 42432 4376 Director Shyla Bauer FPMT CENTERS & STUDY GROUPS AUSTRALIA Atisha Centre RMB 1530 Eaglehawk, VIC 3556 Tel: (61) (3) 5446 3336 Fax: (61) (3) 5446 2634 Director Ben Karmay Resident geshe Geshe Konchog Tsering Buddha House 1 Fisher Street Tusmore, SA 5065 Tel: (61) (8) 8333 2824 Fax: (61) (8) 8333 2827 Director Tony Migalka Resident geshe Geshe Pema Tsering

Chag-Tong Chen-Tong Centre P.O. Box 195 Snug, TAS 7054 Tel: (61) (3) 6267 9203 Director Lindy Mailhot Chengawa Study Group 32 Atkinson St Cook, Canberra, ACT 2603 Tel: (61) (2) 6125 4662 Coordinator Ven. Losang Tenpa Chenrezig Institute PO Box 41, Eudlo, QLD 4554 Tel: (61) (7) 5453 2108 Fax: (61) (7) 5453 2188 Director Anni Mountjoy Resident geshes Geshe Tashi Tsering, Geshe Lobsang Jamyang Two Sangha Communities at Chenrezig Institute: Address and phone as above Chenrezig Nuns Community Manager Ven. Jampa Dekyi Losang Dragpa Monastery Manager Ven. Lozang Sherab Two Projects of Chenrezig Institute: The Enlightenment Project for Purification and Merit info@enlightenment Manager Gayle Laverty The Garden of Enlightenment indexge.htm Manager Garrey Foulkes Cittamani Hospice Service P.O. Box 324 Palmwoods, QLD 4555 Tel: (61) (7) 5445 0822 Fax: (61) (7) 5445 0688 cittamanihospice Director Alex Moore

The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion 43 View Street Bendigo, VIC 3550 Tel: (61) (3) 5444 2440 Fax: (61) (3) 5444 2422 Director Ian Green Hayagriva Buddhist Centre 64 Banksia Tce, Kensington, WA 6151 Tel/Fax: (61) (8) 9367 4817 Director John Waite Resident teacher Ven. Thubten Dondrup Hospice of Mother Tara Unit 3/2B Victoria Street Bunbury, WA 6230 Tel: (61) (8) 9791 9798 Fax: (61) (8) 9721 5286 Director Julie Halse Kadam Sharawa Centre PO Box 9189 Wyoming, NSW 2250 Tel: (61) (2) 4382 1622 Director Jill Grosche Karuna Hospice Service P.O. Box 2020 Windsor, QLD 4030 Tel: (61) (7) 3632 8300 Fax: (61) (7) 3857 8040 Director Ven. Yeshe Khadro A Project of Karuna Hospice Mandala Books Address as above Manager Veronica Kaczmarowski Kunsang Yeshe Centre c/- PO Box 655 Katoomba, NSW 2780 Tel/Fax: (61) (2) 4757 2587 Director Stephanie Brennan

Liberation Prison Project (Australia) PO Box 340 Blackheath, NSW 2785 Tel: (61) (2) 4787 6030 InfoOz@ Director Ven. Robina Courtin Local coordinator Ven. Aileen Barry Shen Phen Ling Study Group PO Box 178, Wodonga VIC 3689 Tel: (61) (2) 6059 8104 shenphenlingaustralia Coordinator Gary Townsend Tara Institute 3 Mavis Ave, Brighton East, VIC 3187 Tel: (61) (3) 9596 8900 Fax: (61) (3) 9596 4856 Director David Andrews Resident geshe Geshe Lobsang Doga Thubten Shedrup Ling RMB 1530, Eaglehawk,VIC 3556 Tel/Fax: (61) (3) 5446 3691 Director Ven. Lhundrup Resident geshe Geshe Konchog Tsering Vajrayana Institute 9 Victoria Square, Ashfield 2131 NSW 2130 Tel: (61) (2) 9798 9644 Fax: (61) (2) 9798 9413 Director Tony Steel Resident geshe Geshe Ngawang Samten Res. teacher Wai Cheong Kok AUSTRIA Panchen Losang Chogyen Center Naaffgasse 18, Vienna A-1180 Tel: (43) (1) 479 24 22 Director Andrea Husnik BRAZIL

De-Tong Ling Retreat Centre R.S.D. 418, via Kingscote,SA 5223 Tel: (61) (8) 8559 3276 Director Kimball Cuddihy Dewachen Study Group 296 Hansens Road Mackay, QLD 4740 Tel: (61) (7) 4954 5188 Coordinator Ven. Tenzin Namdag

Langri Tangpa Centre 535 Old Cleveland Road Camp Hill, Qld. 5152 Tel: (61) (7) 3398 3310 Fax: (61) (7) 3398 3314 Director Bruce Monley Liberation for Our Brother & Sister Animals PO Box 28 Derby, Tasmania 7264 Coordinator Trisha Roberts

Centro Shiwa Lha Rua Almirante Tamandaré 66/505, Rio de Janeiro/RJ, Cep 22210-060 Tel: (55) (21) 9322 0476 Director Neyl Soares Resident teacher Ven. Chogni Gendun Gyatso Study Group Rua Maria Teresa Dias Da Silva, 234, Cidade Universitaria, Barao Geraldo, Campinas, Sp CEP 13083-820

December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 79

Tel: (55) (19) 2121 1803 Coordinator Plinio Tsai Kalachakra Study Group Rua Abdon Batista 121 Sala 1509, Centro-Joinville-SC cep 89201-010 Tel: (55) (47) 34550506 Fax: (55) (47) 34229880 Coordinator Sergio Gouveas Naljorma Study Group Rua do Benjoim 170, apt. 502, Caminho das Árvores, Salvador, Bahia 41.820-340 Tel: (55) (71) 3451 4543 Coordinator Tiago Cajahyba CANADA Gendun Drubpa Study Group Box 650, 150 Mile House, B.C., V0K 2G0 Tel: (250) 296 3386 Coordinator Marilyn Dickson Lama Yeshe Ling Center 99 Bronte Rd, Suite 314 Oakville, Ontario L6L 3B7 Tel: (905) 296 3728 Director Dekyi Lee Oldershaw CHINA Mahayana Buddhist Association (Cham-Tse-Ling) 3/F., Block A, 3 Lau Sin St. Park View Mansion, North Point, Hong Kong Tel: (852) 2770 7239 Fax: (852) 2488 9299 Co-Directors Ven. Tenzin Pemba and Esther Ngai COLOMBIA Centro Yamantaka Diagonal 144 No. 34-17, Bogotá Tel: (57) 1 615 9457 (57) 1 625 3526 Director Olga Sierra CZECH REPUBLIC Dompipa Study Group Dolni Podluzi 160 407 55 Dolni Podluzi Tel: (420) 412 373691 Fax: (420) 412 375397 Coordinator Giovanni Conchin DENMARK Tong-nyi Nying-je Ling Studiestræde 3 D, 2 sal tv. 1455 Copenhagen K (Entrance to the center is at Norregade 7 B, 2 sal) Tel: (45) 3313 1108 Director Tine Norup Lauridsen Two Projects of Tong-nyi Nying-je Ling: Centre for Conscious Living and Dying Address and website as above

Tel/Fax: (45) 3313 1108 Coordinator Maria Damsholt Director Francois Lecointre Resident geshe Geshe Tenzin Dorje

Dharma Wisdom Publishing Address and website as above Tel/Fax: (45) 3254 3158 Coordinator Lise Lotte Brooks

Jamyang Study Group #4 Chemin du Chateau d’eau 66500 Los Masos Tel: (33) (4) 6896 3145 Coordinator Sean Jones

ENGLAND Jamyang Buddhist Centre The Old Courthouse 43 Renfrew Road London SE11 4NA Tel: (44) (207) 820 8787 Fax: (44) (207) 820 8605 Director Diana Carroll Resident geshe Geshe Tashi Tsering Jamyang Buddhist Centre Leeds Suite 39 - Sunshine House, Whingate Business Park, Whingate, Leeds LS12 3AT Tel: (44) (7866) 760460 Director Gabrielle Hamilton

Kalachakra Centre 5 passage Delessert 75010 Paris Tel/Fax: (33) (1) 40 05 02 22 Director Ven. Elisabeth Drukier Nalanda Monastery Château Rouzegas Labastide St. Georges 81500 Lavaur Tel: (33) (5) 63 58 02 25 Fax: (33) (5) 63 58 19 87 Director Ven. Tendar Resident geshe Geshe Losang Jamphel FRENCH POLYNESIA

Shen Phen Thubten Choeling Centre for Socially and Ecologically-Engaged Buddhism Nurses Cottage Long Lane, Peterchurch Hereford HR2 0TE Tel/Fax: (44) (1981) 550 246 shenpen Director Elaine Brook Yeshe Study Group c/o Fell Foot House High Nibthwaite, nr Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 8DF Tel: (44) (1229) 885329 yeshebuddhistcentre Coordinator Brenda Fishwick FINLAND Tara Liberation Study Group Uudenmaankatu 33, Helsinki Tel: (358) (50) 353 2886 Coordinator Eeva Särelä FRANCE Editions Vajra Yogini Chateau d’en Clausade Marzens 81500 Lavaur Tel: (33) (5) 63 58 17 22 Fax: (33) (5) 63 58 03 48 Director Michel Henry Gyaltsab Je Study Group 11 Rue Du Belvedere 97417 La Montagne Ile de la Reunion Coordinator Ven. Thubten Sangpo Institut Vajra Yogini Chateau d’en Clausade Marzens, 81500 Lavaur Tel: (33) (5) 63 58 17 22 Fax: (33) (5) 63 58 03 48

80 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

Naropa Meditation Center Papara, PK 35, 5 Côté mer P.O. Box 20610 98713 Papeete, Tahiti Tel: (689) 74 71 88 Director Brenda Chin-Foo GERMANY Aryatara Institut Barerstrasse 70/Rgb. 80799 München Tel: (49) (89) 2781 7227 Fax: (49) (89) 2781 7226 Director Jena Bruer Resident teacher Ven Fedor Stracke Tara Mandala Study Group Sonnenweg 8 94405 LANDAU Tel: (49) 9951 90235 Fax: (49) 9951 6009832 Coordinator Dieter Kratzer GREECE Gonpo Chakduk Ling Konstantinoupoleos 26 Vironas, Athens 16232 Tel: (30) 210 7627189 Coordinator Angeliki Petropoulou INDIA Choe Khor Sum Ling Study Group Ashwini, No.24 First Floor, 3rd Main Street, Domlur Layout Bangalore 560071 Tel: (91) (80) 57673005 Coordinator Mr. Aziz

Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo Translator Programme Director Isabel Arocena Maitreya Project Universal Education School P.O. Bodhgaya, Gaya District Bihar, 824 231 Tel: (91) (631) 2200 330/2200 058 Fax: (91) (631) 2200 774 Director Dick Jeffrey Maitri Charitable Trust P.O. Box 32 Bodhgaya, Gaya District Bihar 824 231 Tel: (91) (631) 2200 841 Fax: (91) (631) 2201 946 Director Adriana Ferranti Nagarjuna Mumbai Lansdowne Gallery 1 Lansdowne Road Colaba, Mumbai Maharashtra 400 039 Tel: (91) 98201 94853 Coordinator Monlam Valerie Tripp Root Institute Bodhgaya, Gaya District Bihar 824 231 Tel: (91) (631) 2200 714 Fax: (91) (631) 2200 548 Director Ven. Thubten Labdron A Project of Root Institute: Shakyamuni Buddha Community Health Care Centre Manager Rick Fendrick Sera IMI House Shedrup Sungdrel Ling 88 Sera Je Monastery P.O. Bylakuppe 571104 Karnataka Director Ven. Tenzin Namdak Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre 9 Padmini Enclave, Hauz Khas New Delhi 110 016 Tel: (91) (11) 2651 3400 Fax: (91) (11) 2469 2963 Director Renuka Singh Tushita Meditation Centre McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala Kangra District, HP 176 219 Tel: (91) (1892) 221 866 Fax: (91) (1892) 221 246 Director Drolkar McCallum INDONESIA Potowa Center Jl. Ujung Pandang No 6 Cimone Mas Permai II Tangerang 15114 Tel: (62) (21) 9359 2181 Director Metta Sari Loa

ITALY Centro Lama Tzong Khapa Via Peseggiana 37 Zero Branco, 31059 Treviso Tel: (39) (0422) 303 436 Director Danillo Ghirardi Centro Muni Gyana c/o Rosanna Giordano, Via Alessandro Paternostro, 53 90100 Palermo, Tel: (39) (0340) 976 0542 Fax: (39) (091) 637 5249 Director Rosanna Giordano Centro Studi Cenresig Via A. Meucci 4, 40138 Bologna Tel: (39) (347) 246 1157 Director Giovanni Del Casale Centro Tara Cittamani V. Lussemburgo, 4 35100 Padova Tel: (39) (049) 693928 Director Filippo Scianna Resident geshe Geshe Tengkyong Centro Terra di Unificazione Ewam Via Reginaldo Giuliani 505/a 50141 Florence Tel: (39) (055) 454308 Fax: (39) (0577) 933 831 Director Francesco Carpini Resident geshe Tulku Gyatso Chiara Luce Edizioni Via Poggiberna 9 56040 Pomaia (Pisa) Tel/Fax: (39) (050) 685 690 Director Lorenzo Vassallo Diamant Verlag Bahnhofstrasse 13a 39052 Kaltern Tel/Fax: (39) (0471) 964 183 Director Claudia Wellnitz Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa Via Poggiberna 9 56040 Pomaia (Pisa) Tel: (39) (050) 685 654 Fax: (39) (050) 685 695 Director Laura Pellati Resident geshes Geshe Jampa Gyatso, Geshe Tenzin Tenphel Two Sangha Communities at ILTK: Address info as above Shenpen Samten Ling Nunnery Takden Shedrup Targye Ling Manager Ven. Olivier Rossi Kushi Ling Retreat Centre Alle Fontane, Laghel di sopra 19 38062 Arco/Tn Tel: (39) (347) 211 3471 Director Claudia Wellnitz

Sangye Choling Study Group Via Vanoni 78/b, Sondrio Tel: (39) (0342) 513 198 Coordinator Luciano Villa Shiné Via Poggiberna 9 56040 Pomaia (Pisa) Tel: (39) (050) 685 774 Fax: (39) (050) 685 768 Director Ven. Raffaello Longo Universal Education Italy Via Mortara n. 80, 44100 Ferrara Director Stella Messina Yeshe Norbu Appello Per Il Tibet Via Poggiberna 9 56040 Pomaia (Pisa) Tel: (39) (050) 685 033 Fax: (39) (050) 685 768 Director Francesca Piatti JAPAN Do Ngak Sung Juk Centre Sento Biru, 10th Floor 2-21-28-1000, Shimomeguro Meguro-ku, Tokyo 161-0033 Tel/Fax: (81) (3) 5641 6707 Director Claude Ito LATVIA Ganden Buddhist Meditation Centre Miera iela 11-1,Riga, LV 1001 Tel: (371) 29490141 Director Sandra Dzilna Yiga Chozin Retreat Centre “Bralisi”, Drustu pagasts Cesu rajons LV4132 Coordinator Uldis Balodis MALAYSIA Chokyi Gyaltsen Group 157 Kelawai Rd, 10250 Penang Tel: (60) (4) 226 4509 Coordinator Daniel Yeoh Ghee Chong Jangsem Ling Retreat Center Triang, Malaysia Director Ven. Sonam Yeshe Kasih Hospice Care 74, Jalan 14/29, Section 14, 46100, Petaling Jaya, Selangor DE Tel: (60) (3) 7960 7424 Fax: (60) (3) 7956 6442 Coordinator Dr. Pik Pin Goh Losang Dragpa Centre No1, Jalan 17/21F, 46400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Tel: (60) (3) 7968 3278 Fax: (60) (3) 7956 7280 Director Lillian Too Resident geshe Geshe Tenzin Zopa

MEXICO Bengungyal Center Vicenta Trujillo 209 Barrio del Encino Aguascalientes Director Sergio Grimaldo Ruiz Chekawa Study Group Sierra Morena 1017, Residencial Don Vasco 60110, Uruapan, Mich. Tel/Fax: (52) 523 5963 Coordinator Luz Bella Ramirez Khamlungpa Center San Martin de Porres 3596 Jardines de los Arcos Guadalajara, Jalisco, CP 44500 Tel: (52) (33) 3122 1052 Director Rafael Gandhi Magaña Padmasambhava Study Group Aquiles Serdan # 704-g OTE. C.P.34080, Durango Dgo. Coordinator Cesar Quiroz Rinchen Zangpo Study Group Av Juan Castillon 257 Col. Ampliación Los Ángeles Torreón, Coah, CP 27140 Tel: (52) (871) 712 6873 Coordinator Carmen Revuelta Serlingpa Retreat Center Oficina General de Correos (PO Box) No. 156 Zitacuaro, Michoacan Tel: (52) (715) 101 7287 Fax: (52) (715) 153 9942 Forest/2253 Director Rocio Arreola Yeshe Gyaltsen Study Group c/o Diego Romo PO Box 523 Cozumel, Q Roo 77600 Tel: (52) (987) 869 2222 Coordinator Moya Mendez MONGOLIA Shedrup Ling Post Box 219, Ulaanbaatar 13 Tel: (976) (11) 321 580 Fax: (976) (11) 314 115 Director Gunjiimaa Ganbat Resident teacher Ven. Chantal Carrerot Golden Light Sutra Center P.O. Box 562, Darkhan Tel: (976) 1372 28856 Director Ueli Minder Publication, Translation and Education Post Box 219, Ulaanbaatar 13 Tel: (976) (11) 330 463 Fax: (976) (11) 314 115 Director Khulan Dembereldorj

NEPAL Ganden Yiga Chözin Buddhist Meditation Centre PO Box 285, Pokhara 6 Tel (977) 6152 2923 http://www.pokhara Manager Sonam Himalayan Buddhist Meditation Centre Chaksebari 16, Thamel G.P.O. Box 5761 Kathmandu Tel: (977) (1) 470 0895 Fax: (977) (1) 470 0891 Director Ven. Nyima Tashi Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery GPO Box 817, Kathmandu Tel: (977) (1) 4481 236 Fax: (977) (1) 4481 267 /nunnery.html Manager Ven. Jangsem Resident geshes Geshe Lobsang Zopa Geshe Tashi Dhondup Kopan Monastery GPO Box 817, Kathmandu Tel: (977) (1) 4821268 Fax: (977) (1) 4821267 Abbot/resident geshe Khen Rinpoche Lhundrup Rigsel Resident geshes Geshe Lobsang Sherab, Geshe Ngawang Norbu, Geshe Thubten Sherab, Geshe Lobsang Nyendak Lawudo Retreat Centre GPO Box 817, Kathmandu Tel: (977) (1) 4221 875 Fax: (977) (1) 4251 409 Director Frank Brock Mu Gompa Chhekampar, Gorkha district www.fpmt/project/tsum Resident geshe Geshe Choklyi Rachen Nunnery Chhekampar, Gorkha district www.fpmt/project/tsum Resident geshe Geshe Choklyi Thubten Shedrup Ling Monastery Tibetan Camp, P.O. Box 2 Chaisala, Salleri, Solu Khumbu Resident geshe Geshe Thubten Yonden NETHERLANDS Maitreya Instituut Amsterdam Brouwergracht 157-159 1015 GG Amsterdam Tel: (31) (20) 428 0842 Fax: (31) (20) 428 2788 Director Paula de Wys-Koolkin Resident teacher Ven. Kaye Miner Maitreya Instituut Emst Heemhoeveweg 2, 8166 HA Emst Tel: (31) (578) 661 450 Fax: (31) (578) 661 851 Director Ven. Kaye Miner Resident geshes Geshe Sonam Gyaltsen, Geshe Ngawang Zopa A project of Maitreya Instituut Emst Maitreya uitgeverij (Publications) See above. Manager Jan-Paul Kool NEW ZEALAND Amitabha Hospice Service 44 Powell St, Auckland 1026 Tel: (64) (9) 828 3321 Fax: (64) (9) 828 3325 Director Ecie Hursthouse Chandrakirti Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Centre P.O. Box 3319 Richmond, Nelson Tel: (64) (3) 543 2015 Fax: (64) (3) 543 2016 Co-directors Phillipa Rutherford and Bruce Farley Resident teacher Ven. Tenzin Tsapel Dorje Chang Institute 56 Powell Street Avondale (Auckland) Tel: (64) (9) 828 3333 Fax: (64) (9) 828 8584 Director Kathy Frewen Resident geshe Geshe Thubten Wangchen Mahamudra Centre Colville RD 4,Coromandel Tel/Fax: (64) (7) 866 6851 Director Ven. Nangsel (Bernice) RUSSIA Aryadeva Study Group c/o Terentyev A.,Postbox 135 St Petersburg 191123 Tel: (7) (812) 7100012 Coordinator Margarita Kojevnikova Ganden Tendar Ling Study Group Lomonosovskii prospect, 19-39, Moscow 117311 Tel: (7) (926) 204-3164 Coordinator Andrey Lomonosov SINGAPORE Amitabha Buddhist Centre 44 Lorong 25A Geylang Singapore 388244 Tel: (65) 6745 8547 Fax: (65) 6741 0438 Director Hup Cheng Tan Resident geshe Geshe Thubten Chonyi

SPAIN Ediciones Dharma Elias Abad, 3 bajos 03660 Novelda (Alicante) Tel: (34) (96) 560 3200 Director Xavi Alongina Nagarjuna C.E T. Alicante C/ Castaños nº 5, 7º D 03001 Alicante Tel: (34) (965) 21 22 79 Nagarjuna C.E.T. Barcelona Rosselon 298, Pral.2a 08037 Barcelona Tel/Fax: (34) (93) 457 0788 Director Ven. Marga Echezarreta Resident geshe Geshe Lobsang Jamphel Nagarjuna C.E.T. Granada Manuel de Falla 12 4o Dcha Apartado de Correos 1112 18080 Granada Tel: (34) (95) 825 1629 Fax: (34) (95) 841 1179 Director Carmen Ruiz Nagarjuna C.E.T. Madrid C/ Santa Engracia, 70, 3º Dcha 28010 Madrid Tel/Fax: (34) (91) 445 65 14 Director Inés Garcia Resident geshe Geshe Thubten Choden Nagarjuna C.E.T Valencia C/ General Urrutia 43 ptas 1 y 2, 46006 Valencia Tel: (34) (96) 395 1008 Director Alfredo Medrano Resident geshe Geshe Lamsang O.Sel.Ling Centro de Retiros Apartado 99, 18400 Orgiva (Granada) Tel/Fax: (34) (95) 834 3134 Director Anne Wenaas Tekchen Chö Ling Calle Tomas Valls 12, 4-7 46870 Ontinyent (Valencia) Tel: (34) (96) 291 3231 Director Paloma Bas Thubten Shen Phen Ling Study Group Paseo Marques de Corvera, 50-3o, 30002 Murcia Tel: (34) (67) 609 8232 Coordinator Nieves Ródenas Martinez Tushita Retreat Center Mas Casa nova d’en Crous Ap. Correos, 69 17401 Arbúcies (Girona) Tel: (34) (97) 217 8262 Fax: (34) (93) 889 5203 tushita/presen.htm Director Kiko Segura

December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 81

SWEDEN Tsog Nyi Ling Study Group Osterby 103, S 73398 Ransta (Vasteras) Tel: (46) 0224 200 22 Coordinator Gun Cissé SWITZERLAND Gendun Drupa Study Group Pierra Barna 3, Montagnier, 1934 Le Châble, Valais Tel: (41) 27 776 17 21 Coordinator Jean-Paul Gloor Longku Zopa Gyu Center Zentrum fur Buddhismus Reiterstr. 2, Bern 3013 Tel: (41) 31 3325723 www.zentrumfuerbuddhismus. ch/fpmt Director Ruth Hofer TAIWAN Bodhicitta Culture Enterprise Publishing No.18, Shepi Rd., Fongyuan City Taichung County 420, Taiwan (R.O.C.) Tel/Fax: (886) (2) 878 78019 Director Fu-Hsin Wei Hayagriva Center 8F, No.720 Chong-Cheng Road Taoyuan City Tel: (886) (3) 316 5506 Director Lillian Wei Heruka Center 9-1 Chungying Lane, Shihlong Road,Shihlong Village, Ciaotou Township, Kaoshiung County 82546 Tel: (886) (7) 612 5599 Fax: (886) (7) 612 5556 Co-directors Shu-Lu Cheng and Hsiu-yin Wang Resident geshe Geshe Losang Tenzin Jinsiu Farlin F12-1, No 81 Section 3 Pa-Te Road, Taipei 105 Tel: (886) (2) 2577 0333 Fax: (886) (2) 2577 0510 fpmttaiwan Director Ven. William Abbot Lama Zopa Rinpoche Resident geshe Geshe Thubten Khedup Shakyamuni Center No 301, Sec.3, Han-si West Rd. Pe-tun District, Taichung City 406 Tel: (886) (4) 2436 4123 Fax: (886) (4) 2436 4122 Director Ven. Sophia Tenzin Chetso Resident geshe Geshe Thubten Gyurme Essential Education P.O. Box 7-843,Taipei 10699 Director Fritz Grohmann

UNITED STATES Buddha Maitreya Study Group 77 Prospect St. Apt. 45, Northampton, MA 01060 Tel: (1) (413) 586 6288 Coordinator John Wolf Enlightened Experience Celebration c/o FPMT International Office 1632 SE 11th Avenue Portland, OR 97214-4702 Gompawa Study Group 1015 McCausland Ave, St. Louis, MO 63117 Tel: (1) (314) 616 7711 Coordinator Tony Vitale Guhyasamaja Center 4339 Alton Place, NW Washington, DC 20016 Tel: (1) (202) 364 8940 Director Lorne Ladner Resident geshe Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Jampa Gyalwa Gyatso Buddhist Center 1550 La Pradera Dr Campbell, CA 95008-1547 Tel: (1) (408) 866 5056 Director Gay Bachmann Resident teacher Ven. Losang Drimay Kadampa Center 5412 Etta Burke Court Raleigh, NC 27606 Tel: (1) (919) 859 3433 Fax: (1) (919) 858 8360 Director Robbie Watkins Resident geshe Geshe Gelek Chodak Kurukulla Center 68 Magoun Av, Medford, MA 02155 Tel: (1) (617) 624 0177 Fax: (1) (678) 868-4806 Director Wendy Cook Resident geshe Geshe Tsulga Lama Yeshe House Study Group 800 Laramie Blvd., Unit E Boulder, CO 80304 Tel: (1) (303) 447 0630 Coordinator Tenzin Mcclain Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive P.O. Box 356, Weston, MA 02493 Tel: (1) (781) 259 4466 Director Nicholas Ribush Land of Calm Abiding P.O. Box 123 San Simeon, CA 93452 Tel: (1) (303) 258 7484 projects/calmabiding Director Brian Halterman

82 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008

Land of Compassion and Wisdom PO Box 5531 Round Rock, TX 78683-5531 Tel: (1) (512) 280 8687 Coordinator Bonnie Baptist Land of Medicine Buddha 5800 Prescott Road Soquel, CA 95073 Tel: (1) (831) 462 8383 Fax: (1) (831) 462 8380 Director Erick Gardon Liberation Prison Project P.O. Box 31527 San Francisco, CA 94131-0527 Tel: (1) (415) 701 8500 Director Ven. Robina Courtin Maitripa Institute 1119 SE Market St. Portland, OR 97214-4702 Tel: (1) (503) 235 2477 Director and Resident geshe Yangsi Rinpoche Manjushri Wisdom Study Group PO Box 30653 Tucson, AZ 85751 Tel: (1) (520) 971 1681 manjushriwisdomstudy Coordinator Ven. Losang Kalden Milarepa Center 1344 US Route 5 South PO Box 51 Barnet, VT 05821 Tel: (1) (802) 633 4136 Fax: (1) (802) 633 3979 Director Wendy Hobbs Namgyalma Study Group 165 W Oak St Elko, Nevada 89801 Tel: (1) (775) 753 8414 Coordinator Julie Caldwell Osel Shen Phen Ling 441 Woodward Ave Missoula, MT 59801 Tel: (1) (406) 543 2207 Director Bob Jacobson Pamtingpa Study Group P.O. Box 182, 411 Western Ave, Tonasket, WA 98855 Tel: (1) (509) 223 3003 Coordinator Julia Sanderson Shantideva Meditation Group 1230 Amsterdam Ave Apt # 813 NY, NY 10027 Coordinator Aliki Nicolaides Tara Redwood School 5810 Prescott Road Soquel, CA 95073 Tel/Fax: (1) (831) 462 9632 President Lilian Brito The Karuna Group 1840 41st. Ave. 102-267 Capitola, CA 95010 Tel: (1) (831) 457 7750 Director Karuna Cayton Thubten Norbu Ling Tibetan Buddhist Center P.O. Box 33442 Santa Fe, NM 87594-3442 Tel: (1) (505) 660 7056 Director Rowena Mayer Resident teacher Don Handrick Tilopa Study Group P.O. Box 6101 Decatur, Il 62524-6101 Tel: (1) (217) 875 0889 Coordinator Greg Penderghest Tsa Tsa Studio/Center for Tibetan Sacred Art Studio 30, 855 Parr Blvd Richmond, CA 94801-1320 Tel: (1) (415) 503-0409 Director Deirdre Frank Tse Chen Ling 399 Webster St San Francisco, CA 94117 Tel: (1) 415 621 4215 Fax: (1) 415 621 4144 Director Michelle Stewart Resident geshe Geshe Ngawang Dakpa Tse Pag Me Study Group 5052 5th St. Zephyrhills, Florida 33542 Tel: (1) (813) 783 1888 Coordinator Glendal Ward Tubten Kunga Center 201 SE 15th Terrace,Suite 211 Deerfield Beach, FL 33441 Tel: (1) (954) 421 6224 Director Maggie Bustamente Resident geshe Geshe Konchog Kyab Vajrapani Institute P.O. Box 2130 Boulder Creek, CA 95006 Tel: (1) (831) 338 6654 Fax: (1) (831) 338 3666 Director Elaine Jackson Resident teacher Ven. Rene Feusi White Tara Buddhist Group PO Box 940662 Maitland, FL 32794-0662 Tel: (1) (407) 467 2706 Coordinator Roy Harvey Wisdom Publications Inc. 199 Elm Street Somerville, MA 02144 Tel: (1) (617) 776 7416 Sales USATel: (1) (800) 272 4050 Fax: (1) (617) 776 7841 Director Tim McNeill MAITREYA PROJECT OFFICE The Maitreya Project Trust Kanta House, Cinema Road Gorakhpur 237 001 Uttar Pradesh, India Tel: (91) 551 2342012 Fax: (91) 551 2342512 Maitreya Project Society PO Bodhgaya, Gaya District Bihar 824231, India Tel: (91) (631) 2200727/620/621 Fax: (91) (631) 2200774 Director: Dick Jeffrey Maitreya Project International North America 5800 Prescott Road Soquel, California, USA 95073 Tel: (1) (831) 462 1487 Maitreya Project International Europe PO Box 5185, Dorchester Dorset, England, UK, DT1 1WX Tel/Fax: (44) (1305) 260-771 Maitreya Project International Pte Ltd, Singapore 10 Genting Lane #11-00 Jay Gee House Singapore 349583 Tel/Fax: (65) 6744 7092 Maitreya Project International Taiwan 7F, No.258, Sec 3 NanJing East Road, Taipei 10551, Taiwan ROC Tel: (886) 2 2731 3000 Fax: (886) 2 2778 9111 What does it mean to be an FPMT Center, Study Group or Project? If a center or project is affiliated with FPMT, it means that the center follows the spiritual direction of Lama Zopa Rinpoche. It means that the center uses FPMT's educational programs and material, created in the unique lineage of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Each FPMT center is incorporated individually (is a separate legal entity) and is responsible for its own governance and finance. All FPMT centers follow the FPMT Ethical Policy. FPMT study groups are groups which are using this status as a probationary period before a group becomes a legal entity and a full FPMT center. FPMT Study Groups are not yet affiliated with the FPMT, and therefore do not have the same responsibilities as a center, financially or administratively. FPMT Study Groups are required to plan to become an FPMT center within a period of two years.

December 2007/January 2008 MANDALA 83

Liberation Prison Project’s

Tibetan Calendar 2008 Now in its tenth year, this small elegant wall calendar features Buddhist images and inspirational sayings and the Tibetan lunar calendar for the Year of the Earth Mouse 2135.



6½” x 6½”





• Buddha days • Meditating • Reciting prayers • Hanging prayer flags • Fire pujas • Medicine Buddha practice




866 482 5889 STORES New Leaf Distribution

800 326 2665 Small Changes

800 438 6247 AUSTRALIA Mandala Books

(07) 3632 8380

Includes information about more than 30 kinds of astrologically good and bad days that relate to various activities and events

• Tara practice • Eclipses, full and new moons • Weddings and funerals • Medical procedures • Building new houses; etc.

FPMT’s Liberation Prison Project supports the Buddhist practice of people in prison in the USA, Australia, Mexico, Mongolia, Spain and around the world. 84 MANDALA December 2007/January 2008



ENGLAND Wisdom Books

(020) 8553 5020 FRANCE Boutique Vajra Yogini

(05) 63 41 34 31 HONG KONG Cham-Tse-Ling 2770 7239 GERMANY Aryatara Institut

(089) 2781 7227 ITALY Chiara Luce Edizioni

(050) 68 56 90 NETHERLANDS Maitreya Instituut Emst

(0578) 66 14 50 NEW ZEALAND Chandrakirti Meditation Centre

(03) 543 2021 SPAIN Ediciones Dharma

(96) 560 32 00

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