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Monday, October 27, 2014

The Shangpa Monlam in France 2014

Lama Palden Drolma


Kalu Rinpoche with his three year retreat grads who were in attendance
After driving through dense fog at 8 am, we arrived at Palden Shangpa La Boulaye, Kalu Rinpoche’s primary center in France. As the sun began to stream through the mist, a line of small stupas greeted us. Next we were welcomed by an impressive Bhutanese lhakhang (Tibetan for house of the gods – what they call temples). Before I could enter, I heard a voice say, “Kalu Rinpoche is calling you.” Turning around I saw Rinpoche striding towards me, and I hurried to greet him. After a warm embrace, he escorted me into the lhakhang to show off the altar he had arranged for the Monlam.

Rinpoche put his heart, time and love into this first ever Shangpa Monlam. A Monlam is a prayer, and a large Monlam like this one is where the lamas and attendees make many prayers for all beings’ benefit, which of course includes praying that all beings receive what they need and desire and live in harmony and peace. He had placed nametags for the lamas of his centers and sat the senior lamas in a row together— from East and West, male and female, with all the other lamas and three year retreat grads in rows behind. All the other dharma practitioners sat on the sides and in back. The large lhakhang holds 500 people or so.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Discovering Buddhism in Bangladesh

Stav Zotalis 

Stav and her father.
My journey to Buddhism has been a surprising one. I was born into a Greek Orthodox migrant family 48 years ago. Although I was born in Sydney, Australia, it felt like living in a Greek village. I spoke Greek at home, most of my friends were Greek, I attended Greek school (after regular English school) , went to Greek Orthodox Sunday school, did Greek dancing, ate Greek food, had Greek dreams (marriage to a Greek professional, 2 children, well-paid job and a two-storey house in a respectable suburb). The Greek Orthodox priest played a central role in my life, although his influence was more moral and social than spiritual. He christened me, set up the Greek school that I went to, and was there for important events such as Christmas, Easter, my two sisters’ weddings to Greek professionals, and, very sadly, at the burial of my beloved father when I was 29.

The love and support my father gave me is one of the greatest treasures I have received during this lifetime. He was an extraordinary man. He was born into poverty and deprivation in 1939, which was exacerbated when his father was murdered in 1946, by men from his village and after witnessing the rape of his eldest daughter, my dad’s 19-year-old sister. My father didn’t demonstrate the bitterness and rage that often results from a tragedy like this. He was a gentle, generous, simple, good-humored and wonderful man. In fact, he had a lot of the great qualities of the Buddha – phenomenal love and generosity. He also believed in karma, right speech, right action, and embodied kindness and love.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Times, They are A’Changin'

Venerable Damchö Diana Finnegan 

His Holiness the Dalai Lama delivering the keynote speech during the Inaugural Ceremony of
"A Meeting of Diverse Spiritual Traditions in India" in New Delhi, India on September 20, 2014.
Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

On September 20, 2014, during the first roundtable discussion of a interreligious conference entitled, "A Meeting of Diverse Spiritual Traditions in India - Promoting Human Values and Inter-Religious Harmony," held in Delhi, India, H. H. Dalai Lama spoke in favor of revising a rule stipulating that nuns should sit behind monks, even if the nuns are fully ordained Bhikshunis and the monks are novices. The Meeting of Diverse Spiritual Traditions of India, which was convened by His Holiness the Dalai Lama himself, spanned two days, including plenaries on “Inter-Religious Understanding and Human Values” and on “Environment, Education, and Society.”

Monday, September 15, 2014

Going Home

Anja Tanhane


“Going home is like turning down the volume, so I can hear myself again.”
 Steve Jampijinpa, from the documentary Milpirri, Winds of Change 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Follow Me

Stephanie Mohan


Disembodied

resonant

beyond

over there.

This empty being

seen whole.

Labelled name and form.

Predisposed by karma.

Not knowing past cause

Suffering now.

Not known, not seen, not here, not there.

Not this, not that.

Monday, August 18, 2014

In Scarred Chinese Tibetan City, Devotion to Sanctity of Life

Andrew Jacobs,
New York Times



A Tibetan woman in Yushu, China, used a spoon and plastic bucket to rescue tiny shrimp stuck in mud along the shore of the Batang River. Credit Gilles Sabrie, New York Times

YUSHU, China — With a set of chopsticks in her hands and a Tibetan prayer spilling from her lips, Gelazomo, a 32-year-old yak herder, hunched over the rocky banks of the river that cuts through this city and hunted for the quarry that she hoped would bring salvation.

Every few minutes, she would tease out a tiny river shrimp that had become stranded in the mud, and then dropping it into a bucket of water. Beside her, dozens of other Tibetans toiled in the noonday sun, among them small children and old people who, from afar, appeared to be panning for gold.

“Buddha has taught us that treating others with love and compassion is the right thing to do, no matter how tiny that life is,” she explained, as the newly revived crustaceans darted through the water of her bucket.

Buddhists are encouraged to demonstrate a reverence for all sentient beings; some believers spurn meat while others buy animals destined for slaughter and then set them free. Here in Yushu, a largely Tibetan city where more than 3,000 people died in an earthquake four years ago, the faithful have been flocking to the Batang River to rescue a minuscule aquatic crustacean that would hardly seem deserving of such attention.

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