Date: 12/15/2010 12:27:56 AM
Subject: PHUNTSOK CHOLING !!
Dearest Friends @ CAS !!
We are back from Sri Lanka from a sizzling pilgrimage where we had the supreme fortune to make boundless aspirations in front of the oldest documented Tooth of Lord Buddha, the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree, the Thuparama and Tissa Maha Rama stupas ( each respectively containing the Buddha's right collar bone and forehead relics ), the Kelaniya Stupa marking the exacy spot upon which Lord Buddha taught at the request of the Naga King.
Through Palden Lhamo's blessings and skilful friends, we were allowed to lay the most stunning bouquet of flowers plucked and bought from Nuwara Eliya, the highest tea plantation at over 2,000 metres from central Sri Lanka, 4 hours away, right in the front of the divinely holy casket containing the holy Tooth of Lord Buddha.
We were blessed to have an audience with the Grand Abbot of Maluwathu Monastery, the Most Ven Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddartha Sumangala Mahanayaka Thero, one of the two alternating Heads of the Sangha of Sri Lanka and from whom we received blessings and advice.
The long detour into wild reserves to see Sri Lanka's ruined Mahayana legacy in the form of 12 metres tall statues of Lord Buddha Vairocana and the attendant Bodhisattvas: Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri, Vajrapani, Maitreya was surreal and touching. We nearly dropped to see the 16th Karmapa and the Most Venerable Tenga Rinpoche ( one of our Teachers ) holy pictures enshrined in a nearby Buddhist centre cum museum !!
Before we further our tirade of explosive exultant elation in the form of chunky paragraphs, do allow for its interruption for more graphically stimulating pictures.
See all the holiest of holiest places of Sri Lanka in CASonline's Dharma Tube: www.casotac.com
"Buddho Sara Nai !!"
( translated: "Blessings from Lord Buddha !!" )
bb & every pilgrim @ CAS
Divine flower from Nuwara Eliya,
2,000 metres above sea level ( !! )
Bless the widowed mother with her son, the many homeless and cold beggars littering the cold nights along the dirty streets of Kandy whom we could sustain merely with one-time loaves of bread and packets of hot, steaming dinner ....
Please dedicate that the highest good will come of the 20 new chairs we bought for the school with classrooms without walls at Mihintale, the 300 pens and notebooks for the impoverished villagers of Anuradhapura, the 250 pens pens and notebooks for the mud-caked-constructed huts at Pollonaruwa, the 300 over pens, notes books, pencils and "London Choco Rolls" dispersed and sowed in every village we drove into and the many Tiger Balms and Salon-Pas plasters for the old, infirm and poor.
Thank you, Aruna, for making so much detours for us to give out the nearly 50 kg of rice and oil .....
We really have to thank Bhante Seeha from Samadhi Buddhist Society and Mr Prabath of Walkers' Tours for all the contacts and timely intervention at almost every turn in what is still a very foreign terrain for us.
We could die of joy for the even-though-still-tentative arms of CAS's Dhama Propagation Fund ( DPF ) .....please dedicate that CAS could be of the best service to the holy Dharma and every mother sentient being till samsara ends !!
This is currently the best we could do or could have done ..... "Amituofo !!"
If you would like to support CAS's Dharma Propagation Fund, see: http://casotac.com/modes.html
The Perfection of Dharma Buddhist Centre
"Yuan Man Fa Ling"
( both translations tentaive still .... refinement to it will be gratefully considered !! )
We are dreadfully glad to update all of you that our ordained Secretary returned to Singapore with bestowal of the holy name for CAS's first tactile and physical Buddhist centre in Malacca, Malaysia.
As instructed by our late Root Teacher, the 100th Ganden Trisur, Official Head Emeritus of the Gelugpa School, when we met Him in the Dalai Lama's personal compounds in Dharamsala, India, in 2004, we are relying fully and "not questioning" and "just doing" anything Kyabje Trulshig Rinpoche advises !!
Trulshig Rinpoche has Himself accepted the position of the Supreme Head of the Nyingma School this year, 2010.
Don't spare your prayers and dedications for the new centre to serve the Dharma properly and well and reap the best possible benefit for all mother sentient beings !!
Nine people will be dirving up to firm up the teething details this Friday !!
"Holy Tara bless !!"
Remembering Lord Buddha
Lord Buddha Shakyamuni - the Teacher of Gods and Men
( Gangarama Vihara - Colombo )
We stumbled while in Sri Lanka upon a most touching video on the life of Lord Buddha:
( CASonline's Video-On-Demand Channel - available from 15 Dec 2010 )
Just as with our Lord Buddha Shakyamuni, the Buddha of our present time, Buddha Vipassi, a Buddha who manifested Enlightenment before Buddha Shakyamuni, was exhorted by the Great Brahma, a god and deity of great purity and power, a rough parallel to theistic religion as the Creator, to turn the holy Wheel of Dharma.
Here, we exerpted from the Mahapadana Sutta, translated by Maurice Walshe ( Wisdom Publication ), an account of the epochal exhortation:
And the Great Brahma appealed a second and a thrid time to the Lord Buddha Vipassi to teach ...
Then the Lord Buddha Vipassi, recognising Brahma's appeal and moved by compassion for beings, surveyed the world with his Buddha-eye.
And he saw being with little dust on their eyes and with much dust, with faculties sharp and dull, of good and bad disposition, easy and hard to teach, and few of them living in fear of transgression and of the next world.
And just as in a pool of blue, red or white lotuses some are born in the water, grow in the water, and, not leaving the water, thrive in the water; some are born in the water and reach the surface; while some are born in the water and, having reached the surface, grow out of the water and are not polluted by it, in the same way, monks, the Lord Buddha Viapssi, surveying the world with his Buddha-eye, saw some beings with little dust on their eyes ...
And the Lord Buddha Vipassi replied to the Great Brahma in verse:
"Open to them are the doors of the Deathless!
Let those that hear now put forth faith... "
Museum - Bunduru Wagala
"Lord Buddha Shakyamuni removed the Divine Crown of the Regent: the Tenth-Stage-Bodhisattva and placed it on the crown of Lord Maitreya, exhorting Him to continue to uphold the holy Dharma wisely amongst the countless divine hosts of Tushita Heaven whilst He descended into our human realm, rife with beings whom Buddhas of the past have not been able to tame....."
( Sutra of the Ascension to Tushita Heaven of Maitreya Bodhisattva )
CAs's ordained Secretary, Ven Chuan Yu, has returned with some of the most precious gifts from some of Tibet's holiest Masters and we are glad to share with our friends holy gifts from Sri Lanka.
Do email Rikzin at: email@example.com to request for any of the following holy gifts:
- Holy Bodhi leaves from the Sri Maha Bodhi from Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, the oldest documented tree in the world, the first transplant from Bodhigaya, India.
- Holy saw dust from the walking stick of Guru Padmasambhava from Bumthang, Bhutan.
- Blessed Tsog substance from HH Kyabje Trulshig Rinpoche.
- Blessed pills from Lama Serpo, the 103 year-old senior classmate of Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche.
Do let us know if you are coming down to Camden Education Center to get them ( address at www.camden.edu.sg ) or you will like us to post to you.
One of CAS's Teachers, the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Orgyen Thrinley Dorje, has launched "KARMAPA - 900 years"
Dear Dharma brother/sister,
We hope you can help us publicise our dharma event with Khamtrul Rinpoche - talk and 2 day event held on 1 and 2 Jan 2011, via your email database.
The information of the event is below. Please let us know if that is possible. If you need to talk, you can us at 8283 6519 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
China’s urbanites rediscover Buddhism
By Mitch Moxley
December 2, 2010
BEIJING - Quan Zhenyuan discovered Buddhism by accident. After the owner of a vegetarian restaurant here in the Chinese capital gave her a book about the religion, she became hooked. Today, Quan is one of a growing number of urban Chinese turning to the religion for spiritual fulfillment.
"I always used to believe Buddhism was a kind of superstition, but I changed my mind completely after reading the book Recognizing Buddhism”, says Quan, 32, an executive manager at a tourism agency in Beijing. She says Buddhism has taught her how to better solve problems and cooperate with employees and clients. "Buddhism gives me peace of mind."
China, an officially atheist country, is experiencing a Buddhism revival.
In the three decades since Deng Xiaoping announced the reform and opening up policy, a spiritual void has opened among many Chinese, experts say. Stressed and overfocused on careers and material gain, many of its citizens have started to look for answers in religion. Buddhism has a 2,000-year history in China.
A 2007 survey by the Research Center for Religious Culture at East China Normal University found that of 4,500 people questioned across 31 provinces and autonomous regions, 33% claimed to believe in Buddhism.
Liu Zhongyu, the research team's leader, told Phoenix News Media that "Buddhism is the major belief among intellectuals and young people" in China. He said that more than 300 million Chinese likely believe in Buddhism. Ten years earlier, the State Bureau of Religious Affairs put the figure at 100 million.
Liu attributed the growing interest in Buddhism to social instability, and pressures caused by the rapidly developing market economy in China.
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Blue Book on China's Religions said Buddhism has experienced a "golden period" during China's three decades of reform. During this period, nationwide organizational systems have been created, conducting summer camps and public education activities.
Research by the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University in the United States, announced at the 7th Symposium of the Social Scientific Study of Religion in China in July, found that interest in Buddhism has exploded in the last three decades. About 185 million Chinese follow Buddhism today, the Center found.
Around the first century AD, Buddhism began to spread from India to China via the Silk Road. Gaining the support of emperors and royalty, the religion's teachings spread rapidly. Indian dignitaries were invited to teach Buddhist philosophy and many sutras were introduced in China.
Mao Zedong, who was famously hostile toward religion, did not ban Buddhism outright, but many temples and Buddhist organizations were soon overtaken by the state.
When China brutally suppressed Tibetan Buddhism in 1959, this was supported by the government-controlled Buddhist Association of China. During the Cultural Revolution, many Buddhist holy sites were ravaged, but following Mao's death in 1976, the suppression of religions eased somewhat.
Like many young urban Chinese, a man in his thirties who gave his nickname as Eddie has turned to Buddhism to find meaning in life. Buddhism has helped him answer questions about mankind's purpose and about what comes next, he says.
"It shows me a brand new world. It's like a light to guide my life, it gives me hope. It makes me understand the power of now," says Eddie. "I think I'm on the right track in connecting with myself."
But Duan Yuming, a professor at Sichuan University's Institute of Religious Studies, says that while interest in Buddhism is growing, very few Chinese can actually call themselves Buddhist. "They practice Buddhism just for peace of mind."
Still, even a cursory interest is a good thing, Duan tells Inter Press Service.
"Buddhism is a spiritual development leading to true happiness. Buddhist practices, such as meditation, are a means of transforming oneself and developing the qualities of awareness, kindness and wisdom ... Chinese people today are always rushing to do things. They don't even know how to relax. Meditation can help them find peace of mind," he says.
Over the past decades, Buddhist monuments have been erected and restored across China, and tourism to Buddhist and other religious sites has increased. In 2006, China organized the World Buddhist Forum, and the next year banned mining on Buddhist sacred mountains.
Part of the rising interest in the religion stems from a growing fascination with Tibet. Although the vast majority of Chinese view the autonomous region as an inalienable part of China, many urban Chinese think of Tibet as a romantic, rugged frontier. As a result, tourism to the capital, Lhasa, and beyond has exploded in recent years.
Duan says that the growing interest in Buddhism among the majority Han Chinese can help improve understanding of and relations with Tibet - something the exiled Dalai Lama, who fled China for India in 1959, has said himself.
He told his biographer, the author Pico Iyer: "If 30 years from now Tibet is six million Tibetans and 10 million Chinese Buddhists, then maybe something will be OK."
Tibetan Buddhism flourishes in downtown Berkeley (Berkeleyside)
November 29, 2010
by Frances Dinkelspiel
A downtown city block on Harold Way has become a center for Tibetan Buddhism in Berkeley
Harold Way, a small street in the heart of downtown Berkeley, has become a new center for Tibetan Buddhism.
In the last two years, followers of Tarthang Tulku, a Tibetan lama who came to Berkeley in 1969, have purchased three buildings next door to one another — a whole city block.
Visitors walking along the west side of Harold Way can now immerse themselves in Buddhist teachings. They can browse in a bookstore filled with books written in English and Tibetan, learn Sanskrit, or volunteer to help send books to Tibetan refugees. They soon will be able to hear lectures on Buddhism and other topics.
The visibility of the complex, with its bright red, yellow, and blue exteriors, is a departure for Tarthang Tulku’s tight-knit collection of followers. While for decades the group has played a major role in transmitting and preserving Tibetan culture, raising millions of dollars in the process, it generally tries not to draw attention to itself.
“We keep a low profile,” said Jack Petranker, the director of the Mangalam Research Center for Buddhist Languages, which operates out of the old Elks Club building at the intersection of Allston Way and Harold Way. “It is the Buddhist thing to not toot your own horn.”
The success and visibility of Tulku’s Buddhist church is a reflection of the entrepreneurship many Tibetan lamas have had to adopt in the United States, according to Robert Sharf, the chair of the Center for Buddhist Studies at UC Berkeley. While other spiritual leaders like rabbis or priests have the backing of well-established religious organizations, the lamas who came to the US after the fall of Tibet in 1950 did not have any institutional support. So many of them, including Tulku, had to figure out ways to both create a following and raise money.
“If you are a Buddhist teacher you have to be entrepreneurial because no organized infrastructure is there to help provide capital,” said Sharf.
The creation of a complex of buildings on Harold Way started with the purchase of 2018 Allston Way. The Mangalam Research Center for Buddhist Languages opened its doors in the fall of 2009, followed a year later by the opening of a building next door at 2210 Harold Way. (Former home of the Berkeley Psychic Institute) The Tibetan Aid Project, Dharma Publishing Bookstore and some foundations operate out of that structure. The group bought 2222 Harold Way from the Judah L. Magnes Museum in 2009 and will open Dharma College in 2011.
“One of the things we are announcing is we’re here to stay,” said Petranker. “We’re rooted in the West, in California, and particularly in Berkeley. We want to be part of the vibrancy of the community, both as a religious tradition and a wisdom tradition.”
The group, which refers to itself as the Nyingma community, also owns a building on Highland Place called the Nyingma Institute, which offers workshops on Tibetan Buddhism and living spaces for work/study students. Petranker and others live in another of the community’s buildings, a converted fraternity on Hillside Avenue. The group used to operate Dharma Publishing out of a warehouse on San Pablo Avenue, but moved its operations to Sonoma County, where the group has two large retreat centers.
This vibrancy in exile must have seemed far fetched when Tarthang Tulku, now 76, fled Tibet in 1959. The Chinese invasion in 1950 decimated much of Tibet’s culture and many of its religious institutions. More than 6,000 monasteries were destroyed and 100,000 Tibetans fled to India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Many of the refugees left behind their personal effects and chose instead to carry out the sacred texts of Tibetan Buddhism.
Tarthang Tulku, one of the last remaining lamas to have received a complete Buddhist education before 1959, went to India, where he taught at Sanskrit University from 1962 to 1968. While there, he met someone who told him about Berkeley, according to Judy Rasmussen, the director of the Nyingma Trust. Tulku’s teachers then told him to go to the West and spread teachings about Buddhism.
“In those early years, California was very open to new ideas,” said Rasmussen.
Tulku came to the US with the dual goal of transmitting Tibetan Buddhist practices and beliefs as well as preserving Tibetan culture.
He started a church, the Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Center, and applied Buddhist principles to western ideals, said Rosalyn White, the executive director of the Tibetan Aid Project. His canon used Buddhist principles in the workplace and emphasized work as a spiritual practice.
“Let the challenges you find in the workplace be a guide to deepen your spiritual practice,” said Petranker.
Tulku spread his teachings in a series called Time, Space, and Knowledge. He has now published 18 books on Tibetan Buddhism.
In addition, Tulku focused on preserving Tibetan culture by creating a “mandala of organizations.” These various groups — there are at least twelve — develop and fund Tibetan Buddhist teachings, spiritual retreats, monasteries, films, and books, and support work study students and those who spend decades studying with Tulku.
One of the community’s most high-profile endeavors takes place each year in Bodhgaya, India, where the Buddha attained enlightenment. Known as the World Peace Day Ceremony, it was started by Tulku in 1989 and now attracts 25,000 Tibetan exiles, monks, nuns, and lay people annually. The Tibetan Aid Project, one of Tulku’s organizations, distributes thousands of Tibet texts, prayer wheels, flags, and art objects there each year.
“It’s made a big difference in helping the Tibetans keep their language and culture alive,” said Petranker.
There is a core group of 150 to 200 followers in the Bay Area, according to Petranker. Another thousand or so come to lectures, classes, and spiritual retreats.
Tarthang Tulku no longer teaches publicly but spends his time in contemplation at Odiyan, a center in Sonoma County. It is common for senior Buddhist monks to go on retreat, but Tulku’s reclusiveness is unusual since he is running all these organizations, according to UC’s Sharf. Tibetan Buddhism is traditionally centered around a charismatic holy man to whom people flock. Other lamas in the United States spend a lot of time traveling and lecturing to spread their message and raise funds, but not Tulku, said Sharf.
Tulku’s followers believe Tulku’s teachings are becoming even more important in today’s fragmented and often violent world.
“Buddhism is poised to become a major influence in Western culture and world culture in a way it hasn’t been because the East and the West have been separate,” said Petranker. “People in this culture understand there is a need for deeper understanding and there are all sorts of things not going in the right direction.”
Tarthang Tulku’s group now owns seven properties and operates at least 12 different non-profit organizations with assets worth millions of dollars. Yet virtually all the people who work with the group are volunteers who take no pay. Funds are raised through annual events, programs, and donations. One of their most visible events, Taste & Tribute, benefits The Tibetan Aid Project. Held annually in San Francisco and New York, it is a gala where dozens of top chefs create a four-course meal for guests.
Here are some of the organizations that are included in Tulku’s organizational mandala:
The Nyingma Institute – Founded in 1972, the institute is Tulku’s largest and most visible project. More than 150,00 students have attended lectures, classes, and retreats on Buddhist studies, meditation, yoga, Nyingma psychology, and other classes, according to the foundation’s website. The institute occupies a building on Highland Place in Berkeley and helps direct centers in Brazil, Germany, and Holland. The Nyingma Institute has about $7 million in assets, according to records filed with the IRS in 2008.
Tibetan Aid Project – This was started in 1969 and initially focused on providing food, clothing and shelter to the 100,000 Tibetans who fled to India, Nepal, and Bhutan. In recent decades, this project has focused on preserving and distributing sacred Tibetan texts, prayer flags and religious objects. The project has given away about 2.5 million books of ancient Tibetan wisdom during the last 20 years of the World Peace Ceremony. While these texts were once so rare they were only found in monasteries, the efforts of Tulku’s Nyingma community have made them widely accessible to not only monks, but Tibetan women, children and nuns. The Tibetan Aid Project raises about $500,000 a year, according to IRS documents, and spends the majority on its funds on publishing and shipping books.
Dharma Publishing Company – Tarthang Tulku started the publishing company while he was living in India and moved its operations to the US in 1971. Its goal is to preserve Tibetan culture by keeping important books in print. In 1981, Dharma printed the complete Tibetan Buddhist canon, which is composed of 120 atlas-sized volumes. Dharma donated and sold many complete collections to libraries around the world, ensuring that this canon will survive. Each year, Dharma publishes thousands of Tibetan texts, which are traditionally unbound and wrapped in cloth, and distributes them to exiles. Dharma also publishes books by Tulku, including his seminal series, Time, Space, and Knowledge. Its bookstore is at 2210 Harold Way.
Mangalam Research Center for Buddhist Languages – Founded in 2008, the center brings scholars to Berkeley to study Buddhism, its written tradition, and its sacred texts. It also offers classes. The heart of the center is a magnificent library that holds one of the world’s greatest collections of Tibetan texts.
Dharma College – This new program will begin in 2011 and will have an eclectic mix of programming at the start, according to Robin Caton, who is co-director of the college with her husband Curtis. There will be noontime and evening lectures for people in the community as well as college and graduate-level classes for students of Tibetan Buddhism. The group purchased this building in 2009 for $6 million, according to public documents.
Nyingma Buddhist Religious Trust –This organization raises funds to restore monasteries in Tibet. The trust has about $2.5 million in assets, according to IRS documents.
Nyingma Trust – The foundation raises funds to support the members of the Nyingma Order, a group of people who have studied and worked closely with Tarthang Tulku for 15 to 40 years. “The members of the order have made religious commitments to dedicate their lives to the Dharma and the welfare of all beings, uphold the teachings of the Nyingma lineage and to follow the Bodhisattva Vow and Buddha’s Eightfold Noble Path, and to support each other as community,” according to the trust’s website.
Bodhgaya Religious Trust – This organization supports World Peace Ceremony in Bodhgaya, India, a 20-year old annual gathering of Tibetan Buddhists. In 2009, more than 10,000 monastic monks and 15,000 lay people gathered near the sacred Bodhi tree to recite prayers for more than eight hours a day over a 10-day period. This trust has about $4 million in assets, according to IRS records.
Yeshe De Text Program, also known as the Tibetan Book Project, is dedicated to preserving Tibetan culture through the preservation and distribution of Tibetan texts.
Guna Foundation – Founded in 2009 to preserve archival pictures and footage of Tarthang Tulku and his various organizations, the foundation is currently making a documentary film on Tulku. It also funds Yak Liberation, a group that releases yaks back into the wild.
Light of Buddhadharma Foundation — This group raises funds to preserve and restore shrines and cultural artifacts in India, pay for religious ceremonies at holy places in India, and buy robes for monks.
Odiyan Retreat Center – Founded in 1975 on a 1,000 acre parcel in a remote part of Sonoma County, the Odiyan Retreat Center is a residential program where scholars and practitioners can immerse themselves in meditation and Nyingma training.
Ratna Ling Retreat Center – A retreat, education and spiritual center founded in 2004 in Cazadero.
Update 11/29/10: Berkeleyside confused the Nyingma Buddhist Religious Trust with the Nyingma Trust and has since updated this article to clarify the two. Also, the Tibetan Buddhist canon is 120 books, not 75. The article has been fixed to reflect this. Also, the Nyingma Institute works closely with centers overseas, but does not operate them.