Date: 08/07/05 00:23:57
To: CASonline
Subject: [CASonline] In Memoriam; Desert Lotus ~~

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Dear Friends,
Sertha Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok
Several friends have written-in to request for an account on Sertha Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok's passing away ....
bb has attached a short account of it below for all our friends, in memory of this great Bodhisattva who both manifested and passed away, solely for the good of the world ~~
am attaching, too, a nice and pleasant account of a Dharma community in the United States ....
The Lap Top
A kind friend has kindly offered to hand-carry the lap top to Dharamsala and it is now with Geshe KK and will be functioning well for editing and recording of His Holiness's precious Teachings ....
As of today, we have received pledges of S$1,700/- although quite a few checks or transfers have yet materialised !! We should still be short of just S$100/- if the above pledges come through ...
Thank you with gratitude to all !!  
With all prayers to all,
bb and other   @ CAS [ the society with all the funny beings !! ]
From Tricycle:
In Memoriam: Khenpo Jigme Phuntsog

Tibetan scholar and visionary Khenpo Jigme Phuntsog (1933-2004)

By Jane Caple

By Jane Caple

Khenpo Jigme Phuntsog, one of the most influential and charismatic religious figures in Tibet, died at age seventy on January 7, after undergoing heart surgery. He had endured some of the most brutal periods of Chinese rule, before emerging to breathe new life into Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet and China. Revered as a scholar and visionary, Khenpo Jigphun, as he is known, regularly drew thousands of devotees to his teachings.

In 1980, Khenpo Jigphun founded the hermitage of Larung Gar, which developed into a major monastic academy providing students with a complete Buddhist education available almost nowhere else in Tibet. Many of its students returned to their home monasteries, facilitating the rejuvenation of Buddhism throughout Tibet and China.

Although Khenpo Jigphun belonged to the Nyingma school, his teachings were ecumenical, and his academy was open to students from all Tibetan Buddhist traditions. John Ackerly, president of the International Campaign for Tibet, commented, "Perhaps the greatest achievement of Khenpo Jigme Phuntsog was spreading authentic Buddhist scholarship by educating thousands upon thousands of teachers, both monks and nuns. Not only have they spread throughout the Tibetan plateau, but his students are now in China, India, and the West."

Born in 1933 in eastern Tibet, the first son of nomadic parents, Khenpo Jigphun was recognized at a young age as a reincarnation of Terton Sogyal Lerab Lingpa, a teacher to the thirteenth Dalai Lama. Accounts of Khenpo Jigphun??s life recount auspicious occurrences surrounding his birth, and the extraordinary intellectual and psychic powers he is said to have displayed as a young boy.

By the time of his ordination at age twenty-two, in 1955, China had assumed control over Tibet; by the end of China??s Cultural Revolution, in 1976, most of Tibet??s monasteries had been destroyed. Yet during this period, Khenpo Jigphun continued to teach and produce scholarly texts, often living in remote valleys and evading the torture and imprisonment suffered by so many of his contemporaries.

At the end of the 1970s, the easing of Chinese restrictions led to a revival of Buddhism in Tibet. Khenpo Jigphun saw a need for the renewal of scholarship and teaching following the destruction of monasteries, texts, and artifacts, and the fracturing of the Tibetan Buddhist teaching lineages.

In 1980 he led a small group of his students to a desolate high-altitude valley near Serthar, in eastern Tibet, where he founded the Larung Gar hermitage. News of his center traveled quickly, and by the end of the 1990s almost seven thousand monks and nuns were in permanent residence?a
including more than one thousand Chinese students; many more Buddhists visited the valley for public teachings. The opportunities offered to nuns?awho comprised almost half the resident population?awere particularly noteworthy, as there were few nunneries elsewhere in Tibet.

Although Khenpo Jigphun avoided political issues, in June 2001 the political repression faced by other Tibetan religious institutions eventually came to Larung Gar. High-level officials from Beijing arrived, along with armed police, to oversee a "reduction" in the number of monks and nuns. Photographs showing the demolition of the simple homes they had built attracted international attention.

On hearing of Khenpo Jigphun??s death, Lodi Gyari, special envoy of the Dalai Lama, remarked, "Since the tragic news of the passing of the tenth Panchen Lama, in 1989, this has been the saddest news to come from Tibet. Khenpo Jigme Phuntsog worked very hard for the preservation and promotion of the unique religious faith of all Tibetans."

Jane Caple, a freelance writer, has reported on contemporary Tibet for more than ten years.



Desert Lotus:
Tibetan Buddhism Blossoms in Southern Utah

By Joanne Rideout

The southern Utah community of LaVerkin, near Zion National Park, is a modest little town inhabited mostly by descendants of Mormon pioneers. It??s a place where ???Democrat?? is a bad word, and Pioneer Day is celebrated with perhaps more zeal than the Fourth of July.

One recent morning, however, the front door of a well-kept LaVerkin home opened, and out onto the tidy lawn spilled a radiant assemblage of a dozen or so maroon-robed Tibetan Buddhist monks. The traveling group hailed from the Drepung Loseling monastery in India, and they had come to give teachings to a small but dedicated sangha that has sprung up in this conservative desert region.

The credit for the success and growing popularity of this sangha goes primarily to one local woman, Midge Henline. Although Henline had been curious about Buddhism for a number of years and had read numerous books, she??d never really pursued her interest until one fateful day in 1999, when she spotted two Tibetan Buddhist monks shopping at a Wal-Mart store in nearby St. George. She got up her courage and approached them to ask if they offered teachings.

That chance meeting eventually led to the founding of the Thupten Choling sangha, which now hosts traveling Buddhist teachers and provides a forum for their teachings. The sangha holds gatherings in a meeting room that Henline built onto her home, and the teachers stay in newly constructed guest quarters.

Since that chance meeting in Wal-Mart, Thupten Choling has grown from the germ of an idea into a dedicated group of about fifteen members who meet every other Sunday in Henline??s home to meditate, discuss Buddhist readings, and share tea and snacks afterward in Henline??s kitchen. Several times a year, visiting monks from the states and abroad give dharma teachings, drawing an attendance of thirty or more.

Thupten Choling??s studies have so far been an eclectic mix of Tibetan Buddhist teachings, from the user-friendly Western candor of Pema Ch?dron and Robert Thurman to a daunting list of translated texts suggested by Geshe Thupten Dorjee, a scholar in the Gelugpa tradition who lives and teaches at the Fairhope Tibetan Society in Alabama. Geshe Dorjee took the Utah sangha under his wing after a visit last year, and has provided guidance and teachings. At Dorjee??s request, Lobsang Nyima Ganden Tripa, former head of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, gave Thupten Choling its name.

Henline is typically humble about the evolution of her home into a thriving center for spiritual study. She says she has been fortunate to learn about teachers through word of mouth, and attributes the sangha??s emergence to the generous support of its members and the kindness of those who come to share their wisdom. When she began studying Buddhism on her own, she knew that somehow, eventually, she would create a place where people could gather and share dharma teachings. Even before she encountered the lamas, she had met Tibetan monks through Mystical Arts of Tibet, a traveling arts education program sponsored by Drepung Loseling. Last year, she traveled to India herself to visit their monastery.

One motivation for creating the center in her home was the paucity of local resources for learning about Buddhism. ???Even the bookstores didn??t have much,?? she says. And while Thupten Choling is nestled in the heart of a close-knit Mormon community, Henline says the reaction to the sangha has been nothing but positive. ???My Mormon neighbors are interested in the monks and their beliefs, and in the plight of people in Tibet.??

Thupten Choling continues to gather donations to pay the expenses of visiting teachers, and has raised funds to help support a new health clinic that opened in December 2002 at Drepung Loseling. Meanwhile, the sangha will attain nonprofit status this year, another small but significant step on its path to the future. ???Who knows??? Henline smiles, with a twinkle in her eye. ???The Drepung Loseling Institute in Atlanta also started in someone??s living room.??

Joanne Rideout is a freelance journalist and photographer. She has written for Family Circle, Oxygen, E/The Environmental Magazine, and other publications, and is currently the daily host of NPR??s All Things Considered for KMUN Radio in Astoria, Oregon, where she lives.