FPMT » FPMT News Around the World http://fpmt.org Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:33:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Thubten Norbu Ling Growshttp://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/thubten-norbu-ling-grows/ http://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/thubten-norbu-ling-grows/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 18:00:00 +0000 http://fpmt.org/?p=37902 ... Read full article]]> Geshe Sherab with Thubten Norbu Ling retreat participants, Santa Fe, New Mexico, US, September 2014. Photo courtesy of Thubten Norbu Ling.

Geshe Sherab with Thubten Norbu Ling retreat participants, Santa Fe, New Mexico, US, September 2014. Photo courtesy of Thubten Norbu Ling.

In late October, Rowena Mayer, director of Thubten Norbu Ling in Santa Fe, New Mexico, US, shared a brief news update with Mandala.

Thubten Norbu Ling has been experiencing promising and beneficial developments. Geshe Thubten Sherab finished his six-month stay with us this year with a wonderful weekend retreat on the power of purification. Over 40 people attended the retreat for the two days which concluded with a Dorje Khadro fire purification practice under the sunny skies of Santa Fe.

Since Geshe-la arrived almost two years ago, the number of people coming to our center has grown. This is due to Geshe-la’s presence and Don Handrick’s steady expertise. With both Don and Geshe-la as resident teachers, we are able to offer a greater variety of programs. We have also started a Sunday program for children based on the 16 Guidelines. The main host is our new assistant director, Adam Baker. Judith Baillie, a current board member, is hosting a weekly recovery support group incorporating Buddhist principles to help people overcome addictions.

Due to all this new activity and our plans to develop our program further, we may soon outgrow our current center space!

Mandala brings you news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and of activities, teachings and events from nearly 160 FPMT centers, projects and services around the globe. If you like what you read on Mandala, consider becoming a Friend of FPMT, which supports our work.

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Jeffrey Hopkins’ Transmission of Honestyhttp://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/jeffrey-hopkins-transmission-of-honesty/ http://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/jeffrey-hopkins-transmission-of-honesty/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 18:00:49 +0000 http://fpmt.org/?p=39240 ... Read full article]]> Professor Jeffrey Hopkins, Maitripa College, Portland, Oregon, United States, September 2011. Photo by Marc Sakamoto.

Professor Jeffrey Hopkins, Maitripa College, Portland, Oregon, United States, September 2011. Photo by Marc Sakamoto.

Dr. Jeffrey Hopkins, now 74, is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and one of the world’s top scholars of Buddhism. He has published 42 books, acted as His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s translator, and had a long academic career during which he trained many prominent Tibetan Buddhist scholars and translators. He currently leads UMA Institute for Tibetan Studies. Dr. Hopkins has been remarkably open in public about a wide range of matters, such as his initial lack of faith in His Holiness, past-life memories, a near-death experience, his youthful delinquency, his sexuality, and so on.

Donna Lynn Brown interviewed him in December 2014 to find out what lessons his honesty might hold for other Buddhist practitioners.

Dr. Hopkins, what is the source of your frankness? Why are you so open?

I was born in 1940 in Barrington, Rhode Island, and I was in my teens in the 1950s. There was a group of us who were disgusted by the aims that were being presented to us: merely making money and so forth. There was a lot of rebellion that was focused against the dishonesty of society, which gradually in my own mind became a matter of seeking my own integrity. My own integrity meant a great deal to me.

I was part of a juvenile gang that got into difficulty with the law, in the sense of increasingly violent pranks, drinking and so forth. It was a relief when I went to a liberal prep school where students were given a great deal of responsibility for their own governance. Despite all my acting out at my public school, I responded very well in that kind of environment, and got excellent grades, because we were respected as people, which is something I had lacked prior to that. Then, in my first year at Harvard, I read Walden by Henry David Thoreau and I was inspired to leave Harvard for the woods of Vermont. I stayed in a small one-room cabin and read, wrote poetry, walked a lot, dreamt out my recurrent trapped dreams, and I believe at that point, began finding my own integrity. And I kept returning to that kind of life.

I was inspired by Herman Melville’s novel Typee, which is set in the Marquesas, north of Tahiti near the equator, and Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence about the artist Paul Gauguin, who painted in the South Seas. It was 1960 and when Vermont got too cold for the wood heater, I went to the woods in Rhode Island. When that got too cold, I shipped out of New York as a passenger on a freighter to Tahiti. I had gotten used to meditating in Vermont on the lake that was down below, and by gazing off into space. On the freighter I would lie on my back and stare upward, filling my mind with the blueness of the sky. The Pacific Ocean was clean and tremendously calm and I filled my mind with that. I didn’t have a visa for Tahiti and after a while some official noticed this and asked me to leave. I used all but my last $15 to take a seaplane to Hawaii. It was nuts, but it was a search for my own integrity.

You were among the earliest scholars to show respect for Eastern scholars, and acknowledge what you learned from them, rather than claiming that you knew more than your “native informants.” Where did your intellectual honesty come from?

This was related to my attitude of searching. Why would I pretend that what l learned from a Tibetan scholar was something I put together myself? Why would I treat these people as somehow different from myself? I thought it was very important, extremely important, to treat every Tibetan scholar fairly, to give them credit for their part in producing any book. I was criticized for this by other professors in my own field. But it just made more sense to have, say, Lati Rinpoche, be a co-author, than to footnote everything he said. In time, people came to understand what collaboration meant. The old saying of “East is East and West is West” doesn’t carry over to how you treat people on the title page of a book.

Photo courtesy of Donna L. Brown.

Photo courtesy of Donna L. Brown.

By making clear what came from others, you revealed that the Western scholar wasn’t always the final expert. Did other academics criticize you for that?

Yes, they did, and I just chose to ignore it. I spoke recently at the Tsadra Translation & Transmission Conference about singing my own song, and what I meant is that certain priorities needed to be righted, and we would right them by how we acted and what we did. It means acknowledging the help you receive and the roles others play, and if those roles are prominent enough, then the person deserves equal billing as the author or the translator. If I couldn’t have understood the text without somebody informing me of its meaning, then that person has played an equal role in its translation even if they don’t know English, because I couldn’t have translated it otherwise. Not to mention the person’s contribution to the footnotes or the explanation that goes along with the translation. This approach has come to be generally accepted. And then also I wanted to point out that many of the academic concerns that Tibetan and Mongolian scholars have are similar to ours. Both sides can learn from the other, though I don’t like talking about sides. I think we are all more or less in the same soup.

Sometimes in Dharma centers people avoid sharing their real views or feelings. This helps maintain harmony, but at a price. It makes me wonder about the balance between building community and nourishing the individual.

I would compare it to when I started in academia. At that time, there was a lot of shouting among scholars. I thought it had a lot to do with how little we knew about the subjects we were talking about. And I had to admit that of myself also. I was so egregiously, embarrassingly ignorant on many of these topics. I could see how I could stumble into trying to cover up my ignorance by shouting or making a big fuss over something I knew that somebody else didn’t know. And then I tried very hard to avoid doing that, and to create an atmosphere in which I was not doing this. I think as this profession and its members have become more educated, there’s been less need to yell at each other, and this may be true in Dharma centers also. I’ve found in the two translation conferences I’ve been to, and many of these translators are members of Dharma communities, that we have no need at all to shout at each other or show off what we know because we are deeply impressed by what we don’t know. We are really happy to hear about these topics from our colleagues and friends who do know something about them. Then it’s easy to get along.

A community’s insistence on people toeing a line may have a lot to do with being neophytes. And the number of times that neophytes repeat the name of their organization or their lama really strikes me as a sign of weakness. Let’s just stop doing that. Still, within the monastic community, there are rules. Outside of the community, you don’t say nasty things about the community, because that disrupts the image of the community, and spreads gossip and so forth. But that implies that there can be criticism within the community. You’ve got to air differences and so forth. You should. But you can’t be arguing all the time, or sharing everything you think. Nevertheless, a healthy community has to have some way of airing what’s going on. You can’t be covering up all the time because it will explode, and the disharmony that will result from that is not going to be helpful.

On a personal level, I try to make the chance of hypocrisy less by admitting in public some of the things that I’m up to. For example, I gave a talk in a city recently and I was really surprised when the people there gave me some money, in envelopes, afterwards. But then also, at the same time, I was very greedy about that money. I kept wondering how much was in each envelope. And I was very careful to put those envelopes down beside me (laughs) so that nobody would walk off with any of them. And I mentioned it to my host afterwards, admitting how greedy I was about it. I try to make this a habit. I don’t make up stuff to disclose, because there’s plenty of it without making anything up. I may not disclose everything, but at least a whole lot of it. Disclosing it relieves tension, whereas hiding is really counter-productive, because when you hide, you have to simulate the opposite – and, wow, you just get into trouble. I get into trouble!

Professor Jeffrey Hopkins, Maitripa College, Portland, Oregon, United States, September 2011. Photo by Marc Sakamoto.

Professor Jeffrey Hopkins, Maitripa College, Portland, Oregon, United States, September 2011. Photo by Marc Sakamoto.

Is this an aspect of the path? Does not being open reduce energy available for practice?

I think that’s very, very true. Energy is wasted by hiding, and what you are hiding gets worse and worse the more you hide it. It’s self-destructive. You know, sometimes when I talk about morality, I’ll just say, “I’m embarrassed about what I am saying, but in any case, I’m trying to present what the books teach as it’s written, and I’m not claiming that I can actually enact this, I want to be clear.” That makes it a lot easier to talk about it. If it’s compassion and the fact that I get angry in certain situations, then it’s easy for me to talk about what I get angry at and use that as an example. Being frank about myself undermines my own negative reactions.

But we have to be judicious about what we say. We can’t be stupidly open. It’s not easy.

Buddhadharma focused its Winter 2014 issue on abuses of power in Dharma communities. One theme was “no more secrets,” because abuses flourish when people deny, cover up, or ostracize those who speak out. What are your thoughts on this?

I’m not an active member of any group. I’m a member of groups, but from a distance, which gives me a certain safety valve. I don’t give any quarter to lamas and so forth who act contrary to moral codes. To me that’s simply improper. If I’m asked about that person, I just say what I’ve heard, I don’t cover up, or at least I hope I don’t. I’m open about what I’ve heard and I’ll say, “Beware.” Covering up or pretending that seemingly ill behavior is the way great lamas behave – I’m just not going to say that. I think that’s simply wrong.

You have mentioned that your relationship with His Holiness the Dalai Lama is very frank. How open should we be with our lamas?

It depends on what the lama can stand! The lama may not want to hear about it. And then what can you do? You may have to go find some other lama, if that’s what you need. Like with anyone, your friends for example, there are certain subjects that some people don’t want to hear about. Even your closest friend may not want to hear about your stomach troubles. So you don’t talk about it. And how much can anyone stand to hear about your sex life? Or your health problems? Even if you’re at death’s door, five minutes is the max. It’s a bore. You shouldn’t expect more than that.

Westerners seem to value openness more than Tibetans. Is there a cultural difference?

I don’t think Tibetans are different from us. Maybe they are getting away with being secretive about how they are running things here (laughs). They are just getting away with pretending that this is the way that they do it. Tibetans among themselves give each other a hard time. They hold each other to account. Whereas some of them come over here and act as if they are kings or queens. They’ll do whatever they can get away with. You don’t have to let them.

Some Westerners, like you, say they have past life memories. While this may come from a desire to be special, there must be some who really were practitioners in the past. Should people be open about memories if they have them? What about the narcissism factor?

I was faced with this during the five years I was at Geshe Wangyal’s monastery in New Jersey in the early 1960s. People would come to visit and talk about their past lives. They were usually princes and princesses. I was looking forward to the day when someone would come and say they were a garbage collector. It’s something that kept me from telling my own story because I didn’t want to be put in the category that I was putting these people in, which has to do with their own aggrandizing imaginations. With myself, I felt what memories I had were rather ordinary. I had to inspect those few memories to figure out what my so-called status was. I didn’t feel glorious. I had to deduce from a few pieces of information what my status might have been. It took a long time for that to come through. I’m suspicious of people who remember themselves as having been very glorious.

Still, I stay neutral on whether people should talk about memories. Although I’m suspicious, I’m not going to put it down. I know in my case that these are actual memories, so I know that does occur. But I wouldn’t blame anyone for being highly suspicious if I told my own story in any detail. They might think, “The guy’s a nut!” I’ve had that kind of thought with respect to others. But some people have related their stories to me, and their memories are not self-glorifying. I don’t have any reason to question them. I do accept for sure that people remember.

Dr. Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia looked into a lot of reincarnation stories, and checked some against facts he could track down. One of the points that he made was that quite a number of people remembered their past lives because they died in the midst of violence. It was quite often not a case of great spiritual attainment, but that there was some violence that impressed on them what was going on, and that caused the memory.

Canadian tulku Elijah Ari has been open since childhood about his past life memories and went through a lot of difficulties.

I know Elijah Ari. I find his story quite poignant. He and I had quite opposite trails. He has been open throughout and I’ve been closed throughout. I actually forgot it for quite a while and then even after I remembered, it was decades later that I was willing to talk about it at all except with a couple of people. It’s been quite a journey for him, and I really respect what he’s had to go through to be this open. He paid a huge price. For me, coming out as gay was a big step at the time I did it, but coming out as remembering your past life, as far as I’m concerned, is much larger than that.

Professor Jeffrey Hopkins, Maitripa College, Portland, Oregon, United States, September 2011. Photo by Marc Sakamoto.

Professor Jeffrey Hopkins, Maitripa College, Portland, Oregon, United States, September 2011. Photo by Marc Sakamoto.

What does it really tell us if someone has past life memories? Does that make them special now?

I think that Dr. Ian Stevenson’s story about people remembering because they died in the midst of violence indicates that it doesn’t automatically make you special. What will make you special is what you do in this lifetime. If you think about it, that is true of anybody, recognized or not.

Liushar Thupten Tharpa, who was the equivalent of foreign minister in the old government of Tibet, went out to greet His Holiness the Dalai Lama when he first came to Lhasa; Liushar told me he was watching the little child to see if this was the right one. But he didn’t come to any conclusion then whether this was the right or the wrong child. Later he was this Dalai Lama’s representative in New York, after which he came to our monastery in New Jersey, and then stayed on in the USA as a permanent resident. Then the Dalai Lama called him back to Dharamsala. There were a number of years during which Liushar had not seen this Dalai Lama in action on the home front, although he had visited India for important events. Anyway, after he went back to India, I saw him. He said, “Do you know what he is doing?” and he recounted to me how busy this Dalai Lama was conducting ordination ceremonies, teaching, giving initiations, all of the many things he was doing. And he said, “Now we can say he is the incarnation of Avalokiteshvara.” You see? By way of his actions! That question about whether there were signs that he was the last Dalai Lama was totally wiped out. It didn’t matter. His Holiness’ actions were sufficient. Whether he was or not didn’t make any difference because in his waking day he was endlessly performing these actions.

While you are open about many things, you also choose to keep certain things private, such as your own attainments, and ways you’ve helped others – for example, with their books or academic work.

There’s a tradition about not being open about your own attainments and your own deeper experiences, and I don’t even tell my friends. It’s out of the question, I feel, that I’m going to talk about these things. As for helping others, it’s important to do – and keep quiet.

Any final thoughts on honesty?

If honesty became one’s only watchword, one could become a pain in the ass, and narcissistic, and a total bore. I hope by giving an interview like this, pretending to be honest, I don’t create a trap for myself! That I would become infatuated with this – really. And start deliberately acting this way, thinking, “I’ve got to be honest! I’ve got to find something to be honest about!” And turning myself into not just a 25- or 50-percent jerk but a 75- or 90-percent jerk (laughs). Warn me if I do. Tap me on the shoulder and say, “Hey Jeffrey, you are turning into a 100-percent jerk.”

We are basically incapable of saying who we are, and when we start doing that, we really have to be careful, because we aren’t going to be right. There may be some grain of truth – but also some grain of foppishness. I’m trying. I’m still trying to find my own integrity.

“Jeffrey Hopkins’ Transmission of Honesty” was produced as an online feature by Mandala Publications, and is supported, in part, by programs like Friends of FPMT.

Donna Lynn Brown is a regular Mandala contributor and a student at Maitripa College in Portland, Oregon, US.

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Shedrup Zungdel Study Group Welcomes Ven. Rita Rinikerhttp://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/shedrup-zungdel-study-group-welcomes-ven-rita-riniker/ http://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/shedrup-zungdel-study-group-welcomes-ven-rita-riniker/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 18:00:33 +0000 http://fpmt.org/?p=38189 ... Read full article]]> Ven. Rita Riniker teaches at Shedrup Zungdel Study Group, Burg-Reuland, Belgium, December 2014. Photo courtesy of Shedrup Zungdel Study Group.

Ven. Rita Riniker teaches at Shedrup Zungdel Study Group, Burg-Reuland, Belgium, December 2014. Photo courtesy of Shedrup Zungdel Study Group.

Student Marguy Krier from Shedrup Zungdel Study Group in Beligum sent Mandala a short news update:

On a rather cool December 2014 weekend, Ven. Rita Riniker worked with more than 22 students from Shedrup Zungdel Study Group in Burg-Reuland, Belgium in order to adjust our internal compasses so as not to let fear and shame grow into feelings of guilt. We examined our expectiations, our motivations and our goals. We learned about how setting limits, taking responsibility and not identifying with “the dirt” will lead us to more compassion for ourselves and for others. Looking with empathic eyes at our karma, seeking opportunities for growth and learning will certainly help us to become more resilient and agreeable for all living beings around us.

We do wish that again and again that we may have the opportunity to greet and enjoy Ani Rita in our midst. Her kind and simple way of being helps us so much. And her loving and wise way of teaching opens up our hearts!

Mandala brings you news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and of activities, teachings and events from nearly 160 FPMT centers, projects and services around the globe. If you like what you read on Mandala, consider becoming a Friend of FPMT, which supports our work.

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Romania Celebrates Lama Tsongkhapa Dayhttp://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/romania-celebrates-lama-tsongkhapa-day/ http://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/romania-celebrates-lama-tsongkhapa-day/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 18:00:59 +0000 http://fpmt.org/?p=39031 ... Read full article]]> Students from Grupul de Studiu Buddhist White Tara visit a home for seniors and bring gifts, Romania, December 2014. Photo courtesy of Thubten Saldron.

Students from Grupul de Studiu Buddhist White Tara visit a home for seniors and bring gifts, Romania, December 2014. Photo courtesy of Thubten Saldron.

Thubten Saldron, study group coordinator of Grupul de Studiu Buddhist White Tara in south central Romania sent news about the group’s activities and how it spent Lama Tsongkhapa Day in 2014:

In September, we started to study Discovering Buddhism online, which bring us so much understanding. All our gratitude for all who are involved in this meaningful project!

Students from Grupul de Studiu Buddhist White Tara also visited a center for children with developmental disabilities, Romania, December 2014. Photo courtesy of Thubten Saldron.

Students from Grupul de Studiu Buddhist White Tara also visited a center for children with developmental disabilities, Romania, December 2014. Photo courtesy of Thubten Saldron.

On December 16, we honored Lama Tsongkhapa Day by practicing what we studied. In the morning, we blessed food for poor children with a tsog. We also went with other gifts to one center for children with developmental disabilities and to a home for older people abandoned by their families. At the end of the day, we liberated some fish.

We did all these activities with the motivation to make people happy and at the end, all of us experienced the real happiness of serving others.

Mandala brings you news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and of activities, teachings and events from nearly 160 FPMT centers, projects and services around the globe. If you like what you read on Mandala, consider becoming a Friend of FPMT, which supports our work.

 

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Two FPMT Centers Participate in First Swiss Buddhist Fesitvalhttp://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/two-fpmt-centers-participate-in-first-swiss-buddhist-fesitval/ http://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/two-fpmt-centers-participate-in-first-swiss-buddhist-fesitval/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 19:12:08 +0000 http://fpmt.org/?p=37800 ... Read full article]]>  

Ven. Rita Riniker teaches with enthusiasm at the first annual Swiss Buddhist Festival, Berne, Switzerland, September 2014. Photo courtesy of Longku Center.

Ven. Rita Riniker teaches with enthusiasm at the first annual Swiss Buddhist Festival, Berne, Switzerland, September 2014. Photo courtesy of Longku Center.

Francesca Paoletti from Longku Center in Switzerland sent Mandala news of the country’s first annual Swiss Buddhist Festival in early September 2014.

The Swiss Buddhist Union, which encompasses most Buddhist groups in Switzerland, has launched its first Swiss Buddhist Festival in order to increase the public awareness of Buddhist groups in Switzerland and to provide a public platform for their activities and projects.

The two Swiss FPMT centers, Longku Center in Berne and Gendun Drupa Centre in Martigny, were both present at the festival with an information stand, a small FPMT shop and a food stand. This was a beautiful way to get in contact with many new people and inform them about the activities in our centers.

The festival took place on September 6, 2014, in the city center of Berne, the capital of Switzerland, not far from the federal parliament. The participants to the festival were a large variety of Buddhist groups, representing a diversity of traditions and geographic areas. In a large tent, public talks, teachings, ceremonies and meditations were offered throughout the whole day to a large public audience. This was a unique opportunity for many people to gain an insight of the multitude of Buddhist traditions. Around the tent there were several stands with Dharma shops and food. It was like a small, colorful Buddhist bazaar enriched by the numerous, high-spirited and interested visitors.

FPMT registered teacher and long-time student Ven. Rita Riniker from Longku was among the Buddhist teachers giving a public talk in the tent. With her usual lively and humorous style she explained the significance of Buddhist rituals in a clear, understandable way that inspired many listeners. As you can see from the picture, Ani Rita was committed with her full power as usual!

Many interesting conversations and exchanges of opinions and experiences took place both with the visitors and with the representatives of other Buddhist groups. It was a beautiful event, a nice success for our center and truly a positive experience of the connectedness of the Dharma within the diversity of the various Buddhist traditions.

Longku Center had and information booth where gifts and food could be purchased at the first annual Swiss Buddhist Festival, Berne, Switzerland, September 2014. Photo courtesy of Longku Center.

Longku Center had and information booth where gifts and food could be purchased at the first annual Swiss Buddhist Festival, Berne, Switzerland, September 2014. Photo courtesy of Longku Center.

Mandala brings you news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and of activities, teachings and events from nearly 160 FPMT centers, projects and services around the globe. If you like what you read on Mandala, consider becoming a Friend of FPMT, which supports our work.

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Video Inspiration for the New Year!http://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/video-inspiration-for-the-new-year/ http://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/video-inspiration-for-the-new-year/#comments Mon, 05 Jan 2015 20:05:40 +0000 http://fpmt.org/?p=38505 ... Read full article]]> Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaching at the November Course at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, November 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaching at the November Course at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, November 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

FPMT.org now makes dozens of videos of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and other Buddhist teachers available for free to students anywhere in the world as part of its recently redesigned FPMT Video Resources page.

Students of Lama Zopa Rinpoche can access his teachings from the Kopan November Course, which took place in Nepal this December; the Bodhicaryavatara and Rinjung Gyatsa retreat held at the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion in Australia in September and October; and the extensive Light of the Path 2014 teachings completed in North Carolina, USA in May. (The other years of Light of the Path have been condensed into the videos for the Living in the Path online learning program.) When time is limited, students can get a quick dose of inspiration by watching shorter, miscellaneous clips or checking out the preview for Mystic Tibet, the successful 90-minute documentary chronicling an important pilgrimage Rinpoche made to Tibet in 2002.

The site also features FPMT: A Documentary, a short video that explores the history and future of FPMT and the Mahayana tradition; and nine of the 13 videos that are part the Discovering Buddhism education program, introduced by Richard Gere and Keanu Reeves.

FPMT International Office is the administrative headquarters for the FPMT, an organization devoted to preserving and spreading Mahayana Buddhism worldwide by creating opportunities to listen, reflect, meditate, practice and actualize the unmistaken teachings of the Buddha, and based on that experience, spread the Dharma to sentient beings. Your support allows us to continue our work.

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Panchen Losang Chogyen Puts Animal Liberation on TVhttp://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/panchen-losang-chogyen-puts-animal-liberation-on-tv/ http://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/panchen-losang-chogyen-puts-animal-liberation-on-tv/#comments Sat, 03 Jan 2015 20:05:39 +0000 http://fpmt.org/?p=37787 ... Read full article]]> Austrian television crew filming Panchen Losang Chogyen's animal liberation, October 2014. Photo courtesy of Panchen Losang Chogyen.

Austrian television crew filming Panchen Losang Chogyen’s animal liberation, October 2014. Photo courtesy of Panchen Losang Chogyen.

“A small action can often reach an unexpected number of people and beings, like as happened in Panchen Losang Chogyen Gelug-Zentrum in Vienna recently,” said director Stefan Seidler in late October. “For some years now, most Buddhist temples in Austria have been organizing an open house once a year. This day happened to be just some weeks ago. We, like many other groups in Vienna, had our doors wide open for an afternoon and were planning to liberate a few boxes of worms. To our delight and despite bright autumn weather, not only did many visitors come, but also Austrian television visited us. Our announcement of a ‘Life Saving Ceremony’ [animal liberation] made ​​them curious, and the TV crew put together a wonderful report about the liberation of the worms. This program aired a week after. And the wonderful thing is, in addition to the freedom of the worms, was that the practice was seen by about 200,000 people, who probably didn’t know anything about it until now!”

Mandala brings you news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and of activities, teachings and events from nearly 160 FPMT centers, projects and services around the globe. If you like what you read on Mandala, consider becoming a Friend of FPMT, which supports our work.

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Bringing the Dharma to ‘Tchops’http://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/bringing-the-dharma-to-tchops/ http://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/bringing-the-dharma-to-tchops/#comments Thu, 01 Jan 2015 20:05:53 +0000 http://fpmt.org/?p=37765 ... Read full article]]> Sunset at Fare Mahora, Tahiti, September 2014. Photo courtesy of Centre Naropa Tahiti.

Sunset at Fare Mahora, Tahiti, September 2014. Photo courtesy of Naropa Meditation Center.

“After five weeks of teachings in the city of Papeete on the beautiful island of Tahiti,” said Naropa Meditation Center member Hinatea Demolliens, “the Mahamudra teachings and retreat led by FPMT registered teacher Sixte Vinçotte at Teahupo’o was the icing on the cake!

“Thirty-six people gathered for two days over the weekend to attend his teachings, 27 of which stayed for the next five days in silence at Fare Mahora, known as ‘Tchops’ by surfers worldwide. We had exceptionally beautiful weather, which allowed for deep introspection. The location, by the sea and surrounded by the magnificent mountains of Tahiti Iti, allowed for the perfect backdrop for our cleansing of the mind.

“Our vegetarian meals were delicious and our unique guests – five dogs and four cats – behaved well. The neighbors were quite impressed with the calming atmosphere of this first annual retreat.

“A fire puja was performed on September 28. On September 30, at Tahiti Faa’a airport, Sixte was literally covered with sea shell necklaces before he flew back to Toulouse, France – a 24-hour trip! It is the custom in Polynesia to welcome visitors with flowers and then to say goodbye with shell necklaces.

“Sixte Vinçotte began the study program Discovering Buddhism at the Naropa Meditation Center in August 2013.

“Everyone adamantly requested Sixte to come back during his holidays in 2015 to continue with the training modules in Discover Buddhism and to lead another retreat.”

Saying goodbye to Sixte Vinçotte, Tahiti Faa'a Airport, Tahiti, September 2014. Photo courtesy of Centre Naropa Tahiti.

Saying goodbye to Sixte Vinçotte, Tahiti Faa’a Airport, Tahiti, September 2014. Photo courtesy of Centre Naropa Tahiti.

Mandala brings you news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and of activities, teachings and events from nearly 160 FPMT centers, projects and services around the globe. If you like what you read on Mandala, consider becoming a Friend of FPMT, which supports our work.

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Wisdom Publications’ Tim McNeill Offers His Holiness the Dalai Lama a Copy of His Holiness’ New Bookhttp://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/wisdom-publications-tim-mcneill-offers-his-holiness-the-dalai-lama-a-copy-of-his-holiness-new-book/ http://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/wisdom-publications-tim-mcneill-offers-his-holiness-the-dalai-lama-a-copy-of-his-holiness-new-book/#comments Mon, 29 Dec 2014 20:05:08 +0000 http://fpmt.org/?p=38351 ... Read full article]]> His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Tim McNeill, Boston, Mass., US, October 20, 2014. Photo by Sonam Zoksang.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Tim McNeill, Boston, Mass., US, October 20, 2014. Photo by Sonam Zoksang.

In October, Tim McNeill, CEO and publisher of Wisdom Publications, had the opportunity to offer His Holiness the Dalai Lama a copy of the new book Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditionsauthored by His Holiness with Ven. Thubten Chodron and published by Wisdom. The book explores the similarities and differences within Buddhist traditions.

McNeill was able to see His Holiness at His Holiness’ talk on the “Eight Verses of Thought Transformation” at the Wang Theater in Boston, US, on October 30, 2014, organized by the Prajna Upadesa Foundation.

Ven. Chodron told Mandala about her work on Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions, during an interview published in Mandala October-December 2014:

“There were certain topics that His Holiness definitely wanted included, for example, the sixteen aspects of the four noble truths. The other topics were fundamental topics common to all the traditions: refuge, the three higher trainings, selflessness, the four immeasurables. The Pali tradition also speaks of generating bodhichitta and following the path of the perfections, so that, too, is included. These topics are vast but are presented as succinctly as possible in the book.

“Something I was enthused to talk about in the book is similarities between the traditions that I didn’t know existed before. Since the time I lived in Singapore, where there are a variety of Buddhist traditions, I’ve been aware that Buddhists have a lot of misconceptions about other traditions. For example, many Chinese think Tibetan Buddhists practice magic and that Tibetan Buddhism is degenerate because of tantra. Most Tibetans believe that the Chinese do blank-minded meditation and that all the people who practice in the Pali tradition are selfish. The Pali tradition looks at the Tibetans and says, ‘Do they practice vinaya? It doesn’t look like it,’ and ‘tantra isn’t the Buddha’s teachings.’ None of these ideas are correct.

“Seeing this, I understood His Holiness’ reason for wanting to have this book show, from the side of the teachings, what we have in common and where we have differences. Then people can see that all the traditions adhere to the same basic teachings and that a lot of the misconceptions that we have about each other are just that – misconceptions.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Tim McNeill, Boston, Mass., US, October 20, 2014. Photo by Sonam Zoksang.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Tim McNeill, Boston, Mass., US, October 20, 2014. Photo by Sonam Zoksang.

Mandala brings you news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and of activities, teachings and events from nearly 160 FPMT centers, projects and services around the globe. If you like what you read on Mandala, consider becoming a Friend of FPMT, which supports our work.

 

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Lawudo Gompa from Above: A Place of Stillnesshttp://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/see-lawudo-gompa-from-above/ http://fpmt.org/news-around-the-world/see-lawudo-gompa-from-above/#comments Sat, 27 Dec 2014 20:05:33 +0000 http://fpmt.org/?p=37563 ... Read full article]]> Lawudo Gompa complex, Lawudo, Nepal, October 2014. Photo by Greg Beer.

Lawudo Gompa complex, Lawudo, Nepal, October 2014. Photo by Gregor Beer.

Gregor Beer, a student and helicopter pilot who has flown Lama Zopa Rinpoche to visit Lawudo Gompa and Retreat Centre and Tsum in Nepal, shared this amazing aerial shot of the Lawudo complex with Mandala

Lawudo Gompa and Retreat Centre, located where Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s predecessor Lawudo Lama Kunsang Yeshe lived and meditated, is open to students who seek ideal conditions for personal retreat and reflection.

“The best word to describe Lawudo is ‘still,'” said Ven. Tenzin Namdrol (Ani Jan), a resident at Kopan Monastery in Nepal who recently visited Lawudo. “The mountains are big and unmoving. Even though the wind blows, the clouds come and go, the fog rolls in, the river below is always flowing, and small planes and helicopters pass through the valley – like the yaks – it’s quiet and still. If you meet a yak as you walk, he will just look at you with his big eyes. Still.

“Lawudo has developed a lot as Ani-la Ngawang Samten, Rinpoche’s sister and Lawudo’s caretaker, will tell you. There are many comforts to make staying there very pleasant. The Lawudo family cares for whoever walks through the gate or moves on that mountain side, visitors and locals alike. The cows are loved and cared for, as are the humans, with potato pancakes, Sherpa stew and the like. There’s even a warm shower.

“The Lawudo Lama’s meditation cave is like visiting a wonderland, blessed by one holy being’s decades of meditation. The blessings literally drip from the ceiling. The gompa has been renovated, preserving the devotion and labor of love that built it. There’s a bell ringing with the turns of the big prayer wheel, and a sunny deck overlooking the snow-covered mountains for library users who prefer a view.

“There’s also so much time and space. Time to do practice, uncluttered due to simplicity and the space is enormous. Welcoming rooms, complete with meditation boxes and altar await their occupants. Combined with the stillness, it’s a great place for meditation. Many people comment that it’s the best place they’ve been to!”

Read more about Lawudo on FPMT.org.

Mandala brings you news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and of activities, teachings and events from nearly 160 FPMT centers, projects and services around the globe. If you like what you read on Mandala, consider becoming a Friend of FPMT, which supports our work.

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