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Amitabha Buddhist Centre
Reproduced with permission from Tashi Delek May/Jun 2015
In the courtyard of a family home in central Singapore now stands a gleaming stupa of the long-life deity Namgyälma. The golden 1.6-meter [5.2-foot] tall stupa is surrounded by eight smaller white Enlightenment stupas. This unique collection of holy objects belongs to Tara Melwani, Amitabha Buddhist Centre (ABC) member and former regional coordinator for FPMT centers in Southeast Asia. The Namgyälma stupa has come into being through advice that Tara received from Lama Zopa Rinpoche. A stupa, which represents the holy mind of the Buddha, holds inconceivable benefits. That a large-sized stupa has emerged in a private courtyard is a great blessing for its residents as well as the community. What does it take to create a stupa of this scale from scratch in one’s own home? Tara shares her story with us:
A few years ago, our precious holy guru was in the living room of my home. He started talking about the benefits of building a stupa. He spoke at length, then walked to the courtyard, pointed, and said it would be very beneficial to invite a Namgyälma stupa there. I sincerely thought Rinpoche was joking! In my deluded mind, only Dharma centres build stupas, not homeowners!
About a year later, Ven. Roger, Rinpoche’s attendant and CEO of FPMT Inc., wrote to me to say that Rinpoche found it strange that I hadn’t written to him to share any updates regarding the stupa. My heart stopped. I thought: “This is serious.” In a flurry, I apologized profusely to Rinpoche via Ven. Roger and promised to get on it immediately. Ven. Roger suggested I contact Garrey Foulkes, manager of the Garden of Enlightenment at Chenrezig Institute, Australia. Garrey was very kind and extremely understanding of the daunting task ahead and assured me that he would look after the project for me. Garrey came up with the drawings for the site, the size of the base pedestal and the size of the stupa.
I was worried how my mother would react to Rinpoche’s advice about inviting a stupa home. After all, she is Hindu and I live in her house. To my immense relief and gratitude, she replied that if Lama Zopa Rinpoche thinks it’s beneficial, then go ahead!
Simultaneously, I turned to Hup Cheng [ABC’s president] for advice on where to order the stupa. He suggested I see Khen Rinpoche Geshe Chonyi personally and seek his advice. Khen Rinpoche was very kind and contacted Ven. Tenpa Choden, Kopan Monastery’s manager, and placed the order through Ven. Tenpa Choden based on Garrey’s measurements. The stupa order was in a queue and took over a year to build and complete.
From time to time I would receive e-mails from Ven. Tenpa Choden asking what materials I would like the stupa to be built of. I replied: “If Lama Zopa Rinpoche were ordering the stupa, what material would he like?”
He asked me too, how many precious stones would I like on the stupa? I replied: “As many as Lama Zopa Rinpoche would like!”
He also asked, how would I like the stupa finished? I asked him: “If it were Lama Zopa Rinpoche, how would he like it finished?” He replied, fully plated gold. So I replied: “Let’s follow what Lama Zopa Rinpoche would like.” That’s how my decisions were made!
The eight smaller stupas and auspicious signs around the pedestal came from Garrey’s workshop at the Garden of Enlightenment. The crates of stupas, rolls of mantras and auspicious signs from Nepal and Australia arrived during October and November 2014.
The courtyard we have is quite deep to step into from the corridor. My contractor suggested we raise the ground by over a foot to make stepping into the courtyard to circumambulate easy from any point. I showed Lama Zopa Rinpoche all the plans during his visit, which he approved. Rinpoche also suggested building a pavilion over the courtyard to protect the stupa from the rain. Renovations took two-and-a-half months to complete.
Khen Rinpoche then arranged for two experienced Kopan monks, Geshe Lhundrup Sherab and Ven. Rabjor, to come to Singapore to assemble and fill the stupa. It was unexpected and auspicious that causes and conditions came together for both Yangsi Rinpoche and Khen Rinpoche to consecrate the stupa together during Yangsi Rinpoche’s teaching tour [in March 2015].
I never asked anyone for anything, so I was deeply moved and astounded when Ven. Tenzin Namjong from Sera IMI in India generously presented a stupa with three blood relics of Shakyamuni Buddha, three hairs from His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, and a piece of yellow robe from the previous Ling Rinpoche. Ven. Sarah Thresher also generously sent over small statues, stones, twigs and earth from holy places she had been to in Bodhgaya, Sarnath, Rajgir, and Maratika, and blessed rice from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Friends and family made generous offerings too. Nano reels with millions and millions of the Four Dharmakaya Relic mantras made by a supplier in Arizona, United States, were also put in. A set of the short, medium and extensive Prajñaparamita sutras also went into it. ABC’s Executive Committee generously offered 12 miniature Kadampa stupas. Hup Cheng offered 25 kilograms [55 pounds] of semi-precious gemstones. I included 12 sets of the Kangyur and Tengyur nano disc sets available at ABC.
One of the ingredients required was soil from the houses of holy and rich people. I shared my dilemma with Denise Macy, center director of Land of Medicine Buddha in California, who is building a replica of the Mahabodhi Stupa there. She kindly sent me a package of mixed soil she had received from many holy places including the houses of rich Google executives!
Reflecting on the kindness of so many people – family, friends, Sangha – who contributed to the stupa really makes me deeply feel a sense of gratitude and understanding that this stupa is really not “mine,” but that everyone involved since its inception has helped to make the stupa what it is.
From the very start, my motivation and dedication for building this stupa has been single-pointedly directed to the very, very, very, healthy, stable and extremely long lives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, for all their holy wishes to be fulfilled, for the flourishing of the Dharma and for the benefit of all sentient beings. It is my heartfelt offering to them and how auspicious that it is completed in time for His Holiness’ 80th birthday in July.
Building large stupas is part of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Vast Visions for FPMT.
FPMT Education Services makes available a variety of resources for people interested in the history and construction of stupas.
“Amitabha Buddhist Centre gave a warm welcome to His Eminence the 7th Ling Rinpoche as he visited the center for the very first time on August 2,” reports Ven. Tenzin Tsultrim. “Rinpoche kindly made time for the brief Sunday morning visit in the midst of his busy schedule in Singapore.
“The previous 6th Ling Rinpoche was the senior tutor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and widely regarded as a foremost scholar, lineage holder and guru to a generation of scholars and high lamas.
“During the hour-long visit, a mandala offering was held, led by our resident teacher Khen Rinpoche Geshe Chonyi. Rinpoche got to meet our members, distribute blessed pills and cords to everyone, and tour our premises. He also agreed to visit again and to teach at the next opportunity. Rinpoche was in Singapore at the invitation of Gaden Shartse Monastery’s Dro-phen Ling Centre.”
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.
In 2014, Amitabha Buddhist Centre (ABC) in Singapore celebrated its 25th anniversary. To commemorate the anniversary, the center commissioned two videos, one of which was The Heart of Our Happiness, a short documentary reflecting on ABC’s growth and accomplishments over 25 years. The 22-minute video, thematically structured around Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s contributions to the center’s success, was made public in late April 2015 for all FPMT students to enjoy.
Mandala brings you news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and of activities, teachings and events from over 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.
Celebrations of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday, which is July 6 on the Western calendar, are taking place around the world. His Holiness is spending his birthday in Southern California in the US at the Global Compassion Summit. (For news and photos of the events, see #WithCompassion on Facebook and DalaiLama.com.)
FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche, in a praise for His Holiness, said:
“Your Holiness is the great treasure of infinite compassion embracing all us sentient beings, the sole source of benefit and happiness of all us sentient beings, the sole refuge of all us sentient beings. Your Holiness is incomparably kinder to us than all the past, present and future Buddhas. We the fortunate disciples who have been fortunate to see your holy body and hear your holy speech make the following request.
“The kind Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, out of his great compassion, descended to this world of Dzambu in the Arya land of India for the sole purpose of bringing benefit and happiness to migratory beings by leading us to liberation and full enlightenment. … (Read the complete praise as a PDF.)”
Following the inspiration of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, FPMT centers, projects and services have been celebrating His Holiness’ birthday. Many have organized special events and picnics. Ven. Tenzin Tsultrim shared what happened in Singapore:
“Amitabha Buddhist Centre in Singapore dedicated a full and meaningful day of prayers and practice in honor of His Holiness’ 80th birthday. Starting in the late morning, we organized a special animal liberation practice and with generous contributions from our members and friends, were able to liberate about 492,800 ‘la-la’ shellfish at sea. In the afternoon from 1:30 to 6 p.m., a large group participated in the recitation of the Golden Light Sutra. Never mind that today is Monday, people made the effort to take time off from work for the practice.
“We capped our all-day celebration with a Namgyälma puja in the evening, led by our resident teacher, Khen Rinpoche Geshe Chonyi and ABC’s sangha. Everyone who attended could take part in this puja of the long-life deity Namgyälma as we have the practice available in English. We had an enthusiastic turnout with about 200 ABC members and students coming to our prayer celebration. In addition, the just-published July/August issue of our newsletter, TASHI DELEK, pays special tribute to His Holiness with a cover feature highlighting a topic that our precious guide in the Dharma holds dear – compassion. We send our heaps of prayers for His Holiness to remain with us forever.”
Losang Dragpa Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, had a night of offerings and mani mantra recitation for His Holiness’ birthday.
Tara Institute in Melbourne, Australia, celebrated His Holiness with a birthday puja on July 5 and combined it with a celebration of Geshe Doga, their resident geshe, who turns 80 next week.
Buddha House in Adelaide, Australia, celebrated His Holiness on July 6 doing the practice “The Inseparability of the Spiritual Master and Avalokiteshvara,” which was written by His Holiness. Afterwards they had coffee, tea and cake.
Lama Yeshe Ling Centre in greater Toronto, Canada, is celebrating His Holiness’ 80th birthday with a picnic at Dundas Valley. Center director Deborah Klassen wrote, “We are encouraging everyone to bring their friends and family. There will be singing, games, walking meditations and a lot more.”
FPMT North American centers, projects and services are celebrating His Holiness’ birthday as Compassion Day. Check out Compassion Day on Facebook – www.facebook.com/CompassionDay – for photos and stories.
Continuing this week, we’ll have more stories on celebrating His Holiness’ birthday and FPMT’s long-time commitment to supporting the realization of His Holiness’ wishes.
FPMT.org shares news of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and of activities, teachings and events from FPMT centers, projects and services around the globe. If you like our news updates, consider becoming a Friend of FPMT, which supports our work.
- Tagged: amitabha buddhist centre, buddha house, compassion day, his holiness 80th birthday, his holiness the dalai lama, lama yeshe ling centre, losang dragpa centre, tara institute
Amitabha Buddhist Centre (ABC) in Singapore spent the last year celebrating its 25th anniversary. At the end of November 2014, Lama Zopa Rinpoche visited ABC and attended a special anniversary dinner attended by more than 600 people. The dinner included a talk by Rinpoche as well as speeches and entertainment. Hup Cheng Tan, director of ABC, was one of the featured speakers and gave a history of the center and described how it had evolved up to the present, including the history of the seven-story building that houses the center.
The dinner’s program “honored Rinpoche’s involvement,” Ven. Roger Kunsang told Mandala, “because Rinpoche had been so much a part of ABC’s development. … Rinpoche had felt that Dharma could be very strong in Singapore. And the evening highlighted Rinpoche’s role in its development.”
ABC is a very successful center. More than 200 people are attending ABC’s Basic Program taught by Khen Rinpoche Geshe Chonyi, resident geshe at ABC and abbot of Kopan Monastery.
ABC also offered a long life puja for Lama Zopa Rinpoche, which was attended by about 1,000 people.
More information, photos and updates about FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche can be found on Rinpoche’s webpage. If you’d like to receive news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche via email, sign up to Lama Zopa Rinpoche News.
On June 7, 2014, Amitabha Buddhist Centre (ABC) in Singapore celebrated its 25th anniversary. The center commissioned two videos, which were screened to an audience of about 130, including Khen Rinpoche Geshe Chonyi, ABC’s resident teacher since 1999 and current abbot of Kopan Monastery. In addition to The Heart of Our Happiness, a short documentary reflecting on ABC’s growth and accomplishments over 25 years, students watched Thank You, ABC Family! Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s hour-long special message to ABC students and supporters.
Amitabha Buddhist Centre offers the broader FPMT community Thank You, ABC Family! as a subtitled video so that others can benefit from Rinpoche’s warm greetings and inspiring advice:
Mandala brings you news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and of activities, teachings and events from over 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.
By Ven. Tenzin Tsultrim
In July 2013, Khen Rinpoche Geshe Chonyi accepted his first long life puja in the presence of some 200 students and well-wishers at Amitabha Buddhist Centre (ABC) in Singapore. Khen Rinpoche, who is ABC’s resident teacher as well as the abbot of Kopan Monastery and Nunnery, said he enjoyed receiving the puja, which was organized to celebrate his 51st birthday.
For 10 years, Khen Rinpoche joked, he was used to being the one making the offerings during the long life ceremonies for Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Khensur Rinpoche Lama Lhundrup. This time, the ritual master was Geshe Thubten Sherab, who had accepted the invitation to travel from Kopan Monastery for the occasion. The puja itself was led by the chanting master of Kopan Monastery, Geshe Lobsang Sherab. The resident teachers and directors of the three FPMT centers in Malaysia also made a special trip to Singapore to be part of the celebration.
Khen Rinpoche spoke before the puja on how to make the practice meaningful:
We all know what Lama Zopa Rinpoche has mentioned before about the long life puja. Mainly when we offer long life puja to the gurus, we have a Dharma connection with them. From your heart, when you make strong requests for the gurus to live long, that helps the guru to live long. The whole point why you are requesting is because you see some benefit for the guru to live long. If you can see from your heart why the guru needs to live long, then make single-pointed request to the gurus. When you request the guru to live long, at the same time you yourself have long life. That is the benefit. Both of you [guru and disciple] get the benefit.
When you do the long life puja, it is mainly the practice of Guru Puja. Remember to visualize or think that your own guru is in front of you. It doesn’t have to be me. Those who have a close Dharma connection with your own gurus, you can visualize them. Then you make these extensive offerings to the guru from your heart, and make strong requests for the guru to live long.
Make sure, as you are doing the Guru Puja, to make it meaningful for yourself. When you do it well, that means you are closer to the gurus. That means you are closer to enlightenment, closer to the Buddha, closer to the Dharma, closer to the Sangha. Make sure you do that. I think it is extremely important.
Among the procession of offerings presented to Khen Rinpoche was an impressively large Dharma wheel, a gift from the center and the second batch of Basic Program students whom Khen Rinpoche has taught for the past two years. Representing the center and the students, ABC’s director Tan Hup Cheng and vice-president Fred Cheong presented the gigantic wheel to Khen Rinpoche together with a strong request that he would continue to teach at ABC for a very long time.
Besides the Basic Program, Khen Rinpoche teaches a weekly lam-rim class that is translated for Chinese speakers, and a monthly “Dharma for Seniors” class. Khen Rinpoche has also formed a bond with some of the youngest members of ABC, including ten-year-old Melody Wee, who offered a song. Her mature and captivating rendition of “If We Hold on Together” held all the grown-ups in misty-eyed rapture.
At the end of the puja, Khen Rinpoche offered an insight into his life and why he has continued to stay as ABC’s resident teacher:
I was born in 1962. I spent 12 years with my family. After that I spent six years in Kopan Monastery, then I spent another 18 to 19 years in South India, then I spent 14 years in Singapore.
When I look back at myself, how I became a monk is because I met Lama Yeshe, the first time when I was aged 12, in 1974. Lama Yeshe came all the way to my hometown and I met him there. Because of that I was able to become a monk, to be ordained. After I became ordained I spent six years at Kopan. I was able to stay as a monk because of the late ex-abbot Lama Lhundrup. When I was 15 to 17 years old, my mind was always wandering. It was not an easy time, under different conditions. Because of his advice, I was able to remain as a monk at that time. After that I moved to South India. I had all this education [at Sera Je Monastery]. All this depended one hundred per cent on my teacher [Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsering, ex-abbot of Sera Je Monastery]. Because of his kindness, I was able to complete my studies at the level of geshe. After that, I came to Singapore.
Being able to live here for 14 years is all from depending on Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s advice. I mentioned before, when I came for the first time to Singapore, I thought I would stay just one year. I told my friends, everybody, I would try for one year. After one year I will be back, I said! Somehow I have stayed until now, because of Rinpoche’s advice.
Why I have stayed here so long is because of the members and students of Amitabha Buddhist Centre, because they all have some interest to learn Buddhadharma. That is the main thing that has made me stay here, so far, because I see that people have interest, put in effort. Some of them really, for 14 years they are here with me, without missing class, twice a week. When I see their lives, how busy they are. They have to work from morning to night. Also, they have families, have to go out with the family, need time for the family, but still they put in so much effort and come to class. So really, that really makes me stay in Singapore, here, to teach. That is the main reason. How long I stay here all depends on that. Entirely depends on that.
In keeping with the occasion of celebrating Khen Rinpoche’s birthday, there was a festive mood to the puja. And true to Singapore’s culture, the celebration was made complete with hearty eating, a Thai-style lunch buffet treat for everyone from ABC’s Executive Committee, who requested Khen Rinpoche to accept the long life puja and who also organized it.
Mandala brings you news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and of activities, teachings and events from over 160 FPMT centers, projects and services around the globe. If you have news you would like to share, please let us know.
In July, FPMT’s Animal Liberation Fund announced that it had donated SGD$2,500 (US$2,051) toward animal liberations – the practice of extending and protecting an animal’s life and exposing it to Dharma – organized by student Fred Cheong and fellow students from Amitabha Buddhist Centre in Singapore. Amitabha Buddhist Centre regularly organizes large animal liberations, generally freeing up to six types of shellfish and occasionally larger fish (see “10 Million Lives for the Guru” Mandala October-December 2011).
“On His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday, July 6, Amitabha Buddhist Centre liberated 11,000 kg (24,250 lbs) of [shellfish], an estimated 1 million lives,” Animal Liberation Fund reports. “On Chokor Duchen, July 12, when merit is multiplied 100 million times, Amitabha Buddhist Centre liberated another 700,000 animals.
“Strong prayers and dedications were made for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s long life and to stay with us and guide us, and for all of His Holiness’ prayers and wishes to come true. Dedications were also made for the long life and perfect health of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and for all of Rinpoche’s wishes and prayers to succeed.”
Animal liberation is one of the practices that have been recently advised as important to do for Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s health and long life.
The fund continues to support smaller weekly animal liberations by the Sangha at Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s house.
FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche spent February and March 2013 touring FPMT centers in Asia, including the three FPMT centers in Taiwan – Shakyamuni Center in Taichung, Jinsiu Farlin in Taipei and Heruka Center in Kaohsiung; Amitabha Buddhist Centre in Singapore; Losang Dragpa Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Mahayana Buddhist Association (Cham-Tse-Ling) in Hong Kong. Rinpoche offered inspiration and teachings to hundreds, if not thousands, of students, most of whom had not seen Rinpoche since he manifested a stroke in April 2011. While on tour, Rinpoche displayed his extraordinary commitment to benefiting all sentient beings, tirelessly guiding Sangha and lay students with his wisdom and compassion. Here are some favorite photos from the tour. (more…)
- Tagged: amitabha buddhist centre, fpmt taiwan, lama zopa rinpoche, losang dragpa centre, mahayana buddhist association, malaysia, mandala, photo gallery
From Ven. Roger Kunsang:
Hong Kong – March 22, 2013
Rinpoche stood with his hands in the mudra of prostration before a very large thangka of Chenrezig. Rinpoche gradually leaned forward, slowly going to the ground, his stronger left arm reached for the ground, fingers contacted the floor. Gradually, Rinpoche put weight on the arm as his body leaned forward cautiously. The left knee moved towards the ground and made contact. Now the hard part: the right arm reached out to touch the ground with Rinpoche trying to spread his fingers so they landed open and stretched out on the floor.
I was feeling a little anxious as when Rinpoches head goes lower than the waist, he can feel dizzy and that’s a little dangerous after a stroke.
Gradually, Rinpoche lowered his body forward awkwardly, always the left side taking most of the weight. Watching Rinpoche making this kind of effort is very moving. I can see others moved and feeling emotional. The whole hall is very quiet while Rinpoche is making such an effort to do a full length prostration to all the Buddhas.
Rinpoche is now stretched full length on the floor although his right arm can’t straighten out yet. The process is slow but done with great, great determination. Now the really hard part: Rinpoche gets up alone as he won’t let anyone help! Rinpoche has developed a technique as he gradually rises where he shifts his weight over several stages, and finally to the stage where he has to take the weight from his arms and be on his legs only. That is most difficult. It’s quite tense watching this part and I can see some students who are watching, holding their breaths.
Rinpoche is hesitating now as he has to make a huge effort to go from kneeling to his feet … He does so and then straightens his body and is standing. His hands slowly come to his heart in the mudra of prostration in front of Chenrezig. Now two more prostrations and then the climb up on to the throne.
It wasn’t so long ago that Rinpoche couldn’t do this alone and it was dangerous as he would sometimes feel dizzy when his head went below the waist (not a good sign when you have problems with blood pressure and you have had a stroke!)
It’s very inspiring and moving to see Rinpoche do this with such determination. In the hospital immediately after the stroke, Rinpoche commented and also explained to His Holiness the Dalai Lama how sad he was that he couldn’t do even one prostration any more … or even bring both hands to the mudra of prostration at his heart to respect the Three Jewels. But now up to 12 long prostrations alone … that’s progress! Rinpoche is going in his own way at his own pace.
Ven. Roger Kunsang is CEO of FPMT and assistant to FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
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FPMT News Around the World
FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche visited Amitabha Buddhist Centre in Singapore, March 8-10. During Rinpoche’s teachings, FPMT offered live streaming video to the international FPMT community.
But if you weren’t able to watch live, you can find the videos online. Included in the videos are a motivational teaching from Rinpoche before a Medicine Buddha jenang, teachings on refuge and on making light offerings, and the long life puja offered to Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
You can keep up-to-date with news on FPMT video streaming by visiting the “FPMT announcements” page and subscribing (in right-hand column of page).
With more than 160 centers, projects and services around the globe, there is always news on FPMT activities, teachers and events. Mandala hopes to share as many of these timely stories as possible. If you have news you would like to share, please let us know.
If you like what you read on Mandala, consider becoming a Friend of FPMT, which supports our work.
FPMT News Around the World
On July 22, Amitabha Buddhist Centre (ABC) in Singapore offered a long life puja based on the deity Amitayus for their resident teacher Khen Rinpoche Geshe Chonyi in honor of his 50th birthday. Khen Rinpoche also serves as abbot of Kopan Monastery. During the puja, center members meditated on Amitayus, recited mantras, made a mandala offering and prayed for the long lives of Khen Rinpoche, all their other gurus and for all the students in attendance. ABC has shared photos of the festivities on their Facebook page.
Amitabha Buddhist Centre was founded in 1989 in Singapore, but the center’s origins go back to Lama Yeshe’s 1984 visit to the country. Today, ABC is a thriving center with a rich educational program including the FPMT Basic Program, led by Khen Rinpoche. In addition, the center has a busy calendar offering regular pujas, classes and animal liberation practices.
With 158 centers, projects and services around the globe, there is always news on FPMT activities, teachers and events. Mandala hopes to share as many of these timely stories as possible. If you have news you would like to share, please let us know.
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